Hi Lovely people!
You probably remember me from this post. 🤔 If not, that’s fine! My previous post was meant to share my experience. Thank you to those who took the time to comment, share their experiences and/or express their support. To those who said I should be grateful to God for being able to carry this miracle and not complain, I’d like to say: you are absolutely right! And for your record, I never stopped being grateful. But what is sharing an experience if you don’t stay true to your reality? In my opinion, gratitude doesn’t mean you can’t express the pain you’re going through. And you know what matters? It’s the fact that I decided not to dwell on pain and fought to get better. The sickness never really went away (even during the second and third trimester, imagine!) but I found my ways to cope with it.
So, today, I decided to write about what helped me deal with my pregnancy challenges; hoping that this will help someone somewhere to have a smooth experience. I believe that there is power in sharing knowledge and experiences. I hope that you enjoy this read and will find my tips useful.
- Major key: take care of yourself mentally and physically!
Nothing else is more important than you and your baby’s health! Avoid stress, frustration and fatigue by all means! Take naps! Don’t stress yourself comparing yourself to other peoples’ experiences or expectations! Be true to your feelings and express yourself. There is nothing more important than being pregnant and going into labor with a peaceful and relaxed mind, spirit and body.
- Major key 2: midwives!
Like most people, my first care provider was an Obstetrician. I don’t know about you, but my OB never saw me for more than 5 minutes every appointment (and usually after having me sit in the waiting room for at least an hour). Towards the end of my second trimester, I realized I was barely getting any education or support from him, so I decided to switch my care to midwives (also after realizing their services are free/covered by my insurance). Let me tell you, I haven’t been this proud of a choice I made for a long time. The amount of knowledge and support I get from them is unbelievable. They never have us in the waiting room for more than a few minutes, our appointments last as long as all our questions and needs are answered, they listen and offer moral support (Yay!), and their care extends to six weeks after delivery (during which they can come to see me at home)! In case, you’re wondering, yes, they’re trained and licensed to do (or refer you for) all the tests and procedures you’d expect from an OB (if your pregnancy is deemed low risk).
- Prenatal classes: if you’re expecting your first baby like me, they are really worth the investment. Not only do you get educated about everything that’s happening in your body and why (information which will most likely still be relevant for your next pregnancies); it’s also a perfect time to bond with your partner, since they also get a better understanding of what’s happening, how to be more supportive, and space to express themselves. Before taking the classes, I was so focused on and afraid of the pain of labour (it’s really just human nature to tend to focus on problems and how to fight them instead of looking at the root causes). But now, my husband and I actually know how and why contractions happen, the different phases of labour and what they mean, and a lot of other cool things. The classes completely changed our perspective on labour and made us feel confident. My friends, education is key! 😁 Now, instead of panicking every time I feel a stretch in my uterus (Braxton hicks or “practice” contraction which can start from the 6th week of pregnancy), I smile (a painful smile, let’s be honest) because I know exactly what my body is doing, and I’m not scared of pushing this baby out anymore, when the time comes.
- Major key 3: Exercise!
Listen! Don’t let anyone lie to you that when you’re pregnant you should stay in bed all day and do the bare minimum! Keep it moving mama! Your body will thank you for that before, during and after labour. I know, you will find very hard to get motivated, but think about the results. You don’t need to train like you’re going to the Olympics, but long walks (at the mall?), some cardio, swimming and walking up and down a flight of stairs, will do a lot. This will help prevent/minimize the swelling many women experience during pregnancy, and prepare your body and your endurance for labour. Swimming is my favourite activity: not only does it make me feel light again (as opposed to when I’m not in water), but I don’t even have to swim to get my needed dose of exercise. I walk, jump, stretch, and just let the water pressure on my body relax my muscles. My other favourite activity is cleaning the house: it raises my cardio, and I end up with a clean house – win-win! At the gym, I mostly walk on the treadmill to warm up, use the elliptical for cardio and lift light weights for my arms and shoulders. You don’t have to do all that if you can’t. It’s important to listen to your body and do what you can. I was a pretty active person before pregnancy, so some things are easier for me. What matters is that you move and do some activities. And, of course, drink a lot of water (even if this means you have to pee every other minute, sigh).
- Preparing your body for labour: ladies, so there are things out there that can prepare your body for labour! I’m not saying it won’t be painful, but there are safe and natural ways (besides exercise) to reduce the pain and/or the time you have to endure it: mine are red raspberry leaf tea and primrose oil. The former tones your uterus, which will make contractions more effective, and the latter softens the cervix so that it’ll dilate faster. I bought these at my local herbal clinic, and was recommended to use them by my midwives. Make sure you ask how to take them if you’re not familiar with them, or if there aren’t any other alternatives (I’m sure there are) if you can’t find them locally.
- Deciding where to have your baby: I know most people run to the hospital and it makes sense. It feels safer to go to the hospital, and besides, back home the hospital is the only safe option. Where I live though, I can also safely deliver at a birth centre or even at home (however, this is only because my pregnancy is low-risk, thank God). Before switching my care to midwives and taking prenatal classes, my first choice was the hospital too. And I had planned to ask for an epidural. But now I know that before the epidural (which is a medical procedure with its own cons) there other less intrusive pain relievers available, such as being in water or laughing gas. Now, I’m not saying that choosing a hospital birth and epidural is bad; I’m just saying make sure you learn about other options so you can make an informed decision.
- Getting a doula: a doula is a birth companion or a birth coach, and a post-birth support. It’s a non-medical but trained person who stays with and assists a mother before, during and after childbirth, by providing emotional support and physical help, if needed. Like my doula likes to say, the midwives take care of me from the waist down and she takes care of me from the waist up. And she’ll also support my husband and anybody else who’ll be there on “labour day”. Doulas can be expensive, but if you can afford one or find one who is in training (they’re cheaper), please get one! During labour everyone is focused on the baby. Your partner and/or family might be around but they’ll most likely be panicking, tired and/or clueless (yes, even your mother). A doula is the person you need for moral support and making sure you, and everybody else in the delivery room, are having the best experience.
Sha, it’s not easy being a woman in our society and also physically! Most of our lives our bodies are struggling: periods, pregnancy, menopause, but yet we still stand strong and handle our business! Whoever thinks women are weak, I really don’t know what reality they live in! 🤔 To all ladies out there I say, stand strong 💪 we got this!
(image source: shadowradio.net)