I am sure that every pregnant person out there can agree that once you announce your pregnancy you are hit with a barrage of unsolicited advice. And something along the lines of "Oh you're pregnant? My cousin almost died in her pregnancy..." WHY? Why must you?
I want to make a maternity t-shirt that says "Only accepting positive stories" Just nip comments like the above right in the bud. People just love to scare the crap out of pregnant women.
Well, as a birth professional I am here to help you take control of your birth and your journey to it! Here is my Top 10 List of things that YOU can do to better your birth.
1. Inform yourself! Take a childbirth education class, read the books, watch the good videos, please take a class. Knowledge is power and the more you know about what your body will be going through the more apt you will be to make an informed, conscious decision.
2. Continue the workout routine you had before you were pregnant. If you were a runner, continue to run. If you did yoga, YES! Please continue to do yoga. If you were into weights, continue to do so, but also follow your care provider's advice on how much. Just don't start a new workout routine. You're growing a human, now is not the time to sign up for your first 5K. Fitness is important in pregnancy but also is the ability to let go, physically as well as mentally. This all being said, I think prenatal yoga is a fantastic thing for pregnancy, even if you've never done it before. And also, when it comes to caring for your body, follow your care provider's advice.
3. Get some sort of wellness/body care at least a few times, if not monthly in your pregnancy. A massage (really, we all should be doing those, bun-in-the-oven or not) going to a chiropractor is a great idea, again yoga is huge in this department. Your body is going to be moving a lot of itself around, making sure it is cared for is important. A chiro is a great tool to keeping your body aligned. Your hip may hurt for a reason you don't know of, a good maternal chiropractor can help with that.
This facebook post is a good example of the importance of chiropractic care www.facebook.com/mschaeferdc/posts/10100598181907309:0
4. Surround yourself with supportive, non-judgemental people, perhaps hire a doula. Throughout this transitional time you want to have people around you that lift you up, not say things like "Are you sure that is where the baby will sleep?" or "I can't believe your birthing at home." or "I can't believe you are birthing at a hospital." It can swing both ways. You want people around you that say thing like "I like that idea." or "You are doing such a good job growing this baby." And only give you advice when you ask. Goes back to that t-shirt, "Only accepting positive stories."
5. Eat well. This is not the same as eating for two. Eat well, lots of fruits and veggies and good protein. You know, the way we are supposed to be eating all the time, not just when we are pregnant. If you want seconds, have seconds. If you want ice cream, have ice cream. With pickles. But also be mindful that everything you eat, baby does too. Make sure you both are getting the nutrients needed for the next 9-12 months.
6. Drink water! You may be surprised by how thirsty you are. Start to carry a water bottle with you and have no problem asking anyone to refill it when you are out. Plus the uterus is a muscle and it will cramp (contract) when dehydrated. So drink drink drink!
7. Make sure you are aligned with your care provider. Meaning, you know where they stand on induction, episiotomy, eating/drinking during labor, pushing in up- right positions, etc. And know where you stand on those as well. You want to be excited to go into your place of birth and have your provider catch your baby. Not go in with your fists up ready to fight for what you want in labor.
8. Take a breastfeeding class. This is along the same lines as knowledge is power. I often hear "It's natural, I can do it." which is absolutely true. BUT, there is also so much information about breastfeeding that we just don't know if we've never done it before. Did you know the milk comes out like a shower head, not like a garden hose? Did you know that the amniotic fluid smells similar to your breastmilk, which helps baby find your breast more easily? See? Take the class, it's going to be so so helpful.
9. Make a birth plan/just-in-case plan/birth preferences letter. If anything it may help you figure out what is important to you. One page, like a resume, be as specific as you'd like, but also don't be afraid to put things down like "do not under any circumstances offer me narcotics." You can be firm, you can be strong in your wants and needs. The staff is there for you and the more informed they are of your desires, the more helpful they can be.
10. TRUST YOURSELF. There is an acronym in the birth community B.R.A.I.N. Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Next/not now/nothing. These are all the things that should be explained to you when choosing something in your birth; they should explain the benefits and risks of artificially breaking your water, the alternatives to that option and the "I" sometimes falls by the wayside. Your intuition is real, your mama gut knows. TRUST it. If there seems to be a red flag somewhere on your journey, take a moment and look at it. You have the time to take a moment. You have the time to say "I need a minute." Trust yourself, you and baby are the only ones experiencing what you are going through, listen to yourself.
Any questions or comments to this post, feel free to Contact me.
Sarah: Birth doula, wife, mother, coffee and wine drinker, lover of beer, books and tattoos.