I had a pregnant client years ago who was expecting her first baby. She was very excited but was finding all the changes happening in her body challenging. I remember her saying, “I feel like my body is a science experiment. Everyday something new is going on and I have absolutely no control over what’s happening to my body.” That about sums up pregnancy for most women. Your body is busy building a baby and you’re along for the ride.
Pregnancy is a journey that has a beginning and an end and lots going on along the way. It is truly a journey where each trimester (and sometime each day) is different. Most of what’s going on is directed by hormones. These chemical substances are the directors and they are in control. They orchestrate the “building of the baby” and are responsible for all aspects of your pregnancy from making sure that once you’re pregnant you stay pregnant to telling your body when labor should start. If you have body aches and morning sickness go ahead and blame it on hormones.
Besides dealing with physical changes, you also have all the emotions that come with pregnancy. You can go from being oh so happy to being oh so anxious in a very short space of time and for almost no reason. If you are someone who is used to being in control this rollercoaster ride can be very unsettling.
Your lifestyle may also need to be adjusted. Things like diet and exercise can affect your baby. So should you continue to work-out? Is exercise good or bad for you? How important is your diet? What can you do about leg cramps or headaches? Every woman is different so the answer to these questions depends on your individual circumstance.
Stress is something we talk about a lot. Most of us lead stressful lives but how many of us understands the health implications of stress during pregnancy? Stress can affect not only the expectant woman but also her unborn child. It can cause preterm labor and babies that are born with low birth weight. It’s really important to keep stress to a minimum. Prenatal massage, yoga and breathing exercises can all help. It’s a good idea to examine your lifestyle and see if some things can be modified to reduce your stress.
You may have questions about labor and the birth itself. What you envision as your ideal birth and the policy of the hospital may not be the same. Talk to your doctor or midwife or hospital staff to see what is actually possible. That way you are not disappointed. Birth plans can be helpful as long as they are flexible. In birth anything can change so you don’t want to be married to a preconceived idea of how things will unfold. If your doctor doesn’t have time to answer your questions during your routine visit, schedule an appointment specifically to have your questions answered.
Knowing what birth interventions may be offered is one way to take control of your birth. Have a conversation with your doctor or midwife and discussion interventions and options. That way there are no surprises and you may have different options.
Have you thought about what happens when you bring your baby home? You will be tired and sore and possibly be very emotional. Give yourself time to adjust, rest and get to know your baby. Try to get help and have meals planned in advance.
During your pregnancy you’ve got either way too much information and become overwhelmed or you don’t have enough information and aren’t sure how you are supposed to feel or what you are supposed to do. Every pregnancy is different so relying on the advice of your relatives and girlfriends may not be all that helpful. Consulting Dr. Google is tempting but not the best idea. The sheer volume of information is overwhelming and the advice can be unreliable. Know yourself. Know your body and know what you need to know.
It’s important to be informed about your body, baby and birth. The information should be based on knowledge not hearsay. You want to know what’s happening but you don’t want information overload.
Your childbirth educator is knowledgeable and can answer questions. In fact anyone on your birthing team (your massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor or doula) can most likely answer your questions or she will know who can. I have been working with expectant and new moms for over 15 years and in that time, I have heard lots of questions and concerns. I thought it would be helpful to gather all those concerns and put them together in a prenatal guide. I now have an eBook called “Your Journey Through Pregnancy – Navigate with Knowledge.” It has information about every trimester including the 4th trimester. You’ll know what’s happening and what to expect and tips on how to best deal with specific situations.
Here is a short list of helpful resources, including the eBook. I hope this is helpful.
- “Your Journey Through Pregnancy – Navigate with Knowledge” by me, Laura Lacey. This eBook is a complete guide to pregnancy with advice for every trimester including the all-important “4th trimester.”
- La Leche League
It’s a good idea to learn about breastfeeding before you actually do it.
This is the International Cesarean Awareness Network whose mission is to improve maternal / child health.
Have an amazing pregnancy and birth.