Expecting a baby is different for everyone. Sometimes the babe is a long awaited gift, others may be an awesome fluke. Any way it happened, a baby is growing inside her mama! I've had two gifts in the form of baby girls with each pregnancy and birth (and child for that matter) being unique and different. Here are some of my lessons I've learned through my pregnancy journeys as well as in my studies as a childbirth educator and doula!
10. Choose your care provider wisely.
Midwives, OB-GYNs and family doctors are the providers that you hopefully have the option to choose between. In Alberta, rural communities most likely do not have access to midwives and even those in urban centers may be on a waiting list due to the large increase in demand and the inability of the government to move more funding from the OBs to the midwives.
If you’re pregnant and would like midwifery care, please register by visiting https://www.aamclientcare.ca/waitlist/register
Whoever your care provider is make sure to ask all your questions: ask about their cesarean rates, ask your potential care providers under what circumstances they perform cesareans or how often they suggest procedures that increase the risk of a surgical delivery. Their answer or lack of answer may leave you satisfied or uncomfortable. There are no dumb questions and if you are thinking it, someone else is also thinking it. I repeat, ask all of your questions. Ask your friends about how their birth went, looking primarily for positive birthing experiences. Call your doula, childbirth educator or ask any friends that are nurses.
9. You can change your provider at any time.
If you’re not comfortable with your provider and cannot resolve the feelings or discomfort, ask for a change. In Canada, we tend to feel like we don't have a choice, we are referred out and that's where we stay. Talk to your family doctor for another referral or do your own research and ask for a specific doctor you think you will mesh with. This can happen at any time, whether earlier in the pregnancy or in the middle of labour. Most low risks clinics have 10-12 OBs and you won't know who will be there for you when its go time. Be prepared and get a feel for them as you meet with them over your pregnancy.
On a Midwife’s waiting list? Respectfully check in on a regular basis…there are small numbers of women who will risk out over time or change their own minds. Keep in mind you are probably not the only one, so really keep it respectful. There are times in the year that are busier than others (hello Stampede babies). Make sure you have registered with the Alberta Association of Midwives so you can be tracked.
In Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes, we talk about red flags from different providers in several classes.
8. Eat well, not for two.
Choose real, whole food with as little packaging as possible. Aim to get 80 grams of protein per day, plenty of good fats, fruit and veggies, leafy greens and water. Writing it down may be an easier way for you to track your intakes with at least 80% of your food choices being good ones (the Birth Boot Camp training manual includes 9 weeks of Chow Charts to help with tracking). Moderation can help you stay low risk during your pregnancy. If you're having food cravings, listen to your body as its trying to tell you that its missing something. typically, the intense sugar cravings are your body asking for a more protein dense food.
7. Find your village.
Surround yourself with positive people who support you and have good things to say. Negativity can lead to stress...you don't need more stress. You may even think about keeping some of your plans under wraps from people who may disagree or are not unsupportive (this does not include your care provider). Seek out positive care from a chiropractor, doula, massage therapist and/or a lactation consultant. Keep references handy so even if you may feel like you don't need them at the current moment, the list is ready for when you do need them! Ask friends and family to bring food, fold laundry or clean your bathrooms near the end and for the first few weeks after baby arrives as their gift instead of other presents. Surround yourself with like-minded people that you love and that believe in you.
Have one person you can go to with ANY issues that hasn’t had a baby recently. Your partner, mom, dad, sister don't really count as they are all connected to your baby. Have someone that you can unload your thoughts on that will just love you and not tell you how to fix it, someone that won't judge. Trust is key to feeling safe! Someone that is getting more sleep than you...
6. Keep your body moving.
Pregnancy is not a disease. We need to keep moving. It'll be different movement than without child due to the large increase in the volume of blood and the new balancing act taking place each day. Do what you did before baby came along, for the most part and after you've talked it over with your care provider. You'll probably scale back a bit. Activities like walking, swimming and prenatal yoga are typically safe for all and easy to incorporate into your life. I loved my prenatal yoga classes as they were a time to reconnect with myself without worrying about anyone else.
5. Rest, rest and more rest.
Sounds funny after just saying to keep active, but I'm serious. If you are feeling exhausted, acknowledge your body and take the time to rest. There may come a time where sleep is difficult, but even slowing down and resting your legs and mind will be good for you. In the first trimester your body is working hard and wants to sleep…let it! In the third trimester your sleep cycles shorten & the need to urinate frequently may keep you up. Take the time to rest! In our excitement in early labour and knowing that baby could arrive soon, we tend to try and do the last minute rush and forget to rest; try to get as much rest as possible for the marathon event about to happen!
4. Learn about breastfeeding before baby arrives.
Take the time to learn about breastfeeding and what you may expect. Newborns nurse very frequently during their first 12 weeks. Trust that your body is doing what it needs to do, learn about how your body makes the milk and signs to look for to let you know that things are going well. Knowing about various nursing positions, the wide variations of normal, and how birth intervention can affect breastfeeding factors are all important to know before. There is much more to breastfeeding than just food. Comfort and pain relief for both mom and child can happen during breastfeeding. Keep positive people in your circle. Set-up a station full of snacks and water. Include your partner so they can help you.
Gather your breastfeeding resources before as well: how to find Le Leche League peer to peer support meetings, several IBCLC (lactation consultants), pro-breastfeeding friends, postpartum doulas, books, and videos. You may only need a few, none or all, but have them ready so it's easy to get help when you need it. Birth Boot Camp classes include a 3.5 hour video all about breastfeeding.
3. Learn about keeping babes close.
Keeping your baby close will help with breastfeeding, bonding and your own mental state typically. Skin to skin over the first few weeks helps babe to regulate their breathing, heartbeat and brings in your milk through the miracle of hormones. Even skin to skin with dad is awesome for babe! Babywearing helps you to keep babe close and gives you the freedom of your arms and hands. Co-sleeping done safely also helps with family sleep, breastfeeding and more. Responding to your baby's cues will help with attachment and so much more!
Share your hopes and fears and find out about their hopes and fears. Talk about the changes and how the two of you can cope separately and together. You may each have different needs, so if you are both upfront about those needs, there will be less misunderstanding during the phases of limited sleep. Ask about ways each other would like to be supported.
Take the time to focus on your time together now. You won't have this moment again, so cherish it, be present and be thankful. Set aside date nights before baby comes and make lists of date night ideas for after baby comes (realistic ones). As the mom, you will be spending a significant amount of time with baby, especially in the first few months. Discuss ways for the other partner to bond with baby without food so he or she does not feel left out. Partners can do many things with the baby without food...including giving mom the time to nap.
1. Enjoy the present moment.
Each pregnancy and baby are unique…they only happen once! Living in the moment can help the time from slipping by. Some days can be challenging, but if we can put it into perspective how amazing our bodies are to be creating and growing a new individual in a relatively short period of time, we can be thankful in the present moment. Practice self-care during your pregnancy as practice for after baby arrives...take advantage of any treatments like massage or chiropractic treatments that are covered under your health insurance!
As a Birth Boot Camp childbirth instructor, much of these teachings can be found in my class. I teach a 10 week series of natural childbirth classes in Calgary to fill you and your partner’s birth tool box! Communication, birth knowledge and learning to trust your body is a major part of the classes! Each couple receives a detailed workbook, breastfeeding video and weekly emails with more resources!
These are my learnings...what are yours? As individuals our needs can be so different, so I'd love to hear what has worked or is working for you and your partner! Please share in the comment section below.
With Love & Light,