Viewing entries in


Preparation for Pregnancy

"Pregnancy is such a special time."

It certainly is, I'm not doubting that at all in writing this post. Growing a human inside your own body for 40 weeks is an incredible feat that women have been doing since...forever! While there are often many different ways of getting pregnant, the end result of carrying a child is a journey all on it's own. Some parts of it are very fun and mind-blowing (seeing the first ultrasound, feeling the baby move), others are a little less exciting to experience (constipation, nausea, breast tenderness) .

There are a lot of books out there that tell you to expect when you are pregnant, and I found some of them quite scary, personally! Several people with very good intentions recommend the old-school books their mothers gave them, thinking that they would be helpful. In this age, with all of the amazing tools and practitioners that we can  If something comes up, I want to be able to look it up in a book, then then ask my practitioner about it. I didn't want to panic about things that might happen, then not have a solution, which is what I found in a lot of the older books.

What I want to do is talk about a few things that happened to me while being pregnant, and give solutions or at least reasons why they happened. Some of them are a little humorous, and a few things are a little unusual. Either way, it's all happening with something wonderful to look forward to in the end! Like I keep saying to myself and others: it's not forever, it's just for now. And it's worth it. You're only pregnant for a few months, and a lot of things that we may consider inconvenient have solutions.

Check out the ABC's of what I wish I'd known might happen to my body:

Abdominal Pain: I read this in a few books, but it's still not at all what I expected with my very first pregnancy. Diastasis recti, or abdominal separation, is common in women who have had multiple pregnancies, and none of the mothers I spoke with had experienced it with their first pregnancy. What happens (slowly), is that the muscles that comprise the "six-pack" of the abdomen slowly separate from the midline of the abdomen. This occurs because of the enlarging uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, and the many hormones secreted during pregnancy that cause the connective tissue to relax.

To be fair, it's not uncomfortable all of the time. It feels like there is a tiny tear in the abdomen, at first on the midline, and now, after 6-7 months, occasionally on the sides.  My wonderful midwife, Sara, told me to get a belly support band if the pain continued. However, I've found if I just support the belly myself for a bit, it helps with those little pains. There are some really great online resources about what we can do after the baby arrives.

-Be Fit Mom has some great information on the abdominal separation, and I just found this great class that I'm definitely signing up for after birth! It's pilates for moms, and you bring the baby to class- check out the Mamalates!

-Self-massaging the belly with pregnancy massage oil (I was given Mother's Special Blend) has also been helpful. Use long strokes from the outside of the ribs to the midline of the body -it's very comfortable and soothing. Take your time when applying oil or lotion, and try to find an organic oil- what's going on the outside of your skin also gets to the baby inside!

Breasts. Wow. That's all I can say. I was told they would become larger, but doubling in size? Really? The breast tenderness many women experience in the first trimester does go away, but can come and go throughout the pregnancy. Leaking small amounts of colostrum from the breasts is also very common in the weeks leading up to birth. However, some women experience it sooner (a friend of mine leaked from 16 weeks on!). You can use breast pads to help with the leaking- there are both reuseable and disposable breast pads. It's also very important to make sure you are fitted properly for a bra. Things will change the further you are along in your pregnancy, but it's definitely worth it to have at least one bra that actually fits!

Constipation. This shouldn't be early practice for birthing, ladies...), and constipation is unfortunately very common at any point in the pregnancy, especially the last trimester. The reason for constipation is that your digestion slows down as the uterus grows and expands in the pelvic cavity and the hormones (mostly progesterone) relax the muscles, which slow down the digestive process. So eat plenty of dried, non-sulphured apricots or plums, and be sure to drink as much water as you can! I know that with some of us, even plain water causes nausea and vomiting, so having a sports drink or electrolyte replenishing drink to get you started and keep you hydrated is fine. If none of these solutions work, be sure to talk to your practitioner about something else that will address your specific needs.

Discomfort in Morning sickness and nausea that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. Sometimes it happens. Several mothers I've treated or interviewed experience either nausea or vomiting in the first several weeks, but a few have both for the first 20 weeks and beyond.
I'm one of those who have had it from week six on, but strictly in the morning. I've found the best thing to do is to keep snacks on hand at all times, learn what may trigger the nausea (water, coffee....really?!), and be prepared in case vomiting does occur. There are a few teas that really helped, such as Wellness Tea by Earth Mama Angel Baby, and having some tasty ginger products on hand. What has truly helped the most is acupuncture- it's very safe during pregnancy, and so effective! I recommend weekly treatments to help with any discomforts of pregnancy.
PLEASE let your practitioner know about any discomfort you might be having- you don't have to suffer through a lot of discomfort through your pregnancy. There are a lot of great options out there that work very well - don't be afraid to ask around for help, and check out your alternative health care options. Your happiness and well-being through your pregnancy are transferred to the little one growing inside you, so be sure to take good care of yourself at this "very special time."
Photo by davhor



Pregnancy and Yoga

Photo by christyscherrer
Taking an exercise class while you are pregnant may be one of the furthest things from your mind. Naps, rest, and food often seem much more appealing! However, it's very important, especially during pregnancy, that you become more in tune with your body and work on flexibility, and work on strengthening both your mind and especially your body. Yoga offers both of these in a low impact, relaxing environment that encourages you to exercise your body as well as focus on the life that is growing within you. It's a very special time, and very important you take care of yourself!
Prenatal yoga classes teach you how to open the pelvis and develop a deeper sense of concentration. Many active birth classes are based yoga techniques, and different positions for labor and delivery are taught to both the mother and birth partner. Breathing techniques learned in yoga will help during labor, as well as learning to hold one position longer than a few seconds (which you will need during longer contractions).
Learning poses to ease the lower back pain and stretch out the round ligament pain (the stretching you feel in the lower abdomen) is very helpful in the first, second, and third trimesters. Yoga exercises will lead to improved physical coordination, increased confidence in yourself and your body, and a sense of inner balance. These tools will be vital during labor and delivery, as well as the ability to breathe into contractions, and relaxing when you have the opportunity.
Prenatal yoga classes are also a good way to meet other pregnant women who are in the same stage as you are,  just starting out, or even close to their due date. Yoga classes offer a great way to discuss what's been happening in your pregnancy with women who understand, and will help you through the next few months. There is something very stretch out aching backs and calves, and a time to meditate on the life growing within you. The sense of community that you feel in the classes may be difficult to find in other aspects of your life at this time.

Call around your local yoga shops, and keep in mind that it's best to bring your own mat- most yoga studios have some to lend out, but having your own is nice.

If you aren't having any luck finding a prenatal yoga class in your area, there a lot of CD's available to pregnant mamas that will walk you through the poses. CAUTION: There are yoga poses that should be avoided during pregnancy, so be sure to check with your practitioner and only practice prenatal yoga poses. The Health and Yoga site shows women poses for each trimester with pics and an explanation of how to do each pose, along with the benefits of each one. Or you can check outThe book Yoga for Pregnancy by Judith Lasater, PhD, is a good beginning book for those of us who are new to yoga. There are simple explanations, and a few poses to get you started. Preparing for Birth with Yoga by Janet Balaskas is another highly recommended book, and there are explanations of each pose, and meditations to help with labor, and even techniques to use during delivery.