In the last post, I wrote about how hearing all of those stories of birth throughout our pregnancies can help us solidify our own birth plans. I wrote about how we have many options to choose from when it comes to deciding the type of birth we would like to experience. It is comforting to know that we have so many options and that the choices are ours as mothers to make. The choices we make concerning our pregnancies and our births are the first important decisions that we will make for the well being of our babies. It is an amazing thing that many of those first decisions pertain to our own well being as well. A healthy mama most of the time means a healthy baby, and that is true even after the baby is born. Our own health, both mental and physical, will always directly impact the way in which we relate to our little ones. So, it is an awesome thing that we can practice taking care of ourselves while pregnant with the motivation that what we are doing is also good for our babies. We can then continue the practice of caring for ourselves for the same reasons after our babies are born.
The first responsibility that we can have as a mother is to do all we can to keep our pregnancies low risk. This will insure that we can keep all of the options in birth open to us, and the ball in our court so to speak. For example, if you would like to have a midwife attend your birth, keeping yourself low risk is imperative whether you plan to birth at home, a birth center, or at the hospital with that midwife. If at any time your pregnancy becomes high risk for whatever reason, it is likely she will have to refer you to an obstetrician for testing and/or the remainder of your care. (I will post soon about the choice of midwife or obstetrician for your pregnancy and delivery in more detail, highlighting the usual skills and philosophies of both.) The same goes if you want to avoid cesarean surgery for your birth. But, most of all, a high risk pregnancy is not only a risk to you, but for your baby.
There are several pre-existing conditions that have the potential to make a woman a high risk while pregnant. Those can include:
There are others as well. If you have a pre-existing health problem and are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, please talk about the possible risks involved with your care provider. These conditions aren’t always indicative of a high risk pregnancy either, so that is another reason to talk with your chosen care provider as well as looking into your situation on your own to see whether or not you would be high risk in pregnancy. Make sure you come away from that conversation understanding what choices you will continue to have throughout your pregnancy and birth, and feeling comfortable about the care that you will receive to insure the health of both yourself and your baby.
Even with a list such as that, the vast majority of pregnancies can be expected to go on normally without complication (85-95% of pregnancies can be expected to go on as normal according to the WHO). So, that means that the majority of us begin our pregnancies under normal conditions and should expect our bodies to remain healthy for the duration of our pregnancy.
There are many things that we can do to continue our pregnancy and prepare for our birth in a healthy way, or even end our pregnancy a healthier person than we were when at the beginning.
- Consider your diet. Do your best to eat a diet based in whole foods. Try to avoid refined sugar and white flours. Instead choose whole grains for you baked goods and natural sweeteners for your sweet tooth (honey, sorghum, molasses, and maple syrup). Try to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups. Green leafy veggies are a great source of iron. Eat fruit for carbohydrates. Nuts for protein and minerals. Dairy for calcium. If for some reason you feel that your diet is lacking in some nutrients, a prenatal vitamin would be a good idea. If you cannot stomach swallowing a pill, talk with your care provider about the possibility of taking a chewable children’s vitamin and what dosage you would want to take of the particular brand you choose.
- Exercise daily when you are feeling able to do so. Do not think of exercise while pregnant as the same sort that you do while trying to lose weight. Think of it more as a maintenance exercise routine. One of the best pregnancy exercises is walking. It does not have to be fast paced, but at whatever pace is comfortable. A pregnant woman can still walk up to 3-5 miles daily, though whatever you can manage is fine. Swimming is another good aerobic exercise for pregnancy. Prenatal yoga is great for keeping your body comfortable throughout all stages of your pregnancy. (Check back soon for a post on pregnancy exercise, or email if you would like more information.)
- Practice stress management or relaxation. Take time for yourself throughout the day to wind down and to connect with your growing baby. Notice how your body feels. The movements your baby is making. Do an activity that you enjoy that also relaxes your mind like knitting, watching a movie, yoga, and taking a warm shower or bath. This practice of calming yourself throughout the day will benefit you greatly during your labor and delivery.
- Become informed about all of your options. Read books about pregnancy and childbirth. Choose a health practitioner that you are comfortable with and that you feel like listens to your concerns and questions. Attend a childbirth class. Choose one that covers a broad range of topics and will prepare you fully for the many variations of childbirth. Think about who will support you during your labor and think about the possibility of hiring a doula.
- Create a birth plan that includes an outline of what you would like to happen during your labor and delivery. Go over it with your health care provider and discuss your options with them as well. Learn about the different medical interventions available to laboring women both for emergency reasons and for non-emergency reasons. Learn about the risks and benefits for each of them so that if you need or choose to have one you will understand what to expect and the decision won’t feel as “unknown”. (This is also where having a doula or having taken a childbirth class will help.)
These are things that nearly all pregnant women are capable of doing, and are simple ways to keep your pregnancy healthy and peaceful. If there are any of these things that you would like more information on, or you feel like you would need extra help with, feel free to email me and I will do my best to get you the information you need. With a plan in place, and staying informed, you can avoid many of the worries of pregnancy, and could possibly come out on the other end an even healthier you for the benefit of the baby that will continue to depend on you for life.
For more information on upcoming group childbirth classes, or to schedule a private class series or workshop for your event/group, please visit Birth True Childbirth Education or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 🙂 I look forward to speaking with you.
Many happy days for you and yours,