I am now 34 weeks pregnant and I want to be as informed as possible about my birthing options. Living in busy London times have changed since my mum had me and what I have found apparent is that it is so difficult to get continuity of care. Your likelihood of seeing the same midwife and her being at your birth is unlikely or minimal. However what you do have control is of the care you give yourself during pregnancy.
This includes those you choose to surround yourself with, including positive pregnant mums to be who share the same belief systems as you. I have realised that it is not my role (typical therapists trait) to convince others of their birthing choices. We are all individual and during pregnancy this really shines. (Never mind the different ideas on parenting to come!)
Many women may like to talk about their negative pregnancy experiences and the media is full of conflicting information, but women do this as the dramatized (cause a quiet birth wouldn't make great watching) TV series tells us "one born every minute" every day.
As I search out for a positive birth experience I feel I have become somewhat of a detective. Working with Ali at Hypnobirthing Mumma has confirmed that my personality likes to know "why" and question what is happening to my body. This of course corresponds with my experience working as a clinical nutritionist. I have always wanted to understand what is happening physiologically to the body as a whole not looking at the symptoms individually (this is why I apply a functional medicine approach to my nutritional support).
I regularly discuss with my clients about their births, were they breastfed, and have written literature reviews, done numerous functional tests and frequently discussed the importance of the Human Microbiome and its importance on gut health, why allergies etc. are on the rise and of course how it is effected during pregnancy (read more here).
Why don't we focus more on prevention and preparation with child birth? Eating the right foods takes preparation so we nourish our bodies and prevent ill health. Preparation for birth to me is exactly the same. I want to have the right intention for my baby's birth and being prepared is important to me, not in a controlling way - just to be aware of all my choices. One thing is for sure actual child birth is totally out of my control! - when my baby wants to arrive he/she will tell me not the other way round, but if I know all my options and have as many tools available to me then the anxiety and fear associated around birth can be reduced - right?
Through Ali I met Lucy Horton who runs Sundaramama. Lucy's yoga classes I can't recommend enough. For the final few weeks of my pregnancy I am trying to incorporate 2-3 yoga classes a week (with different support providers). Lucy is obviously highly experienced and has worked with many professional sports women wanting to continue their fitness throughout pregnancy. As my body starts to ache as the weight has dramatically increased during this third trimester I'm drinking large glasses of goats milk daily and eating my greens as my body tells me to up my depleting calcium stores. My lower back also aches and massage is just amazing (thanks husband Mark), it is also clear that the pregnancy hormone relaxin is softening my ligaments making them more elastic, which will help with the baby's birth (and helped my golf swing a few months ago). However this has started to hurt when I over exert myself - which I find really frustrating . Lucy's yoga teachings reassures me that my body is strong and was built for this as the long effective stretches soothe any pain. The evening sessions are particularly beneficial as my sleep is then fantastic.
I was recommended "The Positive Birth Book" by Milli Hill which nicely ties everything together and is a great resource. "Tell me a good birth Story" started by active birth yoga teacher and doula Natalie Meaddings is a really great reference and having met Natalie and attended her active yoga class I strongly recommend you include working with her in your self care if possible. Her yoga sessions allow you to finish off talking with other mums-to-be over tea and cake! Providing you with a key part to your mental wellbeing during pregnancy - support! She is a wealth of knowledge and I suggest you contact her with any concerns. Natalie also works with the kind and supportive Michelle Gerlis who runs Positive Birth Movement Groups well worth checking out also.
As I continue to aim for the birth which suits me but with a complete realistic approach - I know knowledge is key. So many things can and will be out of my control, but I know that by being informed of all my options, feeling supported and including stress reducing natural remedies can only have a positive affect on my mental health, birth and recovery.
Natural remedies can include the relaxing calming effects of lavender, hypnotherapy visualisation, meditation, aromatherapy candles, homeopathic remedies, empowering crystals, active pregnancy yoga, talking!, therapeutic water (we all know how good a bath is at calming us and helping us with pain) plus of course even including foods to help with symptoms - in the case of pregnancy dates and raspberry leaf tea beneficial effects have been studied.
A few nutritional support tips:
- No matter how much you may want to lose weight, don't be tempted to diet during pregnancy. You will lose excess weight naturally if you adopt a healthy eating plan. Pregnancy is a time to limit stress and nourish yourself and the baby.
- Ensure you eat little and often with meals based around complex carbohydrate, in order to balance your blood sugar levels.
- Eat whole food to avoid suffering from constipation and ensuring toxins (including excess hormones) are effectively excreted out of the body.
Once again though remember we are all individual (as I see in the DNA testing at clinic) and what works for someone else may not work for you! Enjoy your own journey!