Training for Birth

28 Dec

One of the things that I found most interesting and empowering about midwifery care was the amount of participation that was expected of me and The Hubs through the whole process. Of course, all women participate in their pregnancies and births, but I really feel that under standard OB care, you just don’t learn as much about the whole process. For the most part, I think that American women are victims of pregnancy – that it happens to you, you don’t have much control, the doctors are the bosses, and things end up how they end up. With our midwife, I felt that I was in charge, that I played a major role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy – and I learned that what you do can make a HUGE difference in how you feel and the total outcome of the whole ordeal.

I have to say, I had an awesome pregnancy and felt pretty great the entire time. Not too much sickness, not too much tiredness after the first trimester, no swelling, healthy weight gain, and while my third trimester belly inspired comments like “do you need to use a wench to get out of bed in the morning?” (no joke, a guy said this to me around week 37), I was active and pretty much pain-free down to the very end. For all of this, I feel very blessed. I know a lot of women have a much harder time, through no fault of their own. But I do feel that my actions contributed to my wonderful experience. Here’s what I think made the difference:

  • Diet: My midwife recommended the Brewer Pregnancy Diet, which basically recommends eating a s%!t ton of protein every day, getting plenty of calories, and NOT restricting salt intake. Okay, I’m paraphrasing it a bit – here’s a link to its daily recommendations. I tried to follow this as closely as possible and I drank a ton of water. While it’s challenging to eat 70-100 grams of protein each day, it’s worth the effort. The diet is filled with healthy, satisfying foods that give your spawn the nutrients it needs to grow, it helps you maintain your energy, and it helps prevent conditions like pre-eclampsia. I started my morning every day with two eggs, wheat toast with butter, orange juice and some fresh fruit. I snacked on a lot of almonds and tried to add spinach to pretty much everything. And I did not restrict my salt intake at all. My blood pressure stayed low for the whole pregnancy and I had no swelling. Now, the blood pressure thing isn’t that big of a deal to me, as I’ve never had any issues with it, but the swelling thing was huge. My non-pregnant, birth-control-taking self would plump right up for any old reason. If it was hot out, my fingers and feet would swell. If I was on my feet a good bit, my ankles would get huge. I just KNEW I would have cankles by the third month and my rings would have to be cut off of my enormously fat fingers. My baby was due in August, after all. To my shock and delight, none of that happened. Thank you, Brewer diet!

    This is what I thought I'd look like at 9 months.

  • Exercise: I’m not a fitness-ey person. I don’t do things like run or have a gym membership. But I did make sure that I stayed active during my pregnancy by walking a lot. My midwife and our childbirth educator emphasized the importance of doing some simple exercises to prepare your body for birth. Do a lot of Kegels – squeeze and hold for extended periods and do short bursts. And do them a lot. They help strengthen the pelvic floor, keeping your uterus and stuff in, helping you push that baby out, and possibly preventing incontinence when it’s all over with. To counter Kegels, do a crazy amount of squats. Short, repetitive squats and loooong deep squats. These can help prevent tears. If that’s not worth it, I don’t know what is.
  • Chiropractic: I saw a fabulous chiropractor every two weeks throughout my pregnancy. He uses the activator method, which is extremely gentle and doesn’t involve any weird positions or loud cracking of things. He helped keep my neck, back, hips and pelvis loose, aligned and feeling good. And he has this fabulous massage device that he runs over your back at the end of each visit. Absolutely heavenly.
  • Education: Being mentally and emotionally prepared for pregnancy and birth is just as important as being physical prepared. Unfortunately, they just don’t teach you much in school about how pregnancy and childbirth work, and a shocking amount of American women know squat about childbirth options. The Hubs and I took a wonderful class with Mary Kury where we got to learn in-depth about pregnancy, how to stay healthy, what to expect during childbirth and tips and techniques for pain management. I cannot emphasize how important this info was for a natural, normal childbirth. Plus, it was just so darn interesting. Being pregnant is kind of like having your body taken over by aliens. It’s just weird. I was dying to know every little thing that was going on in there.

While my birth experience didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned it, I do feel like I was extremely prepared and in control the whole time. I made it through a 36-hour labor, pushed out a 7 lb – 13 oz baby with no tearing and had a really quick physical recovery. Absolutely worth every scrambled egg, deep squat and Kegel!

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