Oh pregnancy! For some it is an elusive dream, for others it brings that beautiful glow, still others dread it. For those that are yet to experience those nine months there are a few things that What to Expect When You’re Expecting won’t teach you, and neither will your OB/GYN. These things could help you to make pregnancy a beautiful experience, one that you look forward to repeating. These are all things that I would have paid good money to know before I started on my journey of motherhood.
10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Pregnant
Planning Ahead can Make ALL the Difference
Did you know in many traditional cultures couples were not allowed to get married until they had eaten a fertility diet for at least six months? These cultures took great care to guarantee that momma and baby would not only survive but thrive, both during and after pregnancy.
Today we tend to forget that what we eat could make a huge difference for our future children. The extent of our concern as a culture is to tell those that are sexually active to take prenatal supplements. ANd that advice isn’t about forming a perfect baby, it is mostly to avoid spina bifida. But there is so much more that should be considered…
Are you getting enough magnesium? If your body has a plentiful supply and store of magnesium your chance of morning sickness will be greatly reduced. Are you properly nourished with iron, aka liver, and good quality healthy fats? With enough iron you will have more energy during pregnancy and be able to create a healthy placenta. Your future baby needs lots of fat to build a healthy brain and those same fats will help you maintain a cheerful mood.
On the contrary, sugar and processed foods could aid in making for a miserable pregnancy. For the body to rid itself of processed sugar, it will suck your magnesium stores dry.
Planning ahead, and preparing your body for those nine months of gestation is crucial to a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby. Growing a baby is hard, but a healthy, nourishing diet can make it much easier.
I recommend reading Beautiful Babies to fully understand what I’m talking about.
Stretch Marks are Optional
Yep! You heard me. WIth a healthy diet and some diligence even those that are genetically predisposed to stretch marks can avoid them. In addition to focusing on eating healthy fats we also use this stretch mark cream every day on the belly, thighs, butt, and breasts.
When I got pregnant with my first I was young, and had a ton to learn about health. I didn’t eat in a way that I would consider healthy today. I was a total fat hater. Little did I know that was a huge mistake, and I have a stomach full of tiger like stretch marks to prove it. Along with eating smarter and a few other tricks I may have been able to avoid such a disaster, or at least minimize it. After learning more about health, I was able to avoid getting stretch marks with my other pregnancies, and Megan has very few (she slacked on using the stretch mark cream). Click here to can learn more about ways to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
Nausea is Optional
Ain’t nobody got time for that, right? I was totally crippled by morning sickness with 2 of my pregnancies. But you guys! It doesn’t have to be that way.The biggest key, again, is to eat a healthy diet and listen to your body. I wrote all about how I avoided morning sickness during my third pregnancy in this post.
Group B Strep is Controllable
Now this isn’t a problem for everyone, but for those that have group B strep it generally means you are doomed to take antibiotics during labor. This also means that your baby will enter the world with a sterile gut. A sterile gut means that they will be more susceptible to infection throughout their infancy. Without a healthy gut full of good bacteria they will be getting the short end of the stick as they are introduced to this world.
I’ve been accused of being the bad guy here, and giving people bad information. Indeed group B strep is dangerous if the baby gets it, and by all means, if you test positive then you should probably take the antibiotics. However, if you know what to do to build up the good bacteria in your own body, it will crowd out the bad and you won’t have a group B strep problem. Here is how to test negative for GBS. Keep in mind, testing negative means you are negative. If you are concerned about it still, then I would follow the protocol in this post for the entire third trimester, until birth.
Exhaustion is Also Optional
During my first two pregnancies I slept A LOT…. Now I’m not saying I didn’t need some extra zzz’s for round three, especially during the first trimester when my hormones were changing rapidly, but overall it was much better. With my first I was awake for about 8 hours a day for most of the pregnancy. With my second I would frequently fall asleep ten minutes into our movie after dinner. And that was after taking a nap most days.
I was also put on iron supplements during both of those pregnancies. Not surprised? Me neither…
During my third pregnancy I did two things different that helped significantly. First, I did a much better job of taking my prenatal. Since I wasn’t so very nauseated it made taking it much easier. The second thing I did was to get as much liver into my diet as possible without tasting it (I’m not really a fan of the flavor). I would often make recipes like these hidden liver meatballs. You could also try these homemade liver pills, or these dehydrated raw liver pills.
Although I was still rather worn out, I rarely napped and I never fell asleep during a movie. Thank goodness!
Natural Childbirth is Totally Worth a Little Pain
First off, this is a judgement free zone. Birth is a varied as the personalities of the babies that are born.
Now, I am speaking from my own personal experience. Keep in mind, for me labor is relatively short, and shrinks by half every time I have a baby. Perhaps with long labors I wouldn’t be saying the same thing. My first, was an 8 hour labor. I had an epidural that only partially worked. Honestly that was far scarier than going natural. Probably because I wasn’t mentally prepared to deal with pain or feeling anything for that matter. My second was a 4 hour labor. The epidural worked wonderfully, and I felt nothing. Actually I couldn’t even tell if I was pushing when I was told to push. My third was an 1 1/2 hour labor. Short and sweet and I did not use an epidural.
Was it painful? Yes. And a little scary. I didn’t know for sure what I was in for. But I told myself from the beginning of the pregnancy that I wanted an unmedicated birth which I’m sure made it much easier. I also had a wonderful nurse that frequently reminded me to relax and to breathe… All my studying of breathing techniques and surges instead of contractions went out the window when push came to shove.
So why is natural better? To keep it brief. Without drugs you will have more oxytocin which benefits labor. My brain seemed to be more focused and coherent. I was able to get up and walk around after and feel my legs. Also, since I’m not a fan of unnecessary drugs it was a win win for me.
Additional reading: Pitocin vs.Oxytocin
Diastasis Recti Can Heal
I’m still suffering the repercussions of not knowing this tip. Belly binding has been used for generations in other countries. Not only does it hold that postpartum softness together, but it aids in the closing of diastasis recti. Ideally belly binding should be done for the first few weeks after delivery. If you missed that window, like I did, don’t fret. You can still belly bind in conjunction with special exercises and close that obnoxious abdominal gap. The best program I have found to strengthen the core and heal diastasis recti is from Fit2Be. The exercises are gentle but very effective and I am always sore the next day. It also puts a focus on abdominal awareness, and what you need to do to strengthen your core and to recognize where you are weak.
Your Chiro and Massage Therapist Should be Your Best Friends
Chiropractic care and massage can help with nausea, joint pain, back pain, and muscle pain. I found great relief for sciatica, and for those sharp pains you get in the lower abdomen. Chiropractic and massage also helps keep your spine, pelvis, and joints in the proper position which makes pregnancy and labor easier. I would personally recommend seeing your chiro or massage therapist as often as you see your OB/GYN, increasing in frequency as the pregnancy progresses.
Eating Your Placenta is a Thing…
Did I eat my placenta? Umm… No! But I thought more than once that I should have kept it and maybe tried it. Now if you haven’t heard of this then I probably sound a little crazy. But there are lots of women who claim encapsulating their placentas and then using the pills as supplements helped them rebound faster and avoid postpartum depression. Its worth checking into if nothing else. Would I try if I have another?… Err… I’m not sure. But I think I’ll keep my placenta either to bury under a tree or try if I get desperate for relief.
Additional Reading: I’m no superhero: Encapsulating My Placenta for Postpartum Healing
Ultrasounds Have a Dark Side
I’m not going to dive deep into this one, because it has already been done and I couldn’t write it better than Mommypotamus in this post, Prenatal Ultrasounds: Peek at What Price? To keep it short and sweet, there have been studies done on mice that show ultrasounds causing brain abnormalities, like retardation and seizures, to their fetuses.
Pregnancy is an amazing, exciting, and miserable experience all rolled into a ball of chaotic emotion. Chances are you will never be more happy or miserable as you go through the process of creating and birthing a baby. Whether you choose to eat liver or not, whether you choose to get an epidural or not, whether you get an ultrasound or not; I hope the information I have shared helps you to make educated and good decisions for you and your family.
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photo courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net/Stewart Miles