Just like planning to run a marathon, giving birth is physically demanding too that needs preparation and training. Not to mention that it involves emotion and mental preparation too. A prepared mind and body for a childbirth can get you feel confident and help you reap the benefits of a natural labor. Though this is my first time and still in my second trimester, I, too have no idea how my labor will end. But I personally believe that planning and preparing help you get the right control when the big day comes.
So below are ways on how I prepare my mind and body for a natural childbirth:
Nutrition – Growing a baby is a tough work! Baby will rely on the vitamins and minerals that your body have that’s why it’s important to ensure that you’re getting adequate nutrition. Ideally, pregnant women would get everything they need from a diet rich in whole foods. After all, vitamins exist naturally in food are the most bioavailable (meaning the most easily absorbed by the body). Whole foods also contain a variety of important minerals, phytonutrients, and cofactors that work together in a perfect blend for maximum utilization. However prenatal vitamins will help you avoid to have some deficiencies in pregnancy. I personally think that supplementing your nutrition is a part of achieving a healthy pregnancy.
It’s easy to get hands on foods that are not nutrient dense so I created a list of nutritious food for myself so that it will be easy for me to have only the healthy options. It includes whole grains, starchy vegetables, leafy greens, healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and seeds, healthy proteins like lean meat, poultry and fish and kefir, yogurt and milk. One strategy that helped a lot is to meal plan my breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Just have some ideas and play with it so that you won’t get tired of what you are eating. I noticed that by practicing this, I never craved for something sweet and unhealthy foods. Though sometimes, I would be okay eating sodas and fast food but it never became my lifestyle. Smoothies helped me a lot into getting all the benefits of leafy greens and fruits in just one go. Choose your drinking options wisely as well, I love Kombucha as my drinking juice at times.
It’s important to know what kinds of foods to avoid, like high mercury fish, raw eggs, undercooked meat, unpasteurized milk, and alcohol is just an example. I stay away from smokers as well. Caffeine is also controversial as you will hear a different opinion about it, I just chose not to drink coffee anymore as I am not dependent on it anyway or drink decaffeinated which is very seldom, But for others, I would say that maximum of 2 cups is the safest. We would also hear about eating for two, but this is not true at all. During the first trimester, pregnant women won’t need any more than what she is normally eating until the 2nd and 3rd trimester in which you will be needing an additional 300 to 500 calories. Now, most people like me, don’t really count calories, I think a much better and simpler approach is to count nutrients.
Pregnancy is one of the most vital and delicate times in a woman’s life. Therefore, it is more important than ever to eat a healthy diet.
Exercise – We all know that exercise could benefit us in a lot of ways, and even so to a pregnant woman. Starting or maintaining a workout routine can lower the risk of developing complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, boost and regulate your mood and increase the likelihood that you’ll stay within a healthy weight range and get back to your old self more quickly after giving birth. And the best news is that we don’t have to join CrossFit or do high-intensity workouts, just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise is enough for most women.
Walking for at least 30 minutes is one of my favorites, to be in the outdoors breathing fresh air and enjoying the sunshine. When I was in my first trimester, I was often very exhausted so walking and a light yoga is the only exercise I could do which is very rare in my first three months of pregnancy. I’d prefer to just sleep and rest. I’d say that it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. The beginning is always hard especially your whole body is adjusting from the pregnancy hormones.
Living in Norway, I am lucky that pregnancy gyms exist here, so without a second thought, I signed up. They offer variations of exercises especially made by a physiotherapist for pregnant women. I go there twice a week, and I am enjoying this so much as I am meeting other pregnant women in the area too and share our experiences. They also offer swimming, which I plan to add to my exercise routine when I am in my third trimester and feels heavy.
Twice a week I would do a prenatal yoga as well, those days that I am not at the gym, through you-tube. If there is no pregnancy gym in your area, you could definitely exercise at home for free! All you need is a mat and designate a space for you to move freely. I bought myself an exercise ball too, I would sit there every day and do pelvic exercises. I love yoga even before I got pregnant, this is the type of exercise that is slow and practice mindful breathing, connect with my baby (my favorite part) and clear my mental space. Right now, I am a stay-at-home so I have a generous amount of time to do what I love, but for pregnant women who work, depending on how active your job is and schedule, any form of body movement is really beneficial for you and for your growing baby.
Get Schooled – I am so passionate about my learning and understanding my pregnancy. So on this journey, I preferred to get schooled. Buy pregnancy books and attend birth classes as much as I can. You will get a deeper understanding of the physiological changes your body will go through, as well as a sense of the rhythm of labor. What I love about Interactive classes is that it gives an opportunity for our partners to get informed and empowered, so they can better support us. Another book that I plan to get when I am in my third trimester is hypnobirthing, but the audiobook version. I know that our mindset and mental preparation has a lot of things to do how our labor would end up.
Prenatal check-ups and screenings – I’m sure that this one is an automatic thing to do to achieve a healthy pregnancy, but I believe it deserves to be mentioned too. It’s very important which healthcare provider you would like to handle your pregnancy, and if you feel that their style is not the kind of support you need, there is nothing wrong if you would want to change your midwife or obstetrician. I also think that it’s important to engage with your midwife, ask questions about the location of your birth and get help on writing your birth plan.
Maternity Basics – I am approaching half of my due date in my pregnancy right now, and I started having difficulty in buttoning my pants and giving me discomfort. I guess it’s time for me to get some maternity clothes. While I try to be minimal with my clothing, I wanted to be smart of which kind of maternity clothes I will buy. I personally like to get dresses and tops that would accommodate my breastfeeding needs after I deliver my baby. So I am very careful in purchasing which includes lots of research. Maternity clothes are made to fit a pregnant body, they give you the room where you need it, and would give a lot of comforts!
Write a birth plan
Should you really write a birth plan? In my opinion, it really depends on your personality. I am the kind of gal who wants to plan and prepare myself for whatever will come under any circumstances. Consult virtually any book or parenting website, and many will tell you that a birth plan is like a guide or a roadmap to realizing your specific vision of an ideal childbirth. Though every birth is unique and unpredictable, it’s important to have a good plan that shouldn’t just describe your best-case scenario; it should also include your preferences in case things don’t go accordingly to plan. It’s also important to get clear on your hospital or birth center’s policies long before the delivery of a realistic birth plan, know your priorities and know your options.
I had some of the plans written already and will go back when I am approaching my due date and will share it here as well.
Take care of you – Listen to some music, get your hair done (but hold off on the hair dye), visit a pregnancy massage therapist, sleep, see all the good movies, treat yourself a Mani-Pedi, Go out to eat, make time for your friends, read for pleasure, finish up those home improvements, block out some me time. You get what I mean, go ahead and indulge in some much-needed and well-deserved “me time”. The more we can appreciate these moments now, the more we can embrace the new and exciting life that awaits.
“I am never alone. I am surrounded by people who love me. I feel the love they have for me and my baby. I am grateful.”
I believe that through a healthy pregnancy and avoiding risks to happen, a natural, unmedicated childbirth is really possible. Mama, let’s enjoy this phase!