now that i have been through an entire, 40 week pregnancy (due today, thank you very much!) i feel like i know a thing or two about being pregnant. i didn’t really have girlfriends with babies (at least not readily accessible ones) to hand me down wisdom, so i muddled through on my own. i thought i’d say a bit about what i wish someone had told me from the get, and why not make a list and include items?!
- know your options: read, watch and ask. i think the shock of pregnancy and the initial physical, emotional and hormonal impact of just being pregnant really consumed me for the first few months. i didn’t really think about actually giving birth and what that involved or what my options were until i was well into my 2nd trimester. a few encounters with overbearing nurses and doctors got me thinking about how disconnected the american medical system is from real health, and how disconnected modern american obstetrics is from female nature. finally i watched the business of being born, and felt like i had some answers. i wish that every women could watch this documentary upon finding out that they are pregnant. it is so eye-opening, and presents a full picture of the range of options that are available to women. although the medical industry would like us to believe otherwise, we do have choices. every woman should think about what kind of care they want to receive, what type of birth experience they want to have, and they should feel empowered to explore all of the options and make whatever decision is right for them. i changed care givers three times, from a nurse to an M.D. to finally a midwife, at 7 1/2 months pregnant. i finally have the type of care that works for me, and found a birthing facility that offers what i want. come up with a birth plan, tour facilities, ask questions, ask questions about questions, say no, say yes, you have the right to the kind of care that is most comfortable for you. i also read about every book out there about pregnancy and could have scrapped 75% of them. of all of the guides out there, from the mayo clinic to what to expect, the only one that i would buy is a pregnancy guide that i picked up for $2 at a thrift store, joanne stone’s the pregnancy bible. this book has all of the information from weekly charts showing what is occurring for both mother and baby, advice on exercise, diet, sex during pregnancy, physical symptoms, all types of births and pain options, into breastfeeding and beyond. the only other must read book is the amazing ina may gaskin’s ina may’s guide to childbirth. this book is filled with stories of successful, healthy, happy natural birth stories, and left me feeling so confident. what i love about ina may is her no nonsense tone and basic message that women have been giving birth since the dawn of time. our bodies know what to do. period. what a concept.
- be healthy, listen to your body. i have managed to exercise 6 days a week throughout my pregnancy, and i believe it has kept me not only at a healthy weight but also sane. i found that the less i moved, the more uncomfortable, swollen, and low energy i became. it is agreed upon that keeping up your exercise routine while pregnant is perfectly healthy, it is just important to listen to your body. the later i got in pregnancy, the more yoga made sense to me. yoga has always been important to me, but in late pregnancy it helped me to connect to my body when i was feeling like i was being pushed out of it by the full term baby and fluid inside of me. walk, stretch, find what feels good for you, but move. a good pair of walking shoes is crucial, and keep in mind that your feet will swell and stretch up to a size larger. nutrition is also so important in pregnancy, but it’s equally important not to beat yourself up. your body knows what it needs to nurture that growing baby. my diet changed drastically when i became pregnant, and i finally learned not to beat myself up but to listen and when i did, i craved dairy, protein, fruit, what i needed when i needed it. i always carried with me a little bag of raw almonds to settle my stomach in a pinch and it never failed me. staying hydrated is also important, despite the constant need to pee, and i always carry a bottle of water. and don’t forget a good, natural pre-natal vitamin with folic acid.
- find clothes that fit you, and still make you feel cute. i feel like the maternity wear industry is such a racket, and couldn’t bring myself to spend a fortune on clothes i would only wear for a month or two. all of the maternity items i bought, i found at thrift stores. i really lived in leggings, tunics, and short dresses. accessorizing is crucial, and playing up that belly with a skinny belt is undeniably adorable. a cotton, striped, fitted “body-con” dress is great for feeling like a sexy mama, and a good, comfy pair of pretty ballet flats will end up being all that you can wear, so make them good ones. most importantly, buy yourself underwear. i wore my usual ones and stretched them in terrible ways and tore them and am left with no underwear. you will go through multiple bra sizes, so don’t stock up but treat yourself to a new one whenever the time comes.
- pamper yourself. things get mighty uncomfortable towards the end, and getting comfortable becomes a full time quest. i wish someone had gotten me one of these incredible boppy body pillows but i made due with regular pillows, propping them in strange ways to support my belly and legs, all in the name of sacred sleep. don’t get down on yourself for not being able to keep up at your old pace. i spent many nights in agony because i had worked my feet into an unbearably swollen state and i often wished for one of those conair foot spas like my mom used to have in the 80’s. take baths, use that cocoa butter stretch mark lotion and take as many naps as you need. you deserve it. really.
- accept your fate as a pregnant lady. i think i fought being a pregnant lady for a long time, grinding through the days at work and ignoring my exhaustion. i recently discovered fit pregnancy magazine and felt like i came across some secret book filled with my own language. i couldn’t believe all of the articles about the random crap that fills my mind and days, and the ads for amazing gadgets and trinkets created just for pregnancy ladies like me. one such ad featured these amazing things called bellybuds, headphones that you attach to your belly to play music and recordings for your baby. it’s perfectly fine to geek out over this crap. let people carry your groceries and cook you dinner. take that open seat and say no when you are tired. no one will judge you for being…a pregnant lady.