My journey to understanding pregnancy and birth started well before I was even pregnant. I had so many fears, misconceptions and anxieties around birth. I assumed that I would be in a lot of pain, that I would go to a hospital and have an epidural. All of that felt very sterile and scary. My curiosities began to grow as I began to mentally, spiritually and physically prepare for pregnancy. I started to learn more about my body and various resources in my community. I found Blooma, a space dedicated to prenatal yoga and signed up for the Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training. Let me just say - WOW! It was truly an eye opening experience. I realized somewhere along the way I had made some large (and very inaccurate) assumptions about pregnancy and birth. I was also shocked at how little I knew about my very own body.
The more I learned and research the more information I wanted. Pregnancy and birth seemed to consume all areas of my life. I was thirsty for information! I read, watched, listened, asked the experts, took courses, soaked up all things pregnancy and birth. This is what I found helpful:
For the Mind, Body and Spirit:
- The Positive Birth Company. A simple, low cost and virtual way to take hypnobirthing courses. This site offers more than just mantras and meditations. They have evidence based information that is shared in an very positive context. Changing the language from contraction to surge or wave for example.
- One Strong Mama. Prenatal and postnatal workouts, again at a low cost and within the convenience of your own home.
- Spinning Babies. This site is loaded with amazing information. From optimal fetal positioning to week by week guides, this resource will set you up right and your baby head down!
- Miles Circuit. A circuit designed for optimal fetal positioning and maternal relaxation.
- Body work, body work, body work! If you can swing it, find a chiropractor that specializes in perinatal care. I also routinely visited my local acupuncturist (they offered community acupuncture on a sliding fee scale!) and an amazing massage therapist. I had very few body aches during pregnancy and I attribute it to routine body care.
- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. If you only read one book, read THIS book! The first half is full of positive birth stories. The second half goes into the nitty gritty a bit more. It is evidence based information that covers pretty much every thing birth.
- The First 40 Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother. I realize this is about postpartum, but thinking about the postpartum period before you are actually in it will be helpful. This book shares insight into the importance of nurturing and rebuilding in the immediate postpartum phase. It also contains a recipe for some out of this world pancakes!
- The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama. This book is basically a text book on every aspect of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It is hefty and the illustrations also very beautiful.
- The Pregnancy Journal. I received this book from a friend and it is a much lighter version of the book listed above but still has all the good info. It has daily updates with what is going on with you and baby and offers space for reflection.
- The Business of Being Born
- The Circumcision Movie
- YouTube positive birth stories. Watching these videos from all different types of women showed me the variety of ways in which birth happens. I watched birthing people who moaned, who were silent, who were afraid, who were in the water, on all fours and they all birthed their babies in such powerful and beautiful ways.
- Birth ball / exercise ball. I preferred to sit on my exercise ball as my pregnancy progressed. I also used the ball during the early stages of labor. The ball gave me support through holding a majority of my weight and allowing my to sway my hips as needed.
- Pregnancy pillow. I borrowed a C-shaped pillow from a friend and I loved it. The pillow gave me so much comfort, brought my hips into better alignment and allowed me to comfortably side sleep.
- 40 oz HydroFlask with a straw. This beast was not only super handy for pregnancy but also labor. I use it to this day and even share it with my son!
- Secondhand Store dedicated to maternity clothes! I did not know this was a thing, but thankfully there was one in my area.
- Buy Nothing. My local Buy Nothing group has also saved me hundreds of dollars. I have received many clothing items for myself and baby on this site. You can either download the app or connect via Facebook.
- Body oil. The beauty industry has very little regulations. Many harmful ingredients are added to expensive products that are just trying to mimic single source oils. I used a variety of single source soils. I would shuffle beyween coconut oil, almond oil, and a DIY calendula olive oil that I have posted here.
- Compression socks. Near the end of my pregnancy these things were a real treat. They helped to relieve tension in my feet and legs after a long day of standing. They can also help if you experience any swelling. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy though you might need someone to put them on for you.
- Eating 6 dates a day from week 36 until birth.
- Daily glass of red raspberry leaf tea after the first trimester.
- Coconut water. I drank this stuff on the daily! This brand in particular has a high amount of iron, which many women are deficient in during pregnancy.
- As a pescatarian my midwives were always asking me about my protein intake. They wanted me hitting a minimum of 80 grams of protein a day. To get this amount I would eat things like: eggs with cheese on a whole wheat bagel, smoothies with protein powder, chia & flax seeds & peanut butter, beans on almost everything, various nuts and nut butters, and quinoa.
In conclusion, I would just like to add that these are some of the things that worked for me. They might not resonate or work for you, and that is okay. My only hope is that you feel empowered to find the solutions that work best for you. Knowledge is power and feeling empowered is something we all deserve!