What have you Neglected in your Unassisted birth?

It’s a funny question to ask,

“What have you neglected in planning for your unassisted birth?”  Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to place any guilt trip on anyone’s shoulders. Rather, I like to take a look at questions from a different angle sometimes, and see if I’m missing anything. “What has been neglected?” is a good way to step back and evaluate your planning and preparations.

Research:

Depending on time (how many weeks do you have left in your pregnancy?) you may be able to delve into every single topic known to birth. You can read and evaluate and ponder and decide your preferences. Maybe You’ll look into the scarier topics and try to come up with a game plan (If baby starts coming at 25 weeks, how will we explain our choices to the doctors in the hospital?). You may not enjoy researching, or you may have only limited time before the birth. What then?

My suggestion is focus your research on just the topics that cause the strongest emotions. Do you have fears? Delve into the specific fears, and discover that they melt into less scary scenarios (Baby not breathing at birth? If the cord is pulsing and plump then they are still getting all the oxygen they need… you have time.).

On the flip side, if you are excited to have your “dream birth experience” then spend time researching what kind of preparations were people happy they made? Hiring a birth photographer? Decorating with affirmations? Having a blessingway and making a necklace from beads to wear during labor? Don’t know what a blessingway is? Here’s a blog post that describes it.

Focus your attention to spend time on the important-to-YOU topics first, and once you’ve learned what you want to know, if you still have time to spend… then branch out.

Exercise:

This is NOT my expertise. In fact, I can safely say this is a topic that I have neglected in my three pregnancies.  If exercise is important to you, congratulations! It can stay an important part of your life. But let me offer a word of caution about over-exercising that not many people mention. If you’ve listened to, or read, hundreds of birth stories like I have… You may have noticed an interesting trend for the extremely fit woman to have c-sections. <double-take> Wait, what?!

It’s just an observation I’ve made, but it alarms me a little bit! One woman was a ballet dancer — C-section. Cross-fit coach — C-section. Fitness Coach – C-section.  Something about the extreme strengthening and toning of these women’s core muscles makes it difficult for those muscles to stretch and loosen and relax, even in the presence of the hormone relaxin. They simply don’t dilate very quickly or easily, and eventually they “time out” at the hospital (greater than 24 hours with water broken) and off to surgery they go.

Extreme Fitness:

Different, but also on the spectrum of Exercise and pregnancy — your abdominal muscles are meant to stretch apart and sometimes separate during pregnancy. This condition is called diastasis recti, and while the muscles can come back together and heal after birth, sometimes they don’t. Women who have overly strong abdominal muscles before pregnancy, or who start working those muscles too soon after pregnancy, tend to have more trouble with their abs separating wider, or not coming together. If you love your flat tummy, doing ab work, or want to get your body back as fast as possible after pregnancy… I would encourage you to look into this subject and learn the whys and why nots of certain exercises. It may save you some long extra-months of healing.

All that said, I’m more of an under-exerciser and would benefit from a gentle and regular exercise routine during pregnancy. (Next pregnancy… Definitely on my list!)

Stretching:

I’m probably one of only 7 Americans who haven’t yet gotten on the Yoga train.  Oh, wait, you too? Okay, so there are 8 of us now. That being said, I’m beginning to be convinced of the need for regular and gentle stretching. My lower back feels tight when I lay on my stomach to sleep (Yes, I’m pre-pregnancy right now. The luxury of NOT being pregnant is sleeping on my belly for now.) It feels almost like my hamstrings are being tugged on where they attach in my bum. This is *definitely* a lack-of-stretching issue.

My last two pregnancies I’ve had worse sciatic nerve pain each time, and I need to get into a stretching routine so that doesn’t get worse yet the next pregnancy. I don’t really have much more to say on this topic. Just that it’s on my radar as something I’ve been neglecting.

Nutrition:

This is the topic my mind goes to automatically when I think of neglecting preparation. During my last pregnancy the nausea was so horrific in the first few months that I vowed to start preparing freezer meals the moment I found out I was pregnant. That way my family could thaw and cook nutritious food for themselves while I hid elsewhere in the house, avoiding the scent of food. If nothing else at least my family won’t have to survive on macaroni and cheese, and quesadillas for eight weeks.

Seriously though, we all want to eat good nutritious food during pregnancy to help our baby grow well. In reality food aversions and nausea play a huge role in keeping our meal planning to zero… Then fatigue doesn’t help.  If you can do *anything* to improve your ability to feed yourself and your family during your pregnancy it will be well worth the effort and planning. If nothing else, write down and SAVE your weekly meal plans & grocery list. When you can’t think of what to make, copy a prior week verbatim. Your husband will probably prefer to eat meatloaf AGAIN, and Spaghetti for the 3rd time this month, over and above cereal for dinner, and make-your-own-whatever-you-can-find-in-the-fridge.

My personal quest at better nutrition…

has been to choose higher quality ingredients at the store — pasture raised eggs instead of the cheapest eggs on sale this week (pastured eggs are laid from chickens that eat bugs and are in the sunshine. Their better nutrition translates to better nutrition in the egg.)  I started avoiding foods that contain soy — partly because of family food intolerances, and partly because they are estrogen foods that can mess up the hormonal balance of our bodies.

During my next pregnancy my goal is to fill the freezer as much as I can before I get nauseous, plan meals for my family that my husband can shop for and cook (in case I can’t handle the smell of food) and eat as much nutrient dense whole foods as my stomach will allow… And not to skimp on the quality of the food (i.e. go for the quality over the cheapest brand, whenever I can afford it).

Birth Supplies:

Honestly, I’m not a huge user-of-many-supplies during my births. I have a fishy-pool that we bought two births ago. It hasn’t gotten popped, so we’re good to go on that. My first package of chux pads had like 20+ pads, and I’ve only used half or less so far… I need to buy a package of depends each birth because I use one or two the day of labor, and the rest over the heaviest days of bleeding (I buy the small pack, by the way, so it only has like 7 in the pack).

That I might do differently next time… I’ve gotten a bladder infection or a yeast infection each time after birth. My assumption is that it’s not changing my pads often enough (too much absorbency, so I don’t change as often as I should). Next time I might use mama-cloth. Those washable panty liners that are held in place with wing snaps. Never heard of them? I hadn’t either, but I want to try them instead of the disposables. Less chemicals is a good thing.

Towels? I haven’t ever ruined any towels from birth. Just use the oldest towels you own during birth. We have about 3 bath towels that are older than the rest. Oh yeah, and a small waste basket to vomit into.  Is there anything else?…. I wear a bikini top in the pool (I want to share pictures with family afterward, and this makes it possible for me) and I have a bath robe for when I get cold outside the pool (I am mostly just hot and naked while laboring, but for a few contractions I got SOOOO cold and immediately wanted covers and blankets.

What else comes to your mind?

I’m sure there are a dozen other topics to consider. My children are calling my name, and asking me to play with them… And I’ve been putting them off for over an hour. So rather than wracking my brain for another topic to expound upon, I’ll let YOU think of what else you might be neglecting? And I’ll go play with my kids!

I hope in facing this question you’ve opened up your view to see that one topic glaring at you, and asking you to consider a little more preparation.

Hannah S.
Hannah S.

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