Not me, of course, but did I get you? Ha!
This is a post for the ladies, but fellas, listen closely.
So, one of my bestest friends in the whole world is pregnant, and I wrote her a message. But then I thought, I know lots of people who are pregnant, and there are more all the time, so why don't I write all of them a message?
This is for all of you out there now and in the future who will nurture little sea monkeys in your tummy.
If you are pregnant, I'm so happy for you. Maybe it was easy for you like it was for me. I got knocked up the first month of trying. Yay! But for some it's not so easy. If you have had many months of trying, or a miscarriage, or the terrible pain of several miscarriages, then getting pregnant may have begun to feel like a chore, or worse. It probably felt like it took forever!! But, disappointments and waiting for anything makes success that much more wonderful and precious.
If you've read many of my other posts, you've probably heard me say that I don't know anything. I want you to know that I hold firm to that tenet. I've got some advice comin' at cha, but I never wish to sound like I know what I'm talking about. ;-)
My first bit of advice is to CHOOSE to enjoy pregnancy, no matter what it throws at you! I lost 10 pounds in my first 6 weeks of pregnancy, got on anti-vomit medicine, and was still ralphing every day for 20ish weeks. I was afraid to go anywhere, and I couldn't go anywhere without clutching a doubled up plastic bag. I had stocks of them in the car doors. Vomiting became part of my morning routine, even after 20 weeks. I was anemic, too, on top of the other discomforts, like... "Oh, God, when will I be able to lay on my back again?," "How is it that I have gas in my shoulder blades?," "My poor cat can't fit in my lap anymore," "I can't reach around my belly to get my underwear on," and "You want me to stretch WHAT in preparation for childbirth?" But you know what? I loved being pregnant!
One thing that is awesome about pregnancy is that you no longer have to think about maintaining your normal physical aesthetic ideals, especially once you start "to show." Whatever happens to your body is attributed to the baby. BUT, that doesn't mean you can stop exercising or gain too much weight. Letting go of the mirror is wonderful; that doesn't mean you can let go of your health, and therefore the health of your baby. That being said, I loved strutting around in a bikini at 8 months, and having people tell me I was "all baby." I think they really believed that, but they were wrong, cause I couldn't fit into my normal pants for four or five months after I gave birth. Lucky for me I got into a dance show when Knox was 4ish months. The rehearsals helped me get skinnier than I was pre-pregnancy (not that I maintained that). Anyway... enjoy that. If you can, I would recommend spending some money on cute maternity clothes, which you can justify by remembering that you can always save them for next time. Go to nursing sites and stock up on breast feeding dresses and tops, cause they have some really cute ones out there, and the clothes made for feeding are much more convenient than wrangling with regular clothes. Because YOU ARE going to breastfeed, right??
Next I would say, start forming a relationship with your little one as soon as you know you are pregnant. When I was pregnant, I did this; I sang, and read him books, and pet him, and poked at his feet. If he was sleeping and I couldn't feel him, I would drink some orange juice to wake him up to make sure he was ok. In the middle of the night I would talk to him and we would enjoy each other before going back to sleep. But, once he was born, the enormity of that pre-birth relationship hit me a lot harder. It was kind of theoretical to me, before I saw him- before I got to know him. Once he was on the outside, I realized that he was my child the moment he was conceived, not just once I saw him on a screen, not once I could feel him- always. Another friend of mine just had a sonogram at 12 weeks and she could see the little bean wiping at his/her face and rolling around. It's real my friends, earlier than many people imagine.
I would also recommend that you look up some studies about the little one's life in the womb. One researcher set out to debunk another physician's findings about how important that time is to the entire life of the person you are growing. She found the opposite of what she was looking for, which is rare, and became an advocate. What you eat, what you experience, including stress and joy... it all makes a difference.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
All the other stuff you pick up and are given. Either way, please read.
Now, about the fear. It is not what you see on TV. It is not what you see in the movies. It is not something to fear. If you prepare yourself well, which you should, you can go into labor and childbirth with excitement and joy instead of uncertainty and fear. If my Labor of Love homies are reading this, then I know I am preaching to the choir. Those primigravidas out there, please, please educate yourself. Take every class you have time for and can afford, and if money is an issue, talk to the instructor; concessions can always be made for so important an experience. Birth class instructors know that. Good one's won't turn you down over money. If you feel a little in the dark about the birth experience itself, read that book up there, and look around. Find out what your options are and go check places out. Ask lots of questions. I encourage you not to make choices based on fear, at any time during your life, but especially now, when you should be focusing on the most amazing and joyous experience you will ever have. I took a wonderful class with the unfortunate name of "Hypnobirthing." By the time I finished the class, my entire perspective changed, and I forgot that the idea of childbirth had made me nervous. Educate yourself!!
I'm about to say something very contentious: C-section rates in the US vary from place to place, but they are generally out of control, and that is confirmed by governing organizations in the US. The United States is not ranked well in comparison to other developed countries when it comes to the safety of childbirth, and I think that follows the birth culture in the US. I feel strongly that, if you are in a position to have an out of hospital birth, you should give it a serious bit of consideration. I have one friend that started out at a birth center and her birth still resulted in a C-section. It happens. It's a miracle solution for some people. But it also happens unnecessarily. Again, educate yourself, and use the perfect duration of time you have from finding out you are pregnant to build a support system around yourself of people that you trust, based out of a birth location that you have researched and that you trust. Know what procedures might be performed, what medications might be given, and what monitoring systems might be used. Your confidence is the most important thing. Knowledge breeds confidence.
This is info on what happens in your body and the baby's body when you get an epidural.
Here is the conclusion from the article linked just above. I think the part in bold is the most important:
Epidurals have possible benefits but also significant risks for the
laboring mother and her baby. These risks are well documented in the
medical literature but may not be disclosed to the laboring woman. Women
who wish to avoid the use of epidurals are advised to choose caregivers
and models of care that promote, support, and understand the principles
and practice of natural and undisturbed birth.
If you live in the Pinellas or Hillsborough counties, FL, area, I would recommend, with all the recommending fibers in my body, Labor of Love, The Birth Center for Tampa. It was absolutely perfect and amazing. If I can share desktops with my mom in Florida, who is the care-taker for my mac, I will post my birth story one of these days.
If you are one of my many pregnant friends, good luck and congratulations!! Words can't justify the beauty of a pregnant woman and the relationship she is having with her growing child. It's so temporary, so bask in it. I love you!