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Embracing change and a shift in mindset.

A positive story about my first pregnancy.

Let me start by stating: Every pregnancy story is different. Every birth story is unique. Every woman is different. This my story.

TL;DR: My condensed version of my takeaways from this journey are at the top; detail further down if you fancy:

Embrace the experience and empower yourself.

Give yourself the strength/power/permission to do this. Sounds hippy-dippy, I know, but have a talk with yourself, this is new territory you are walking into.

Prepare your mind.

Acknowledge what state of mind you are in. Are you an anxious person? Do you have fears or concerns? It’s the perfect time to assess your current state of mind and prepare it for the changes that are to come. Change is scary to most folks so why not prepare yourself if able to. Ignore all horror stories you hear, period. In one ear, out the other. Do it.

Prepare your body.

You are designed to go through this experience so you have to trust your body. If you are not intimate with your body, time to try and explore it while you go through this transformation. Educate yourself, be curious, document the change and embrace that it’s temporary. Ignore all horror stories you hear, period. In one ear, out the other. Do it.

Prepare your mind, body and support system for the ‘big’ day.

Depending on what kind of person you are, you will find your own rhythms; it could be breathing techniques, yoga, writing, walking, painting — go wild — find what brings you to state of calm and focus and start to practice daily. You may discover a new ritual you love; stick to it. Think about and plan for what kind of birth you want to have; educate yourself, be curious and be bold when exploring all options. Read research, talk to your medical support team and start to draft what would be ideal for you. However, know that whatever you draft up may not be how things actually play out in the end so it’s key to educate yourself on all options to be ready in the event things change last minute. This is key to reduce unnecessary stress when you want to be calm and enjoy your birth.

My best vibes to you!

-C


Longer version of my experience below:

Embrace the experience and empower yourself.

I’ll preface by saying I planned for this pregnancy. I had spent the previous 2 years sorting our my own life; took a coaching course to pivot careers/what I do for work and did therapy to deal with some baggage — that was the primer for being mentally ready to commit to bringing a child into this (crazy-covid-19-current) world. I was originally ambivalent about having kids but after my own self-discovery journey, I came out of it with a new perspective. With that said, I was open, positive and optimistic to take on this new chapter, fully aware of the amount of newness that would be thrown at my face, my life and my marriage. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, there was a clear shift in perspective on life. I knew that nourishing my mind, body and later this child would now be my outmost priority. Work, bills, world news would not phase me any longer. Pretty wack how that shift in my mind happened immediately.

  • Take photos of your body’s transformation.
  • Don’t stress about when to tell people/work about your pregnancy (I told folks at 4 months)— but expect folks to shower you with a ton of love when you do!

Prepare your mind.

Looooaddds of change about to happen ahead, like, forever. (just had to use valley-girl tone here, felt appropriate). Forget the movie scenes, ignore instagram — this is your own unique experience you are about to embark on; make it your own. Start by preparing yourself first, then your partner/support system. I started asking my closest girlfriends whom had just given birth ALL the questions (TMI level too, don’t be shy — just ask!), then started journalling and doing prenatal yoga in the morning and at night before bed. That was my way of making time in the day to process current state but also make space for any questions or curiosity for what’s ahead. My biggest piece of advice is to take things day by day and only look ahead by a week. You can get sucked into advice, get lost in apps and books on changes, developments, concerns and that can get overwhelming. Someone asking you at 4 months pregnant if you have thought of childcare isn’t something you should be diving into just yet. If you are type-A, maybe you have a plan already, pardon moi, but for those of us that aren’t, no need to be thinking thhhhaaaat far ahead just yet. There is time for everything. My weak moment was mentally preparing for pain management. I had a 3-day (mini) panic attack about not knowing how to manage pain. I was obsessed with reading/hearing how people described the pain of contractions and birth (medicated and non-medicated) and just couldn’t grasp any of it. Don’t even get me started on ‘pushing’ (wtf does pushing feel like if you’ve never done it before). You can easily hear me say ‘I have a high pain tolerance’ (and I truly do) but that still didn’t phase me — I needed to know more so that I can mentally prepare better. I broke, cried and realized I needed to go educate myself more. Took a video course, went to a doula Q&A class, took Childbirth education, breastfeeding, newborn care and CPR classes. Can’t say that resolved the panic attack, but it sure calmed me the fuck down, gained more confidence and started prep talks with myself and the baby (don’t laugh).

Research & Support:

  • I was lucky that my two best friends had given birth around the same time during my first trimester and we set up a group chat to drop any questions, thoughts etc. This reduced my googling by 20%, no joke. I’m forever grateful to them for being open and vulnerable with me.
  • Ask friends how they went about their education and research journey. You will be surprised to find that people have excel sheets, lists and even medium posts about their tips, product reviews and so on. It’s a lot to take in but save it somewhere for when you have the brain space for it. Personal word of mouth from trusted sources is our version of community support these days!
  • Talk with your partner about hormones and body changes. Share reading material on this. Shit is so real. I cried and laughed at the oddest things and couldn’t explain the reactions. I tried to laugh it off most times, but others I had to talk about them. Just know it’s temporary!
  • Find a health care system (aka hospital, birthing center, home birth) and everything you need to know about it. Maybe you already love where your OBGYN/Midwife is but know that you can switch if you want to. In your first prenatal visits start to ask all the questions on what to expect etc.; you have to come with questions; docs won’t go into much detail unless you ask. Call your health insurance (yes, good ol’ phone call) and tell them you are expecting and to share with you all you need to know — coverage, benefits, extras. I was amazed to find out I had access to a nurse line 24/7, got free books, a pump and got to explore the health insurances mobile applications and telemedicine options offered.
  • If employed, dive into your benefits, embrace the community at work. Talk to your manager, HR, other moms, dads, groups that meet in person or even on slack to ask questions and gather tips. I’m so grateful for the groups I found and later the mini groups of fellow pregnant office mates at my location/site where we met for lunch to exchange all the funny changes of our bodies but also things like our own parental leave plans.
  • If you fancy and are curious like me, find a book or app that educates you on what happens to you, the baby and your body week by week. I had a nice ritual where my weeks rotated on a Saturday and would read the updates in bed with my hubby and a cup of coffee.
  • I started meditating a bit later on in the pregnancy when I wanted to really prep for the big day. With prenatal yoga, there was a bit of a meditation component going on, but found Expectful to be a Headspace-like app for the full journey from conception to postpartum (holler if you want a 30 day pass).

Education I took/links:

Prepare your body.

If you don’t love your body, this may be a tough one, so buckle up and decide how you want to approach this, find help and support. If you are anxious about the transformation and ‘bouncing back’, same, admit your worries, process and deal with them. I won’t suggest methods as I’m no expert, just saying that it would be ideal for you to enter this chapter prepared. Find your own rhythms.
Yoga was my jam. Peloton was my peanut butter. Baths were my perfectly toasted bread. If I couldn’t get to proper yoga, I stretched instead. If I didn’t get on the bike, I walked the dog a bit further. If I didn’t get to a bath, I lit a candle or did a face mask instead. Find your own rhythms, don’t be hard on yourself, take things day by day.
Your body (and mind in tandem) goes through so much change, all I recommend is to move daily. Be it a short walk, a tiny stretch — keeping yourself, muscles and joints mobile will keep you feeling great.

  • I followed two youtube accounts on prenatal yoga; SaraBeth and yoginmelbourne
  • Continued my Peloton routine up until month 7 and then started dropping my heart rate to below 150bpm and taking low impact rides solely [Holler if you want a discount code]
  • I used coconut oil and a thick lotion as moisturizer for my skin and took baths (lukewarm)

Prepare your mind, body and support system for the ‘big’ day.

A ‘birth plan’ is a great exercise for you to take to know how to advocate for yourself, how to prepare for early and active labor, how you want your environment to be/feel while in the OR and how you want your partner/doula/support system to help in the moment. You can google birth plans, ask friends or leverage whatever your hospital/birthing center offers — they consist of choices around medical interventions, last minute decisions and the mood of the room. Here is an example; the (blank) form I used. Around 36 weeks is a good time to fill this out.

I was originally planning a vaginal birth with epidural and at 36 weeks I found out my baby was breeched and had to consider ECV (manual flipping of baby! which I said no thanks to) and/or a scheduled C-section. So we scheduled a c-section for week 39. Like I said at the top, you should make a plan but be informed and ready for curve balls. At 37 weeks and 2 days I had what I thought were minor, false labor contractions (aka Braxton Hicks) and while I was en route to my regular ultrasound, the doc said to reroute to labor and delivery just in case — turns out baby had flipped again (head down again now), I was 7cm dilated (you dilate until 10cm before you start pushing) and baby was in position +2 (3 points away from crowing/head coming out). At this point I had tossed all prep for a vaginal birth out the window, and that last week had been mentally and physically preparing for a c-section. Then in that moment, I had to toss all that out the window and remember everything I learned and prepped for a vaginal birth! It wasn’t stressful in the moment, but proves the point of — baby comes when baby wants and you have to be 100% ready. In case you were wondering about the pain, in the end it felt like muscle spasms and cramps to me, even at pushing; I never registered things as ‘pain’ (I was also on epidural FYI). More in my birth story post to come.

  • Spinning Babies: Easier birth with fetal positioning. Use this site and videos to improve fetal position (breech, transverse, posterior) and birth.
  • Evidenced Based Birth: Evidence Based Birth® is an online childbirth resource that informs, empowers and inspires expecting parents and birth-care practitioners globally, to understand the latest, proven, evidence based care practices.
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): Founded in 1951, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is the specialty’s premier professional membership organization dedicated to the improvement of women’s health. With more than 58,000 members, the College is a 501(c)(6) organization and its activities include producing the College’s practice guidelines and other educational material.

Thanks for tuning in. Please leave comments and questions below. You can read my post about My Birth Story here. Up next: Another post on the TMI and funny experiences of pregnancy.

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