"You are an amazing miracle of life; and you hold within you yet another amazing miracle of life."
Well, I've finally decided to integrate my blog over to my website and decided that a post about my pregnancy would be a fun way to start! My old blog is still available for your viewing pleasure, with all my old photos, posts, sunkissed ramblings, recipes, diy's and the sort from the very beginning of it all. Since we're only about 7 weeks away from meeting our precious babe I thought I'd share all the amazing things I've learned over these past 8 months.
(I have put together a list of resources & tips, with links, at the end of this post for your convenience:)
I will start by saying that I love pregnancy, I have made an effort to embrace it in all its beauty, power and amazingness. Before my husband and I found out we were expecting, having a baby was not in the forefront of our minds. We had both recently started our own businesses and were enjoying the newly married life. Traveling, planning get togethers, barbecuing, trying new beers, playing sports, hiking - was our life and I was actually in the 5th week of training for a marathon! But, let me tell you...THE INSTANT that I saw those two blue lines on the [first pregnancy test I have ever taken- I was so shaky], I fell in love with this child inside of me. I felt immediately responsible for another life. I switched into mother mode right away. I WAS A MAMA. I. WAS. (AM). A. MOTHER. My life path immediately opened up to include this 3rd important being in our family. I didn't cry. I didn't scream. I just got a huge smile on my face and told my cat, "well Tiki, we're having a baby." My husband of course was over the moon, all smiles, ecstatic when I told him. We were starting our kingdom.
Within a week, I had bought The Natural Pregnancy Book, by Aviva Jill Romm and was trying to learn as much as I could about the best foods to eat and trying to figure out which vitamins to start taking. I continued running and doing yoga on a regular basis and was feeling great. I added a lot more protein and leafy greens to my diet and I stopped drinking caffeine (1-2 cups of decaf coffee in the morning). I already knew I didn't want to have our baby in a hospital, so I started looking into midwives in our area who attended home births. I know that my transition to a more natural and organic lifestyle played a huge part in wanting a natural pregnancy & childbirth with as little interventions as possible, but there was also just something inside of me that felt right about having our baby at home. I wanted to stay in charge of this & take full responsibility for this pregnancy and child. I wanted to nourish and take care of our baby and myself with good foods and herbal teas and my homemade skin care and body products. I wanted to trust my body, knowing that this process is amazing and natural and my body just knows what to do. And I wanted to honor the next 10 months of my life by staying as positive and healthy as possible. I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth after I finished my other book. (I've read through both books a couple times now! So amazing.)
Then, after a couple weeks, I got really tired. I had some morning sickness, but no actual barfing! Even when I didn't feel like eating, I would eat something small and nourishing like toast with almond butter or yogurt with some fruit. I wanted to nap a lot, so I let myself! I got some headaches, which my midwives and I were most certain was from caffeine withdrawals! Then the first trimester passed and I felt alive again! I felt like myself, I had energy, I didn't have to force myself to get motivated for the day. It was like I switched back to normal Nicole.
Like I mentioned earlier, we wanted this to be as natural a pregnancy as possible, with very little tests and interventions. We got two ultrasounds during this pregnancy, one at about 11 weeks to make sure there was JUST ONE baby (multiple births do run in my family) and to have a more "accurate" estimated due date. The second ultrasound was about 20 weeks, and I loved it because the technician showed us his perfect beating heart, his two kidneys, his brain and spine - and that's when we found out HE is a HE! I got some blood work done in the beginning and took a GD test a couple weeks ago, but other than that haven't had any other tests done. It just makes me feel like I am in control of my body and my pregnancy, and it's not a medical problem or concern that I am pregnant.
At about 22-24 weeks I started really showing and I loved it! I wanted people to know I was pregnant without me telling them, and I was just amazed at how my body was changing all on it's own. (And the fact that I wasn't working out as hard or running like I had been before- lots of long, brisk walks and yoga was all I could seem to handle.) Lots of things were growing and changing and I was embracing it. I think too many women want to suppress their changing, growing body when they are pregnant, but why? It is beautiful and so awesome that you are growing a HUMAN INSIDE OF YOU, your body can't stay the same that it was before. I had created this perfect, warm, cozy, life-giving little home for our son, that just happened to also be my earthly body and I was (am) proud of that.
I began attending prenatal yoga classes at I Am Yoga here in Turlock at about 14 weeks. The teacher is amazing and I feel so blessed to have learned to know her over these past months. I felt a little weird at first since I wasn't showing yet and the other girls were quite a bit farther along than me, but I am so grateful I kept going - because now I have months and months of that beautiful practice under my belt and I know it will make an immense difference in my labor and delivery.
I try to practice yoga a few other times a week at home. Here are some of the YouTube videos that I've found and really enjoy. Some are a little more intense than others, which I was happy to find because some days you want to work hard and others you just want to unwind and do a moving meditation.
For those days when you don't have a ton of energy:
+ Prenatal Yoga Routine | Laura Dutta
+ Pregnancy Yoga | Energising Flow
When you want to strengthen and get your heart rate up:
+ Pregnancy Yoga | Strength & Stability
+ Pregnancy Yoga | Vinyasa Flow
+ Heidi Kristoffer's Prenatal Yoga Flow
+ Prenatal Yoga with Heidi: Legs and Butt
I don't really have a specific "pain-management" technique that I plan on using during labor but I have started practicing meditation more over these past many months. I practice it not only to learn how to relax and focus better but also to take some time to communicate with our baby. Sure, I talk to him and rub my belly throughout the day, but when I sit quietly in his room holding my hand over where he is laying, I can really give him and my body my full attention. It's crazy how if I sit really still and quiet and really focus, I can feel the power of my blood pumping through my placenta into his little body. I tell him how much we love him and can't wait to meet him. I visualize him being born and us all living our beautiful lives together. I read this book Bountiful, Beautiful Blissful, by Gurmukh which has wonderful pregnancy advice as well as many different meditations and mind exercises you can do while pregnant.
I have also found that surrounding myself with beautiful fertility art and birth affirmations is helping my mind stay positive and strong for pregnancy and birth. I got these beautiful prints from Spirit y Sol on Etsy.
I just recently finished reading Supernatural Childbirth, by Jackie Mize, which is a short but powerful read. She encourages us to look at pregnancy and childbirth as something that God totally has his hand in; to not let the physical pain be something that we think is going to overtake us, to see it as an empowering and beautiful experience. The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin is a wonderfully practical book for any expecting mama. It walks you step by step through what to expect during labor and birth. Although every birth is completely and beautifully unique, the author shares many different scenarios and the basic stages of labor/delivery. She then suggests a variety of pain management techniques and shares how your birth partner, whether that's a husband, partner, mother, sister or friend, can help you through the whole process. So I read it and now my husband is reading it!
We also have had the pleasure of doing some childbirth classes with two doulas from The Modesto Doula Group. They offer group classes but we opted for a more intimate setting, so they put together 3 classes geared more towards home birth for us. They come to our house and we sit around and talk about everything baby and get wonderful insider doula tips for labor and birth! My husband has really enjoyed it. He learns better visually and by touch, and they have showed him acupressure points and other techniques to help me throughout that time! Our last meet up will be next week and we're going to go over postpartum care and breastfeeding, which I'm really excited about! I'd highly recommend taking a childbirth class beforehand. Many hospitals offer free classes, so look into that. If there are birth centers or doula groups in your area, look into classes they offer as well! And I'm sure your midwife or doctor can recommend some that they are familiar with. [PLEASE read this book on breastfeeding! It has so much data, research and information along with amazing tips and teachings on how to successfully breastfeed.]
I STRONGLY believe that being KNOWLEDGABLE and AWARE of what happens in labor, how your baby needs to maneuver through your pelvis, what positions are most successful for baby's descent and techniques to make "laboring" as effective as possible will GREATLY REDUCE your FEAR of the process and heighten your chances of wanting & having an unmedicated birth (if that is your goal).
Sorry, I'm realizing how looong this post has become. I hope that you have enjoyed sharing this journey so far with me and found something useful or inspiring. I have about 7 weeks left of this and feel like it is going to FLY by! I started researching, praying, and mentally preparing [for birth] very early, but I really don't think you can start preparing too early. Labor and birth is A HUGE physical endeavor, and many of us let that fact slip by and just figure it'll happen and that'll be it. But we can't give a speech without first writing & practicing it, run a marathon without training for it or make the playoffs without working our butt off in the regular season - so WHY ON EARTH would we not expect to have to prepare for months for the amazing process of delivering our babies into this world?! The biggest thing I know I need to remember is that every birth is unique & unpredictable and no matter how much you prepare, your baby is running the show and things could go completely different than what you imagined.
My yoga teacher said it best (and I'm paraphrasing), "prepare mentally and physically and keep your thoughts positive, but always leave a little room in your mind/plans for things to go off the track you had envisioned- that way you don't fall apart completely when something unexpected is thrown your way."
If you are pregnant, congratulations and all the best to you! If you are a new mama or have grown children, you're amazing and I commend you for the beautiful work you're doing or have done. Only us women get to be the keepers and growers of life, so take advantage of that strength and let the beauty of it blossom within you.
PS: Don't forget to take photos along the way! I know I have a ton of bathroom mirror pictures for my own viewing and to see how much I've grown, but not many nice ones where I'm fully dressed. :/ Make sure to have your hubby, or someone take some nice pictures of you along the way (and together as a couple)! You won't have that precious belly forever!
Until next time. xoxo
HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES + TIPS THAT I HAVE FOUND, USED AND LOVED
+ Daily Pregnancy Tonic Tea
I make a big batch of this every couple days and keep it in the fridge to drink with my meals or throughout the day. You can buy raspberry leaf tea at the store in tea bags, but I prefer to make mine from loose herbs. (Find high quality herbs here.) The addition of nettle and lemon balm adds a lot of wonderful vitamins and minerals- including Vitamin K which help with blood clotting, so will come in handy during labor and birth.
2 parts red raspberry leaf
1 part nettle
1 part lemon balm
Steep for 4-8 hours or overnight, enjoy hot or iced!
+ Prenatal Vitamins: Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal
My midwives highly recommended these and I think they are one of the best out there. They have FOLATE not FOLIC-ACID, big difference in how your body can absorb that. And not only are these vitamins from raw plants, fruits and vegetables, they include probiotics which keeps your gut flora so healthy. I haven't had any problems with constipation and have regular, daily BM's, which I'm sure has to do with not only my diet but these vitamins! And don't take them all at once- one with each meal so you're body can absorb all the nutrients throughout the day!
+ Belly Balm or Oil
I either use my Sunkissed Botanics Mommy Balmy or another oil blend that I just make myself. I have been using these daily since the beginning on my belly, thighs, breasts and pretty much everywhere and haven't had problems with itchiness, dryness or redness from my growing body!
The oil blend contains:
St Johns Wort Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Some of these were mentioned throughout the post but here's a full list of the books I've found immensely helpful:
The Natural Pregnancy Book
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful
Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
The Birth Partner
Natural Health After Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness
Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding
+ Spinning Babies
This website has a plethora of information, tools and techniques to help your baby be in the optimal position for birth, long before birth even happens! Here are there recommended daily activities during pregnancy.
+ Great Articles to Check Out
"Can Eating Dates Shorten Labor?"
"The Effect of Late Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Labour and Delivery"
"The Truth About Red Raspberry Leaf Tea During Pregnancy"
"11 TED Talks for Pregnancy and Birth"
"10 Tips for Taking Charge of Your Maternity Care"
+ My BABE & BABE LIFE Pinterest boards have tons of other resources, articles, recipes and adorable photos of babies, nurseries and baby gear!
Thanks for reading! Do you have any tips or great resources for pregnancy and birth that you've utilized? Please share in the comments!