I haven’t blogged much about my pregnancy, so here it goes.
Common issues in pregnancy: I’ve been very fortunate to have an easy pregnancy free from morning sickness, cravings, crazy mood swings, or extreme aches and pains. As I mentioned in my April 7 blog post, Exciting Announcement, I have been working on my health and building my body up since starting the program, and I truly feel that this contributed to an easy pregnancy. If I had developed symptoms, my first line of care would have been naturopathic therapies — botanicals, homeopathy, and hydrotherapy.
Birthing Class: Originally, Luis and I were planning to take the one-day birthing class offered at the hospital where I’ll deliver the baby. Then, a classmate recommended the Bradley Method and after looking into it, we decided it was a better option for us. The class met 2-3 hours/week for 8 weeks. The focus was on having a natural labor and delivery, how to be an informed consumer of conventional medicine, and alternative solutions for anything that may arise during the pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I’m so glad we took the class; Luis feels a lot more comfortable and confident with everything, and I feel well-equipped with tools to have a natural delivery.
An analogy is that you wouldn’t run a marathon without thoroughly training for it, and neither should you go through pregnancy, labor, and delivery without thoroughly preparing by taking a high-quality in-depth class! Prenatal appointments with a doctor or midwife are not long enough to adequately educate patients. Yes, during prenatal appointments, they ask if you have questions and they answer them; however, ignorance is bliss, and so many topics we learned in the Bradley classes I would have never have even thought of asking! It amazes me how much is out there that I still don’t know, and learning is a lifelong process.
Heartburn: In May, I went through a bout of heartburn for a week, and I quickly identified the trigger –chocolate. Chocolate came up on my food sensitivity test that I discussed in my September 29 blog, A Pumpkinless Fall, so I avoided eating it for six months as recommended. When I went to California over Spring Break to visit my sister, I had chocolate several days in a row. Chocolate is one of the substances known to loosen the lower esophageal sphincter, thereby contributing to acid reflux. Add to that the increased abdominal pressure from baby, I suffered for several days. The same thing happened a few weeks ago, I decided to have chocolate three days in a row, and the acid reflux returned.
My friend and classmate suggested using chia seeds to help manage the symptoms until it passed. I mixed one tablespoon of chia seeds in 2 ounces of water and drank it immediately, without letting the seeds expand and get gooey. That way, when they reached the stomach, they would expand and absorb the stomach acid. It worked well enough that I didn’t feel like I needed medication. However, it’s best to listen to the body and eliminate the root cause — I can’t eat chocolate, or I’ll suffer the consequences!
Chiropractic Care: I started getting weekly chiropractic sessions using the Webster technique at our campus clinic in March. The Webster Technique is specific for pregnancy, and it analyzes the sacroiliac joint and mobilizes the restricted side and checks for tension in the round ligaments of the uterus to release the tight side. Several people have commented that I don’t “waddle” as a lot of women do in pregnancy, and I think the regular care I’ve gotten has contributed to easy mobility without restriction. The chiropractic care has also helped with occasional back pain.
Acupuncture: A few times I’ve gone to the acupuncture clinic to help with sleep. During pregnancy, many points can’t be used because they may stimulate uterine contractions, so they were careful about where the needles were inserted. A few of the acupuncture and oriental medicine clinicians were trained and worked as OB/GYNs in China, so I felt very comfortable being treated under their care. If I end up passing my due date or if my bag of water breaks before contractions begin, my midwife is onboard with me getting acupuncture and moxibustion to start or intensify contractions. Moxibustion is burning dried mugwort over specific acupuncture points, and it can be used to induce labor.
Supplements: Supporting my body with high-quality supplements is important because Baby is stealing nutrients from my body’s stores regardless of whether I replenish them or not. I found a professional product for pregnancy from Metagenics that comes in daily packets with many pills: choline, EPA/DHA, prenatal vitamin, and calcium/magnesium. This made it easy to get all that I needed, in addition to consuming a healthy diet.
Diet: I loosely followed two diets aimed at pregnancy: the Brewer Diet and the Weston-Price Diet. They both focus on nutrient-dense foods. Some foods that I tried to consume regularly include a wide range of vegetables, calcium-dense foods, pasture-raised eggs, butter from grass-fed cows, and 80-100g of protein daily. Bone broth, which I discussed in my February 17 blog, Nourishing Bone Broth, fermented foods, and liver were foods I should have consumed every week, but I only got around to preparing them a few times. There’s always room for improvement!
Stretch Marks: I made a stretch mark salve that I adapted from a website and used it almost daily since I was about three months pregnant. The ingredients are coconut oil, shea butter, another oil (I used whatever I had on hand when I made each batch such as avocado, almond, emu, olive, apricot, etc.), beeswax, calendula, and ginger. I developed no stretch marks, which I attribute to both the salve and proper nutrition.
Homeopathy: My first choice for medicine is always homeopathy, for whatever the issue may be. I’ve used homeopathy several times throughout my pregnancy, but I don’t even remember what things I was treating because they resolved so quickly. I have my homeopathy kits packed in my hospital bag, and I plan to use remedies in labor if needed. I will definitely take high-potency homeopathic arnica after the delivery to help with the soreness.
Essential Oils: Even before becoming pregnant, I’ve used essential oils aromatically and sometimes topically for sleep, mood, focus/concentration, and memory. During the pregnancy, I continued to use them aromatically, but I stopped using them topically because anything you put on your skin gets absorbed, and I didn’t find time to research which ones were safe in pregnancy. I also have my essential oils packed in my hospital bag to use during labor.
Exercise: Three to four times weekly for the majority of my pregnancy (up until a month or two ago) I’ve done free weights. There are tons of videos online geared towards pregnancy, and I’d occasionally do one to get inspiration for new movements. Two that I still do regularly are squats and pelvic rocking because they help prepare the body for labor and delivery. It’s not hard to get my heart rate up with being pregnant, so I haven’t focused on cardio because rushing to class usually does it. Living on campus and walking between my apartment and class several times helps me get 8,000-10,000 steps daily.
Visualization/Positive Affirmations: Exercising the mind in addition to the body is just as important! I’ve visualized having an easy pregnancy and labor, and a delivery free from complications. Part of my visualization exercise includes thinking about challenges that may arise during the birthing process and how to work through them. Positive affirmations go along this line as well, and they reinforce my mind-body connection.
Thanks for making it to the end of this post! Please share it with any pregnant women in your life, if you feel the information may help them. If you have any questions about any of the topics, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. After the baby is born, I’ll probably write one post about the labor and delivery, and all the tools I used.