Yes, I’m totally counting…
As cliched as it is, time really has flown this time around.
But it’s no surprise as life has been very full with study, mumming and launching my health coaching biz. All of which I am so grateful I have the opportunity to do.
As I reflect on the last 9 months or so, I really do feel so fortunate to have carried two babies in two years with nothing more than a bit of lethargy! Yeah I’m that annoying pregnant woman.
Ok ok, I do admit I have been riding the #emotionalrollercoaster here and there as well (to my hubby’s detriment)…but I mean that’s to be expected right?!
Jokes aside I really do owe my amazing pregnancies to my commitment to treat my body like a temple.
I never used to…but I’m so glad I do now because trust me when I say it pays off! Especially when it comes to birth. After all this isn’t an event you just rock up to and hope for the best.
Just like a marathon, I believe it’s so important to train our mind and body so that we can feel as empowered as possible on the day. This includes filling ourselves up with the best quality foods, checking in on our thoughts and adjusting our go-go-go lifestyle to include more CALM…not always easy to do, especially as the belly grows and you have a demanding toddler to attend to!
That said, I’m firm in my beliefs that it is absolutely possible to prepare for birth. I cover off this topic more over here.
This time around, the ‘training’ has been a little trickier with a toddler in the mix, but amazingly this has been an even better pregnancy than before. And I put it down to some very handy tools in my natural health toolkit. Some of which I incorporated even before we fell pregnant which is also applicable for those that aren’t pregnant.
Natural Health Support
Diet and lifestyle
I try to live by the Ayurvedic principles of ‘avoid and favour’ rather than restriction. I crowd out my diet with plenty of fresh organic raw and cooked veggies, adding in superfoods to boost nutrition content like hemp seeds, chia & nutritional yeast, fermented foods, spirulina, veg based smoothies, healthy fats, mineral rich bone broths and high quality animal products once or twice a week.
I have loved picking up Gowri Motha‘s Gentle Birth Method book to read again as she is such a wealth of knowledge. I particularly love her suggestion to avoid sugar, wheat and dairy (and coffee now too) as these refined foods only hinder our efforts to birth easily by creating congestion around the pelvis and an acidic environment within the body.
Yoga and pilates
I try to move my body every day, and am so thankful for the likes of Kimmy Smith, creator of the Fit Mummy Project App, who provides short but effective strengthening workouts, yoga flows and meditations, for our pre and post natal bodies!
I was pretty slack on doing pelvic floor exercises first time around, but she has helped me to be more targeted in my approach this time.
Incorporating yoga and pilates into my weeks has been amazing and it’s no surprise they have the ability to strengthen and tone the body for birth! As well as to calm the mind in our very busy world. In fact yoga has been scientifically proven to decrease the duration, discomforts and complications of labour. (Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2008, May;14(2):105-15. Pub 2008 Mar 4.)
More and more research is finding just how powerful our minds are in creating our realities. Our thoughts and our beliefs around birth are no exception.
Whether we know it or not we hold deep rooted beliefs about things and using these tools has helped me to breakthrough some limiting beliefs I’ve held about myself and the whole birthing experience. This served me well during my first labour, especially between surges as I opened up and focused my awareness which was able to go deep within my body. I also choose to place my faith in God, the Creator of all.
Thanks to the amazing She Births course we did first time around, I have had access to resources I’m able to reuse. Like the birth and fear release visualisations which I’ve really enjoyed doing nearly every day this pregnancy.
This continued practice of relaxation allows us to create a mental and muscle memory of that state, taking us out of the incessant fight or flight mode that carries us through most of our day!
Re-hiring my doula
My experience with Brita from Beaches Doulas was so worth it last time I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to have her on my birth team again to support both Mal and I not only physically but emotionally too!
Having a doula means you have someone who is very experienced with the labouring process, who can help you to focus on your breathing, apply acupressure and other pain relief techniques, help you to move into different birthing positions based on your progress/pain/what’s right for you. Whilst a midwife can definitely help with the process they are often tied up with paperwork and monitoring mum and bub’s vitals (not a bad thing at all!)
There is nothing better than having someone to hold you, metaphorically speaking, through pregnancy and during birth like a doula can.
Having someone dedicated to supporting you and your partner who is aligned to your values and helps you feel secure and protected is priceless.
Choosing the right doula for you is a must and so so worth it!
I started Chiro after some recommendations from my midwife for my first pregnancy to help with bub’s positioning and to check my pelvis was properly aligned.
Returning to the same Chiro was a must for me, especially as she used to be a midwife herself and totally gets it re holistic health.
She helps to align my pelvis to encourage optimal positioning for bub and so much more!
Now that I’ve hit 37 weeks I plan on using these techniques again to help encourage a natural induction of labour.
Acupressure during labour has been shown to help strengthen surges and make them more effective as well as relieving discomfort. Yes please!
Diaphragmatic breathing is totally underrated in this day and age. We rush through our days, wolf down our food (or worse have it standing up, in the car, or on the move), do everything we say we need to do and forget to breathe deep into our bellies!
Our babies sense every move, thought and emotion, so deep breathing is super important. ESPECIALLY during labour itself.
For me, this goes hand in hand with my prayer, yoga and meditation practice where I consciously slow the breath down.
Doing so has shown to drastically change our physiological response to stress and completely relaxes the nervous system. This served me well during my first birth and allowed me to reach that primal state which meant I wasn’t screaming down the hallways and clenching my jaw (which is linked to clenching of the cervix and pelvis area).
Last but not least, these babies have helped me to enter a more relaxed state when coupled with deep breathing, sleep a lot quicker and easier, support my immune system so I didn’t get the Flu and energise me when needed instead of having to rely on coffee. I was lucky not to have any aversions to any particular oils during my pregnancy, as I know some women go off them for a bit until their nausea disappears.
I know they will also serve me well, as natural sources of pain relief, to support the mind and body during the many phases of labour.
What are some of your go-to practices or techniques you found useful in the lead up to and during birth? Share in the comments below or over on Instagram. I’d love to know!