Last week I was working on a positive pregnancy article for Babble.com. It was so much fun to research and write that I wasn’t ready to let the topic go once I submitted it to my editor. So I asked some mama friends to share their secrets with me and my readers for having a positive pregnancy. Here’s advice to follow from six smart and sassy women about how to have your best, most positive pregnancy:
#1. Don’t Listen to the Voice in Your Head That Tells You to Stay Small: I believed positive thoughts would result in a positive birth. Instead I received an unwanted Cesarean. Pregnant a second time, I doubled my efforts. Again I received a Cesarean. The third time, I could no longer find it in me to “trust birth.” I was too broken. Too fearful. Too angry. The truth is these feelings were not new to my third pregnancy. They had been there all along. In my desperate attempts to “trust birth,” I had been lying to myself. It was through facing and moving through them, through trusting myself, that I was finally able to have mind-blowing, exquisite birth.
I worked with therapists, hypnotists, psychics, rapid eye movement people, acupuncturists, psychics, chiropractors and more. My midwife was relentless. I cried buckets of tears every appointment simply bringing voice to my fears, doubts and insecurities. But these none of these people could fix me. They just helped me go deeper. My job was to continue to peel at it, like an onion. And then to seek out things that made me uncomfortable and gave me the opportunity to practice courage, strength and power. There were little things like speaking up when I would have preferred to remain silent and dancing when I felt self conscious. But I also took a big trip by myself. Basically every time my instincts said to stay small, I denied them and instead did whatever imagined a powerful and courageous woman would do. –Roanna Rosewood, 39, mother of three & author of Cut, Stapled, and Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms.
#2. Eat 80-100 Grams of Protein a Day: When I was pregnant with my first child, no one told me how to eat. My doctor monitored and commented on my weight gain at every visit, but gave me no advice on how to maintain a healthy weight or deal with my rising blood pressure, other than to try to eliminate salt from my diet as much as possible. Towards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I attended a Bradley Method of
Natural Childbirth class where we were taught about the Brewer Diet for Pregnancy and to get 80-100 grams of protein per day, including two eggs. We were told that, based on research from Harvard health and Dr. Brewer’s own practice, getting enough high-quality protein significantly reduced the instance of preeclampsia and toxemia in pregnancy. I immediately started keeping a food log, eating two eggs a day, and increased my protein. I ate so much less refined and processed foods because my focus on eating had changed. The diet also had boxes to check for greens and other food types to help keep my diet well rounded. My blood pressure immediately returned to normal and the preeclampisa I had been battling was gone.
Months later, when I was pregnant with my second child, I had done even more research on eating right in general and, especially, during pregnancy. I kept my protein high from the beginning and enjoyed a much healthier pregnancy with more energy, less weight gain and fewer mood swings. I feel sure that getting healthy nutrition education for my pregnancy was what saved me from an early induction and C-section, and then subsequent C-sections. I am on a lifelong path to eating better for my body! –Crystal Garcia, birth photographer & mother of two (with a new baby on the way!)
#3. Talk to Your Baby: I believe the one thing that led to my successful (and relatively short) home birth with my first child was my commitment to keeping the baby in a good position during my pregnancy. From very early on in my pregnancy, I tried to be aware of my posture when standing – feet parallel, back straight, tailbone tucked, neck tall – as well as my position when sitting – knees lower than hips, keeping my uterus slightly tipped forward, sitting straight and tall with extra pillow support as needed.
I also used visualization to encourage my baby to be in her best position possible. I placed a drawing on my refrigerator of a baby in the LOA (left occiput anterior) position with a well flexed chin and looked at this drawing regularly. I repeatedly told my baby to be head down, to flex her (or his – I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl though I felt strongly throughout my pregnancy that she was a girl) head and tuck her chin, and to keep her little hands away from her face. I visualized her doing this as often as the thought came to me. I also believe regular yoga was instrumental in helping both of us align our bodies for the birth. I truly believe that we have the ability within ourselves to influence our experiences and this is a powerful example of that ability. I also believe that babies are conscious and in communication with their mothers during pregnancy. They are active participants in birth and use their great wisdom to seek the easiest way to be born. –Melissa Curry, 35, midwife at Family Tree Midwifery & mother of one.
#4. Make it a Community Affair: I loved being pregnant. Just knowing that there was a little being growing inside of me gave me this sense of never being alone and of what was really important (and what was not). During that time of my life, I grew closer to all the people I loved, especially my parents and brothers. It seemed naming the baby became a community affair. Everyone in my extended family and even some friends took delight in guessing how big the baby was–an inch worm, a peanut, a baseball, and so on. My parents even came to some of my birthing classes. When my running partner offered to walk with me during the final trimester–when I just couldn’t jog anymore–I found it incredibly touching. She’s a fast runner. To slow herself to a walk told me just how much she cared about seeing me every week. I wasn’t one of those people who decorated a nursery down to the last detail (we bought hardly anything new for our baby), but pregnancy was a time of deep reflexion for me: What kind of a mother did I want to be? How would I model good values? How did I want to raise this child? Despite the usual issues — morning sickness in early pregnancy, vicious heart burn in late pregnancy–I always told people that I could stay pregnant forever. I so loved every moment of those nine months. –Alisa Bowman, 41, bestselling author & mother of one.
#5. It’s All About Acupuncture: There are so many facets to a positive pregnancy that it is hard to name a single factor and say, “This is it. This is what made my pregnancy joyful.” But if I had to pick, I would choose my regular sessions with an amazing practitioner of acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and Chinese herbalism. This work kept me balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually. From dealing with the anxiety brought on by two previous miscarriages, to reducing nausea and improving sleep, we worked through it all. And the culmination was an amazing birth and a smooth postpartum transition! –Cassandra Vore, 35, mother of two & Founder of Superior Birthing Resources.
#6. Hire a Doctor and a Doula who Believe in Birth: It took six years to have our little guy. I had a high risk pregnancy, I never thought I could have a child, and I had lots of fear about going through labor and having a healthy baby. I was so scared to go into labor and give birth that at first I thought having to have a C-section sounded like a nice alternative! Fifteen ultrasounds and two cancelled C-sections later, I had an incredible perfect vaginal birth.
My doctor and my doula helped me so much. Dr. Leslie Stone was committed to using as little intervention as possible, despite all my risks. She called specialists, did lots of research on my unique situation, and talked a lot with us about what we wanted and what was safe. My doula, Ruby Henrie, was so present before and during labor. She made labor a manageable and positive experience. Ruby helped me deal with my fear around labor (it was after talking with her that I even wanted to try for a natural birth), and she knew exactly what I needed during labor. I felt so cared for every second. This helped me stay relaxed and relatively comfortable, which is what helped me avoid all the intervention I was expected to need. I went from being told I had to have a C-section to having an almost completely natural child birth because of these two women. –Andrea Shupack, 32, owner of Ashland Voice & mother of one.