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Time passes in the blink of an eye when you are pregnant, and it feels two times slower when you are in labour. Should it feel that way, or are there certain things going on that you do not know of?
Many questions are running through a pregnant mother’s mind, some of which are unfortunately often left unanswered even after they have had their baby. Questions like ‘Is there a possibility that I would not be able to go through vaginal childbirth?’, ‘What’s placenta delivery?’, and so on.
If you have only browsed through others’ experiences, childbirth may sound like the most painful thing anyone has to endure – and that may not be wrong for some since everyone tolerates pain differently. Hence, we understand why some pregnant moms are reluctant to discover the reality of childbirth.
Despite everything, know that some mothers also manage to go through a smooth delivery, which means it is not impossible. Whether you are well informed or in the dark about what will happen during and after childbirth, you will only change if you do something about it. Therefore, take that chance if you can learn or do something better. Knowledge and preparations, after all, are privileges that not every pregnant mother gets.
While having a baby is one of the most fulfilling events you will ever experience, certain aspects can cause stress and aches. If you have talked to enough experts or read enough materials, you will find that many ways can help relieve your pain during pregnancy.
Similarly, whether you are in your first trimester or already reaching your final week of pregnancy, it is never too early or too late to prepare yourself for your childbirth. There is always something you can do to ensure it will go better, so read up to find out how!
1. Get rid of negative energy
Pregnancy can take quite a huge toll on you. You may feel overly sensitive at this point due to the increase of certain hormones released through your body, which can impact your emotions. Hence, it is important to lift your mood up and not be too bothered about small things.
Remove things that can cause distress or bring negativity into your life. You should be able to go through pregnancy without dealing with negativity. Not only can negativity eat away at your spirit but also harms your physical being. Some experts believe that emotional stress may lead to a mental block that can stall labour.
To prevent the likelihood of it happening, remove the sorts of things that can stress you out or be the cause of your worry. Always try to think positively. Of course, this is almost always easier said than done. When at a loss, count your blessings. As we are sure you already know, not all sources of negative energy are external. Sometimes, it can come from the inside as well.
Do bad thoughts just occasionally linger in your head? Not worry if they do, for this is common for almost everyone. If your negativity mostly stems from within, identify the causes of your bad thoughts and whether there are any trigger points. Once you know what they are, find ways to fix them.
For example, if you are concerned about how you will cope with your role as a parent, talk it out and devise a plan with your partner. You may also consult a counsellor for professional help. There should be no room for negativity in your life, and especially not when you are carrying a growing baby in you.
2. Get plenty of rest
We all know that sleep is important, and we love our naps. Not getting enough sleep is associated with many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, depression, and even heart disease. Being pregnant compounds that, and not getting enough sleep can put you at risk of delivery complications like longer labours and may even necessitate caesarean deliveries. Suppose this carries on into your later trimesters. In that case, you are more likely to develop preeclampsia, a condition linked to pregnancy-related high blood pressure, swelling of hands and feet, and protein in your urine.
3. Take a warm bath
Taking a lukewarm bath is a great idea for pregnant women who have achy joints and experience swellings frequently. If you are already in your third trimester or far along, just be sure you have someone to help you get in and out of the bath to avoid slipping on the wet floor.
One of the most critical things to note is the water’s temperature. Make sure that the water is not boiling, as this will raise your body temperature, which may restrict blood flow and put your baby under stress. However, if a warm bath is still too much for your body to handle, you should opt for a warm shower, as the soothing effect can still be felt either way.
4. Join a birth class
Joining a childbirth class will prepare you for what to expect during labour. They will teach you breathing techniques, sleeping positions and other relevant methods to help you remove birth-related stress or anxiety. Join the class with your partner, so you can know whether to be worried when certain signs show.
Nevertheless, such an education can go a long way in letting you be in charge of what is happening to your body. Your teacher or instructor in the class would be highly skilled and knowledgeable, so list all your questions and ask away. Yes, no one thought that having a baby would require you to experience being a student at school all over again, but you will be surprised by how much you need to know and learn.
Experts recommend enrolling when you have passed your second trimester and have at least 8 to 10 weeks before your EDD. This will give you enough time to practise and revise what you learned in class.
5. Do not smoke
According to America Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking while pregnant runs the risk of health problems for developing babies, which could include preterm birth, low birth weight, birth defects, and the most feared sudden infant death syndrome(SIDS). Nicotine use can also damage a developing baby’s brain and lungs. The basic idea behind this is that the chemicals in the cigarette can get into your bloodstream, which then gets transported to the baby via the placenta. Since this also transports oxygen to the baby, the amount of oxygen you have may be displaced by the smoke, thus cutting an amount of oxygen flow to the baby.
6. Do not drink alcohol
Once more, to quote the CDC – “There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant”. It is advised not to recommend wine or alcohol to pregnant ladies or those trying to get pregnant. This is also reflected in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service’s (NHS) stance that alcohol goes into your bloodstream and then gets passed onto your baby via the placenta. The fact that a baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and does not mature until the later stages of pregnancy means that they are defenceless against and cannot process alcohol.
Some problems can include the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, poor growth, and learning and behavioural issues.
7. Do not eat everything
Yes, we understand that cravings and some of them may not be entirely logical nor particularly healthy. We’ve heard of mothers eating only chicken pot pies throughout their pregnancy; another wanted to eat onions and mustard, while there was one who craved the taste of toothpaste.
Counter-intuitively, we recommend not giving in to those cravings if they harm the baby. One example of this is seafood that is high in mercury content. These are most commonly found in polluted waters. While you may have the immune system necessary to fend off trace levels of it, the effects of mercury poisoning will be compounded for the baby. Fish such as cod, salmon, tilapia, or even freshwater trout are good options, especially Salmon and Anchovies, as they are generally a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids for your baby.
This may go without saying, too, that the same advice goes for uncooked seafood, such as those oysters or raw fish, as they may lead to severe consequences for you and your baby.
8. Stay hydrated
Now that the don’ts are out let’s look at what you should do instead.
Drinking much water, preferably around eight to twelve glasses daily, is optimal. This helps form the placenta, which your baby relies on to get all the necessary nutrients during pregnancy. Later in the pregnancy, water is used to form the amniotic sac. Some side effects of dehydration during pregnancies include premature labour, birth defects, neural tube defects, and, after birth, inadequate breast milk production.
9. Read books on childbirth
Do not let your fear of discovering unpleasant things stop you from learning new things. If you have general concerns or worries regarding childbirth, pushing them to the back of your mind will not do you any good. Instead, it might make you more anxious as you are nearing your EDD.
Browse a few books about childbirth and life after it and slowly start reading them. You will soon realise that being educated about these issues can make you feel more in control of what is happening and what will happen in the future. If your body is going through certain changes, you will know what causes them and how to deal with them.
If you are mostly occupied throughout the day, reading a page or two before going to bed would be enough to teach you a new thing every day. It may seem like a chore, but it is far from one, as it will give you all the knowledge you need to go through this period. Plus, knowledge stays with you forever, and you can pass it down to your kids and theirs. All in all, being knowledgeable can give you a sense of relief as you will always be well-prepared.
10. Find support
Finding an individual or a group to offer you support is an excellent form of help you would certainly need during and after pregnancy. This is even more necessary if no present family member is experienced enough to accompany you. The people you engage with will help provide emotional and physical support, which, according to several studies, leads to a less stressful and painful delivery.
If you require constant support and wish someone could be there with you day and night throughout your early postnatal period, you can opt for services like a confinement nanny or domestic helper. Go through the job scopes of both roles to understand how different services can help you through your postnatal journey.
11. Prepare the rest of your children
If you already have other children, especially younger ones, it is important to prepare them for your newborn’s arrival. Break the news to them separately before you plan to do it with your other family members and friends so your children will feel included. Remember, you and your partner welcome addition to the ‘family, not just ‘the number of children you two plan to have’.
If your kid is old enough, slowly explain the situation and what they should expect. Make sure to answer their questions and address any fears they might have, especially if they are still young. If it is not made clear to them, it may cause them to be paranoid or worried that someone is coming to ‘replace them’. Sure, they may not be able to grasp what is happening altogether, but they need a constant reminder that they will have a ‘friend’ soon. Do not wait until your baby bump is showing to explain what is happening since this may confuse them even more.Explaining early can also prevent unexpected situations like your children showing concerning reactions to insist they do not want a younger sibling. Breaking the news early will also help you to plan ahead.
For example, if you are planning to use the same crib that you previously used with your first kid, let them know that they are moving to a bigger bed because they have grown up, not because you solely want to use the crib for your new baby (regardless if that is your motive, to begin with).
12. Pack a ‘Go Bag’
A ‘go bag’ is essential when reaching your last few weeks before the EDD. Your water may break anytime, and you will not have time to pack a bag to bring to the hospital. As your due date approaches, pack a duffle bag with everything you need at the hospital for your comfort.
Have your partner double-check to make sure you have everything from your toothbrush and socks to your pillow (we get it, sometimes, we just need to have that one comfy pillow). Of course, bring several sets of clothes and a swaddling blanket for your little one! Think about what you would like to have during your short stay in the hospital and pack accordingly.
13. Get a prenatal massage
Seeking alternative therapy is an excellent practice of self-care. A lot of soon-to-be mothers opt for therapies like pregnancy massage and yoga. Even doctors have recommended prenatal massages to many expecting mothers due to the abundant advantages you can obtain. The benefits include reduced stress, soreness, and pain, increased blood and lymph circulation, and decreased swelling.
If you are considering getting a prenatal massage session, simply survey around, and you will notice that finding a prenatal massage therapist is not difficult. There are even a lot of home-based services available where your massage therapist will go to you rather than the other way around. However, while there are many choices out there, you have to make sure you choose the right one with the proper qualifications and favourable reviews to ensure you get the best experience and results.
That said, there is also a labour-inducing massage that you could opt for when you are due to get into labour naturally. Keep in mind that this is not the same as prenatal massage, so make your request and search as specifically as you can.
14. Prepare for post-delivery
No, this one does not involve tiny mittens and booties for your newborn. You probably completed your ‘Newborn To-Buy List’ when you were still in the first trimester, so we will not review what should be on that list here. This time, it is only about you.
Think about what you would like to have or experience after going through the labour. It could be anything from eating your favourite snacks (as long as it does not compromise your condition) to indulging in a postnatal massage for several consecutive days.
If you are anxious about your EDD approaching, knowing that you have those beautiful treats awaiting after the delivery should help put your mind at ease a little. Remember, your recovery and comfort matter as much as your newborn’s growth, so treat yourself lovingly.
Nevertheless, preparing for your birth is something the whole family should anticipate and be engaged in. Once you have brought your new baby home, things may escalate quickly, and there is little time for anyone to adapt and adjust. Therefore, keeping yourself and others prepared for any possible circumstances would be in your favour.
Here are some extra tips for your trimester:
The first-trimester step is accepting your new identity and responsibilities. It may take time to sink it, but it’s the most important part of the process. But why keep it all to yourself? Share with your partners — they’re in it with you all the way, and you should not have to go through it alone.
In the first trimester, morning sickness is common. There is usually a trigger for this, and it is up to you to find out what triggers your morning sickness. It could be certain smells or foods. If that is the case, find out what it is and try to avoid it. As a physician prescribes, vitamins and supplements will also help if the symptoms persist.
On this note, it is also important to plan your daily meals, mainly focusing on getting the nutrients essential for your child’s development, like folic acid. Another perk of pregnancy is that you can snack several times throughout the day without guilt, as your body and baby require extra nutrition and energy!
Everyone’s least favourite part of pregnancy has to be stress. Mood swings affect almost all mothers out there and will probably affect you. But you will not avoid stress. You will face it head-on and deal with it because you are strong. Not only will you feel better in the short term, but it will also help you confidently meet any stress coming your way in the future. One of the ways to help with this is to get fresh air constantly. Keeping your dwelling well-ventilated or going out on strolls at the park will help ensure you don’t feel suffocated.
This is where you start seeing and feeling your body changing. A growing baby bump will be the most obvious one of all. Accompanying this are a slower walking pace, aches and cramps. Your back, legs, and waist are the ones that will feel it the most. A good prenatal massage will help relieve these discomforts, so treat yourself to one! Your gums will also be more sensitive during pregnancy, and your toothbrush should be gentle. Try getting a softer-brushed toothbrush, and also be gentle with yourself when brushing and flossing!
You are showing up for the second time. Plan. Your. Diet. We know. Now that your baby bump is showing, you might start feeling self-conscious. Still, you are advised not to try to lose weight at any time during pregnancy. If you are feeling hungry, be sure to eat and fill yourself up. Your baby will definitely not feed themselves, so you have to. Also, avoid foods that will cause constipation to ensure you can process your food smoothly. Complement the diet with suitable exercises like yoga to ensure your fitness stays balanced.
You’re now in the endgame. In a few months or so, you will deliver your baby into the world. Being mentally prepared is key to having a smooth third and final trimester before birth. Fret not if your thoughts are running wild or if you find yourself constantly freaking out. Talk to a professional to help keep those emotions in check. A tidy house will also help with keeping your mind “tidy”. And also, after giving birth, you will have your plate full, so why not save yourself the hassle later on by keeping clean? Various quality cleaning services can help you if you need an extra hand.
Just as it is important to be mentally and emotionally prepared, it is also important to be physically ready. As your baby grows in your womb, all the energy it consumes comes directly from you. To conserve as much energy as possible, get adequate rest and sleep as you see fit to avoid getting worn out. Now that you have rested, time to focus on keeping fit. Light workouts are the perfect exercise for expecting mothers. What better light exercise for you other than Kegels? Probably none.
The benefits of doing Kegels include strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, preventing the dropping of the womb and making it easier to get back into shape post-birth. And finally, advice that applies to literally everyone: stay hydrated.
For pregnant mothers, it is ok to drink slightly less water than you usually would so that you won’t be forced into visiting the toilet every 5 minutes. It is also better to drink water before you feel thirsty. Dehydration is not a joke.
All the Best!
If you have made it all the way here, you are now equipped with more knowledge to get through your pregnancy.
We wish you a smooth and happy pregnancy to motherhood for you and your family!
Also, find out what to do post-birth or consider getting confinement care from trusted professional confinement nannies at PEM Confinement Nanny Agency!
Disclaimer, if you are now heading over to Google “PEM massage”, we repeat, they deal in confinement care. We’re the ones dealing in massage here at PNSG.