Thursday, August 13, 2015

9 Tips For a Happier Pregnancy

When in my mind I hear the terms "Happier Pregnancy" I see one of those stock photos of a pregnant woman, dressed in white, resting in luxury on  a sofa.  That doesn't quite fit with what the reality of pregnancy often is.

Pregnancy was not the easiest road for me. It was happy, because I was going to have a baby. It was difficult because of everything else that came along with that happy fact.

So based on my experiences, both as a doula, but primarily as a mother that has been pregnant four times, here are my nine tips.

1. Don't push yourself.

 It is so easy to revert to the norms of push until it burns that we have in our everyday lives. This especially pertains to exercise. Exercise is so healthy for you in pregnancy, but if it is hurts, stop. Pushing yourself when your ligaments are relaxing can result in injuries, excessive pain and other fun things to recover from. This is where some of the old wives tales can actually come true as well. Regular exercise that is encouraged by your care provider as being safe is excellent. But listen to your body!

2. Don't obsess about weight gain. 

 Period. Yes, you should not be gaining too much weight. You also should not be gaining too little weight. Remind yourself throughout the process that weight gain is normal and healthy in pregnancy. Low pregnancy weight gain used to be encouraged, until as far  I can find, in the late 1950's to early 1970's the ideas were studied as links to birth defects, issues with low birth weight babies, early babies among others were associated with the lack of pregnancy weight gain. Yes, it helped moms keep their figures, but at what cost?  On the other hand, it is not a time to go on a free for all. If you want to obsess about something, obsess about getting all the foods you need to nourish your baby and body.
Dr. Brewer has some good tips on a healthy diet.
There are other diet related tips that your OB or midwife may offer you.

3. Make sleep a priority whenever you can.
Don't plan evening activities. Plan on a nap time. If you have other little ones, tuck them in for a nap, either behind your legs so you can feel them if they move, or in a crib where you know they cannot escape. If they are not sleeping, this can be the time to utilize those electronics.
Lack of sleep can make you feel sicker during pregnancy, but also you need more sleep while pregnant as well.

Antique Chamber Pot 
(Hopefully not something you will need in pregnancy)

4.  Use pregnancy to your advantage
It only lasts nine months, even though it feels like a lifetime at times. However, use it to your full advantage. While you do not want to be a spendthrift, buy some clothing you feel pretty in. Pregnancy can be an awkward time, and you need clothing that fits well so you don't feel bigger than what you are. A pretty bra or underclothing that is comfortable can be hard to find, but worth the time it takes to look. Just make sure to take regular breaks for water while shopping and wear supportive shoes.

5. Forgo high heels...
Yes, I know they might be all you wear, but for your long term posture and baby positioning, in the long run, you will happier without them. Find some cute shoes that are flats. This will help decrease chances of swelling in your feet and injuries as well. There are plenty of cute shoes that have a low heel or are flats that you can wear for the nine months!

6. Listen to your care provider 
There are times when a care provider will suggest you take an extra vitamin like Calcium and magnesium, or she may suggest walks, eating a different diet. While sometimes it can be hard to understand, or you feel they are not doing anything good for you, listen up! They have your long term health in mind. It can change your pregnancy when you do actually listen to these little things they suggest.

7. Hire Trained Labor Support

I don't just say this because I am a doula, I say this because I have seen what a difference it made for my own births. I have heard every reason in the book why some people don't need one. But in the end, you really will not know unless you try. However, some people think all doulas are crated equal, when this is not true. The best ones have some experience, are knowledgable, but won't make your birth their own. They will be there for you, through whatever happens, for your partner as well, but walk you through the hard and good times. The studies prove that women that have a trained support person have a more positive experience when they are done, no matter the outcome.

8. Plan on saving money for the unexpected
This has more to do with the postpartum period, but saving money during the pregnancy for a little help after the baby comes will make you feel safer and happier during the pregnancy. Money set aside for even things like pizza delivery, extra gas expenses, housecleaning or other odds and ends will really be helpful and give you peace of mind throughout the process.

9. Don't spend a ton of money

Often new parents will have a long list of items that are must haves for a baby. During pregnancy, it seems like you just think they add up. Just wait! Get the essentials. Diapers, basic layette, car seat, receiving blankets and wait for most of the rest. Baby stuff has a way of appearing on the scene when you need it if you let people know. Often it is because they spent a ton of money on it and never used it, or hardly used it. For me, an essential was a swing. My babies slept in a cradle like swing, and didn't use the crib. I am too short for a Boppy pillow, I never used a pump or a bottle, but I did end up wanting a pacifier sometimes. I needed to spend money on a good bra for me, I never used my big stroller hardly, but I used an umbrella stroller all the time. As you have the baby, you see what you really need and what you actually just want.  This can give you more peace in pregnancy and help you to organize the house a little easier.

So, happier already? Are you seeing yourself floating on a pool with your beautiful baby belly glistening in the sun?

Whether you are on a couch or in the pool (which is a good way to stay cool and exercise in the summer while pregnant), I hope this post gave you some ideas to make pregnancy a bit happier!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

If I have a midwife, why would I need a doula?

This question is often asked to doulas.

If you ask the same question to a midwife, you may get a variety of answers.
In the birth room, everyone has a job. The midwife is the care provider. While midwives are sometimes great with support, their primary job is to make sure that nothing goes wrong medically with you or baby.

This means that if there is any type of extra special event that requires her full attention, that is often when you need the most support. Often, by no fault of even an excellent midwife, she needs to focus her attention where it needs to be. However, this can make you feel a little lost at times.

One of the positives that have been proven show that doulas help is continuous care. This means we are not distracted by your medical care. Our only focus is on you and being there for you.

We have no other job. We will often neglect our own needs to be there for you.

Midwives are some of the most wonderful care providers in the world. However, everyone has a role to play and they are not doulas. While some can act as a wonderful support person, if they are in the role of care provider, they often cannot turn off that switch and you miss out on the key parts of having a doula.