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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baby Love: Pregnancy

Family Portrait © Nina Buesing Corvallo

We waited a long time before sharing that we were pregnant. It gave me time to adjust to this change in my life. I avoided unsolicited advice, comments and questions. It taught me quickly that I know what's best for me, and perhaps most importantly the husband and I really enjoyed experiencing the pregnancy privately.

Not telling people that I was pregnant for several months worked for me. I had an amazing pregnancy: no nausea, no pains, no nothing - just happiness :)

Here are some other things that worked for me and perhaps helped me have a beautiful pregnancy:

Food. I ate. I made sure to eat regularly, lots of little nutritious vegetarian meals throughout the day and often even at night. I think it helped keep nausea at bay. I gained about 35 pounds which is the the upper limit of what was recommended for me.

Ginger. If I felt on the verge of feeling queasy I ate crystallized ginger. It's easy to find at any health food store. I just wish they made it with less sugar.

Sneakers. The minute I found out I was pregnant I didn't wear anything but sneakers. No flip flops, no heals, nothing uncomfortable. I wanted to make sure I would not fall and I wanted to be kind to my joints and back. I had a little back pain briefly around the fifth month, but nothing a massage from the hubby could not help.

Body Oil. I used Weleda Stretchmark Oil (formerly Weleda Pregancy Oil) every day (and continue to do so now). I did not get any strecth marks even though I ain't a spring chicken and I had a huge belly by week 42. The Weleda Oil helped but I also think one is genetically predisposed (or not) to stretch marks. My mother did not get any strecth marks from pregnancy and neither did my sister. The Weleda Oil contains Arnica, which I suspect aided in me feeling well.

Sleep. I slept a lot. Especially in the first trimester. I was very lucky that I was in position to sleep as much as I wanted. I work for myself and I have no other children that could have kept me from sleeping. So whenever I needed to sleep, I did. This was totally new for me. I suspect that all that sleep also contributed to my feeling great throughout pregnancy.

Exercise. I like to exercise daily. I am not a great athlete nor amazingly fit. But I do like to be on an elliptical machine or treadmill for at least 30 minutes every day. I kept this up during my entire pregnancy with the encouragement of my doctor. I did have a little bit of spotting at the beginning of my pregnancy and I chose to not exercise for two weeks during that time until it went away. In addition I continued to walk everywhere. Good thing I live in a walkable city.

Massage. My husband would massage my legs and back and feet once in a while. And at 8 months I sought out a certified pre-natal massage therapist, who also happened to be a doula. Kristy Zadrozy has an amazing touch and great kindness. If you are in NYC I highly recommend her (even if you are not pregnant). I love massage, so this was a way to treat myself and I am sure it helped in my well being.

Doula. Originally the plan was to have my friend Amy attend the birth.  She is very gifted with regard to massage, someone I confide in who never judges. She is funny and makes you feel good and is also a Registered Nurse.  But Amy was offered a great job in California and moved.  So there went my plan.  At first the husband and I thought that we needed no other person attending the birth, especially because we were so fond of and confident in my doctor.  But the more I read and the closer to the end of my pregnancy we came, the more I started to think that hiring a doula would be a good idea.  It was.  Even the then reluctant husband now agrees.  If you find a well trained doula that you like, you can skip all sorts of prep classes.  A doula can teach you breathing techniques, tell you about birth options, tell you about what to expect and teach you how to take care of your newborn.  Many doulas are also lactation consultants and can help you get your breastfeeding on track.  Doulas are great.  I wish every woman had access to a doula.  To us Doula Maiysha Campbell was invaluable.  I will write in more detail about my doula experience later.

Health Care Practioner. Like the doula, you must trust and like your physician or midwife.  In addition I think you have to be honest about what you want.  I wanted a doctor, someone who had done a surgery rotation and who had privileges at a top hospital.  I did interview a (home birth) midwife and considered every sort of birth in every hospital or birthing center or home.  I even pondered returning home to Europe to birth this baby.  I did this even though my doctor had been my doctor for over a decade and I had found him after searching high and low for a good OB/GYN.  I just wanted to make sure I knew my options.  I have no regrets.  I never felt scared or worried about the birth, because I had a good team of my choosing and because I felt informed and respected.

(No)Chemicals. We live in a modern world and I live in a big city. I try my best to be healthy. I never wear make up, but I took it a step further while pregnant. I did not get any pedicures and only used organic and products with few, natural ingredients. I figure our skin is a very large and absorptive organ, so I want to limit what I put on it. Especially while pregnant. Some old Yogi once said that he doesn't put anything on himself that he would not eat. I tried to take this as a guideline but did not adhere to it entirely.
I also continued to wear natural fibers. I like cotton, silk and cashmere (yes, I feel guilty about the cashmere and perhaps even the silk). No polyester for me please.

Pre-Natal Vitamins. I took them before I became pregnant, continued to take them throughout the pregnancy and am still taking them now while nursing.  I like Rainbow Light Just One Prenatal Vitamin,they are easy to digest (these contain ginger).  I also took plant derived omega 3 to supplements daily (Spectrum Essentials Vegetarian DHA).  To make sure I took in enough calcium, I consumed a lot of Kale, dairy and Tropicana Calcium and Vitamin D enriched OJ.

Vegetarian Lifestyle. Some people still bug out about vegetarian diets. But you do not need to eat meat to be healthy. I think one even can be healthy as a vegan. One just has to be very conscientious in regard to their nutrition - especially during pregnancy.

Travel. I usually travel enough to feel guilty about my carbon footprint.  I was in another country when I first suspected that I was pregnant, but after we made it home, I did not do any air travel for the entire pregnancy.  I just didn't feel like it. I enjoyed staying put.  However I think if you feel like traveling while pregnant, go for it!
We did treat ourselves to a mini vacation nearby on Shelter Island during my third trimester.  We stayed at La Maison Blanche which was comfortable, quiet and lovely.

Caffeine. I never acquired a taste for coffee, but I drink tea and used to drink sodas.  Once I knew I was pregnant I switched to decaf Earl Grey and cut out any other caffeine.  It was easy for me.  I still only drink decaf Earl Grey, not just because I am nursing, but also because I realized I just do not need it.  So I think that's the end of caffeine for me.

Hypno Birthing. Many years ago I suddenly developed a fear of flying. My friend Melanie recommended a psychologist who helps people through self-hypnosis in overcoming their fears. I went to see him twice and the fear went away.  This has made me very open to self-hypnosis and so I practiced the Hypno Birthing technique before birth. I was not as diligent as I should have been, but it still helped me. Not just during the birth but also during the time leading to the birth. I never felt fear or apprehension and I think Hypno Birthing had a part in it.

Partner. Last but not least, I must give a lot of credit to my husband. He came to every prenatal appointment, practiced hypno birthing with me, looked at every hospital with me, came to workshops and classes and interviewed doulas with me. He was excited, supportive and loving.  I felt beautiful, happy, safe and content throughout my pregnancy.  Thank you, my love.

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