I may be a midwife, but if you think I am going to preach about a healthy diet and exercise, then you are wrong. I know you know that stuff, I am not going to sit here judging you for eating leftover Christmas chocolate for breakfast and excusing it with ‘the baby needs it’. I have been there. Or perhaps you have such bad sickness that your baby is growing on a diet of ice lollies and dry cornflakes. Good for you, you are managing to stay alive!
So, let’s talk about the less practical stuff but the most important ways to manage pregnancy without losing your sh*t on a daily basis.
1. Ignore the comments. All of them. This is hard because hormones can leave your patience on a knife-edge. Examples of comments I have heard regularly include;
“You look massive! Are you sure there aren’t two in there?” So, SO funny the 38th time of hearing it.
Random strangers saying things like “That’s definitely a boy, you’re carrying all out in front” or various other old wives’ tales, which are 100% more to do with body shape and muscle tone then whether there is a tiny penis hiding in there *immature giggle snort*.
Anybody saying to have ginger biscuits when you are vomiting, because they surely must have a death wish?
And the ultimate phrase designed to cause furious anger and hormonal tears, people saying “Have you not dropped yet? Hurry up!” when you are overdue. Do I look like I have ‘dropped’? There are no words for this sort of BS. It is only a matter of time before a murder is caused by this phrase, and they would probably deserve it.
2. Don’t panic too much about the changing body stuff. It’s happening, most of it goes back to normal, or a new normal at least.
You can bathe nightly in stretchmark cream, and it might help a little, but in all honesty, if your skin is going to go, then it going to go. They all fade in the end. But if you have lots of tattoos, like me, then you may find you get a slightly stretched and sorry looking butterfly by the end of the process. Embrace those changes, you are growing and sustaining an entire small human. That is pretty incredible. Even if you now have an oddly hairy belly.
3. Be prepared to stand your ground when it comes to your birth choices.
No humour here, this is about the fundamental fact that what happens to your body is your decision alone. Take all the information given to you, gather it up with a pinch, or a cupful, of salt, and go with your gut once you have digested all the information. This goes for parenting too.
4. Try not to strive for perfection. This starts in pregnancy and lasts through the first year or so, until eventually. . .
You give in and realise that it is impossible, your child will be fine, and you probably shouldn’t have stressed yourself over it so much. You can only do the best that you can do, each person is living a different life to you, and it is definitely different to the perfect snapshots which they put on Instagram. So, if your pregnancy is challenging, just do the best that you can on little sleep.
*Shhh, don't tell anyone I just ate two Twix bars and haven't pooed in a week.*
5. On that note, if you feel unhappy, please talk to someone.
There is a lot of guilt surrounding mental health in pregnancy, birth and beyond. Pregnant people, or their partners, feel guilty for not necessarily feeling excited or happy during this time. But depression and anxiety rates tend to shoot up at this time, before and after birth, so please speak to your midwife or GP if you are not feeling good. You are not less than anybody else by doing so, you are putting things in place to protect your family.
*Look after yourself first.*
6. Do some birth and baby prep courses.
Honestly do. You really need to understand how this beloved womb-fruit is going to come out, and sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting ‘It glides out on a sea of tranquillity!’ will not help you get ready. Let me tell you a secret…
*birth can be genuinely amazing*, but you need to prep your body and your mind for how this thing is going down. And don’t take classes which only cover the birth. When it is all over and you have a tiny, wet, wriggly human in your arms, you will be glad if you have a vague idea of what to do with it. If the idea of going to in-person classes sounds like a nightmare then do them from your home in your PJs (the only way to be).
You can find online classes via www.bossyourbirth.com
– Shameless plug? Me? Surely not.
7. If you are planning to breastfeed; Your baby may be a champion feeder with a perfect latch, but do prepare for some breastfeeding issues, and put support in place for after the birth.
Be that knowing your local breastfeeding support groups, breastfeeding counsellors or watching videos such as this and this, and being prepared that it may take a few days, or weeks, for you and your baby to get the hang of it initially. But once you have cracked it, it is the simplest (and cheapest) way to feed. But if you have accessed support and it is not working for your family, then feed whichever way works for you all.
8. Try to avoid resting reclined in a chair or sofa. I am not a monster, I want you to have rest (bearing in mind the exercise bit I said I wouldn’t bring up).
Our more sedentary lifestyle is sometimes meaning babies are reluctant to get into good positions for birth. And a baby which is facing up in labour, plays a fun game called ‘I am going to give you awful back pain on top of your contractions’. So crack out the gym ball, sit on there when you can and roll those hips, or lean over it, and if you need to lie down, just do so on your left side instead of lounging.
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