11 Apr The Sh** they don’t tell you about Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond
The S*** They Don’t Tell you About Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond.
Ahhhhh, motherhood. From the time you first discover you’re pregnant the whole experience is one HUUUUUGE learning curve.
It’s a time of excitement, joy, wonder and just a little bit of “What the heck was I thinking?”
As soon as you announce that you’re expecting, you will be bombarded with myths, advice and horror stories; complete strangers will touch your growing belly and make comments regarding the size of your bump….and if you aren’t careful, this can all lead to doubts and worry growing in your own mind.
We’re fortunate to share pregnancy journeys with many women, who come to Clarity Wellness for Pregnancy Massage, Pregnancy Packages, Acupuncture, Naturopathy and Postpartum Massage, often with a wealth of (perfectly normal!) questions and concerns around pregnancy.
To help you navigate this, some of the Clarity Mammas have lovingly put together some of their most helpful tips, to assist you along your journey – regardless of which stage you’re at:
- Every pregnancy is different. Each baby carries differently and cannot be compared to another.
- DO NOT GOOGLE. Google is not your friend, GP, OB or helper. Don’t google symptoms, etc. It will tell you that you have Stage 3 cancer and about to miscarry.
- Keep a notepad handy to write all your questions for your next OB appointment.
- There are NO stupid questions. Even if this is your 3rd, 4th, or 5th pregnancy, you will learn something new each time.
- Like to walk (or run) to help keep fit? Shorten your stride, and take quicker steps to help keep your hips in alignment and protect against unnecessary strain.
- Get in and out of your car like a celebrity in a long tight gown! Keep your knees together and swing the legs in or out. Do this from early in your pregnancy. Placing all your weight and pressure through one side of your hip and leg getting in/out of the car ‘normally’ will put lots of your hips and lower back.
- Anterior Placenta? You may not feel the baby kick as early as some mothers. It can take up till 24 weeks to feel movement (think baby kicking a pillow with you on the other side), and even longer for Dad to feel bubba. Try focussing on your sides and low down – this where you’ll feel movement. If you have any doubts, or aren’t feeling movement at this stage, book an appointment with your OB to check up on bubs. It might simply be another week before you feel baby kicking up a storm.
- Saying yes to a student midwife can be a very rewarding experience. They are an amazing source of information. And they’re good to ask the questions that you might feel silly about bringing to your OB/Midwife.
- SRC shorts are a gift from god. They’re great support during and post-pregnancy. They’re also expensive! So hit up FB Marketplace or Gumtree.
- Having trouble with constipation? Doing regular deep breathing exercises can help naturally stimulate to bowel. Have a chat to your GP or pharmacist for medication if required – don’t strain!
- Watch your sitting position! We all love to laze in weird and wonderful positions on the couch, but be mindful that bad posture and slouching can impact on your babies presentation at birth. This can mean bubba lying posteriorly, which can make for a harder delivery.
- Sore feet? Grab a 600ml beverage of choice, enjoy said beverage, fill empty bottle with water and freeze. Then at the end of your day, roll your feet on the bottle, the ice will help with swelling and inflammation, and the hardness will feel amazing and stretch your feet out!
- Pregnancy is really 10 months.
Side note: Everyone has a horror story to tell about birth, and they love nothing more than to tell pregnant women! Try not to listen to them. Each birth is unique, and you will be surrounded by your birth partner and caring professionals who will be there each step. Trust your body and instincts, let any fears flow through you and pass, don’t focus them.
- You can do this. Seriously. You’ve got this. Your body was designed to accomplish so many amazing things, including giving birth to a baby. You have nothing to worry about. Soon you’ll learn that you are so much more incredible than you ever knew.
- If you are unsure of your rights as a birthing mum, contact a doula, who can give you a broader perspective.
- It is good to have a variety of tools in your birthing kit because you just never know what might work, things were sure you might like end up being a big NO. For example getting in a bath to birth and knowing within the first 5 minutes that it is not for you. Making stress balls that you thought were going to be useless when surprisingly just a gentle squeeze and smoothing your thumb across the rubber was a very calming tactile sensory distraction from contractions that worked surprisingly well. Each tool still has an expiry, if you have a long labour its nice to have a few different things to try to get you through. Read a few books to get some different ideas. Some include tens machine, birthing positions, visualations, breath work and a variety of musical playlists.
- It is important that your birthing partner understands your birth plan, your needs, wishes and things you don’t want (and why) because you may not be able to speak for yourself or think clearly enough to express yourself when in pain and therefore your birth partner will be your best advocate.
- Planned c-section? Ladies, de-fluff your muff! Otherwise you’ll have a random nurse dry shave the top of your pubes ready for surgery! #razorburn
- If a medical professional makes a recommendation for an intervention and you are not sure or can’t remember the pros and cons or have never heard of the suggestion, ask what would happen if we did that and also ask what happens if we don’t do that. You can always ask for more time to think on your answer.
- When your waters break, it’s not the dam-breaking flood you see in the movies (for at least 99% of us) it’s more of a dribble and can continue through labour.
- Most people liken the smell of amniotic fluid to semen. And during labour this can make some people feel a bit nauseous.
- Just because your waters break, doesn’t mean that you’ll go into labour straight away, it could be hours or even days (which means you’ll have to be induced) away. But definitely let your midwife know when it happens.
- You will lose any inhibitions you have when you walk in! Labour is primal, and once the contractions start in earnest, you won’t care who is looking at your crotch or how many nurses are getting handsy. You simply won’t care.
- Once you’re in the pushing stage. Try and poop the baby out. The midwives will say things like, ‘Push the baby out to the floor.’ But the best mind/muscle connection is poop.
- And if you do poop, don’t panic (you most likely won’t notice). Midwives see it all the time and will clean you up as required. Husbands, if you’re reading this, don’t bring this up in conversation with your wife, at least not during or straight after labour.
- You give birth ‘twice.’ After baby is born, you still have the placenta to deliver. You will most likely feel some mild contractions and be asked to push.
- If you’re having a c-section. It can be incredibly fast. 10-15 mins and already baby is out. Most of the surgery time (60-90 mins) is stitching you back up.
- You may not feel instant love and connection with your child. This does NOT make you a bad person/mother. Some women need to spend time bonding with their newborn. Lots of skin to skin contact will help. Seek advice from a mental-health trained midwife for more support in this area.
- Debrief your birth experience!!! This is something that is incredibly amazing and can help close the birth chapter. Talk to a trained doula or professional. Discuss your feelings, fears, and victories. It’s freeing to discuss your birth in a non-judgemental setting.
- The postpartum hormone drop is considered the single largest sudden hormone change in the shortest amount of time for any human being, at any point of their life cycle. This will most likely hit you about day 3pp. If you end up a sobbing mess etc, for no reason – it’s normal. Chat you your partner/friend/mum/sister and get support.
- Post-natal depression is real and can happen to anybody. There is no shame in asking for help. It’s better for you and your family to reach-out (see below for links to some amazing support agencies).
- Baby’s second night is hard. Click on the link to read a great article by Jan Barger, RN, MA, IBCLC, FILCA. https://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/bf-basics/second-night/
- As well as ice packs to help ease your lady bits, try witch hazel. Witch hazel contains chemicals called tannins that can help reduce swelling and fight bacteria, which in turn decreases pain and helps prevent infection. It also has hemostatic properties, which means it can help stop minor bleeding. Try dabbing your sensitive spots with a medicated witch hazel pad.
- Breastfeeding also stimulates contraction down, so don’t be surprised to notice it during this time.
- Breastfeeding is easy for some, you hear stories of babies wriggling up to the breast at birth and latching. For others it is extremely difficult, painful, emotional, disheartening, disheveling and a massive challenge. Lactation consultants are brilliant, a breast pump is essential, along with perseverance, determination and don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t work out.
- Every midwife will tell you a different way to breastfeed.
- Tickle under the chin to stimulate the suck reflex for feeds.
- Babies will cluster feed, which will feel like hours and hours of them chained to your boob..This is babies way of making you produce more milk, supply and demand! So if they are happy and have wet nappies, and don’t lose weight (apart from the first few days they will, see below) nothing to worry about.
- It is normal for babies lose weight after they are born, no matter what or how they are fed. It is normal for breastfed babies to lose weight for the first 3 days after birth. Weight loss in newborns is expressed as a percentage of the birthweight. A maximum weight loss of 7-10% in the first week is considered normal.
- Learn your signs and symptoms for mastitis and thrush. The following links are great resources from the Australian Breastfeeding Assoc: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/common-concerns%E2%80%93mum/mastitis & https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/nipple-infections/
- The first cup of tea you have after childbirth will be the best cup of tea you’ve ever had even if its out of a Styrofoam cup with warm water.
- Your first shower post-baby is even better than the cup of tea! And will help you feel human again.
- If you’ve had a c-section, you will still bleed. Lochia happens to us all.
- On the subject of lochia, steal- I mean, utilise all the hospital pads you can! They are huge, soft submarines that can hold ice-bricks for the tender bits and last you all night!
- If you have a c-section, you can have significant numbness around your scar. Sometimes it improves with time and healing, other times not.
- Babies are born with extra fat around their shoulders and kidneys to get them through their first 24 hours and they sleep most of this time which is nature’s way to allow mum to rest, so rest.
- You can’t really make babies have a routine, until they are about 4 months old. By then, they will most likely form their own type of daily routine, but before that, it’s when they’re hungry, feed, when they’re dirty, change, and when tired, sleep.
- You will learn to read your babies cues as a mum.
- You can’t spoil a baby! Snuggle with your bubba and love all the love they need.
- Have tear, grazes or episiotomy down there? Going to the toilet post-baby can be painful and scary. Grab a jug of lukewarm water to pour over your vagina while urinating to ease the sting of any wounds. Ask your nurse for a laxative, if you’re having trouble or worried, and to minimise pushing out the poo.
- People, especially other mums, can be the most harsh and opinionated people in the world. Be prepared for some judgement with whatever decisions you make about your child. Breast v. bottle, co-sleeping etc. You do you, and whatever is right for your family! No-one knows your baby like you. Find your tribe and connect with them.
- Mums have the magic of hormones to get them through the long nights and broken sleep. Partners do not have those same hormones raging through their bodies so they become wired, tired and just as exhausted and overwhelmed with this whole wonderful life changing event. It is nice to have a close friend or family member come and check in with them to see how they are doing and to help with household chores to give both parents a break.
- Partners can have a really hard time bonding with bubba. Get them involved in bath-time! It gives a chance for one-on-one time that’s fun, skin to skin contact for bonding and, most importantly, time for you to shower or a have cuppa by YOURSELF! #winwin
- Looking in the mirror post-baby can be hard! Sometimes our bodies don’t bounce back the way we want them to. You may see weight gain, stretch marks and someone who kinda looks like you (but is ridiculously tired). Know that you will find yourself again. The first few weeks/months can be all consuming and that there will be time for the treadmill later.
- Postpartum check up! Six weeks have flown by and it’s time to get that all important go-ahead to start your life again. This means c-section mummas you can most likely drive again. Make sure that the Doctor does a full exam (including internal) before signing off on return to fitness. Many mums return too quickly to exercise. Get along to a good women’s health physio to help with everything from your pelvic floor to lifting weights.
- Cloth nappies are amazing to use everywhere – as a burp cloth, on your change table as an easy clean mat and to chuck in your nappy bag/car for a convenient and large wipe (think vomit or poo-splosion), change mat etc!
We hope that some of the information listed above is of help to you, as you embark on the next incredible chapter of your life! If at anytime you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed, please know that you are not alone! Click here for a list of agencies and support services that can help.
If you would like some nurturing and hands-on care along the way, to ease your aches and pains, and allow yourself some well-earned rest time, why not book in to see our pregnancy specialised practitioners.
You are amazing Mumma – you got this!