The Secret Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Birth, & Postpartum..
As I stated before, my pregnancy was not planned. Truth be told, even though I DO want more kids, I truly cannot imagine planning a pregnancy. Can’t we put off this whole, making a baby thing until after New Years Eve? Oh wait, now my birthday's coming up… Ugh, I don’t want to be pregnant during the summer….. Honestly, there’s really no good time to get pregnant, especially if you’re like me & didn’t exactly enjoy the process the first time. But there are several ways you can set yourself up for pregnancy & postpartum success that I rarely see discussed, & that’s what I’m going to focus on in today’s post.
So, let’s say you’re planning a pregnancy… or, lets say you’re like me, & realize you’re kind of getting old & know that one or more babies are probably on your near-future To-Do list. Let’s break this down into time frames.
One Year Before ~
Around a year before getting pregnant, I would highly suggest starting to get your body in order. You’re going to be pregnant for ten months (spoiler alert, the 9 months thing is a SCAM. “Full term” is 40 weeks, & there are 4 weeks in a month. That means you’re pregnant for 10 months)… That’s a long time. Not only that, but after you go through this intense, life-changing, perhaps bone-breaking experience that is birth, you don’t simply get to chill. You have to carry about a 5-10 lb baby for the next…. Well, forever. It doesn’t get easier after you give birth. My son is almost sixteen pounds & he's not yet three months old... Help yourself out by being strong!
Spend a few weeks writing down all the little weird questions you have about your body. If your knees have been feeling weird lately, ask your doctor about it. They’re not going to feel better after they have to support 30 (OR MORE) additional pounds. If you have persistent headaches, do your best to start getting to the bottom of that issue before. The headaches will only get worse if you experience nausea, which often leads to dehydration. Likely, every problem you face will get worse. That’s why you have to make it as good as it can get before. Additionally, talk to your doctor about any medications you’re currently on, & see if they’re compatible with pregnancy. We all have random things we’ve been “meaning to ask our doctor about” & a year pre-pregnancy is the perfect time to do it!
I know chiropractors are a very polarizing subject, but I am a big advocate of finding yourself a professional, highly-recommended chiropractor. As I said before, I have been to a few chiros in my life, & they have helped tremendously. I understand why someone would find chiropractic work scary/perhaps unbelievable, as even one of my favorite people, Joe Rogan, has had numerous guests on his podcast “debunking” chiropractic care. But when I think about it logically, chiropractic care makes sense. If your body has an imbalance in its structure, it’s going to cause numerous problems. Anyway, this post isn’t supposed to be about proving chiropractic care. I will keep you guys posted on my own personal chiropractic journey! Regardless, had I started going to the chiropractor a year before my pregnancy, & actively worked to straighten out my hips before pregnancy made them even worse, I believe my birth experience would have been MUCH different. I think Soren would have been in the “position for birth” from the start, making it possible for me to have the water birth at Best Start that I wanted. Sigh. Next time!
YOGA! A year before you plan to get pregnant, do yourself a favor & start practicing yoga everyday. Yes, yoga at a studio is usually “expensive.” But if you’re a beginner, start with YouTube videos everyday for a few months, until you’re so obsessed you have to make it a bigger part of your lifestyle, & you somehow find a way to join a studio. Stretching, lengthening, & strengthening your body is very important, especially pre-pregnancy. This is going to help your alignment, like chiropractic work, soooo much. The fun bonus is that you can obviously continue to do yoga throughout your pregnancy, & you’ll be able to meet other moms-to-be in your prenatal yoga classes!
This is also the time to get serious about your fitness. This is the least busy your life is going to be for the next twenty or so years. This is the time to establish your fitness routine & make strides towards the goals you want. Being in good shape pre-pregnancy will help you “bounce back” (I’m so sorry for using this phrase! Ugh!) quicker than if you were not. Learn about fitness. Learn about what YOUR BODY needs. Also, if you are an avid gym-goer before pregnancy, you can continue to workout throughout your pregnancy as well, helping the “bounce back” factor. Squats in general are an important exercise to help prepare your birth canal, & getting good at them before will be very beneficial. Also, they’ll have you looking like Tammy Hembrow not your aunt’s friend Tammy with the FUPA.
Lastly, a year before getting pregnant, I would start doing cleanses- especially a parasite cleanse with matching colonics. I am planning to write a blog about my personal experiences with parasite cleanses after I’m done breastfeeding… whenever that may be! But look into them yourself… I first heard of it through a healer I trusted, & then researched them extensively. Friends of mine that have done parasite cleanses found ORGANIC OLIVIA’s post to be very helpful!
Six Months Before ~
Six months before planning to get pregnant, return back to your doctor & get bloodwork done, testing your vitamin & mineral levels. Don’t worry if something is low, nearly everyone has some low levels of vitamins that they need to remedy by taking a supplement. For many people, it's Magnesium, B12, Vitamin D, or Iron. It could be all four of them. After you get your bloodwork done, figure out the best, most bio-available way to get those nutrients. In an upcoming post on WHAT I TAKE DAILY, I go over a few of the supplements that I take everyday to try to remedy some issues & deficiencies that I have. I would definitely suggest taking your prenatal vitamins at this time, as research shows that it’s best to begin prenatals months before becoming pregnant.
Another good thing to begin working on right now is your gut health. Gut health is linked to numerous different things- lately, some are even linking it to autism. Whatever bacteria is in YOUR gut will populate in your baby’s gut- so make it as healthy as possible. Research probiotics, & find yourself a good one to begin taking daily. Also good for gut health is kombucha, yogurt, kimchi, & any other fermented foods.
Six months before planning to get pregnant, another excellent thing to do is genetic screening. In an upcoming blog that I will post this week, I will discuss my experiences with the23&me test, & why I think it’s important.
Lastly, your teeth. If you have any old silver (aka mercury) fillings, this is the time to get them taken out! Did you know that mercury fillings release mercury vapors pretty much constantly,but especially whenever you’re drinking hot beverages? This is one thing I was paranoid about my ENTIRE pregnancy, as I have an old mercury filling from when I was seven & a little shit who didn't care about her oral health. Please get these taken out :( Also, now is a good time to get ANY teeth-related things done. Get your cleaning, & get another one right before you start trying. Pregnancy can lead to dental complications in some women, so best to be as diligent as possible. Up until I got severe nausea during my pregnancy, I used to oil pull everyday. Start oil pulling, brushing three times per day, & flossing. If you don’t already. :)
One Month Before ~
If you are trying to perfectly plan a pregnancy & are hesitant to go off birth control sooner, this would be the time to go off of it. Personally, I have not been on birth control for over five years, so obviously I would recommend it even sooner than a month before, but this is obviously the latest you can be on birth control if you're planning on getting pregnant. It could take a few months, or it could happen right away! Bodies are wild.
Go through your home & make sure everything is as non-toxic & natural as you can get. I’m planning on writing a post about products I use in my home, so stay tuned for that! Do any deep-cleaning, de-cluttering that you can… Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!
Finally, take some time to think about yourself. You’re going to be doing a lot of that over the next 9-10 months, & beyond, but it will change. Think about what makes you happy, & what you need to be happy. Think of all the ways you’ve grown in the past year, & get excited about all the growth you’ll experience in the next year! Journal. Identify your creative outlets. You are going to be sober & maybe alone for the next year, perhaps even longer. Yes, your friends will come hang out with you… & if they don’t, you need to get new friends… But it’s different. Your human interactions will be considerably less, with considerably less people. I didn’t work during my pregnancy, but I did take 16 credit hours per semester. Even then, I was alone a lot, because my boyfriend was at work. Luckily, I love being alone, & since I had homework plus writing my book, I had a lot to do. Oh, & with the gripping nausea I watched like one million shows on Netflix/hbogo… which I’m sure you will too, but it’s important to have an ENTIRE life outside of your Netflix & pregnant chill.
Now, you’re pregnant. Yay! Congratulations. Here’s what I’d do…
Drink raspberry leaf tea. I started in my second trimester. I drank it every single day. There’s tons of anecdotal evidence supporting the tea, which midwives have been giving to pregnant ladies for generations. Bonus: the tea is used for the womb in general, so drinking it after birth helps ease periods. Order a pack of one million or so on Amazon. & while you’re at it, order a pack of one million Mothers Milk Tea for after you give birth too! Keeping your supply up is a delicate thing. I drink mothers milk tea & eat oatmeal, two galactagogues, every single day, & have since I gave birth.
Invest in some good nursing nightgowns. I bought five & wear them anytime I’m at home. It just feels better to wear nightgowns that have the nursing clasp vs wearing t-shirts or tank tops & shorts. You’re not JUST going to be feeding every two hours, like you’ve probably been mentally preparing for. Have a plethora of pads & adult diapers. Either research natural stool softeners or buy them in pill form. & definitely buy a portable charger… or two… & a few extension cords to leave around the house. Which brings me to…
Nursing baskets! I have these in my living room & bedroom. Essentially all the thigs I could want while stuck on a couch or in my bed. Close your eyes... Imagine you are confined to your bed, but you have to stay awake, for an hour. What would you want? Start making a list, & put those things in your basket. A pump, chargers, snacks, water, books, burp rag. Recently I decided I was going to just use a bag & carry it around with me everywhere… But I haven’t done that just yet. I’ll let you know.
I value the portable chargers & extension cords because I used the notes app in my phone to keep track of when Soren eats & from which boob. I recently stopped that, about a week ago, but for the first two months I really think it was crucial. Also, write down EVERYTHING you eat/drink/consume. Most mothers I know have had children with some kind of food sensitivity. You & your baby will really appreciate finding out what the food sensitivity was quickly! PS- Soren’s is peanut butter. Devastating. I miss it everyday.
As I said in my birth post, I changed my birth plan after watching the documentary The Business of Being Born, & I would highly recommend watching that. If you decide on a natural birth, reading books on the subject really helped me. I would love to do a post on the books I read during my pregnancy as well. Also, birthing classes!! This is absolutely essential. Not only to teach you about birth, but connect you with a teacher who is really concerned with birth as a personal experience & not a common medical procedure. Another bonus could be friends!
& lastly, meal prep. Some days I’m barely hungry, other days I feel like I’m pregnant again. You will likely be eating several times per day, & it can be hard with a newborn, especially if your partner has to go back to work, or you’re doing it alone. Ask people to bring you their own prepped meals, or meals in general. The less time you have to spend on routine maintenance shit, the better.
Written by: Alaya Rochelle
Art by: Betusha Rapatusha