Pre-pregnancy, I remember thinking how weird it was that whenever you asked a pregnant woman how far along she was, they would always answer you in weeks. “I’m 22 weeks along.” Yeah, ok cool. But how many months is that?? And then as soon as I got pregnant, I immediately switched to tracking time in weeks and days.
Why is this?
One guess is that things are changing so quickly, that speaking in months is pointless. A week is a much more sensible unit of time. The other reason that was more applicable for me is that pregnancy, especially my first trimester, was a Game of Inches. Everyone tells you that your pregnancy will fly by, but every day of my first trimester dragged on, slowly inching to the big day when we would get to see our Baby Coach, things would get really, really real and maybe, just maybe, the sense of dread that gripped my soul every time I felt even the slightest twinge in my abdomen would subside, because 12 weeks is the safety point, right? Right.
Between Google, the NHS website and your friend’s friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s nightmare pregnancy story, it’s nearly impossible to keep a cool and level head, regardless of how many times people tell you that the worst thing you can do for your baby is to stress out (which in turn causes you to stress more!)
What better time to discuss Mindfulness and Education??
I have seen Mindfulness defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Sounds great, right? However, I am naturally a very stressy, highly strung person. Imagine how much more stressed out I got when I had a tiny human growing inside my belly, relying on me for its survival! In the first few months, I had a lot of what I now call “growing pains”. With every twinge and every subsequent Google search, I became more and more stressed out. Following some very sound advice from a trusted friend (more on that later!), I decided to improve my mindfulness, starting with regular meditation and mantras.
Traditionally, I am not a big fan of meditation. Before baby, I was convinced it didn’t work for me. Most likely because I'm shit at it and I hadn’t practiced it at all. Surprisingly (or maybe not at all!), meditation is just like any other skill – it needs to be practiced.
I knew I would need guidance to begin meditating, so I started a subscription to Headspace, (not just for preggos!) which worked perfectly. You can either follow their daily meditations, or they do a pregnancy pack which focuses on visualisation. In my second trimester, I transitioned to Expectful. I’ve been using this since my second trimester and it has been great as well. They offer specific meditations for each trimester, from helping you get to sleep, walking meditations, trusting your body, and dealing with uncertain moments. The getting to sleep meditation has been an absolute Godsend as of late!
Meditation is what helped me get my daily stress under control, but my mantra is what kept me sane. Whenever I felt a twinge of pain, whenever I felt uneasy, whenever I would hear advice or stories that scared me (more on this later as well!), I would repeat my mantra:
“I trust my body, I trust my baby. My body is healthy, my baby is healthy.”
I would say this again and again and again until the pain subsided, the thoughts left my mind, and I felt comfortable and confident again. Is it cheesy? Yes. Will people stare at you when you’re walking down the street chanting out loud? Probably. Does it work? A million times yes.
I read once that women are often divided in to two camps when they find out they’re pregnant. The first camp is the “take it as it is” mums-to-be that breeeeeeze through pregnancy without so much as flipping through a Parenting magazine, and the other camp that treats pregnancy like it was a PhD. As you might have guessed, I fall squarely in to the second camp. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I got straight to work downloading every book and podcast, set up meetings with women I knew and respected who had trained through pregnancy, bookmarked websites and essentially became a Training during Pregnancy Information Sponge.
Prenatal resources are abundant and the information supplied is an absolute minefield. To help you navigate, I have put together a list of the resources that I found the most useful. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but this is as far as I’ve gotten!
Meet with a Friend
Before you do anything else, meet with a friend, a coach, or someone you know and trust who has been through a similar situation. They can help answer any questions, calm down any fears, and, considering most women keep their pregnancy quiet during the first trimester, it’s great to have someone to finally share all your excitement with! The day after I found out I was pregnant, I met up for a chat with an incredible woman who was both a friend, a trusted coach, and superwoman of a mom. I made a list of questions before our meeting and she answered every single one and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m still sending her questions to this day!
A word of advice about meeting up with friends… Sometimes, it’s good to hear things you don’t want to hear. For example, when your coach tells you you should cut back on alcohol or sweets. No one WANTS to hear that, but sometimes, we need to. On the flip side, when you’re pregnant, aim to get advice from people that you know are on your side and that will be supportive to what you want. For example, if you have always dreamed of having a non-medicated home birth with your husband being the only one in the room with you, it’s probably not a good shout to seek advice from someone you know had a traumatic birth story, swears by an epidural and thinks home births are a recipe for disaster. For the most part, it’s good to get all sides of a story, but at the moment, there’s no need and no point for people raining on your parade. However, if someone does offer advice that doesn’t mesh with your plans, don’t curse them under your breath or unfollow them on Facebook. Odds are, they are sharing their advice because they want you to have the best experience possible. Although their idea of ‘best experience’ might differ from yours, their advice is still coming from the heart, so be respectful. Nod, smile, and carry on thinking your own thoughts.
2) BirthFit Podcasts
As I mentioned in my Training blog, the BirthFit website has been a key resource throughout my pregnancy for my training, but also for my mindset and education. Their podcasts cover a wide range of topics and have also helped me find other useful resources.
My favourites so far have been:
Episode 2 with Dr. Elliot Berlin
Episode 6 with John Welbourn
Episode 25 with Dr. Gina Sirchio-Lotus
Episode 59 with Jacki Carr
Episode 63 with Dr. Lindsay Mumma
Episode 87 from the BirthFit Summit
Super informative and funny, these make for great commute listening!
* Update: now that I’m in my third trimester, I have also been listening to a lot of Modern Mamas Podcasts. A similar vibe to BirthFit, in addition to prenatal information, they have loads of great information on what to do when Baby arrives!
3) Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
This book is borderline mindset and borderline education. The book begins with a collection of birth stories from Ina May’s experience at the Farm Midwifery Centre (most of which took place in the 70s). What I loved about this book was not just the educational aspect (there’s so much about having a baby that I had - and still have - no idea about), but the way that it re-framed the way we speak about and understand the birth experience. It helped to shape my ideas of what I would like my birth experience to be and also indirectly introduced me to hypnobirthing. If all you’ve been hearing and all you know of pregnancy are horror stories, this is the perfect book to get your head straight.
4) Resources for Pre- and Post-Natal Nutrition
With my focus on my training, I’ve always eaten well (aside from the occasional donut) and I’ve always known what my body needs to perform at its best, but when it came to knowing what to eat when pregnant, I was beyond lost. I knew that I wanted to be a bit more cautious than previous generations' approach, “We had aspirin, drank wine and ate tinned tuna and you came out fine”, but a little bit more relaxed than the present-day approach of: “If you have raw eggs, peanuts, a slice of cake or don’t rinse your organic vegetables with filtered water, your baby will come out with three heads”.
Here are the resources I found most helpful…
Webinar: Prenatal Nutrition Basics with Dr. Gina Sirchio-Lotus
Before you do anything watch this webinar. It provides an excellent summary of prenatal nutrition and I liked it because I think it hit the exact balanced approach I was looking for.
Beautiful Babies: Nutrition for Fertility, Pregnancy, Breast-feeding, and Baby’s First Foods
By Kristen Michaelis
Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health
by Katherine Erlich, Kelly Genzlinger
These books were both great resources and chock-full of information (I’m still working through Super Nutrition for Babies!) FYI, these follow more of an all-organic, Paleo nutrition approach, so there was some information I took on board, and some I decided was a bit too strict for my lifestyle.
Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition
By Lily Nichols
I have only just heard about this book, but after listening to a few podcasts with Lily Nichols, I’m very excited to read it.
I’m 34 weeks now and getting closer and closer to seeing our beautiful Baby Coach. Through my training, my improving mindfulness practice, my education, and the love and support of my nearest and dearest, I am becoming more and more confident every day that I am ready to take on this new adventure.
Given how long this blog has taken me to write, the next Preggo Chronicles will probably discuss Baby Coach’s first Scaled Teen’s CrossFit Competition….