I was incredibly fortunate to have had a wonderfully easy pregnancy with Maggie. I loved being pregnant, in fact: I felt good and had lots of energy, and was largely able to keep up with my regular routine. Plus, emotionally I was on a high for 42 weeks (minus some freak outs there at the end when she was so late!) and was generally just excited to be able to have such a special experience.
No two pregnancies are alike, of course, and different people have different goals when it comes to what they hope their pregnancy and birth experiences look like, but I thought I’d share a few elements that I’m confident made my pregnancy an especially happy, healthy one:
- Choosing midwifery care over a standard OB practice. I can’t say enough positive things about the midwifery practice we chose as our care provider, Novant Health Midwifery Associates. (For those in the Triad, definitely consider this practice not only for your pre-natal care but for general gynecological care as well. Everyone there is amazingly kind, and you’ll get personalized care that will leave you feeling heard and supported.) Kevin and I started this pregnancy at a standard OB office (one of those offices with tons of doctors, so you might not get to meet the person who actually ends up delivering your baby) and didn’t have any complaints about the care we received, but we ultimately switched to the midwife practice because we were looking for more involved care providers, for a practice we knew would support our plans for an intervention-free birth, and for a place that was smaller so we’d be able to get to know all the people who could potentially be delivering Maggie. A bonus for us, too, was the fact that our midwifery practice is currently the only practice allowed to implement water labor at Forsyth Medical Center (something we were excited about but didn’t get to take advantage of — more about that here, if you’re interested).
- Eating healthily. This can be easier said than done sometimes during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester — yikes!!), but it really did help me feel more like myself as well as kept my body feeling as strong as possible. (Check out some tips for healthy eating during pregnancy that I put together for Zulily’s blog here!)
- Hiring a doula. After hearing a few friends rave about the doula support they received during their labor and delivery and reading the stats behind how having doula care during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum can make for a better outcome (fewer pre-term births, fewer c-sections, higher Apgar scores, etc.), I was sold. A friend recommended Natural Baby Doulas, a three-person team out of Greensboro, and we were so happy with the care we received from Sarah, Jessica, and Christina. We got to know Sarah well, as she taught our birth class, and we met with both Jessica and Christina separately in our home as well to talk about what we hoped our birth experience would look like, postpartum tips, what their labor support styles were like, etc. They were extremely helpful, particularly in the weeks after Maggie’s due date when we were trying everything to get labor going and I was feeling pretty discouraged from time to time. Jessica ended up being the doula on call for Maggie’s birth and she was amazing.
- Taking a birth class. Of course, there are lots of options when it comes to birth classes. Hospitals always offer classes, and there are tons of other options in other environments, too. Kevin and I opted to take a 12-week Bradley Method class with Sarah Carter, one of the doulas from our doula group. We learned so much during that three-month period about different birth scenarios and the pros and cons of each, ways to cope with pain during labor, pregnancy nutrition tips, and so much more. Plus, we got close with the other students in our class and have loved staying in touch now that all our babies have been born! Taking this class made Kevin and me feel a thousand times more confident going into the birth experience. I wanted to have an intervention-free birth experience (and thankfully was able to), but above all I wanted to take this class so Kevin and I would feel armed with good information so we would feel in control, regardless of the birth experience. This class definitely helped us achieve that goal.
- Staying active throughout my pregnancy (specifically: doing Pure Barre the whole time). I was super lucky in that I never felt sick while I was pregnant. I was definitely really tired during my first trimester and struggled a bit with off and on dizziness about midway through my pregnancy, but aside from that I felt much like myself. That made it easy for me to stick with my pre-pregnancy workout routine, and I continued to take Pure Barre classes until 41 weeks (and taught through about 38 weeks). I’m completely confident that doing Pure Barre all those weeks helped to make my pregnancy exponentially better. I never experienced back pain (which I know had to do with the core and back work Pure Barre incorporates) and kept my weight gain down (I put on 18 pounds in total), both of which I credit Pure Barre with. I even wrote about my PB + pregnancy routine for Beyond Yoga’s blog. If you’re up for this workout while you’re pregnant, DO IT. I can’t recommend it enough. (I can’t WAIT to get back to class!)
- Visiting a chiropractor regularly. This recommendation came from a few friends as well as our Bradley class, and I’m so glad I made chiropractic care part of my pregnancy routine during my third trimester. (It’s not something I was doing prior to my pregnancy.) Maggie’s birth was quick and pushing was fast and easy, and I have to think a portion of that had to do with the fact that I’d made sure my pelvis, spine, etc. were in alignment prior to her being born.
Other mamas out there: What did you incorporate into your pregnancy that you feel made it a better experience?