With a plethora of pregnancy guides, baby books, and resources out there, beginning a family can be both exciting and overwhelming. There is so much to learn about pregnancy and labor, we thought we would sift through all of this information and give you 6 vital ways to ensure that you and your baby have the best possible pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
1. Fuel your body with the proper nutrition! Your body requires protein, fat, carbohydrates and micronutrients for optimal health. Fulfilling these requirements becomes even more important when you are pregnant, as you need appropriate nutrients for your growing baby and your own growth, healing and repair. Remember, your baby eats what you eat, and you want to provide the best for your baby. Prioritize by purchasing organic, non-GMO fruits and vegetables that are free of harmful chemicals and pesticides, and meats, poultry, and fish that are free-range, grass-fed and wild, whenever possible. Additionally, it’s important to increase your intake of quality fats (fish oil, avocados, coconut oil) because many important functions require them, as do many organs including your baby’s brain and nerve system. Planning ahead is key – make sure you have lots of healthy snacks when you are away from home (fruit, nuts, smoothies, etc.) and plan and prepare your meals in advance. If you still have questions about what nutrients your body needs to function at its best, click here to view Dr. Rob’s Fuel Project Workshop.
2. Prepare your body for birth with various exercises that will build your endurance and make you strong. Like nutrition, movement is an important building block for human function, and pregnancy is no exception. Modification will be necessary, but it’s really helpful to maintain an exercise routine of both cardio and muscular strength. Squat, lunge, do Kegels, etc, to make sure your body is prepared for labor, which as the name implies, is a lot of work! After all, labor no longer happens just lying down on your back. Women use laboring balls, birthing tubs, squat, and all sorts of positions that feel more natural and comfortable. So think of labor like an athletic event, and get physical!
3. Get Adjusted! Your brain and nervous system coordinate and control every aspect of what goes on in your body, including growing a baby. Detecting and removing interference to the mother’s nervous system promotes a healthy pregnancy and supports the development of the baby. Chiropractic care also alleviates the pain and ailments that can surface during pregnancy. Furthermore, research shows that women receiving chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy tend to have shorter labor times, significantly less likelihood of back labor, and their need for pain medication and medical intervention is reduced. Adjusting the mother’s pelvis also helps to create more room in the uterus for the baby to develop, and allows the baby to move into the best position for birth. In the case of breeched babies, many chiropractors are certified in the Webster technique (including Dr. Rob), which is a safe and gentle correction that removes constraint in the uterus and allows the baby to turn its head down into an optimal birthing position. You can find out more about the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy, labor and beyond by visiting our website here.
4. Take time to take care of yourself mama! Growing a human is hard work and it requires incredible demands on your energy and body. Ensure that you are getting plenty of rest, and really focus on not feeling stressed or overwhelmed, because your thoughts and emotions affect your experience and the health of your baby. When you feel stressed try boosting your mood by getting a massage, getting adjusted, exercising, meditating, journaling, yoga, or engaging in any other activity you enjoy. Remember, when you are chronically stressed, scared, or depressed, these feelings are not in isolation. Research shows that your emotions set the stage for how your baby will view the world from this point forward.
5. Find out what toxins are hiding in your home! Many products we use on our skin, hair, nails and cleaning supplies are loaded with toxic chemicals. These toxins accumulate in the body, interfere with chemical and hormonal balance and can cause harm to developing babies. An easy-to-use online source for looking up what’s in your products is The Environmental Working Group – EWG.org. Replace toxic products with environmentally-friendly cleaning products and organic personal products.
6. Envision and prepare for the birth you want to have. In order to deliver a baby, it’s imperative that you feel safe, comfortable, relaxed and have a supportive team around you during labor. Think of the birth you want to have. Who do you want present? An OBGYN? A Midwife? A Doula? Your mother-in-law? (Just kidding!) Where do you want to give birth? Be sure you and your partner take a tour of many places because you want to be comfortable where you labor, whether it’s in the hospital, a birth center, or in your home. Also think about the type of birth you want – a natural birth with natural pain relief (ex. a water birth) or birth with pain medication (ex. epidural) – and see if the facility you select supports the type of birth that you envision. You should discuss these options with your partner, include all of your must-haves in a birth plan, and ensure that the hospital/ birth center staff is aware of your wishes and can support you. When you are in labor, it’s easy to feel vulnerable and out of touch with what’s happening around you, so make sure you have someone to be your advocate and ensure that you are well informed about any side effects of potential drugs and interventions, for both you and your baby. Many of the “routine procedures” administered during labor (i.e. epidurals, Pitocin, c-sections) DO have side effects. Be familiar with the side effects, so if they occur, you are not caught by surprise. Be adequately prepared for labor by knowing the different stages, emotional signposts and needs of a laboring woman, instead of “just showing up and letting the doctor and the staff do all the work.” Lastly, take advantage of birthing preparation classes that support your vision for your child’s birth and research other types of classes such as The Bradley Method and Hypnobirthing.
Overall, the best thing you can do is trust your body. Your body grew and developed a human being from two small cells, with little thought or intervention from you. Just as it was designed to grow a baby, it’s also perfectly designed to give birth to a baby, and knows exactly what to do – always remember that!
If you have any questions or would like any recommendations on books, movies or other resources, please do not hesitate to ask. We are here to support you through your pregnancy, labor and beyond!
A great resource that we always recommend to all our moms and moms-to-be is from our Australian colleague, Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani, entitled Well-Adjusted Babies which can be found here.