Where's the positivity in PREPARING FOR BABY??
We all heard the outcry following Princess Kate's public appearance just 7 hours after giving birth. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to say birth is easy! However the comments under princess Kate's photos made me a bit cranky. She has been slammed for setting an unrealistic image. Many commenters seem to suggest she should be waddling around, leaking milk, bleeding to death, wearing her pjs, hair in a mess, looking exhausted, tears rolling down her cheeks with a ruined body that will never be the same again.
Women are deciding to have babies later than ever before with the national average age for a first child currently sitting at 29. I can't help but wonder if women and their partners are a little put off having them too early as they fear their life will be over and their health,body and energy levels lost.
From the moment Facebook worked out I was pregnant I was plagued by automated Facebook posts, 'ten things you should know before you give birth', '5 things you should absolutely take to hospital with you', 'top ten things new mum's wish they knew before having a baby'.... the list goes on. 99.9% of these posts were very negative. I was lucky enough to have a few special people in my ear reminding me how they just popped out their 5 babies and kept going, someone said, 'oh you'll be surprised how everything just pops back into shape, faster than you might expect', and 'children are just a blessing, best thing that ever happened to me'.
I embarked on the journey of growing a baby with the thought that I had the opportunity to fuel up my system with the best stuff I could, stay fit and active and make sure I was full of beans ready for the challenge of pushing it out. I didn't over think the process either I just kept living life as I had before (within sensible limits; usually).I did a bit of duck shooting, chased some sheep around over lambing, attempted to lamb a few (although I noticed they seemed much better off without my interventions) and observed the process, served a lot of customers and mowed the lawn at the same speed right up till 40 weeks when I decided I should mow it faster in case it helped bring on labor.
I am a meat eater and I do think this makes it a lot easier to keep your iron levels up especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. My Ferritin (a measure of iron levels in your body) was at 120 and even on loads of good quality meat and a daily iron supplement it still faded to 20 at the end of the 2nd trimester (at which point I took even more of the amino acid form to boost it back up successfully prior to birth). I also took plenty of magnesium also in the amino acid form. Magnesium is crucial for growing, muscle function and energy. I took a powder daily and when I ran out for 5 days I had proper cramp for the first time in life (which I think reflects just how much magnesium you burn through in pregnancy). Magnesium is essential for muscle contraction and relaxation (think labor) so I was definitely keen to keep my levels right up there. I also took a b vitamin complex. I somehow got the job of burying any unfortunate sheep in spring and hole digging burns through a lot of energy so B's helped me buzz through my days with energy left in the evening. Apart from that I also took Natures Sunshine 5W (for the last 5 weeks of pregnancy) to help tone my uterus and prepare for labor.
Topically I put a variety of creams and potions on my bump. Rhino repair, skin food, mother to be oil etc (I'm not sure any seemed better than the other, they all seemed nice). I kept it well moisturised and did well avoiding stretch marks although a few started coming in, in the week I was over due. I also think perineum massage (this is where you massage the area around as just inside the vagina that will need to stretch during birth, studies show this significantly reduces the risk of tearing so I was totally on board) with a good quality oil throughout pregnancy assists with keeping the skin supple and ready to stretch. I used the mother to be oil for this as well.
My labor started 8 days over due (however I'm a late ovulator so it was quite possibly right on time). I had pre-organised the following..
-High protein snacks including nuts, seeds, protein bar/balls, 3 premixed bags of magnesium, protein and electrolytes so my husband could simply mix them up into a protein shake for me.
-B vitamins and magnesium to top up during labor
-Some music and I went for some good old classics like sweet home Alabama, I believe in miracles (after all birth is a miracle) and a bit of modern pop because I wanted to keep some pep in my step.
-Lots of lovely cold water (it was summer because I was due on Christmas day)
-Some carbs, chopped vege sticks, crackers to nibble on
-Some enthusiasm to take on the challenge ahead and face it like my husband faces his physical tests (he has endured some gruelling physical exams for work), slightly competitively, focused and one step at a time.
As it tuned out I had a 30hr labor. It was long and slow but calm and my body had lots of time to slowly stretch out. My energy levels were maintained and with the help of some great midwives and my hubby I stayed focused and positive. Of course there were a few moments where I had to regain control especially when her head was refusing to engage and then got well stuck half way down. I had faith my body knew what it was doing and that my midwives had it all in hand. They did (Don't underestimate how important it is to pick a midwife you gel with and respect seeing as we are all different and require different types of support)!
Wee Scarlett came out a bit squished (as they do) but chilled and ready for a feed. She was 9 1/2 pounds and we got to the end naturally with no pain relief although I was totally open to the possibility it might not be natural and I might need some pain relief. Shes a relaxed wee baby who eats a lot so I'm lucky I've got plenty of milk and she sleeps like a pro. Good babies do happen so do challenging ones just like people :) (I'm prepared for the possibility of #2 being harder but then again it might not be) .
After birth I was ready with...
-Vagina spritz I had made
-Pads pre-sprayed with my above spritz and hygienically stored in zip lock backs in freezer
-Nice plain tui balm (the one with arnica) to guard nipples from getting sore, I admit I used it as a preventative even though I was advised to put nothing on them at all.
-I had precooked and frozen enough meals for 2 weeks in case so I would have some nice healthy food on hand.
-Precooked and frozen chocolate cake ready just to ice and chilled bubbles (because who doesn't want to herald in the new baby with chocolate cake and bubbles)
The chilled pads are fabulous and the spritz was great to cool down and soothe inflammation around the vagina. I was very lucky to not have any stitches just a wee graze but even with this a nice anti-flam spray felt great.
All in all we have been blessed with a smooth run I am well aware of this, however I think there is no harm in a bit of positivity around birth and new babies. With some luck, preparation and a kiwi can do attitude there is a lot you can bumble your way through. Your body is designed to pop out babies, things may pop back faster than you believe they could, battle wounds can heal (especially with a good douse of my magic vagina spritz), your milk may come in just fine in its own (which does take time, it doesn't just magically arrive at the same exact moment baby comes out), you may not leak milk everywhere and even if you do that's what breast pads where invented for. Having a shower, sprucing yourself up and getting out and about doing things you love is a great feeling, its liberating, don't get housebound if you don't want to. I went mustering sheep down the road 5 days after Scarlett was born and the walk did us good and the increased blood flow gets things healing faster. I also acknowledge shit does happen and when it does we can only hope we are as ready as possible and look for ways forward.
Don't be afraid, its just another challenge in the big journey of life!
(recipes for magic vagina spritz, protein drink, and the cool things I like to have on hand coming soon!)
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