Congratulations you are pregnant! Whether the road to pregnancy has been long and full of challenges, short and didn't include a lot time to practice, or a surprise - here you are!
You are entering one of the most amazing and incredible times of your life. Building a baby from scratch is hard work! Your body seems to change almost daily and you may find yourself experiencing sensations or conditions you haven't felt before: morning sickness, exhaustion, breast tenderness, migraines, constipation, nasal congestion, bloating or swelling. And it is all normal! It is essential to take care of yourself while you are pregnant – finding ways to relax, easing the discomforts of pregnancy, honouring your body’s extraordinary abilities for adaptation and growth--and it's incredible ability to protect and nurture your baby.
First Trimester: 0-14 weeks
The first trimester is often characterized by extreme exhaustion. And then nausea. You are building a beautiful, amazing human being... and no one knows (yet...)! Nausea, is your body's way of protecting your growing baby and is actually a sign of a healthy, strong pregnancy. So although you may feel awful, it can be an affirming thing. Things that may help include: decreasing your pre-natal vitamins and only taking Folic Acid, B vitamins and Pre-natal DHA. Acupressure bands and our Refreshing Ginger Mint Tea can also help. If you don't care for the ginger flavour, ginger capsules are a good substitute. However, if you are finding that you are unable to keep anything down including water, you should see your midwife or doctor for more support. Ideally you should be sleeping as much as you can and taking time for self care when possible. Newly pregnancy moms may find that any regular exercise goes out the window - but don't worry, the second trimester is when energy returns and you can get back on track!
Choosing A Care Provider
Somewhere between 8-12 weeks it is a great time to meet with and choose the care provider you'd like to support you through your pregnancy. When it comes to choosing a care provider, perhaps the most important consideration is the relationship you have with them, or are able to develop during the pregnancy. Women are at their most vulnerable when they have their baby, so having a care provider that you know and trust becomes very important. Some questions you may want to ask: How many other physicians/midwives do you share call with? Will I have an opportunity to meet any or all of them? Who will be there when I have my baby? How long are my prenatal appointments? Will there be time to discuss risks and benefits of tests and standard procedures during the pregnancy? Are you open to conversation if my choice deviates from the standard of care?
MATRAEA's midwifery model is rooted in Continuity of Care and Choice. To learn more about Midwifery Care, please visit the following websites: MABC, CMBC, CAM, ACNM, American Pregnancy Association, and the WHO. Ultimately, the care provider you choose should be one who you feel most comfortable with, where you have a good connection, and are able to get the support you need.
MATRAEA believes that every woman’s pregnancy and birth experience MATTERS, and making healthy, natural choices is your access to a safe, powerful and beautiful birth.
Alternative Therapy In Pregnancy
There are many common discomforts in pregnancy such as sciatica and lower back pain, symphysis pubic pain, carpal tunnel, migraines, nausea, low energy, heart burn, and varicose veins that can often improve by using complimentary medicine during pregnancy. Naturopathic Medicine, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and Chiropractic care can be used to address these kinds of symptoms. Your midwife will often recommend seeing a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, massage therapist, or chiropractor for many common ailments and situations that present in pregnancy. Low iron, breech presentation and the desire for natural induction of labour. For more information about common discomforts of pregnancy and natural treatment options, check out our Fierce Dignity Blog.
Second Trimester: 14-28 Weeks
Your second trimester is characterized by ongoing emotional, and physical changes. You may have started to share your excitement with family and friends, and with your appetite returning and energy boosted you may also experience that "glow"! You're able to hear your baby's heartbeat and feel their little movements, you may choose to peek at your baby at an ultrasound around 18-20 weeks, and will be starting to think about your birth preferences.
The history of Ultrasound is fascinating - having first been developed during WWII to detect enemy submarines then were subsequently used in the steel industry to locate flaws in ships. In 1955, Glasgow surgeon Ian Donald borrowed an industrial machine, and then using beefsteak as the control study, began to experiment with abdominal tumours that he had removed from his patients. He discovered that different tissues gave different patterns of ultrasound “echo”, leading him to the realization that this would revolutionize the way one could look into the mysterious world of the growing baby. This new technology spread rapidly into clinical obstetrics; commercial machines became available in 1963 and by the late 1970’s ultrasound had become a routine part of obstetric care.
Today, 99% of women in Canada will be screened during their pregnancy, and although it appears safe for mother and baby, it remains a technology that is relatively new and should only be used when medically indicated. The Society of of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada have guidelines around the use of ultrasound in pregnancy that have been used to establish Standards of Care that help guide practice. It is always important to ask, when you are making any decision to have an ultrasound, or any test, in your pregnancy: why it is needed, and what are the risks (if any) that may be involved?
Third Trimester: 28-42 weeks
More Body Changes
To be born, your baby needs to move through your pelvis. Fortunately, your amazing pregnant body is able to help that process with help from the hormone relaxin. This perfectly named hormone, relaxes the cartilage that holds the bones of the pelvis together. Relaxin loosens the pubic symphysis, a band of cartilage located at the front of the pubic bone. This softening, allows the pubic bone to stretch slightly--making labor easier--but also means that you may experience what can be a significant amount of pain in pregnancy. Relaxin can increase up to 10 times the body's normal level during pregnancy--affecting all the joints and ligaments in your body, and contributes to why some women experience back and hip pain as pregnancy progresses. Relaxin and loosening ligaments are also to blame for some women’s shoe size increasing during pregnancy--oftentimes, never going back!
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common side effect, marked by numb or tingling hands, caused by edema, or pregnancy swelling. Extra fluids (which are responsible for 25 percent of weight gain during pregnancy) can pool in the ankles and wrists. In the wrists, this swelling can pinch nerves, causing “pins-and-needles” tingling. Fortunately, there’s a cure: Make it through pregnancy and deliver your bouncing bundle of joy. But on the way, things that help are: acupuncture, Aqua Release Tea, massage, and wrist splints!
Heartburn is caused by the pressure the growing uterus puts on the digestive system. Usually, the acid contents of the stomach are kept down by the esophageal sphincter, a section of muscle in the diaphragm that acts to close off the esophagus when pressure in the abdomen rises. But during pregnancy, the hormone progesterone relaxes that sphincter. Meanwhile, the bigger baby gets, the more pressure it puts on the stomach--and the worse the heartburn!. Watermelon helps--a lot! (but not if you don't like it). Also: almonds, eating small meals (not too close to bedtime), propping pillows, essential oil of peppermint rubbed on your chest (don't take internally) and Tums--can all help too!