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! If you haven't already, check out our Pregnancy Due Date Calendar link. It gives you really cool information about the development of you and your baby, including how many seconds you have actually been pregnant!
You are entering one of the most amazing and incredible times of your life. 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 vital 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.
The first trimester is often characterized by utter exhaustion. And then nausea. The reason? You are building a beautiful, amazing human being... and no one knows! Sleep, Sleep, Sleep as much as you can. Very difficult if this is not your first child but still important to work it in if possible. Nausea, also super common, is your body's way of protecting your growing fetus and is actually a sign of a good, strong pregnancy. So although you may feel awful, it can be a good 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 Ginger Mint Tea can also help, and 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 Maternity care provider for more support. Most of us will find that any regular exercise we were doing goes out the window - but don't worry, we usually feel much better in the second trimester when our energy returns.
Choosing A Care Provider
When is comes to choosing a care provider for your pregnancy, perhaps the most important consideration is the relationship you have with them, or are able to develop during the pregnancy. We are the most vulnerable when we have our 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? 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?
Obviously we like the midwifery model because it is rooted in Continuity and Choice. To learn more about Midwifery Care, please visit the following websites: MABC, CMBC, CAM, ACNM, American Pregnancy Association, and the WHO. Ultimately, in the end, the model you choose should be one where you feel most comfortable, where you have a good connection with your care provider and are able to get the support you need.
"Pregnant women need to have many conversations with their health care providers. It’s important that they have a connection where they feel safe being vulnerable and sharing their feelings. Expectant mothers should be empowered to make choices about the care they receive during their pregnancy and the birth of their babies." - Anonymous
Regardless of the model you choose, 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 other common ailments or situations that present in pregnancy like 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 & Third Trimester
Both the second and third trimesters are where the focus is on growing your baby. Your appetite returns to normal, your energy is back, and you generally feel great. It is so exciting when we start feeling our baby move, and then are able to see her or him at the 18-20 week Ultrasound Scan.
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 fetus. 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 though, when you are making the decision to have an ultrasound at any point in your pregnancy, to ask the questions: why it is needed, and what are the risks (if any) that may be involved.
More Body Changes
To get 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!