There are a lot of assumptions out there about pregnancy. Assumptions based on media, outdated medical knowledge, and what seems culturally appropriate. Let’s talk about it.
I get it. You are growing a tiny human. That’s daunting. But it doesn’t have to be imprisoning.
Yes, listen to your body and rest when you need to rest. And if your doctor has put you on limitations or precautions, then by all means... listen to that. But there is no correlation between performing light to moderate physical activity and miscarriage. --Including cardio and weightlifting on a daily basis. Movement is GOOD for you and baby.
This one is similar to the one above. Of course, if you have specific medical conditions, then that’s a different story. But, in general, lifting light to moderate loads (depending on what your body was used to pre-pregnancy and your form) isn’t harmful. I wouldn’t necessarily move furniture around or anything. Avoid muscle strain, but light weight lifting is good. It keeps your bone density active. It helps prepare you for holding a baby (and their gear) 24/7.
I don’t mean to get into dangerous territory here, nor do I want to advocate for ignoring medical advice. What I do want to remind you, is that you are entitled to inquire about alternatives and options. You always have the right to say no to anything that has to do with your own body.
Hospital births have become the most common place to give birth in the US. But know that’s not the only option. There are birth centers. There are home births. You can have a midwife (as long as they have hospital privileges) guide your birth in the hospital. Choosing a setting for your birth is all about what makes you feel most comfortable and safe. If a hospital resonates, then do a hospital birth. If an alternative setting and team resonate, check into that!
(Do check with your insurance to see what their maternity package looks like).
I do think that all things worthwhile and beautiful (like childbirth) beget some challenges. In the context of pregnancy, your challenges might be emotional rather than physical. They might be financial. Or logistical. And yes, as so much in your body shifts around, there can be some pretty memorable bodily sensations. But, the experience of “pain” is just a signal from our complicated and wonderful brains. That’s not to say pain isn’t real. But we can practice listening to uncomfortable sensations, rather than being afraid of them. I encourage you to practice removing the euphemistic phrase “I’m going to die” from your repertoire. Even when things are hard. Even if you mean it humorously or not literally. Think of pain as a messenger, an alert system, and not an indication that something is being damaged or in danger. As a baby grows and enters into the world, yes, things will swell. Pressure is put on nerves that send signals you’d rather not hear. It is all valid... and also all temporary.
Nesting is real. But remember, when the baby is born you will likely have a SLEW of people who really want to be a part of that. They will all be eager to help. So, don’t worry if you don’t have all their clothes purchased, organized, and stored. Don’t worry if that cute wall hanging you ordered hasn’t come in yet. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet put outlet covers on all the sockets. Parenthood readiness evolves.
Yes, the physical toll of carrying of a baby does only occur in one body. But others around you can help meal prep, drive, launder, research, read birth and parenting books. It’s not just OK to ask for help; it’s a GREAT thing. It includes people. It makes them feel valued. It is an act of humility on your part.
Ok. So, while pregnant, (especially in the third trimester!) it's normal to experience a little leakage. Especially with coughing and sneezing. Frequency incontinence is even more common (b/c you are going pee every hour less). This is because of the increased pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor. There is also an increased blood flow to those areas (which can encourage your bladder to be a little more active than usual.)
However, a few months after pregnancy, if you are experiencing incontinence, that doesn't have to happen. It’s common, but not “normal” in the physiologic sense. It’s not like oh-you had a baby and then BOOM your fate is to have leakage the rest of your life. I highly advise all women to see a pelvic health PT before, during, and after childbirth. A PT will assess your pelvic floor function. They'll help prevent and/or treat issues before symptoms become life-inhibiting.
It’s also important to note that even if you don’t have incontinence during or immediately after pregnancy, it can appear 3-5 years down the road or 30 years down the road if you don’t learn to re-engage the pelvic floor postpartum.
Prenatal depression and anxiety are real. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby with all your heart and soul. It’s just a lot to process. I remember almost fainting one afternoon when trying to decide which car seats and strollers to purchase. I let my purchase anxiety spiral into fears about making a life-altering decision. And rationally, I knew I'm a careful driver. I knew avoiding road risk would make far more impact than the difference between a Graco and a Britax car seat. But, it felt so overwhelming at the time.
Just remember that your pregnancy experience is YOUR experience. It doesn’t have to be a certain way.
If you’d like to talk about any preconceptions about the pregnancy experience and how they are or have influenced your journey, I’d love to hear from you. Reach out at [email protected].
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