I thought we were well prepared, drawing on my naturopathic knowledge to support us physically and having had continuity of care with a very capable midwife.
There were, however, several things that in hindsight I wish I’d known or been more aware of, and I’d like to list them all here to provide a bit of a detailed guide to holistically preparing your body and your life for your baby.
I’ll also include some things which really worked for us too 🙂
Yes, pregnancy was a beautiful experience but it was also a crazy time in our lives! We moved twice (once interstate), bought a new home and began renovating it; so our last trimester was a whirl of painting, DIY and ridiculously frequent trips to Mitre 10.
We birthed at home and managed to organize the birth space and birth pool with a little time to spare, only because I went 13 days overdue!
So, here it is, my list of hindsight’s, plus the things that really worked for us, in a bit of a guide to holistically preparing your body and your life for your baby.
I hope you enjoy 🙂
Here are my suggestions:
- Morning sickness – so let’s start with what usually hits us first, after assimilating our pregnancy news!
As a trained naturopath I could tell you what is currently known about supporting the pregnant body and off-setting morning sickness … list all the remedies.
But I’m not going to do that! Why?
Because you can find good information if you research discerningly and, having done all of the best nutritional, dietary and herbal support, the ONLY thing that REALLY worked for me was owning my fear.
Okay, let me explain …
For me, and so many women, it wasn’t just morning sickness but it could hit me anytime of the day. One time my partner and I were talking and he said something that triggered some fear. I didn’t notice consciously at the time, it wasn’t a big deal, but next thing I knew I was running to the toilet.
Later on reflection, I realized that what he’d said had triggered a big childhood fear, which I didn’t want to feel so I suppressed it in the moment, however, my body didn’t want it to be suppressed!
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The pregnant body is SO much more sensitive to suppressed emotion. So I began to realize that when I didn’t want to even acknowledge, let alone feel what could seem like the tiniest triggered fear, my body told me about it.
I truly believe that this is part of a perfect design, in order to protect our babies from suppressed emotions which are damaging to them. Our bodies are hyper-attuned during pregnancy and are saying ‘Hey deal with this!’
When something is unresolved emotionally, you can bet it’ll show up either during pregnancy or parenthood, as if to clear the way for being lovingly present for our child. Suppressed emotion is harmful to ourselves and can be for those around us too, but babies are particularly sensitive.
When we own and feel what’s triggered, allow the expression of it, even to a very small degree, it is no longer harmful. It’s when we continue to suppress and choose to stay unconscious of how we feel, that we’re automatically projecting those emotions all around us, and to our babies.
So I found that as soon as I became consciously aware of each fear triggered, owned it by saying to myself ‘okay, I’m really afraid of this or that happening, I wonder what that’s about?’…., and focus on connected abdominal breathing, I shifted to a place of openness to my feelings rather than wanting to suppress them and this was enough to immediately shift the morning sickness.
Even just talking about it with someone you trust can be enough.
Interesting hey!?! …. Something to experiment with 🙂
- Folic Acid – Surprisingly, this is something I REALLY WISH I’d known!
So we’re all told to take folic acid supplements, and naturopaths recommend it for the first trimester in particular to prevent neural tube defects.
All well and good.
(And here’s a good quality, vegetarian sourced, Organic Folic Acid for those who want to go this way, in the first trimester, just to make sure you are getting enough)
But then we continue taking it right throughout the pregnancy when it is actually no longer needed, and often in a synthetic form.
It has always been considered harmless and even encouraged right the way through, however now mid-line defects in babies, such as lip and tongue ties are becoming way more prevalent.
Midwives and pediatricians are noticing this and some have begun to connect it to those women on folic acid supplementation right throughout pregnancy. The excess causes a hyper-production of certain membranes in the body.
I learned this the hard way by working out, after difficulties breastfeeding, that my son had a lip and slight tongue tie. This was barely noticeable until my research told me to look out for it, and sure enough, that was what was creating his latching difficulties.
The snip procedure (phrenectomy) was not something I EVER want to see anyone go through again, let alone our baby ( 🙁 !!). The specialist who performed the procedure told us that he was running a clinical study on this correlation.
So my suggestion is if you are going to supplement with folic acid, stop after 16 weeks! It’s enough to eat a healthy diet with leafy greens throughout the rest of your pregnancy.
- Spinning babies – I can’t recommend this work highly enough! The ease of your babies birth is all in his or her position in the pelvis! How to flip a breach, and encourage or maintain the correct position for an easier birth. Gail Tully has created an awesome body of work and the results can be fantastic.
Zyah (our 6 month old) did come out sucking his thumb though, which slowed things down a tad; the one thing Spinning Babies couldn’t help with! 🙂
- Perineum Oil – A pure essential oil blend, massaged in each evening in the last trimester, can go a long way to prevent tearing.
This is something that worked well for me, not a whisper of tearing! Some say they’ve avoided episiotomy this way, I’m sure that breathing and mindset goes a long way to preventing this also – cultivating a feeling of allowing yourself to expand and open, rather than pushing and straining.
I recommend this Motherlove Birth & Baby Oil. Motherlove products are well priced and pure, so you can trust them. They also do a good range of baby care products if you’re into that, but to be honest I ended up keeping it really simple and using coconut oil for everything with our bub!iIf
- More Aromatherapy – If you would like an extremely pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil blend, formulated specifically for pregnancy and babies, I highly recommend Young Living’s Gentle Baby blend, which is safe right through pregnancy, and can be used as a body oil, massage oil (diluted in a carrier oil) or diffuser oil, then can also be used for baby as a calming oil in the bath or diffuser (1 drop is enough for newborns).
- Evening Primrose Oil Capsules – Another remedy which our midwife swore by was to insert 2 capsules of Evening Primrose Oil (I recommend this one because it contains no fillers, preservatives and is non-GM) into the vagina, right up to the cervix every night during the last trimester, as well as taking it internally. This is to prime the cervix.
Hard to tell for sure but it seemed to help!
Just a little extra tip, this is a delicious Pregnancy Body Oil, safe to use for massage and an excellent stretch mark preventative.
- Breast preparation – I also used this Certified Organic Nipple Cream in the last trimester, to prepare my nipples for the onslaught! ( 😉 ) I haven’t had a single bout of mastitis and my nipple soreness was minimal compared to what some women suffer. Only very slight grazing due to Zyah’s lip tie, then later due to a bit of wacky technique as he got older and more wiggly!
This is a nice one as you don’t have to wash it off before breastfeeding, as it’s so pure.
Another tip is to avoid the commonly recommended Lanolin products as they contain yukky pesticides.
- Breastfeeding – I wish I’d prepared for this part!!
I naively thought it would just come easily, that I’d just pop it in and away he’d go! Zyah’s lip tie didn’t help as he had trouble getting his top lip up over my areolar, therefore couldn’t get a good latch, but lots of mums say that it didn’t come easy, and it’s very often a huge learning curve for both new mums and babies.
So my recommendation for first-time mums is to watch a few good videos and do some research beforehand so it isn’t so overwhelming during those first weeks.
Some good resources are the Australian Breastfeeding Association and lactation consultants such as kellymom who really seem to keep abreast (sorry 😉 ) with all the latest research and information. This website is good too.
The ABA has a free Helpline which I did use once and was assisted by a wonderful, caring volunteer.
One more tip I’d like to share is that the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow is, I believe the best breast-feeding support pillow on the market (having tried a few 🙂 ). It allows you to completely relax both shoulders and be hands-free (as needed), and bub is comfortable and supported too.
I recommend getting a spare cover too for when you wash, which you’ll need to do lots, especially if you have a spewer!
- Birth kit – getting your birth kit together is so much fun and a lovely thing to do with your birthing partner no matter what your birth plan. I highly recommend putting together a playlist of music that moves you emotionally and helps you to feel open and more expansive, with a few tracks thrown in for inspiration and stamina!
Consider a high-quality Aromatherapy Massage Oil blended specifically for birthing, a 100% aromatherapy oil (lavender and peppermint are good) for the Essential Oil Diffuser and to put drops in a bowl for wet towels; plus a flower essence blend to help you to release fear, to stay fully present to your body, and to open and allow.
You can contact me to arrange a personalized flower essence blend via email.
- Ecstatic birth & emotional openness – this is a big topic, and one I could write a book on, perhaps one day, with a lot more time on my hands (and once I’m through some more of my own emotional blocks).
I’ve written a little about my own experience with this here
I truly believe that birthing would be a pleasurable, and even ecstatic experience were we either fully healed and/or fully open (at the time of birthing) throughout the birth canal and surrounding energetic area.
Debra Pascali-Bonaro has done some great work around this. You can see her website here.
For now, I’ll just say this:
Don’t forget that you were perfectly designed to birth your baby, no matter their size, or the size of your pelvis, without intervention, pain or trauma.
- You may also wish to read about our home birth, and 5 things no one tells you about Natural Birth here
- Research the truth about vaccines – You can read my blog The Top 10 Facts you need to Know about Vaccinations for more on this.
And now getting ready for your baby!….
- Swaddling & dressing – we were lucky enough to have a dear friend come over and give us a crash course on this, along with bathing, to rescue us from our fumblings.
I recommend having a friend or family member teach you these things before bub comes along if you’re a first-time mum, or look at some of the many Youtube videos demonstrating basic techniques, especially if you are having a home birth.
Of course, you’ll learn as you go, but if you have a good idea from the start both you and bub will enjoy bathing, changing and dressing more, and baby will feel more secure.
Swaddling is super important and will really help with babies sleep as they’ll feel more secure and not wake themselves with their jerking arm movements.
You can read my blog about How I Got my Baby Napping and Sleeping Right Through the Night for more.
You can learn a basic swaddling technique with a simple swaddle blanket, otherwise, these Miracle Blanket Swaddles are really great.
You can read 10 Powerful Magic Tricks every New Mum Needs to Know for more great tips
- Baby language – In the early days, I noticed that our baby boy had some variations to his crying. The first thing I noticed was a particular sound in his cry resulting from tightness in his chest when he had wind, then I started picking up on his hungry cry also.
Then a friend gave me a video introducing me to Priscilla Dunston who has devoted her life to teaching parents some of the basics on the language of babies.
See the Dunston method to get a heads up on this.
Many parents become familiar with their babies different cries over time but this will give you a head start and take out some of the early guesswork and uncertainty. Your baby will feel so much more secure if he or she knows that you are hearing them and responding to their specific needs.
Well that’s it for now, but I’ve also written about 2 super important topics:
The Top New Mum Tips & Essentials so you don’t get lost in the sea of baby gear!
And, I’m sure you too will find, most importantly (!!) How I Got my Baby Napping and Sleeping Right Through the Night which has some wonderful tips and tricks.
Now, along with sensible wellness practices and plenty of self-love, you’re perhaps a little more ready for the biggest experience of your life!