When you became pregnant, did you feel your inner voice, mother’s intuition, or Mama Bear instinct get louder? The way our bodies, souls, and hearts change during pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle. It’s a beautiful stage in life. When I became pregnant, I was blown away by the newfound maternal boldness I discovered. Very quickly, I learned to advocate for what I wanted and needed because I wasn’t just advocating for myself, I was advocating for the life growing inside of me.
I sometimes find myself craving pregnancy, because during those 40 weeks of gestation, I learned to love life more. I slowed down, ate healthier, swam more, took more walks, learned to relax with hypnobirthing, self-cared with oils and lotions, thought about my family and priorities, and nested by creating beautiful spaces at home. Yes, there were unbearable times of restless sleep, heartburn, sciatica, nausea, exhaustion, hormonal ups and downs, and unexpected body changes, but this time helped me become more present. Pregnancy helped me hear, more clearly, what my body and heart needed. I seized this opportunity to respond to the best of my ability. Follow these best practices for enjoying all the phases of your pregnancy.
1. Ask Questions
You can begin your pregnancy journey by asking questions. So many women love to share their gestational and birth stories because they’re permanent chapters of each mother’s memoir. Anxiety stems from a lack of knowledge about something, so do your best to emotionally prepare yourself with each stage. In 2022, there is no lack of information available at your fingertips.
Make time for pauses. Listen to the podcasts; read through the information, the books, the articles, and the research done by top experts and providers. Education is empowerment, and it puts you in the position to ask providers informed questions about your care. Strengthen your maternal superpowers just by being informed!
We all have different ways of learning, so do what feels best and don’t overwhelm yourself. I leaned on two of my close friends—both Labor & Delivery nurses—for answers to random questions at all hours of the day and night. This calmed me. It was a tool that worked for my network of support. They helped me answer questions related to early contractions, birth plans, carrier screening, diabetes screening, GBS tests, Pitocin pros and cons, what to expect during dilation and delivery, and so much more. Do what feels right for you. It’s amazing how your body and instinct will respond as you grow more confident and comfortable with each stage of your journey.
2. Learning About Your Options
Pregnancy and childbirth are unique to each mother. Listen to your body. Remain open to wisdom and learn your options. Right now, women are more invested in their health than ever before and it’s important to engage in transparent, informed conversations with your provider. This empowers. It paves the way for others. And it encourages positive changes in industries.
For example, there’s an increase in the number of women asking for midwives, doulas, vaginal deliveries, different screening options, delayed cord clamping, and cord blood banking after deliveries. These requests are motivating providers and hospitals to do further research and make protocol adjustments for their patients.
Providers have medical degrees for a reason and provide the absolute best source of care and data. However, if your maternal intuition says you and baby need something unique, do not be afraid to ask. In fact, healthcare providers and payers are now incentivized to optimize their patients’ experience and are regularly tracked with a Net Promoter Score. Patient satisfaction metrics matter and you matter! If something doesn’t feel right, take your time, learn about your options, and feel empowered to bring those up because this is a special and miraculous chapter of your life!
3. Reduce the Toxins Around You
Ladies, pregnancy is a time to reduce stress (if possible), toxins in our foods, and toxins in our environment. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that patients become educated on the presence of toxic chemicals in consumer products, personal care products, food packaging, and household materials. They suggest that, whenever possible, you make more meals at home with fresh, local, and seasonal foods. This is good advice to live by, generally, but evermore important during gestation. We need to support our body, which supports our baby. Mamas, if you haven’t begun reading food labels yet, this is the time! Learning about toxins, reading food labels, and endless nights of research is actually what led me to start my own company!
When I think back to when I was 26 weeks pregnant, I remember how I felt powerless and conflicted about what I felt my body—and baby—were telling me. Now, I speak daily with new mothers and love seeing their research, education, and patient voice begin to shift the shape of the medical landscape. This growth in the healthcare field is something that all health-conscious patients can smile about and it means more pregnant women are enjoying all the phases of pregnancy!