Seven positive pregnancy tests, but eight babies. It's a lot more than the “normal,” I know. Having had babies since I was just 16 years old, pregnancy and birth is a “been there and done that thing” — yet it still stretches me (literally and figuratively!) to teach me more.
Here's what I've learned over the last seven pregnancies and thirteen years of babies:
It is a miracle every time.
Every single day of this seventh pregnancy I think to myself, “I can't believe there is a human inside of me!” Being 22 weeks currently, the movements are finally getting stronger and pregnancy feels more real. The feeling of little elbows and baby flips never gets old. Hearing a strong heartbeat at appointments is still a most favorite sound. It is mind boggling — amazing — what our bodies can do.
A miscarriage changes you forever.
I had two healthy pregnancies before I become part of the child loss statistic. You never think it'll be you — until it is you. The fear follows you forever of it happening again, even if four healthy pregnancies follow.
Love who your care provider is.
I didn't necessarily have bad OBGYN experiences, thankfully, but my midwife has gone above and beyond what I expected when I switched to her care. You can read more of that here. Of course, there are some fantastic OB doctors out there and poor midwives. Research who is best for your needs and who you click with. It is never too late to switch care.
Chiropractic care for a comfortable pregnancy is life changing.
I had three pregnancies before I finally realized how valuable chiropratic care is to daily health, but especially for pregnancy. With my first three, I had horribly sore hips and backaches that would keep me up at night. After the birth of my third, I sought out care to relieve pain from my back being thrown out from birth and never stopped going! It's also important for an easier delivery!
Don't forget to use those abs.
One huge mistake I didn't know that I was making in my first four pregnancies was not using my abs! I think I was so ready to “look” pregnant that I forget to engage my core at all. The result left me with a diastasis recti (ab separation) and ginormous bellies that are painful to look back on. It also causes problems like umbilical hernias, weakened pelvic floor, low back pain, and pubic bone pain since the muscles are all connected. Eventually I sought out ways to heal in between pregnancies, and it made all the difference! I used Fit2b program at home. Let's just say I felt like I was falling apart with my fourth baby, but with my fifth I saw the results of my work with a more toned belly and super-fast pushing!
Natural remedies work great for discomforts.
Not to mention, I feel better about taking them with a little one on board. Essential oils in a diffuser to help for a better night's sleep. Apple cider vinegar or enzymes for heartburn. Arnica gel for backaches. A special blended tea for headaches. Lots of great options to help pregnancy aliments that I found work great for me!
Not all clothes have to be maternity.
My first three babies I thought I needed everything from the maternity store. Nope. Especially as the fashion styles change and longer shirts or stretchy leggings are in style now, it isn't always needed! Do I need maternity jeans? Yes. But, mostly I live in maxi skirts, leggings, maxi-dresses, and longer tunic type shirts to be comfortable with my growing bump and still get use out of them afterwards.
Those last weeks never get easier.
Prodromal labor just is no fun. For weeks we get our hopes up with every continual contraction, “Is this it?!” And then it stops, just when the sun and my children rise. It is physically and emotionally exhausting — the waiting, the preparing, the questioning. Now having my 6th healthy pregnancy, I fully expect to be past my due date and play this stop/start game yet again. I know it will come, and I know eventually my baby will, too, but the doesn't get easier.
Follow your gut.
I started out having babies with an OB, induced on my due dates, and had an epidural. As a teen, it was all I knew and honestly what I needed back then. But as I grew as a mom I wanted to change how I birth, and now I'm planning another out-of-hospital birthing experience with my midwife. However, I have a friend who went backwards! She started out having natural hospital births and delivered her last with an epidural for the first time. January, of Birth Without Fear, has had births all over the map, her last one a C-section. So, follow your gut in how this baby needs to be born.
Every birth is different, even if your choices are the same.
We can plan all we want, but birth is always an adventure. Though I've had many births, each one was unique in its own way, even if they were born in the same place with the same provider. Some arrived quickly, some took their sweet time coming out. Some had breathing problems, some had the cord wrapped four times. With one, my water broke before, while two were born with intact amniotic sacs. Some were born on a bed, while others in the water, and one over the water. Plan what you can, but be open to whatever comes!
For the love of Pete, rest momma!
This is so important in the early weeks of postpartum. You just pushed a baby out or had major abdominal surgery! Rest. Enjoy your baby moon and bonding time — enlist help. In the past I was so quick to jump back into life when all my body, baby, and emotions needed was to lay down to treasure newborn snuggles. Besides the bonding time and uterus healing — the bonus? You bleed less because your body is healing quicker!