January 8, 2014
4 days until my due date. FOUR! Yesterday I told the Instagram world that this week is like a strange harmony of total normalcy and total obsession with baby readying. Not having a clue when this baby will arrive is just so, so crazy. And yet kind of peaceful. If I don't know the day or the time, I don't have a deadline. So I might as well just relax. Speaking of relaxing, let's talk about preparing for labor and birth physically. P.S. You can also read getting ready for labor and birth: parts one and two.
"Think of it as getting ready for a marathon."
That's what they told me at the clinic at one of my very first prenatal appointments. And that's about all they told me. (Other than asking if I smoked, wore my seatbelt, and owned any cats.) When I heard the part about a marathon, I inwardly scoffed. I thought that was a being a touch dramatic. Little did I know, having a baby (the labor, birth, nursing, sleepless nights, and postpartum healing) would be the hardest thing I'd ever put my body through. So knowing what I do now, I will say: Having a baby is a marathon. At least for me it is. For some it might be a breeze, and I hope that's you! But here's what I'm doing to get ready for the physical side of welcoming a baby.
1. Eating a diet of nourishing food. Something I had to learn the hard way after my first birth is that what you put in your body (or neglect to put in your body) really, really matters. I can't eat crap and expect to recover from birth and feel like myself again. I can't feel capable to grow, birth, and nurse another human being without the right nutrients. Basically I can't thrive, let alone keep someone else alive, on the standard American diet. I had little stamina, several nutrient deficiencies, and diet issues that needed to be addressed after Hadley was born, so I'm being proactive this time and loading up on healthy fats, grass-fed meats, fermented foods/drinks, soaked/sprouted grains, minerals, vitamin D, and magnesium. Also, I've been having bits of gluten and dairy throughout my pregnancy, but I'm planning on taking a break from them once the baby is born, to get nursing off to a good start. (Issues with these 2 things tend to run in our families, so I figure why test them on a newborn's tender digestive system?)
2. Loading up on probiotics. Oh, probiotics. They were the answer to nearly all of our issues after Hadley was born. Seriously, she was a baby who did not sleep, and then we sorted out her digestion problems (by changing my diet and giving her lots of probiotics) and her cradle cap and colic subsided, and she became a sleep-through-the-night baby almost instantly. Probiotics will help get the baby's immune and digestive systems off to a good start, along with supporting mine. Also, probiotics are great for strong, healthy, stretchy muscle tissues- which I could definitely use right now. *Edited to add: Hadley was getting probiotics through nursing, but we also gave her probiotic powder directly.
3. Resting and Walking. I realize that resting right now probably won't make a difference in how sleep-deprived I am in a couple weeks, but there's no better way to make sure you don't get run-down right before going into labor. Continuing to walk throughout this pregnancy has kept me feeling really energized and like myself. Also, I hear it's great for getting the baby in a good birth position.
4. Staying hydrated. I don't think I drank enough while I was in labor with Hadley, so I've stocked up on some yummy coconut kefir to have on hand during labor this time. I remember not being interested in water at all while laboring, maybe something fizzy will entice me more.
5. Ball bouncing. My big exercise ball has been my best friend lately. In fact, I got out of bed to use it last night to bounce the baby to sleep. This baby moves so much and kicks so hard that it's been difficult for me to get comfy enough to fall asleep. (New development as of this week.) Anyway, the ball works like a charm for soothing the baby and feels great to me, too. I sat on this thing through my entire early labor and some active labor with Hadley.
* A Note About Postpartum Exercise. I've gotten a couple emails about this topic lately, with questions about how soon I got back into exercising after Hadley was born. Honestly, I didn't have the energy or the time to do anything other than nurse my baby and live life for a very long time after birth. Months. My recovery was slow (not just muscles and tissues, but also adrenals, metabolism, hormones, etc.) and I felt like I was at my max just doing normal things. It was probably 6 months before I even thought about physical activity again, and even then it was just light walks. Some of you guys may bounce back fast, though. Just take your cues from your own body and do what feels good!