All Things Birth - Resources From Pregnancy To Postpartum
They say that when a baby is born, so is a mother. The transition to motherhood is one of the biggest transitions a woman can go through in life. For some women this transition is already noticeable in pregnancy (or even earlier) and for some later on - when they meet their baby for the first time. Every woman’s experience is different. I started experiencing this transition from the final trimester of my pregnancy, through labor and finally when I welcomed our sweet Maya to this world.
As a coach I am a big believer in SUPPORT. I’m really open about the fact that I love being coached, and I love the idea of going through life knowing I have my own mentors and support systems. I knew I wanted to have all the resources and support in place as I was tapping on this new wild journey.
Once I found out I was pregnant I got in touch with my personal coach to guide and help me prepare for, and navigate through this big life change both with my business and personal life. For me having this person who helps me see the big picture and set short + long term goals / intentions was invaluable.
For birth, we hired a doula (the wonderful Mel!) - not only for myself but also for my birth partner (hubby). It was important for me to have a positive birth experience and I wanted my husband to be part of it - both of hopes we believed would be met with the support of a doula. Again, an invaluable investment.
Pregnancy, birth and motherhood are big transitions - physically, mentally and emotionally. Especially for us first time mamas who are stepping into an unknown territory. Allowing myself the space, grace and patience to learn as I go from my own experience, as well as learning from others, was (still is) key to dealing with overwhelm, doubt and confusion that inevitably show up. And if you love reading, there is an abundance of information out there (some valuable, some less) that you can learn from, keeping in mind that this journey is so individual - what might work for one woman / baby might not work for another.
While I’m still very much figuring things out over here too, I wanted to capture all the things that have helped, the game-changers and life-savers, and a collection of my favourite things: from pregnancy, preparing for birth, actual baby/motherhood things and tools, to healing after birth, self-care, etc.
Ok, ready?? Here is my collection from pregnancy, through birth to motherhood…
*Please consult with your doctor / midwife about any herbs / supplements suggested in this post
Books to guide you through pregnancy -
The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth / Genevieve Howland
The Natural Pregnancy Book / Aviva Jill Romm
The Babymoon Experience / Caroline Deacon
Self care / nourishment through pregnancy + preparing your body - mind - soul for birth -
From when I found out I was pregnant I started taking a daily prenatal - Garden of Life mykind Organics Prenatal Once Daily (still taking it while breastfeeding). I had a troubled first trimester - 24/7 morning sickness for 10 weeks straight. Food didn’t appeal to me, strong food aversions, throwing up, acid reflux, everything smelled terrible, extremely exhausted, crying, wild dreams, insomnia, insecurities and doubts showing up… I’ve spent most of the day laying horizontal on the sofa. I’m sharing this with you because I think it's so important to also remind ourselves that no journey is perfect. For about 10 weeks all I ate was "beige food" (white bread, cheese, plain pasta, crackers, potatoes and white rice where my staples).
I tried all the tricks in the book - the ginger, the sea band, ice-lollies, ginger ale, lemons… What helped most was to stick to the “beige foods” and eat small meals / snacks throughout the day to avoid long periods of time without eating. And I always had a snack or breakfast before I got out of bed in the morning. Thanks to Intuitive eating & trusting my body I was able to go through it without feeling guilt. My body needed quick energy (aka simple carbs!) and rest and that’s what I gave her.
Second & Third Trimester -
From the second trimester I started drinking red raspberry tea - strengthens the uterine walls and decrease labour time.
From week 36 I ate 6 dates a day - may increase cervical ripening and reduce the need for a medical labour induction. I added dates to smoothies, made my energy balls, had them with almond or peanut butter + dark chocolate (yum!)
I tried to take daily walks (aiming for 5 km when possible) - tones your cervix and uterine muscles, helps with better fetal positioning and overall mental and physical health benefits.
Birth ball - sitting, bouncing and doing hip circles - sitting in an upward forward and open position helps with better fetal positioning.
I did the forward leaning inversion from Spinning Babies (highly recommend signing up to their newsletter the moment you find out your pregnant!) - helps create space for your baby into a head down position.
I listened to Gabrielle Bernstein’s birth affirmations daily, usually while practicing deep breathing or/and when walking.
I spent time everyday visualizing my birth.
I kept a journal, I meditated, I did my (modified) yoga practice, I took lots of warm Epsom lavender baths and tried to enjoy this precious time for myself.
I got pregnancy massages (If you are local - I went to Jules Staveley at We Are Wellness and Tanja Schmeer at Yoga Space - both are great!)
Childbirth Resources -
Books to help you prepare for labour (specially if your hoping for a vaginal delivery) -
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth / Ina May Gaskin
Spiritual Midwifery / Ina May Gaskin
Birthing From Within / Pam England
The Positive Birth Book: A New Approach to Pregnancy, Birth and the Early Weeks / Milli Hill
Hypnobirthing - I highly recommend The Positive Birth Company Digital Pack - an online program about hypnobirthing - convenient (you can do it from your sofa!) and great value for money. I would actually recommend it to anyone interested in a vaginal delivery even if you are not into hypnobirthing as you learn about the physiology of birth, how the uterus muscles work, the hormones produced etc. which I found very helpful.
The Parent Hood (the first episodes are really great for FTM - they walk you through what happens when your baby is born)
If you are local I highly recommend Lara Heppell’s pregnancy yoga classes and her birth preparation workshop - you’ll feel empowered & informed!
I also went to a pregnancy chiropractor - Cathy Tansley to help my body stay in good alignment as it was changing throughout pregnancy. Overall muscle balance and spinal and pelvic alignment is important to help baby get into a better position.
Right, so this might sound obvious, but childbirth is no joke… I don’t think I’ve realized how long recovery takes - even when you start feeling good - you are still healing. There are two items I used (for longer than just few days) + rest, that really supported the healing process during those first few weeks -
Arnica - Reduces bruising and minimizes strain on soft tissues.
Herbal Perineal Spray by Earth Mama - helps soothe perineal discomfort.
The First Forty Days / Heng Ou - as you are recovering not just from birth but from pregnancy and how tender you are in that postpartum period not just physically but emotionally, this book guides you to do just that - acknowledge the hard work your body has been doing and honour her need to rest and fully recover.
In many cultures the postpartum period of anywhere between 20-60 days is extremely precious. How we spend our postpartum period directly connects to our later years in womanhood. It can take a woman up to a year postpartum to be recovered from birth and pregnancy and many times takes a full 3 years to rebuild her body’s nutrients back to where they were prior to pregnancy. This book helped me understand all aspects of recovery and inspired me to take REALLY good care of myself and truly listen to my body instead of listening to that little voice in my head that wants things to quickly go back to ‘normal’.
A book about breastfeeding -
The food Of Love: Your Formula for Successful Breastfeeding / Kate Evans
A book about your baby’s brain development -
What Every Parent Needs To Know: The incredible effects of love, nurture and play on your child's development / Margot Sunderland
Books about sleep -
The No Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night / Elizabeth Pantley
Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family / La Leche League International
When Maya was about 4 weeks I took her to cranial therapy to take care of any restrictions that might have occurred from delivery. If you are local I highly recommend Nicola Bray.
Game changers -
A carrier (or few!) - during those first weeks your baby’s favorite place is on-your-chest. I found ‘baby wearing’ to be the easiest way to get Maya to nap during the day, which allows me to either go for a walk (Hello Me Time!), get things done at home (Hello free hands!) or rest with her safely on the sofa. If you are local checkout The West Yorkshire Sling Library for info, advice and hiring carriers.
A cup holder for your pram - motherhood teaches you to find self-care in the mundane, in the little things, like getting yourself a cuppa for your morning stroll.
A Keep-cup - for your coffee, matcha, smoothies on-the-go (the juggle is real!)
Lavender showers - talking about self-care and trying to make the most out of the mundane… I’ve been adding few drops of lavender essential oil to a cloth, placing it at the bottom of the shower to get the relaxing aroma into the steam. An extra treat for you in just few minutes.
A kindle - if you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed and you don’t have a kindle ask for it as a present <3 (thank me later! ;)) It’s so handy when you nurse and you don’t really have the hands to hold a book. Also great for the long night feeds on those early days - the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is one of the least intrusive blue-light e-books (which can disrupt your baby’s (or yours!) sleep).
Baby Bjorn bouncer - when you need a moment to make yourself a coffee or go to the loo or have your lunch.
Lactation cookies by Mama Natural (to increase breast milk supply) sharing this recipe cause it’s so yum - I’m addicted!
Finally, you can get all the advice, read all the books and blogs in the world, but at the end of the day, every baby and family is so different. Every woman is different and I think it is important to listen to what works for you and your body more than anything. You have to learn how to tune in, and find what’s gonna work best for you. I strongly believe in a woman’s intuition, it’s our superpower when we learn to listen, trust and follow it!
Anyways, I hope this was helpful for you. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions or to share your own experience - I’d love to hear from you! XO, Naama