When I found out I was pregnant with Elizabeth, I got a phone call from an old friend. Actually Jenny was more friends with my mom than me at that time. The oldest of her 7 (now 8 ) children are just a bit younger than me. Jenny calls herself a “baby groupie.” She loves to talk about birth and babies. The express purpose of her call was to rejoice with me and encourage me about how to have a successful pregnancy and birth. I learned so much in that one hour conversation! I’ve come to understand since then that most doctors don’t tell you much about the birth process or how to get ready for it. Many women go into labor fairly unprepared.
Since I just had a baby and so many people I know are pregnant right now, I thought I’d jot down a few things that have been helpful for me in preparing for birth, things women like Jenny have told me and things I’ve learned from reading and having 4 babies of my own. Look for the other 4 parts to this series over the next week or two!
Don’t be afraid
The Bible tells us not to fear 366 times, I’m told, one for each day of the year and and extra one for leap year! As expectant mothers, I think it’s common to worry over our little one inside. Will the baby be OK? What if something goes wrong? What if I can’t manage the pain? What if I’m a bad mother? Trust God. He wants us to be at peace. He is Lord over birth just as over every other part of life.
I was especially overwhelmed with the temptation to fear during my third pregnancy. As an antidote, I meditated on Psalm 139 for weeks before her birth. Ahhh…Sweet peace…
Did you know that it’s believed that a child’s palate is influenced by what you eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding? Aside from that, healthy foods result in a healthier baby and a mama who’s in better shape after birth. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting when I was pregnant with Elizabeth, and I have to say that I was overwhelmed by all they said you had to eat. They even included instructions for how to stuff yourself with all the required servings if you were full. Now I’m no doctor or nutritionist, but my personal opinion is that it’s more about what you eat than how much. If you have an excellent diet, I don’t understand why you should max out your calorie intake just to squeeze that extra dairy serving in. Personally, I focused more on general healthy eating and didn’t worry so much about counting servings.
(Um, I should be honest for a second here and admit that if the part about in utero diet affecting preferences is true, then Grace, my fourth, will probably be addicted to peanut M&M’s.)
Birth is the hardest work you’ll ever do. You’ll perform better if you’re fit. One book likens it to training for a marathon.
When I was pregnant with Elizabeth, I hadn’t exercised in awhile, so I started with just 5 minutes. The next week, 10. By the end of the second trimester I was exercising about 45 minutes day and I was in the best shape of my life (except my abs, for some reason…*G*). I had a very successful, though long, first birth, and I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within a week. (Yeah, blows me away too. That never happened again!)
Subsequent pregnancies I simply haven’t had the time or ability to exercise that intensely. It really worried me at first, but someone encouraged me that the strength would be there when I needed it. It was. I do think that if you can work out vigorously (using common sense and the green light from your doc of course), that’s great. But if a brisk walk is all you can do, that’s great too. The bottom line: just get moving.