Some quick tips if you're pregnant right now

Some quick tips if you're pregnant right now

How is it possible to give birth without any pain relief and without needing any medical intervention?

If you can see the advantages (for yourself but also for your baby) in avoiding drugs during labour, you may then find yourself considering this question.

The key is to start preparing well before the birth itself. So what is it really important to do in the last few weeks of your pregnancy? Three things might really make a difference:

1. Find out about your options so that you can make truly informed choices.

2. Make sure your midwives or doctors know about your hopes and preferences.

3. Get both your body and your mind in tip-top condition!

ON YOUR MARKS… Find out about your options!

In many countries around the world nowadays but especially in the UK and US we really are spoilt for choice. This is particularly the case in Britain, where women have the right to accept or refuse any treatment during pregnancy and childbirth. This includes decisions about medical care, even if caregivers believe the woman’s baby might be at risk if one option is chosen above another. Since risk assessment is such a grey area – even with all the scientific evidence we have available to us today – it makes sense that a woman should have the right to assess her own risk herself. After all, she is the one who will enjoy or suffer the consequences for any decision made.

Given this wonderful freedom, it’s obviously important to take full responsibility, not only because it’s possible to do so but also because it’s likely to mean you’re far happier with the choices you’ve made after the birth if you’ve made your choices with full information.

So how can you get the information you need? As you might expect, almost every source of information has its own bias, including that presented on this website. This is reasonable because really it just means that any one person’s way of presenting information is based on his or her assessment of the available information, based on his or her world view and personal experience. The only way, then to get full information is to consult a range of people and to look beyond the obvious websites and books.

GET SET… Discuss your choices with your caregivers and reach agreement.

Presumably, as you near the end of your pregnancy you will have made your arrangements for the birth itself. This means you will have found a midwife, doctor or consultant you’re happy with and that you will have made key decisions about where you’re going to be on the big day. (At home? In your local hospital? In a nearby birthing centre?)

Whatever decisions you’ve made, it’s essential you’ve talked to whoever will be providing care about your hopes and preferences for the birth. Have you explained that you want a natural birth, if at all possible? Have you explored – perhaps with your midwife’s help – what you would or wouldn’t find acceptable while you’re in labour and giving birth? Have you also met and established a rapport with anyone else who might be involved? Explain your feelings and decisions to your partner too, so he knows exactly what kind of birth you’re hoping for. That way, he’ll be able to provide you with maximum support.

GROW! Help yourself to grow both physically and psychologically.

Helping your own mind and body is definitely a real must if you really want to help your baby get born. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fear about birth in contemporary society and fallacies abound, so preparing yourself psychologically is particularly important.

Different people have different ideas as to how to help your body. One thing virtually everyone agrees with is the idea that water is essential for keeping you healthy. (It’s not coffee or tea your baby needs, it’s amniotic fluid – lots and lots of it!) Have bottles of a good low sodium mineral water handy day and night. (Evian’s a good one to choose!) Here are a few other ideas for helping your body get into tip-top form for the big day…

1. Splash ahead! Take some form of regular exercise. Swimming – especially breaststroke – is particularly good in the late stages of pregnancy because of course the water supports your body while you exercise your muscles.

2. Squeeze that bum! Do some additional work on your pelvic floor, i.e. squeeze the muscles which stop the flow of urine when you’re going to the toilet. You can do these squeezes (also called ‘Kegels’) anywhere, anytime. Doing them will help you both during and after the birth.

3. Pop a few pills! Consider taking some pregnancy supplements. Try Sanatogen’s Pronatal tablets, as well as some Omega-3 fish oil capsules. Omega-3 is particularly important for your baby’s brain development! Take one capsule a day from Week 28 onwards.

4. Guzzle the grit! Drink raspberry leaf tea – or if you really can’t stand the idea, take it in tablet form. Raspberry leaf is one of the few herbs which has survived the test of time. You can confidently use it during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Drink as many as three cups a day if you can bear to! It should help your womb to tone up and contract effectively when you go into labour and give birth.

5. Squat and stretch! If you’re interested in doing some exercises specifically designed for pregnancy, try an aquarobics class or a antenatal exercise or yoga class. Whatever you do, though, avoid any kind of squatting exercises in the last four weeks of your pregnancy because deep squats during this time can encourage your baby to ‘drop’ into your pelvis in an unsuitable position, before he or she is ready.

6. Chomp and chew! Continue to eat well, not only to keep up your own strength but also to help your baby grow. Bigger babies tend to fare better in the first couple years of life and even much later too. Just do it...

These are not just empty suggestions… many women actually follow them. You can read about them in more detail in Birth: Countdown to Optimal - a book that includes contributions from over 200 people, including quite a few caregivers (particularly midwives and obstetricians. The people featured in the book prepared themselves physically and also mentally, each person coping in different ways with her personal situation. The 100 birth stories and 180 comments included in the book (which are all discussed systematically) will also gradually help you to develop the (justified!) belief that giving birth naturally really is not just possible, but also a very beautiful way to start off your new life with a baby. If you’ve already had one or more babies before and the experience wasn’t too wonderful you stand to gain even more… Learn from other women’s experience. If they can do it, so can you..

Good luck, happy swimming and enjoy all that healthy food…