Pregnancy bliss is all about making the best choices for your health and well-being during one of the most beautiful and challenging times of your life. The way we take care of ourselves during pregnancy is essential to the success of our unborn baby as well as our minds and bodies, post pregnancy.
"This is What Postpartum Looks Like," or a similar article, has popped up in my news feed so many times. They mostly feature a new mom sharing her journey before and after baby—
How much her body or marriage changed. How stretch marks are battle scars and are there to remind her of the amazing miracle she brought into this world. How the horrible nine months of pregnancy, sleep-deprived nights, and sexless marriage are all somehow worth the bundle of joy.
But not all pregnancy and postpartum experiences paint that picture. Why don't we see stories that uplift the newly pregnant woman? Well, I decided to start the party since the only thing that came up when I googled "Positive Pregnancy" was how to read a pregnancy test correctly.
The Horror Stories
Before I was pregnant, all I would hear is how miserable pregnancy was: morning sickness, swollen ankles, cravings, and hemorrhoids. The list goes on and on. Once I was expecting, it only got worse.
Oh, and those horrible, unsolicited stories! I heard how horrible labor was and how exhausted I would be once the baby arrived. I was about to rip my hair out if I heard one more horror story! By full-term, I was a basket case. The experiences of others had me convinced I would never be the same.
"I was in labor for 47 hours before they brought me in for an emergency C-section."
"Sleep now before the baby gets here. You're going to need it!"
"My sister's cousin's friend lost her eyesight due to the epidural."
"Your body will never be the same."
"Your boobs are going to be on fire!"
But guess what? THEY WERE ALL LIES ... well at least in my case. Just like marriage or exercise, our emotions and bodies respond differently. We all have different experiences.
I was one of the lucky ones; I experienced zero morning sickness. I had no cravings outside of my normal Laffy Taffy binge I indulge in every week of my life. I was never uncomfortable or in pain for the entirety of the 40 weeks. I was induced, labored for nine hours, and pushed for five minutes. I gained a little more than the standard -- about 40lbs.
I didn't need the multiple painkillers the doctor prescribed. I came out of the 'fire' stretch mark-free and was back to my pre-pregnancy body two months after working hard on diet and exercise. Breastfeeding came easy, and I got more sleep during the first three months than I did the next five.
Spread the Positive Stories
Gestation and postpartum have so many different scenarios. I didn't write this to brag or put down anyone who has tough pregnancies. I wrote this to finally shed some light on the positive side of pregnancy and postpartum— yes, there can be a positive side!
You may have labored for days or never got your body back. You may have had a pregnancy from hell. But no two pregnancies, or women, are the same. My next pregnancy may be filled with stretch marks and nausea, but guess who I won't share it with? All the scared, new moms whom have yet to experience it for themselves.
What were some of your positive pregnancy or labor experiences?
We are all very aware of the increase in hormones that occur during pregnancy. There are three big ones produced during your nine months: Relaxin, Estrogen, and Progesterone. These all play a major role in your baby's growth and development however, the effects of Relaxin are typically overlooked in prenatal care and fitness.
Relaxin is in your body to "relax" the ligaments and tissue and allow the pelvis to widen for delivery, but - because it is released throughout the entire body - it also relaxes all of your ligaments and tissue!
This can cause many issues:
- Looser ligaments allow for overstretching, resulting in pulls and strains
- The pelvic floor relaxes, which can result in loss of control over bladder
- Weakened stability of the pelvis wreaks havoc on your posture
- Relaxing abdominal and digestive tissue allows for heartburn
So how do you keep Relaxin from getting the best of you? Here are eight tips for staying safe and comfortable!
- Use light stretching as your warm-up along with walking. Going into a workout with cold muscles in addition to your pregnancy hormones can cause extreme soreness the next day.
- USE CAT COW! A perfect total body stretch for any trimester that I personally use with all my clients:
- Begin on all fours with your hands directly under the shoulders and knees under the hips with a neutral spine.
- Exhale, engaging the core and pelvic floor while rounding the spine.
- Inhale, relaxing the pelvic floor and arching the spine.
- Watch your posture. Always try and stand with your head high and out of your neck, your ears over the shoulders, your shoulders back, and your pelvis and spine in a neutral position.
- Eat healthy and exercise. Try your best to workout 2-6 hours weekly. Allowing your tendons and ligaments to weaken results in the muscles overcompensating, which creates even more pain.
- Try eating six smaller meals instead of three large ones to avoid heartburn. Slow down at mealtime and allow your body to digest at its own speed.
- Take a walk after bigger meals. Assist your body in moving things along so food isn't just sitting on your stomach.
- Ginger is your friend! If heartburn does rear its ugly head, try ginger tea or candied ginger to soothe before resulting to medication.
You may find these tips helpful as well!
Relaxin is unavoidable but it doesn't have to get in the way of a healthy and comfortable pregnancy!