The Last Days of Pregnancy

By: Gloria Miles

Photo by Halfpoint/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Halfpoint/iStock / Getty Images

The last days, maybe even weeks, of pregnancy could span a century.  Nine months of growing, changing, slams to a halt; time passes differently.  The discomforts of pregnancy are now highlighted with every step.  Every day crawls, every night is long. 

The Virginia air had been thick as syrup with heat and humidity.  The air stirred itself around, lazily passing by people who braved a walk.  The heat felt stifling for this pregnant woman.  

Eventually, dark clouds rolled into the area, the sky crackling with anticipation of relief.  The sky opened; the rain poured. The relief was felt in a dramatic drop in temperature.  The wind had picked up and the trees chattered in excitement.  

The past days for me have been filled with the sort of anxiousness and discomfort that one only feels when in the last few weeks of pregnancy.  It's amazing how quickly nine months can pass.  And yet, the hours slip by slow as molasses. 

"You look tired," my husband said.  He stood behind the kitchen island, prepping items for breakfast.

"I woke up to pee last night six times. And this morning, my hips feel like they're on fire from that hard bed," I replied.  

He laughed. "Maybe a week left for you. You're so close!" 

I knew he was right.  "That makes me want to strangle you."

"What?" he asked. "Why?" 

"You might as well have said another year." 

"Is it that bad?"

I gave him a look. 

"Maybe...I'll just keep making breakfast," he said. Then added, "I'll rub your back before bed."  

The evening is cool and windy.  I want to walk outside in the coolness.  I let my husband know so that he keeps an eye on our toddler.  

"Walking the baby out?" he asked. 

Most days I wake up wondering if this is the last day I'll be pregnant.  Each evening I hope that real contractions will begin.  Every new morning I'm disappointed at the lack of labor, of no newborn.  

This evening, however, I just want to reside in the moment.  I want to walk and feel the muscles in my legs work.  I want to listen to the trees rustle and speak among themselves.  I want the cool air to play with my hair.  

"Just walk," I answered. 

The family joined me and we walked around our property, through the trees, and down a short patch of our country road.  I breathed deeply and was purely in the moment.  I didn't worry about labor.  I felt the small braxton-hicks contractions intermittently but I paid them no mind.  Fetal kicks and punches marked the time between them.  I smiled and rubbed my belly.  

Most days I'm cranky and irritated.  I sleep too little, I feel too irritable, and I walk the way one does when there's a fetal head slowly entering the pelvis.  I know that labor is on the horizon.  I know that pregnancy doesn't last forever.  One day or evening or night the familiar rushes of labor will begin.  And yet, it feels so distant.  

I think, though, that sometimes it is necessary to get to this climax of pregnancy, similar to the climax before birth.  There is a time within labor that most suddenly feel overwhelmed.  Cries of not being able to cope or continue are normal.  Sometimes there is a moment of panic.  The contractions are no longer surges but just a state of being.  Labor seems to take over one's body.  There is doubt, maybe fear.  And then the peak is reached and all doubt is removed.  Birth is imminent and then there it is: pressure, pain, power.  The pelvis is filled and then it shifts.  Crowning, then a head, then a body.  Then: I did it!

Pregnancy is similar.  It is uncomfortable and not everything is exciting, but it's tolerable.  Suddenly, it's overwhelming, it's miserable, it's never-ending.  But one day, like in labor, like the storm that's on the horizon, relief will be felt.  The first surges will start and excitement will replace it.  

Labor will start.  Everyone is right.  It's so close.  It feels as distant and as close as mountains on a horizon.  But it will start, it will finish.  A new life will be born.  A lifetime will begin. 

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Staying Hydrated Even When Water isn't Appetizing

By: Gloria Miles

The hot, muggy days of summer are here.  While hydration is very important to anyone, it's especially important during pregnancy! Good hydration can keep individuals healthy and happy.  

During pregnancy, blood volume expands to about twice its normal volume.  Water is a crucial part of this equation.  Dehydration can cause a whole host of problems during pregnancy. 

The author at about 7 months pregnant. 

The author at about 7 months pregnant. 

The impact of dehydration

Dehydration can lead to: 

The benefits of hydrating well

Adequate fluid consumption helps:

I understand that I need hydrate, but I can't really stand the taste of water!

Some people have no problems drinking water, but others may struggle to get the appropriate amount of glasses down.  There are many ways to help with this.  Sometimes it's as simple as making the water very cold or adding ice.  But for some, the taste (or lack of taste) really bothers them. 

Tips to Increase Water Intake

  • Add some fruit or veggies! Add some lime or lemon juice, dilute a little bit of juice to add a splash of flavor, or stick some cucumber wedges into a pitcher of cold water. 
  • Use sparkling water to satisfy a carbonation craving without dealing with all the sugar of sodas. Add a splash of fruit juice if you need a little extra flavor.
  • Eat your veggies and fruit! Watery fruits and vegetables also count towards the day's water consumption.  Cucumbers, watermelon, oranges, celery, and grapes all have a lot of water content. 
    Note: Careful with fruit consumption if you have gestational diabetes or other complications that warrant counting sugars.  Always follow provider recommendations.
  • Carry a water bottle around with you.  Sometimes access is the best way to increase your consumption.
  • In a similar vein, leave water bottles around your home so that whatever room you're in, there's always some water available. 

I can't keep water down!

If you are someone who has a hard time keeping anything down, including water, please seek medical attention.  Similarly, if you have any signs of sever dehydration like dark yellow urine, very little urine output, signs of an infection, or any other concerning symptoms, please call your provider or seek medical attention.  Some women can suffer from conditions like hyperemesis which severely limits the amount of things, including fluids, that they can keep down.  This is much different than normal morning sickness and needs the oversight of a medical professional.  

 

Photo by orinoco-art/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by orinoco-art/iStock / Getty Images

What are your best tips and tricks? 

And now it's your turn: What are your best tips and tricks for upping water consumption?  For myself, I love icy cold water.  I tend to drink that a lot more consistently than room temperature water.  I also really love watermelon and cucumbers, which I feel helps me hydrate as well.  During my winter pregnancies, I added soup to my list of ways to get water, but I shy away from this during summer months. 

Comment below with what helped you during pregnancy or just any other time in life! 

An Exercise: Being Strong in Labor

This exercise was created by Virginia Bobro, formerly of Birthing From Within and Pam England. Check out Pam England's new book: Ancient Map for Modern Birth, or a local Birthing From Within class for more juicy exercises. This exercise was adapted by Cat Ennis Sears, BFW mentor, for the RD Blog.

71b970ed062d0b7a883a2af5671cfeeb-large.JPG

When you're pregnant, a lot of things can alert your worry muscle. Maybe you've heard birth stories from others, things you'd like to avoid, and you are thinking of how you would want things to go differently. Maybe you're worried about your support options, logistics, or needing medical support that you were hoping to avoid. 

Sometimes, we get into a state of avoidance. We put our fingers in our ears (positive birth stories only, please!) with the hope that blocking out the thought of unwished for events will prevent these things from occurring. While it's true that fear is not helpful in labor and birth, and adrenaline can decrease natural birth hormones that make labor safer and more efficient, the act of total avoidance (trying to avoid fear at all costs) paradoxically arises from a place of fear. And completely avoiding the thought of unwished for events does not decrease the likelihood of those events occurring, but does increase the likelihood that you will be unprepared for those events, should they occur.

A positive visualization of how you would like your birth experience to go, without qualifiers and without "if's" and "but's" is the first step toward trusting birth. It's important to know what your ideal birth would look like, what you are hoping for, what your dreams and goals are. Visualization is a powerful tool that evidence suggests actually changes our brains, and can in fact change outcomes.

So go ahead and visualize your ideal birth, without qualifiers, without "if's" and "but's."

Next, I invite you to go one step further in your preparation for birth, and visualize not only your perfect birth, but visualize something unexpected happening. And (this is the important step) don't stop there: visualize how you and your support people will cope with that unexpected event. Visualize yourself being strong and present, giving birth in awareness, being there for the moment, no matter what happens. What, specifically, would help you cope with something you were hoping to avoid? Is it a prayer, is it holding your partner's hand, is it closing your eyes, playing a specific song, or just focusing on your breathing? Close your eyes and see yourself doing that thing.

Birth is unpredictable. Our bodies are fallible. And if something unwished for does occur, it does not mean you did something wrong, or weren't prepared enough, or should have done this or that differently. You can truly trust birth and postpartum when you know that you have coping resources you can pull on, should an unwished for event occur. This is a deeper kind of trust.

Being Strong in Labor

With your partner or support person...

Each of you fold your paper in half twice (once horizontally, once vertically) so the fold-lines make four quadrants. 

In the first quarter: Draw the first image that comes to mind when you think of being strong in labor.

The second drawing: Draw being strong in a long, prolonged labor.

The third drawing: Being strong in a cesarean birth.

The fourth: Being strong in... [choose a situation that is personally powerful to you, something that you are working to avoid]. 

Share your images with your partner.

Did anything surprise you? Was there anything you hesitated to draw? Did not want to draw? The takeaway is that we are often much stronger than we realize. And, in my mind, all of this is already within us. In some ways, this is an exercise in intention.

 

Poem: An Invitation to Birthing From Within Mothers

There are so many ways we try to "get it right" as parents. Let's just start with love.

Invitation to Birthing From Within Mothers
This work was compiled and edited by Juji Woodring with contributions from Alejandrina in AZ, Lia from South Africa, Alisa from Texas, Charlene, and Tamara D., with thanks to Oriah Mountain Dreamer for inspiration

image by RVA local doula and birth photographer,  Joyful Birth Services

It doesn't interest me how many
prenatal books you've read,
I want to know if you hear your
child whisper to you
when you lie awake at night.

It doesn't interest me who you are
or where you came from,
I want to know if your authentic
mother warrior will awaken
when you birth your baby with all
that you have.

It doesn't interest me if you have a
birth plan or where you plan to
give birth.
I want to know that you will meet
your birth with an open mind and
open heart.
I want to know if you can fully
embrace the path you must
journey to birth yourself as a
mother.

It doesn’t interest me if you birth
in silence or as a lioness roars.
I want to know if you are willing to
do whatever it takes to birth your
baby, regardless of how you look,
how you sound, or what others
may think. I want to know if you
are willing to journey to your
depths and through the unknown.

It doesn't interest me how many
stitches you get,
I want to know how you are
moving in your body.
I want to know if you can take
each movement of your achy
dripping body and know that it has
done a marvelous, miraculous
thing.

It doesn't matter to me how you
feed your baby.
I want to know if you are willing
to nurture your baby
from the depths of your soul and
with unconditional love.

I want to know if in the dark of
night,
you can raise your tired bones and
weary spirit and do what needs to
be done to care for your children

I want to know if you are willing to
give up your judges and ideals of a
perfect parent and surrender to
your heart and belly
to love your baby until you ache.
 

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Yesterday, Shea heard his brother's heartbeat. He said, "my brother," and put his hands on my stomach. He smiled shyly and wanted to hear the heartbeat "again." I'm so excited for them to meet each other.

Nathaniel Ashe Sears, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, born December 19, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.

He holds his tiny hands up to the glass and says, “There, Mommy, I want to eat there!” Inside is a pool hall, completely inappropriate for a toddler. “No, Shea, just one more door down.” I drag him into Ipanema. I don’t know it yet, but active labor will start in less than 12 hours. I wanted to take Shea out for dinner, just me and him, knowing that the time of his being an only child is getting shorter. I am having near constant Braxton-Hicks contractions that don’t stop when I sit down, stand up, walk, lay down, take a bath, drink water, or anything. They are just constant, lasting for 2-3 minutes with a 30 second break in between and it’s been that way for 2 days. It’s exhausting but I try to ignore my too tight abdomen as I pick Shea up and carry him through the door of Ipanema. I am expecting to go past my due date on this one too, and I don’t take any contractions seriously. Only if they are deep low, and getting longer, stronger, closer together. I decide, only then will I pay attention. Thinking back, I realize how almost heroic it is that I went out for dinner alone with a two-year-old while I was in actual early labor.

Read More

Guest Post: The Six Words that Changed Everything: AKA Why I Became a Doula

Guest Post: The Six Words that Changed Everything: AKA Why I Became a Doula

When I found out I was pregnant, it was not by surprise. That’s what conceiving via intrauterine insemination (IUI) will get you—thinking about nothing but getting pregnant every minute of the day from the moment you decided you were ‘ready’ to have a baby 2 years ago (those of who have been through infertility can understand this new kind of crazy).

What was a little bit of a surprise; however, was that once I was given the clear from our fertility doctor to move on to normal prenatal care, the choice of provider was up to me. Wait, you mean there are choices? My go-to plan was to find an Obstetrician (OB) who my friends and family recommended. But then I learned of a friend’s experience with a Midwife group, and that’s when everything changed.

Read More

Guest Post: Why Moms Make the Worst Clients, and Why I’ll Never Stop Training Them.

Guest Post: Why Moms Make the Worst Clients, and Why I’ll Never Stop Training Them.

I’ve been a Personal Trainer at a gym for over 8 years. After having my first child 4 years ago, I saw how different my body was and took a course in Pre and Post-Natal Fitness with the goal to help other moms through those changes. Little did I know Moms would become some of my favorite yet worst clients. See, Personal Trainers only get paid after they train a session with a client, and I soon saw my paycheck take a hit. Here’s why…

Read More

Birth Story: Lauren Patterson

Birth Story: Lauren Patterson

My Sweet Poppy,

Here I am with only one week left until your first birthday, and I’m finally sitting down to write your birth story. It’s not that this is something I haven’t thought about. Trust me, I’ve thought about it literally every single day. I always knew that the story of how you came into this world was something that I wanted to spend time capturing, so we would never ever forget a single detail. I think how I feel about your birth and how I feel about being your mom is so overwhelming that it’s been hard to actually sit down and do it. Your birth is the single most monumental event in my life and always will be. Here it goes...

Read More

Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Brandy Buckel shares her inspirational birth story in this week's blog post. We thought it was beautiful to read! Thank you, Brandy, for allowing us to share your story with the world!

If you'd like to share your birth story on the RD blog, please email it to us at rdoulas@gmail.com, along with a few photos. We are looking for all kinds of birth stories to help normalize any kind of birthing experience in RVA!

Being a plus sized girl, when I was pregnant I was already overweight. I was 4'11 at 185lbs and wore a size 16. I didn't care about my weight when thinking about how I wanted to labor; it wasn't even an issue but I found out quick while at my first visit to the birthing center that weight DOES matter. I was told if my BMI hit 50 I wouldn't be able to labor at the center. I KNEW i wouldn't hit that but it still kind of hurt to hear.

Read More

Parenting and Birth Doula Work

Parenting and Birth Doula Work
You mean, you just go to a birth when you’re called? What do you do with your kids? What about work?

For a lot of people, it’s not sustainable to just up and leave your job responsibilities and/or leave your kids with someone to go to a birth. Childcare and job responsibilities are the number one reason why there is such high turnover in doula work. Maybe as this profession grows, we’ll figure out other models that allow more people to enter and stay in this field—perhaps a pregnant person would hire a team of doulas who take turns being on call. But for now, most doulas work on the model of being on call 24/7 for their clients. On one hand, this consistency and certainty that the person you've built a relationship with will attend your birth is one of the reasons why, I think, doula presence can be so effective. But on the other hand, while being invited into a birth space is a sacred invitation, the logistics are not always easy to arrange. This blog post will explore how to make the logisitics of being on call 24/7 a little easier.

This is a two part blog post. Part One  will explore the resiliency of your children, and how to prepare and reunite with your kids. Part Two will explore different options for resources on where to drop your kids--other doulas, your friends/family/neighbors, your partner, paid childcare. Stay tuned and join the conversation!

Read More

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth
by: Megan Martin, MA, MT-BC
Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth Clinician
megan@healingsoundsrva.com
(804) 244-0193
Healing Sounds RVA

Imagine this: you're pregnant and you're nervous. Maybe you're nervous about labor and delivery. Maybe you're nervous about bonding with your baby. Maybe, you've heard stories about birth and newborn babies that have made you afraid. Pregnancy. Birth. Newborns. These are all words that bring enormous amounts of excitement and an enormous amount of fear to women. There are a lot of resources and strategies available for women these days to help you have a healthy pregnancy, a low-intervention birth, and support in those first months post-partum. One resource is not as well known- music therapy.

Read More

Forget Self Love and the Truth about the Superwoman You Already Are

Forget Self Love and the Truth about the Superwoman You Already Are

Mothers and women, this one is for you!

No sleep, weary to the point of tears, stained shirt, messy bun, piles of dishes and laundry. The kids calling you every time you go to sit or eat. In fact, when was the last time you ate? Showered? What on earth happened to your other sock?

People like to talk about motherhood as beautiful, angelic, where you look amazing in leggings, messy bun, and still find time to put on a smidge of makeup. Not everyone will talk about the time you realize you only shaved one leg in the shower, and forgot the knee cap on the other leg. Or how your oldest child mentions the dark circles under your eyes.

Read More

Richmond On Call: 7 Day Trips

Richmond On Call: 7 Day Trips

Richmond is a wonderful place to be on call! There are so many fun things to do within city limits or within an hour of Richmond if you can afford a day trip. And cell phone service doesn't fade out in Richmond like it might in some mountain cities.

There are judgment calls--it's hard to promise my sons anything in advance because I am not going to head an hour out of town if a client has had contractions all night, has been advised by their care provider to take castor oil, or just texts me that she has gastrointestinal upset and moodiness. My kids will probably grow up thinking their mother is a super spontaneous person who loves last minute day trips! "Guess what, we're going to York River today!" I'm sure they think the idea just struck me, instead of it being planned but not promised for a week.

Still though, if you can afford a day trip, you have solid child care set up so you won't need time to find a sitter, and all is quiet, the list below may give you some ideas! 

Here are some of my favorite places to go within an hour of Richmond.

Read More