- Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins. I started out with an OB last time around, and at my first appointment, they gave me a bag of prenatal vitamin samples. I brought the whole bag to my naturopathic doctor to get advice on which ones were the best. Her answer: none of them. As she read the backs of each package, her reactions ranged from "oh, absolutely not" to "this one is terrible". Well, there might have been one that she said was only moderately horrible. Those vitamins were full of artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, and any number of questionable ingredients. Also, some of them combined fish oil and prenatals, but none of it was refrigerated, which means it's probably rancid fish oil. Yuck. She recommended Rainbow Light, and I have since had another completely unrelated (but equally awesome) healthcare practitioner recommend the same brand. You can get them at Whole Foods, but they're less expensive online. Buy them in bulk if you can, as I've heard that it is a good idea to take a prenatal the whole time you're pregnant, breastfeeding, and really during your whole childbearing years. Also, vitamin D and fish oil have been recommended to me as important during pregnancy as well. Talk to your healthcare provider about the details and whether they are right for you too, but make sure you get reputable brands. Fish oil is supposed to help with baby's brain development and should always be refrigerated.
- Childbirth education. This is so vitally and incredibly important. There is so much to learn about our bodies and the birth process, and so much to relearn about real birth, not media-hyped birth like you see in movies. In my opinion, you can skip the hospital class–I took one, and it was not only a waste of time and money, but I think they can actually be harmful. They make us more afraid of birth and less afraid of interventions, which I guess makes sense if the hospital wants to maximize its profits. I guess I can't speak for every hospital class–maybe there are some good ones out there, but I think you will get more bang for your buck and be more likely to get good information elsewhere. And if you're considering a hospital class because you want to tour the labor and delivery unit, I think most hospitals offer free tours periodically without having to take a class. My advice is to choose a class taught by a neutral third party–someone who has no vested interest in the hospital and someone who is teaching because he or she is passionate about the subject matter. We took Bradley, and I was mostly happy with it. I do think the program could use a facelift and a little more updated information, but it certainly is comprehensive and did the trick for me. It heavily focuses on the relationship between the birthing mom and her coach, and it prepares you to make informed decisions about your birth, whether that means a natural birth or a birth with interventions. It is also 12 weeks long, so plan ahead! I have heard great things about Brio Birth, which is relatively new childbirth education program and seems to combine some of the great things about other programs with very current information. There are also some hypnosis-based programs (hypnobirthing and hypnobabies) that have good reputations. I know several moms who used them with great success. Lamaze is another popular option, but I'm honestly not so sold on it, so I personally would recommend one of the others I mentioned. I am incredibly passionate about childbirth education, and one of my newer dreams is to become a childbirth educator myself at some point.
- Read. If you're an avid reader, read lots of childbirth preparation books. If you don't like to read, at least read one book. And if you just read one, make it be The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. Some of my other favorites are listed in my astore. There are also some great documentaries about birth, like The Business of Being Born and Pregnant in America. Both are streaming on Netflix.
- It's never too late to consider changing care providers or birth setting. I switched to a midwife at 32 weeks in my first pregnancy, and I'm really glad I didn't talk myself into staying with the OB out of concern that it was too late to switch. The more you learn, the more questions you will have for your provider. Trust your gut, read between the lines of his/her answers, and do your research. Statistics on episiotomies and c-sections for care providers are available online. It may take some digging, but this is another area where your childbirth preparation teacher will be a valuable resource. In my opinion, if you have a normal and healthy pregnancy and you want a natural birth, you will be better served by a midwife. Of course there are some terrible midwives out there and some fantastic OBs, but for the most part, a midwife is a better bet for a normal, natural birth. OBs are surgeons and experts in female reproductive pathology. Assisting in normal births is an under-utilization of their skills, and many of them have never even seen a peaceful, natural birth. But the bottom line is that no matter which care provider you choose, it is never too late to reevaluate your choice and reconsider your options. Your birth means so much more to you than to your care provider. You will remember it forever as one of the most important days of your life, and to your care provider, yours is likely just one in a string of many births, so choose wisely and don't be afraid to stand up for yourself.
- Consider used baby items. If you go into any baby thrift store, you will see rows and rows of baby gear items: bouncy seats, bumbo chairs, swings, etc. etc. Most people put lots of items like this on their baby registries and get them new, but you can get some really great deals on gently used items. Save your baby registry for things that you can't find used or really want to be brand new. So many baby items are just used briefly and then discarded–the cost and the environmental impact is huge. Also, many toys and baby items are made in countries where child labor laws are nonexistent or not enforced. I hate the thought of children in other countries working to make stuff for my kid. By buying used, I am not supporting those companies and decreasing the demand for new items. Now I pretty much only buy used clothing and toys for Penelope. Check to see if there are any baby thrift or consignment stores in your area. Some of them have maternity sections too, and maternity clothes are another great thing to find used! I really wish I would have had access to more used baby stores during my pregnancy–this is definitely a "I wish I knew them what I know now" moment!
- I have talked about EWG's skin deep cosmetics database before, but it is worth mentioning again. What a fantastic resource! It has over 74,000 cosmetic items listed with ingredients and ranked by hazard level. It can definitely be overwhelming to start looking up your beauty products, but pregnant women are more susceptible to chemical toxicity, as that itty bitty fetus can only handle so much. It's definitely worth looking through. If you get overwhelmed, figure out which types of products you absolutely positively cannot live without and then consider replacing just your vital products with low-hazard choices. Or make your own. Pinterest and google are great resources for these things. Every little bit helps.
- On a similar vein, beware of off-gassing. New furniture, cleaning products, new plastic items, vinyl, craft items/supplies, new mattresses/pillows (especially the foam or memory foam ones), candles, air fresheners, paint, and home improvement supplies are all common offenders. If it's a man-made product and has an odor, chances are it's not good to breathe it in. We just don't know how much the fetus can handle, so staying away from these things is a reasonable thing to do. Use it as an excuse to spend a couple days at the spa while hubbie renovates the nursery! ;) And if you're stuck somewhere with potentially hazardous items (like a candle or air freshener at a friend's house), just blame your nausea or sensitive sense of smell. "Do you mind if we blow that candle out? I am just so sensitive to smells during this pregnancy!" Heh heh.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Pregnant Mama's Guide
It's a good thing that pregnancy is 9 months long. With Penelope, I had such a journey from the time I found out I was pregnant until I delivered. There was so much for me to learn, and I'm so glad I took the time to learn it. Here's my little guide to newly pregnant mamas looking for direction.
Posted by Cotton Bottom Mama at 2:41 PM