Is it normal to feel incredibly anxious, scared, confused and excited all at the same while carrying a baby for 40 weeks and then delivering it? Abso-freaking-lutely, yes. We know there are *a lot* of concerns about what happens to your body during and after the growth of your little one, so we tapped Rachel Nicks on our Expert Council to calm your top 5 anxieties during pregnancy and labor.
1. It Will Hurt
There are uncomfortable feelings associated with pregnancy and labor. YES. It sucks but look at it this way….your pregnancy and labor are only a blip on your life’s timeline. Do not feed the beast. Your mind is powerful. Your breath is magical. Begin a meditation practice during your pregnancy to help you deal with discomfort and anxiety both during pregnancy, labor, and beyond. I am a believer of also having a trusted friend or doula that you can share your concerns with just to allow them to exit your mind and body. THEN, do your best to shift your focus and to the beauty and excitement of your baby. Pain has a purpose. If you think about how your body grows as a human being in 40 weeks. How your uterus expands from a blueberry to a watermelon and then your vagina stretches to allow a human being be born…it is incredible! It might not be the most comfortable thing you will ever do, but it’s certainly the most magical. Focus on your magic!
2. Weight Gain
Each person gains a different amount of weight for a number of reasons. Pregnant women gain on AVERAGE 25-35 pounds. Keep in mind that your weight gain is not a linear process. There will be some weeks you gain nothing and others you may gain 5 pounds. I suggest staying aware of your weight but more importantly focus on staying active and eating nutritious foods. Keep in mind that each of us have different size babies, different amounts of amniotic fluid, and different amounts of water retention. Health is key! With baby number two, please know that you show or “pop” sooner. I believe the body gets excited and says, “Yay, I know how to do this.” And away goes the little secret. This could also be because you still have a transverse abdominal separation aka diastasis recti. So many clients have come to me panicking thinking they will be huge with their second baby because they show sooner. Please know that this is not going to be the case solely because you show sooner than your first pregnancy.
3. Can I Workout?
Yes, you can workout during your pregnancy. During your first trimester you can basically do everything you have been doing unless you believe there is any danger associated. You do not want to start some new rigorous routine or engage in anything that has an extreme amount of load, risk of falling, or any other danger. Your uterus and baby are safely tucked and protected by your pelvis during trimester one. During your second trimester your uterus begins to rise up out of the pelvis and is more exposed, we tend to begin to “pop”, and the abs begin to experience expansion as our uterus expands. At this point you want to avoid twisting and forward flexion/sit ups. As the baby gets heavier, I like to suggest avoiding high impact such as running. The baby is safe but it adds a lot of load to your pelvic floor. Imagine bouncing a bowling ball on your pelvic floor then giving birth and stretching the pelvic floor. Postpartum we have to do a lot of work to strengthen the pelvic floor so why add stress and trauma to it to make our jobs harder. There are low impact and fun ways to do cardio. Ain’t nobody trying to be incontinent ….right mamas???
Now is a good time to begin doing diaphragmatic breathing and kegels so that you keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and learn how to relax them to give birth.
4. Tearing While Pushing
Relaxing the pelvic floor while you push and perineum massage are two things you can do to help prevent tearing. When you push, be sure to engage your transverse abdominals and relax your pelvic floor enabling your vagina to stretch and allow your baby to be born. The muscles you use to poop are the same muscles and sensation you will want to use to birth your baby. Exhale, bear down and engage your transverse abs while relaxing your pelvic floor. Hold for 10 seconds, take a big breath and do it again for two more times. The goal is to try to push three times during each contraction. Keep in mind a tight throat equals a tight vagina. While pushing, keep your throat open and your face soft. Make deep guttural sounds not tight and high pitched sounds.
5. Pooping During Labor
As they say “shit” happens. Listen, it may happen but trust me it will be the least of your worries if and when it does. There are also pads that are under you and either your doula, nurse, or doctor will quickly change it and 9 times out of 10 you won’t even know ish happened. With that being said, it is important to clear your bladder and colon pre-labor and during to help create space for your baby to descend. So eat your fiber, take your trips to the bathroom and don’t sweat it.