“It takes a village to raise a child.”
…how about it also takes a village to support a woman growing a child?
I have been fortunate to receive so much support and education since publicly announcing my deteriorating mental health in first trimester. I now realize that had I sought help earlier, I likely would have felt much more “normal” about what I was going through and a lot less guilty/feeling down about my symptoms and emotions. Here are the people and activities that allowed me to truly enjoy the remainder of my pregnancy and helped inspire confidence and empowerment for my body and birth.
I started acupuncture right before I became pregnant to help balance my hormones and menstrual cycle after my fibroid removal surgery months before. I was also told acupuncture could help with fertility, and since we were trying to get pregnant I thought this would be the perfect service to aid my healing and my future pregnancies. Well after one treatment we got pregnant! I continued to go to acupuncture once a month during my entire pregnancy to aid with relief of symptoms (such as nausea, fatigue, hormone elevation, cramping, aches and pains, congestion, insomnia) and found this one hour appointment always made me feel 10 thousand times better. Near the end of the pregnancy the appointments increased to once a week in order to prepare my uterus and cervix for a stronger, faster birth. I’ll have to come back and let you know how the birth went! My acupuncturist in Calgary is amazing and I would highly recommend her to anyone pregnant or not: https://www.calgarysportshealth.ca/team/jeanette-davison/
Another pillar in my pregnancy has been my doula, Sharon Loose. I connected with her right about the 4 month mark in pregnancy, when I was going through the hardest emotions and fatigue I had ever gone through. She explained her service as a support system for pre-birth, during birth and post-birth. I did not know the difference between a doula and a mid-wife before this so let me briefly explain:
- A Midwife is a natural birth professional. She is an alternative to having a doctor birth your baby, but you can still birth with a midwife at a hospital. You can also birth with a midwife at a birth centre or a homebirth. Midwives are not able to give you epidurals or c-sections, so if you need to change your birthplan due to complications, you will be transferred to a doctor at the hospital.
- A Doula is your support system. She is not going to birth your baby, but instead be by your side for the entire process. She will come to your house to discuss your birth plan and answer your questions/concerns while you’re pregnant. She will come to your house when you go into labour to help you through the contractions with natural pain relief techniques. She will go to the hospital with you when you’re ready (you’re supposed to be 6 cm dilated in Canada otherwise they will turn you away and tell you to come back later. This is because new studies show the less time you spend at the hospital, the less likely you will need a c-section/have a complication/need an intervention). At the hospital she will help you and your partner breath through the labour, massage through the labour, change positions and walk around to assist the labour, and help you advocate for your birth plan decisions. After birth she will help you with breastfeeding and make sure you are comfortable post-birth. A few days after birth she will come to your house to check on your breastfeeding techniques, ask about your mental-state and answer any more questions you have about baby at home. She can continue to be hired for postpartum care if needed.
Sharon has been nothing short of amazing as we get closer and closer to our first birth experience. Sharon has worked as a doula in Calgary for over 20 years and has been a part of over 600 births! We loved her experience and confidence which is why we choose her. Birth has been made into a scary, painful and unknown experience, but with Sharon’s help we have become more educated on our options and the birthing process, and are feeling ready for birth with that knowledge. Check her out at: http://calgarybirthessentials.com/sharon-bio/
Birthing Essentials Class
We decided to would like to get to know our Doula even more by attending her birthing classes, and we are so glad we did! Sharon not only has worked as a doula for over 20 years, but also a birthing educator and breastfeeding specialist. Her classes instead of being flooded with 25 couples, are intimate with a max of 6 couples so you feel comfortable asking questions and getting to know the others in your class. We learned so much over her course and would recommend her classes to anyone whether you are needing a doula or not! http://calgarybirthessentials.com/class-description/
Another service that has helped my physical body remain as comfortable as possible during incredible physical growth/body change has been prenatal massage. I have two massage therapists that I go to for different needs:
- I have been seeing Ivan Phillion for sports massages for many many years. He is incredible in his knowledge of the body and active release, and fantastic for deep tissue massage. During pregnancy I did not see him as often since I did not require the deep tissue massages like I used to when I was weight lifting and active in competitive sport, but I did see him 3 times when I was pretty darn sore and needing some intense release. Best part is, he has a special belly pillow so you can lay on your belly during the massage! Check him out if you enjoy/are needing deep tissue relief: https://www.calgarysportshealth.ca/team/ivan-phillion/
- During pregnancy I started going to Kirsty at Cava Bien Spa for a more relaxing, prenatal specific massage. I receive massages once a month so I have seen her 6 times in combination with my other massage therapist. She is magical for making you feel relaxed and rested even with your achey pregnant body. I’ve had some of my best sleeps after her massages! https://www.cavabienspa.com/registered-massage-therapists/
Yoga has been a big part of my daily life for the past 6 years, and I wanted to continue to practice yoga while pregnant because it was still helping me feel fit and healthy. I continued to practice in regular flow classes for many months, but as I got more pregnant, the regular classes didn’t offer as many postures I was capable/comfortable doing anymore. So I started researching prenatal classes and found an incredible option at Mandala Yoga Studio in Marda Loop. Most prenatal classes are mandatory 6-8 week commitments, but Mandala has two prenatal drop in classes every week (Tuesday 7:30pm and Sunday 11:30am) so you can attend when you are feeling up to it. Sara, the instructor, is down to earth and makes you feel so comfortable at whatever level you are at. I have learned so much from her and have enjoyed being in a room of fellow preggies once a week. 🙂 https://yogamandala.ca/schedule/prenatal-yoga/
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
I am grateful to have a friend who is a physiotherapist that does pelvic floor therapy. This muscle group is so valuable for our every day life (going to the bathroom and core engagement) but also vital in birth and postpartum recovery. Kerry Worbets helped me understand my current condition of my pelvic floor and how to release and strengthen it with exercises. I had no idea I was pretty much always engaging my pelvic floor, so releasing it was a bigger challenge than activating it! Hopefully this awareness will help me release during birth so baby has an easy way out! Check Kerry out at: https://www.momentumhealth.ca/Evidence-North-Team