Having a network of other Moms is as necessary as wearing a good bra.
At first when you find out you’re pregnant, you might think “It’s not a big deal, I can do this alone.” And then you try running around the track a few times (sans a bra) and realize “Damn, this sucks. My boobs hurt!” (and if you have some big girls, you might even be sporting a black eye or two!)
Where am I going with this crazy analogy you might ask?
Well, I have realized very early on that every Mom needs support.
When I first found out I was pregnant this past summer, I went online to babycenter.ca and stumbled across something on their website called “birth clubs.” It’s a forum where you can sign up and chat with other to-be-moms across Canada who are due in the same month as you.
At first, I found the message boards a little strange. I had never done online dating, or had online friends. I was slightly worried that I might be chatting with a 67 year old man named Hubert who was pretending to be a pregnant woman, and that perhaps I was fulfilling some sort of sexual fantasy for him talking about my morning sickness. (Have I lived in the city too long? Watched to many episodes of Criminal Minds? Perhaps...) But the thought did cross my mind.
Eventually one of the lovely girls on the message board created a closed and private facebook group, and there our pregnancy discussions blossomed and my fears about Hubert were put to rest (I could see their profile pictures, afterall. So they had to be real women. Right? Right?)
Well it turns out that all 63 members of the group are very real, very honest and very amazing women (I even met three of them for brunch last week!)
For some of us, we are first time Moms. Others are second, third, fourth and fifth time Moms! From the west coast to the east cost with a mix of religious and spiritual views—we all find ways to support one another and discuss anything and everything from mucus plugs to our sex lives.
This online support group of women has made my first pregnancy experience incredibly positive, and I feel like a lucky member of some secret society.
Except...I want to share that secret with all of you! Whether it’s a birth club online, the forum on the yummy mummy club, a pre-natal yoga class, or a church group, I think it is incredibly important for Moms to connect.
It is easy to feel isolated and alone when you’re an expectant mom-to-be. Your body is going through some major changes, and sometimes you just need to ask other women “Is it normal to cry during Cottonelle commercials?” and “What is this sh*t leaking from my nipples? I haven’t even had the baby yet!” The other first time, second time and tenth time moms will re-assure you, and also confess that they too cry over the exact same commercials. And that sh*t coming from your nipples? Totally normal. Not to worry.
Now, I’d like to share with you a post from one of my fellow February Gals, who has also appreciated the support as much as I have:
“Months ago I was playing around on line and came across a chat/support group for women like me who were pregnant and due Feb 2012... I was not sure how I felt about sharing with the strangers in the group, so I read few posts, commented here and there, then decided to jump head in (no water wings or anything). I talked honestly and told my story, and shared my fears about being pregnant again, and an amazing thing happened; people answered. I felt accepted and comforted by a bunch of women I had never met, and it was amazing. I shared tears over loss, and cheers over each milestone crossed, and found that it helped me feel comfortable with my journey. Now here we are Feb 2012, a bunch of adorable little ones have joined our group with more coming almost everyday! What an amazing family I have found here.” -Nadine Richards
And that totally sums up how I feel about our birth club as well. I couldn’t have said it better myself Nadine (and that’s why I stole it from you!) haha
Now, to conclude this post, I would like to bring a smile to your face with the only thing in the world cuter than puppies...
Here are some of my February Gals babies who have already been born:
Well, it’s week 38 (eek!) and I’ll be honest with you: I’ve really enjoyed my pregnancy. Even with the aches and pains here and there, I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve even been fortunate enough to escape most of the heinous pregnancy-related comments that friends and random strangers alike are capable of dishing out.
Yes, it’s true. You don’t always get the sweet “ahhs” and congratulatory compliments you might expect. Once the world can see that you’re pregnant, it seems as though you become public property and people lose all sense of self control. Their eyes glaze over, and they start frothing at the mouth. They just can’t hold it back. They start asking you overly personal questions while groping your protruding belly.
After speaking with many pregnant women online and in day to day conversation, I’ve compiled a list of real comments made to real pregnant women.
This is the SH*T people say to pregnant women.
(along with my hormone induced retorts. I have two more weeks to play the pregnancy rage card, so I’m going to go for it!)
SH*T THEY SAY: Wow, you’re going to have a BIG baby!
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: Yes, yes I will. And I bet my baby could beat up your skinny-ass-ugly-baby in the playground. So suck it.
SH*T THEY SAY: Are you sure you’re not having twins?
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: Well I wouldn’t be surprised if I was. Your husband is a very fertile man.
SH*T THEY SAY: Are you pregnant, or just fat?
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: I’m just fat because I ate the last person who asked me that! (and then start growling and chase the person who asked you such a horrid question)
SH*T THEY SAY: So how much weight have you gained anyway?
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: I’m not sure exactly, but while we’re on the subject of inappropriate questions—have you had a bowel movement today?
SH*T THEY SAY: Are you scared that labour will hurt?
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: No I’m not scared it will hurt. I have a gaping vagina. I’ve just been hoping I could hold the baby IN this whole time!
SH*T THEY SAY: So, is your cervix dilated at all yet?
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: Hmm. I’m not sure. Can you have a look at let me know?
SH*T THEY SAY: Wow, you’re going to POP any day now!
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: Actually, I still have two months until my due date. But thank you for implying that I look like a whale. I have now added you to my hit list.
SH*T THEY SAY: You’re going to go past your due date for sure!
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: That’s like telling a child that Santa isn’t coming on Christmas day. You’re a horrible person (and then kick them in the shins and run away)
SH*T THEY SAY: (loaded with judgement) Are you planning on breastfeeding?
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY: No, I’m actually not planning on feeding my baby. Period. I figure it’s survival of the fittest.
And, there you have it. It’s truly a wonder that you don’t hear daily News stories of pregnant women losing it and beating up random strangers. And as you can see, it would be totally justified!
Pregnancy hormones + the above comments = PURE & ABSOLUTE RAGE
In conclusion, I urge you to say one thing, and one thing only when you encounter a pregnant woman.
“Congratulations, you look great!”
I am one part inner-natural-hippie chick and one part western-medicine-makes-me-feel-safe-woman. Therefore, when it comes to making a birth plan I lie somewhere in between choosing IV drugs and munching on tree bark while imagining my vagina is a blossoming flower.
I opted for an OB versus a midwife. I plan to have our baby in our room at night, but not co-sleep. I plan to breastfeed, but will not gauge my eyes out if it’s not working. I believe in the power of visualization and deep breathing, but I also believe in cursing and punching my husband.
As you can see—I’m open to just about anything and everything. All I really care about is the health of my baby (and the state of my vagina). I’m not going to lie. I really want that shit to stay intact! For the record, I’m also petrified of c-sections.
Therefore, in an effort to keep my vagina happy, my uterus strong and my cervix soft and ready, I’ve been chatting with an old high school friend who also happens to be a Naturopathic Doctor. She is amazing, and has offered me a lot of support and advice leading up to my labour and delivery. Her name is Dr. Stacey Fritsch, she’s particularly passionate about mothers and babies, and she practices out of Port Hope, Ontario.
I’ve asked Dr. Stacey (we’re on a casual name basis, it’s no big deal) a few questions about naturopathic medicine and pregnancy.
Dr. Fritsch (I should be formal now, since it’s an interview) what are the three most important things, in your opinion, that a woman can do to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy?
1. Master the Art of Acceptance: Accepting the pregnancy, accepting the changes your body is undergoing (yes this includes the bloating, swollen ankles, stretch marks and loss of your belly button), accepting that your labor may not turn out as expected, accepting your new role as a mom and accepting the fact that you may have no idea how you are going to do all this. The relationship between mom and baby starts in utero and your baby is already picking up on and being influenced by your mood and wellbeing far before their due date. If you aren’t ready to have them—they aren’t going to be ready to come!!!
2. Proper Nutrition: The myth is, “when pregnant your eating calories for two,” but the reality is that you're eating nutrients for two. Most pregnancy related health concerns can be avoided by consuming a nutrient dense diet. This doesn’t mean you can’t act on your new found craving for peanut butter and pickles, just make sure you have already had your required servings of fruits, veggies and proteins for the day.
3. Stay Hydrated: I like to see all my pregnant moms drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. During pregnancy you have a higher need for water as your blood volume increases by 40-50% in order to deliver nutrients to your developing baby. Staying hydrated also helps to keep your intestinal tract moving which tends to become a bit sluggish when pregnant—some of you may have seen the “rabbit turds” a typical sign of intestinal dehydration.
What is red raspberry leaf tea, and what is it used for?
This is the LEAF of the raspberry bush, not to be confused with the BERRIES. However, equally as yummy, raspberry leaves are loaded with nutrients that are highly tonic to the entire body especially the pelvic region. Red raspberry leaf has been used around the world for thousands of years as a uterine tonic in pregnant woman. The leaf helps your uterus contract more efficiently (but it does not induce contractions) during labor and after (as the uterus shrinks back to its normal size) to promote quicker labors and reduce post-labor complications such as bleeding. I can’t make any claims or promises but Iet’s just say I have seen remarkably quick labors when red raspberry leaf was used as a part of a Labor Preparation Protocol.
What is evening primrose oil, and what is it used for?
While the raspberry leaves tonify the uterus EPO prepares the cervix for labor. EPO It is a great source of Prostaglandins—a fancy term for something that essentially makes your cervix softer and stretchier (sounds good right?) so dilation can happen. EPO can be taken orally and as well as a vaginal suppository as you enter your final weeks of pregnancy. My favorite use however, is the famous “dip stick” to induce labor! I’ll keep you hanging on this one and maybe Jen will later fill us in on the details!
What do you believe are the benefits of Naturopathic medicine, particularly during pregnancy?
I think there are numerous benefits, but if I had to sum them up:
1. Non-Invasive/Gentle/Safe Treatment Options for Pregnancy Related Health Concerns (morning sickness, high blood sugar, constipation, leg cramps etc.) Naturopathic Doctors use acupuncture, herbs, dietary interventions, homeopathy and supplements to treat the root cause of your concern to restore balance.
2. Patient Education: Because our appointments are typically 30-90 minutes long we have lots of time to educate moms (on changes to expect, health problems they are experiencing, labor intervention options etc.) to empower them to make informed decisions and ease their fears/concerns as they go through pregnancy and labor.
3. Comprehensive Care: Naturopathic doctors are a great compliment to the care you receive from your midwife and/or obstetrician. If you wish to use herbs or supplments during your pregnancy you should consult an ND to determine what supplements and interventions are best and safe for you.
Thanks Dr. Fritsch! It's obvious that you are very passionate about the work you do, and yes—I'll let the readers know how the "dip stick" goes with the evening primrose oil if it comes to that... haha! Gotta love the suspense...
Also—I'm officially full term (37 weeks) and will keep everyone posted, because you never know when baby Warman will decide to show the world his/her big head! Eeek!!!