Bun in the oven: Pregnancy late in life and surrender

Many of my cli­ents are see­ing my body change, and look­ing sus­pi­ciously dif­fer­ent, and so I’m com­ing clean.

This 37 year old woman is with child, and now in my second tri­mester of preg­nancy!

I’m very happy about this, and nervous, and curi­ous about the exper­i­ence of being a moth­er, and of course, I felt the need to share my exper­i­ence with my read­ers and any oth­er to-be mom out there.

Pregnancy, in a word, is about sur­render.

It’s not much dif­fer­ent than any oth­er health con­di­tion where you must:

  1. Listen your body and a bunch of its new rules
  2. Follow a diet of which you don’t have the manu­al, and stop doing a bunch of things you really like
  3. Implement these new things, even though you don’t always want to, for the hopes of some­thing good to come

It’s been inter­est­ing to exper­i­ence this jour­ney as a natur­o­path­ic doc­tor, and being that I work with so many women in preg­nancy and post­partum as well as with their babies, it is truth­fully so dif­fer­ent to exper­i­ence it from the inside out.

I real­ized some­thing import­ant in how women and cared for and nur­tured not only phys­ic­ally, but emo­tion­ally through the growth of their babies.

New moms are giv­en lists of do’s and don’ts to fol­low, and in no uncer­tain order:

  1. Take iron
  2. Take a mul­tiv­it­am­in with iron
  3. Take an omega sup­ple­ment
  4. Eat as many fruits and veg­gies as you pos­sibly can
  5. Exercise 30 minutes 3 – 4 times weekly
  6. Take up a new exer­cise régime
  7. Stop drink­ing, stop smoking, don’t do drugs
  8. No raw meats
  9. No unpas­teur­ized dairy products
  10. Don’t jump (?!) or do any­thing jar­ring that might move the baby around
  11. Don’t get a mas­sage until 2nd tri­mester

The list goes on…and doesn’t it all seem to be a lot? It is!

The lists of restric­tions and be amaz­ing! be super­hu­man! are truly too much. Women are now afraid to not only to do the right thing but the wrong thing, and there is a lot of pres­sure to do it all right. In preg­nancy, this is a lot of pres­sure, when a woman is feel­ing per­haps tired and emo­tion­al and unwell.

With the added risk of mis­car­riage in first tri­mester, many women have anxi­et­ies and wor­ries they are car­ry­ing alone. Few people asked me in my appoint­ments how I was feel­ing emo­tion­ally. That’s a shame. I talked a lot of it out with my hus­band, my friends, my fam­ily, and I feel very lucky to have such a great sup­port team. Talk to your posse, whomever they are.

A few pieces of sagely things I learned that have helped me immensely, and if they help oth­er fam­il­ies expect­ing a child, won­der­ful!

  1. If you need rest, rest.
  2. Ask for help. Lots of people are happy to help you and be kind at this time. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  3. Cravings paint a pic­ture. Indulge them a little.
    My first tri­mester crav­ings were salty meats, cheese, grapefruit, and straw­ber­ries. Interestingly, if you break it down nutri­tion­ally they rep­res­ent pro­tein, iron, sodi­um, cal­ci­um, vit­am­in C, and folate. Not such bad choices for a grow­ing fetus! I went with it. Yes, greens were not in there ;) They’re mak­ing their way back into my diet now.
  4. Sugar and car­bo­hydrates mean two things — you’re tired and need more rest, and your body needs more car­bo­hydrates (the good ones). Allow your­self the carb treats in mod­er­a­tion (unless you have gest­a­tion­al dia­betes) and eat the good stuff too (brown rice, sweet potato, squashes as examples)
  5. Vitamins
    • Folate — 800 mcg is the stand­ard to sup­port brain health and devel­op­ment. You can find this in your pren­at­al, but if you can’t stom­ach your pren­at­al, there is folate on its own.
    • Iron — this is needed, but not for all women, and not in all forms. I, for example, don’t need iron (I have very high nat­ur­al iron for a woman). For many women who do need iron how­ever, it can be very con­stip­at­ing. There are many liquid iron sup­ports that can be easi­er to absorb, like Floradix, Liquid Iron by Douglas Laboratories, or Spatone that you may want to take sep­ar­ately if you can’t stom­ach the iron in your pren­at­al.
    • Fish oil/Non-fish omega sup­ple­ments — Yep, these really do help with your baby brain.
    • Probiotics — These can be import­ant to build up immunity dur­ing preg­nancy for you and your baby, how­ever the strain type can be very import­ant to sup­port or reduce the vul­ner­ab­il­ity to cer­tain con­di­tions (eczema as an example). Some pro­bi­ot­ics can also cause con­stip­a­tion which can be unbear­able.
    • Constipation — I’m writ­ing an entirely sep­ar­ate blog post as there is lot to con­sider and sup­port!
  6. Exercise is won­der­ful, but again, listen to your body. First tri­mester most women feel either incred­ibly fatigued or incred­ibly naus­eous. If you can only walk a few days a week, do that. I walk and do a pren­at­al boot­camp and yoga once weekly to keep me in shape, or some free weights and a preg­nancy DVD the oth­er days when I feel up to it. Not every week is suc­cess­ful, but some are great. Move where pos­sible.
  7. It’s okay to feel emo­tion­ally topsy-turvy. One second you’re excited, the next second ter­ri­fied, the next second elated…and it’s all hor­mones shift­ing up and down. Allow your­self a good cry, get a ther­ap­ist if you need to…wherever you are in your preg­nancy is the right place to be. It’s your exper­i­ence, no one else’s.
  8. Unsolicited advice is just that. Take a few deep breaths and remind your­self again that you’re doing your best, you’re doing great, and it’s okay to do your health your way! Take the good advice and store it for later, and everything else just bless and release ;)

Surrendering to my exper­i­ence has been hum­bling, and I’ve developed more com­pas­sion for myself, and oth­ers. We are all doing the best we can, and preg­nancy is no dif­fer­ent!

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