You’re pregnant! Feeling afraid? Excited? Nervous? Happy? Worried? Or just plain nauseous? The range of feelings and emotions is incredible during pregnancy.
If you did not want to get pregnant then we can’t imagine how scary this must be for you. If your life circumstances are such that you feel you want to end your pregnancy, please find help at a crisis pregnancy center. There IS hope. Even if you are alone, struggling with this pain, there ARE caring people out there who will help.
United States 1-800-848-LOVE
If terminating your pregnancy is in your thoughts, please set aside your unbearable stress, and educate yourself about the effect abortion has on both mother and child.
If you have adjusted to the idea of carrying a new life, be expecting an incredible journey. You have another person totally depending on you. There is something wonderful in learning how to give of yourself. There will be lots of work, but a baby also brings lots of joy.
“Most pregnancies aren’t even detected until the sixth week. By then, the baby’s heart has been beating for 3 weeks, brain waves can be read, the nervous system has been complete for about two weeks, and he or she is about to begin moving, although the mother will not feel it for 3 ½ months more. By the 8th week, the baby’s skeleton, head, face, arms, legs, fingers (with fingerprints), toes, circulatory and major muscle systems are complete, and all of his or her bodily organs are present in rudimentary states. By the 12th week, the baby already shows a distinct individuality in both appearance and behaviour, with facial expressions resembling those of his or her parents. By the 16th week, the baby’s eyelashes have grown. By 16 ½ weeks, all 20 milk-teeth buds are in place. By the 20th week, hair appears on the baby’s head. By the 22nd week, the baby can open his or her eyes.”(1)
It is exciting to follow your baby’s development by viewing photographs of the various stages.
My pregnancies were among the most incredible and joyful experiences of my life. I am in awe of the wonder and magnificence of our Creator. My husband and I greatly enjoyed the movements and kicks and the “ripples” our unborn babies made. What a miracle! Hearing the heartbeat is amazing, especially at home with a stethoscope or pre-natal baby monitor. Then other family members also get an early opportunity to get attached to the little baby.
The Pregnancy Book by William Sears, M.D. and his wife, Martha Sears, R.N. with Linda Hughey Holt, MD, FACOG is an excellent month-by-month pregnancy guide. The Pregnancy Book should be very helpful and provide the answers to many questions.
You might enjoy the pregnancy blog (journal) I wrote about my fourth pregnancy.
With the advancement of pre-natal diagnostic technology, there has come the potential for great help or great harm. On one hand, pre-natal testing can be used to save or enhance the life of an unborn child and on the other hand, it can target in order to destroy imperfect children. It is important to completely understand the purpose and the process of any medical procedure. The risks for both mother and child are often not explained properly.(2)
I have had four pregnancies and never had an ultrasound. If my doctors had been unable to determine the location of the placenta with a stethoscope during the final stages of each pregnancy, then I would have considered an ultrasound. Otherwise, I believe the risks outweigh the benefits.
For the Health of Your Baby, Stay Away From Unnecessary Ultrasounds
Nutrition and Exercise
Good nutrition is always important, but especially during pregnancy and lactation. Your baby depends on you to drink lots of water, and eat foods that will help him grow. Vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables! Your whole family will benefit from a healthy diet of nutritious foods emphasizing vegetables, fruit, protein, and whole grains. Avoid bad sugars, tobacco, alcohol, hydrogenated oil, and high glycemic foods.
“Did you know that drinking too much coffee, around eight cups a day, could increase the risks of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth and breech delivery?”(3)
The following website gives information about the glycemic index of foods:
This site has interesting nutritional information:
We hope you feel great during your entire pregnancy, but if you experience sickness, your symptoms may disappear once your body receives proper nutrition, including nutritional supplements. We have also read that morning sickness is a sign that your body is dehydrated.
According to F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., “Morning sickness of the mother is a thirst signal of both the fetus and the mother.”(4) Drink that water!!!
In addition to a healthy diet, pre-natal supplements containing folic acid are highly recommended.(5) Several years ago, we were pleased to find excellent quality nutritional supplements. The products are food-form and therefore, easily absorbed by the body. They are also perfect for the cell-to-cell communication of baby-growing.
During pregnancy, the exercises that have been the most important to me were walking, squatting, and Kegel exercises.
According to Dr. Thomas Griner, the best way to walk is to, “Let your trailing leg extend our far enough behind to feel a slight stretch in the calf muscle. Then lift your hip – not your thigh – slightly, and allow the leg to swing freely forward. The foot should land flat, with the weight evenly distributed between the heel and toes.”(6)
Kegel exercises during pregnancy can be beneficial for delivery. The basic exercise is, “Use the same squeezing motion you use to stop the flow of urine, only now, flex the muscle more tightly and deeply, from your tailbone all the way to your pubic bone.”(7)
Your expectations and frame-of-mind play a great role in how the birth will turn out. If you desire a natural birth, but are thinking, “I hope I can do it without drugs”, or “I hope I won’t have to be induced”, or “I hope I won’t need an epidural”, than, more likely than not, your fears will rule the day. Making a conscious decision to refuse to even consider unnatural interventions gave me the courage to persevere. Remember, you are the one making the decisions, so you will need to educate yourself.
Giving birth is both a physical and emotional experience. We strongly recommend that you read books and watch videos about labour and delivery. This information, fresh in your mind, will help to greatly reduce stress and discomfort. Things do not always go as expected, but the more you know about what can happen, the more comfortable and relaxed you will be.
Discuss your birth plan with your doctor or midwife. Prepare to say “no” to the medical staff if you plan to refuse routine procedures that are invasive and uncomfortable like shaving and enemas. Learn how to avoid things like routine electronic fetal monitoring, inducing labour, episiotomies, and caesarean sections. Know what to expect, and prepare yourself the best you can.
The Birth Book by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. will provide answers to many concerns about birth. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, PT was also very helpful to me in preparing for labour and delivery.
What helped me the most during labour was to concentrate on relaxing my mind and my body. This took weeks of practice before each delivery. I would also suggest that you walk when you can, squat when you sit, and use the bathroom often during labour.
We want you to have a wonderful birthing experience. Scroll down to read my birth plan and a list of birth comfort ideas.
The hours following birth are significant in beginning the mother/child attachment. Skin-to skin contact is very important. Even gazing into your newborn’s eyes stimulates your baby’s brain.
“The baby must be touched and caressed immediately after birth. He must have the mother’s warmth almost continually during this time; otherwise all the touch in the world will not be enough.”(8) Dr. Arthur Janov, Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience
During my second pregnancy, I spotted for a while and experienced tremendous stress and worry, but thankfully, the baby was fine. The story of my fifth pregnancy is here: http://unbornbabyjournal.com/river.html
If you have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, my heart goes out to you. The book, An Empty Cradle, A Full Heart extends comfort when coping with this painful experience. Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition (updated edition) by Marilyn M. Shannon has a chapter that may help prevent miscarriage caused by diet deficiencies. The Art of Natural Family Planning (4th edition) by John and Sheila Kippley also has a helpful chapter on miscarriage.
© 2001-2010 This website and its contents are copyright and intended for educational purposes only. The information, research, experiences, and links contained herein have not been compiled by a physician and should not be considered as medical advice. Opinions expressed in the reference books and links may not in all cases reflect the beliefs of Carol@parentingfreedom.com.
1. Paul Broughton, Before You Were Born, (Lewiston, NY: Life Cycle Books, 1979).
2. Dr. David G.C. McCarm, “Prenatal Diagnostic Technology: When is it appropriate?,” CCL Family Foundations, (Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League, September-October, 1995).
John P. Newman and others, “Effects of frequent ultrasound during pregnancy: A randomised controlled study,” The Lancet, Vol. 342, (1993) p. 887.
3. Baby wants to be healthy, New Brunswick Health and Community Services.
4. F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, (Vienna, VA: Global Health Solutions, 1997).
5. Folic Acid – What every woman should know before becoming pregnant, (Winnipeg, Ontario: The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada, 1996).
6. Thomas Griner M.D., What’s Really Wrong With You? – A Revolutionary Look at How Muscles Affect Your Health, (New York, NY: Avery, 1996) p. 158.
7. Nancy Griffin, “Kegel Fitness”.
8. Dr. Arthur Janov, Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience
Baby wants to be healthy. New Brunswick Health and Community Services.
Broughton, Paul. Before You Were Born. Lewiston, NY: Life Cycle Books, 1979.
Batmanghelidj, F. M.D. Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Vienna, VA: Global Health Solutions, 1997.
Davis, Deborah L. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart – Surviving the Death of Your Baby. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1996.
Eisenberg, Arlene and others. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. New York, NY: Workman Publishing, 1991.
Eisenstein, Mayer, M.D. Giving Birth At Home With The Home Court Advantage. 1988.
Folic Acid – What every woman should know before becoming pregnant. Winnipeg, Ontario: The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada, 1996.
Griner, Thomas, M.D. What’s Really Wrong With You? – A Revolutionary Look at How Muscles Affect Your Health. New York, NY: Avery, 1996, p. 158.
Griffin, Nancy, “Kegel Fitness”
Harper, Barbara, R.N. Gentle Birth Choices. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1996.
Janov, Dr. Arthur. Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience
Kippley, John and Sheila. The Art of Natural Family Planning, 4th edition, Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League International, Inc., 1996.
Kitzinger, Sheila. Homebirth – The Essential Guide to Giving Birth Outside of the Hospital. Toronto, Canada: MacMillan of Canada, 1991.
Koren, Gideon, M.D. The Children of Neverland – The silent human disaster. Toronto, ON: The Kids in Us Ltd., 1997.
Korte, Diana and Roberta Scaer. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, 3rd revised edition, Boston, Massachusetts: The Harvard Common Press, 1992.
Kraybill, Nelson and Ellen. Miscarriage – A Quiet Grief. Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press, 1990.
Lafser, Christine O’Keeffe. An Empty Cradle, A Full Heart. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 1998.
McCarm, Dr. David G.C. “Prenatal Diagnostic Technology: When is it appropriate?” CCL Family Foundations. Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League, September-October, 1995.
Newman, John P. and others. “Effects of frequent ultrasound during pregnancy: a randomised controlled study,” The Lancet, Vol. 342, 1993, pp. 887.
Nilsson, Lennart. A Child Is Born. New York, NY: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1990.
Sears, William, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. The Birth Book – Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 1994.
Sears, William, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. The Pregnancy Book – Everything You Need to Know from America’s Baby Experts. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 1997.
Shannon, Marilyn M. Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition – Can What You Eat Affect Your Menstrual Cycles and Your Fertility? updated edition, Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League International, Inc., 1996.
Shannon, Marilyn M. Managing Morning Sickness. Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League, 1998.
Simkin, Penny, P.T. The Birth Partner – Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman through Childbirth. Boston, Massachusetts: The Harvard Common Press, 1989.
MY BIRTH PLAN
The following is our own personal birth plan. We do not have access to midwives, so a hospital birth is our only reasonable option. We are sharing this with you to encourage you to stand up for your rights. This is not medical advice for your situation. Please discuss the matter with your childbirth caregiver.
In our desire to have the most natural and satisfying labour and delivery as possible, we have listed our preferences below. These decisions have been made after much research, consultation, and thought. All our children were born with a similar plan, resulting in successful and satisfying birthing experiences. Your help in attaining these goals is very much appreciated.
- Remain at home as long as possible during early labour
- Freedom to wear my own clothes during labour especially for walking outside of room. They will be clean, loose, and convenient for exams and birth.
- No enema and no pubic shave
- Infrequent vaginal exams assessing progress, only upon consent and not during contractions
- No separation from husband during labour, delivery, and following birth
- Privacy and quiet in labour room, no interference or distractions when concentrating
- Lights dimmed, no fluorescent lights
- Freedom to eat food and drink water during labour as I choose
- Freedom to walk, move, and remain active during labour
- Freedom to shower during labour
- Freedom to use bathtub during labour (especially with painful contractions and if labour is not progressing at about five centimetres dilation). Dim lights in bathroom.
- Freedom to emit sounds (groans, sighs) during labour without concern that interventions are needed (like weight lifters). This will produce helpful endorphins.
- No drugs offered or given during labour or delivery, unless we request
- Natural birth may need time, please do not rush the process
- I do not want use of electronic fetal monitor, either external (to allow freedom of movement) or internal (to avoid scalp infection), in the absence of fetal distress. Use fetoscope instead. Catecholamines increase the baby’s heart rate protecting it from less oxygen during contractions. This can be misdiagnosed as fetal distress. Pitocin can intensify natural contractions, reducing oxygen supply, thus triggering fetal distress. If electronic fetal monitor is absolutely necessary, limit use.
- If fetal distress is determined:
- give mother oxygen
- change mother’s labour position
- give intravenous fluids (hydration)
- take Pitocin off if it is being used
- further testing (fetal stimulation test)
- No routine IV unless in an emergency. No saline lock. No oxytocin administered.
- I do not want Pitocin, allow walking and activity to encourage labour, unless emergency. Inducing allows no time for baby to breathe.
- We will attempt breast caressing, nipple stimulation, etc. to stimulate uterine contractions during a slow labour
- If waters break much too soon, take white blood counts every 24 hours and body temperatures every 4 hours, allow time
- I do not want artificial rupture of membranes, allow time, unless emergency
- Freedom to labour and give birth in any position I choose (most likely upright squat or sidelying). Back labour and birth for posterior – perhaps on all fours facing birthing bed
- No stirrups
- No episiotomy; use of perineal massage and hot packs instead
- Seriously attempt vaginal delivery of breech if turning efforts failed
- In case of emergency cesarean, my husband will be allowed to accompany me to the operating room and recovery room. He will be given baby immediately after delivery. Only breastmilk given to baby
- Please do NOT immediately clamp the umbilical chord. Instead, please hold the baby below the level of the placenta (on the bed, in your arm or lap is fine) until such time as the baby is crying and is pink (with no milking of the cord) and the umbilical cord completely ceases to pulse as we wish to assure that the placental transfusion has been naturally completed prior to clamping and cutting. Delay cutting of cord until pulsating is stopped, unless it is wrapped around baby’s neck.
- Place baby on mother’s abdomen. Mother’s body warms baby. Immediate skin-to-skin contact
- Breastfeeding immediately after birth, breastfeeding only; no introduction of anything artificial, including glucose water; no bottles, no pacifiers
- No Pitocin for placental expulsion, only nipple stimulation or breastfeeding
- Allow at least 30 to 45 minutes for delivery of placenta, no cord traction or manual removal of placenta unless there is evidence of an emergency
- Massage of uterus every 15 minutes after expulsion of the placenta, if bleeding
- Baby is not to be removed from mother’s presence, including newborn exam and first bath, (vernix rubbed into baby’s skin)
- Ask permission for any procedures performed on baby
- No eyedrops for baby
- No hepatitis immunization shot for baby (or any other vaccination)
- No circumcision
- No antibiotics for mother or baby
- Husband will remain with mother and newborn for at least the required 6 hours following birth or as long as desired regardless of time of day or night
- Discharge as soon after birth as possible (24 hours), unless there are complications, in which case, baby will room-in with mother
- Private room as far away from nursery as possible
- Baby will not be taken from mother for nursery visits
- Tests done in mother’s presence
We thank you in advance for your support and kind attention to our choices. We look forward to a wonderful birth.
The above is our own personal birth plan. We do not have access to midwives, so a hospital birth is our only reasonable option. We are sharing this with you to encourage you to stand up for your rights. This is not medical advice for your situation. Please discuss the matter with your childbirth caregiver.
BIRTH COMFORT IDEAS
The following ideas are personal birthing choices. They are not medical advice for your situation. Please discuss the matter with your childbirth caregiver.
* Stay home in early labour
* Stay home until you feel sure you are in well-established labour (know when it is necessary to go to hospital)
* Rest between contractions
Touch and Massage
* Gentle, comforting gesture
* Very light caressing (stroking with fingertips) on face, scalp, abdomen, thighs, etc.
* Rubbing of a painful spot
* Reassuring pat
* Tight embrace
* Hold hands
* Hold head, shoulder, hand, foot, thigh firmly, without rubbing
* Use massage oil
* Massage perineum with olive oil
* Rhythmic rubbing or kneading of back, legs, shoulders, etc.
* Deep pressure, large tense muscles
* Kneading (squeezing and releasing with the whole hand)
* Massage the whole back, concentrating on the lower back and buttock muscles
* Massage to either side of the spine, working upward and outward
* Use small circular movements on areas of tension
* During contractions, lightly massage tailbone area or place a hand across the lower spine
* Scratch back
* Stroke hair
* Brush hair
* Husband presses his fist, the heel of his hand, or firm object (tennis ball, rolling pin, ice pack) against low back during contractions
* Husband holds on to front of hips as pressure is applied
* Press in different spots
Baths and Showers
* Birthing Tub
* Immersion (natural bath oil)
* Warm bath with head support
* Shower provides skin stimulation
* Handheld shower head directed at abdomen or low back
* For pinching, cramping feeling, soak in a warm ginger bath
* Hot-water bottle, hot damp towel, or heating pad on low abdomen, low back, or groin during dilation
* Warm blanket to relieve trembling during transition
* Hot compresses on the perineum during birth
* Cool damp washcloth to wipe brow and face between contractions
* Ice bag or frozen wet washcloths to relieve low back pain
* Roll can of frozen juice or frozen water bottle over back
Food and Drink
* Ice chips
* Fruit juice
* Frozen treats (sugarless Mr. Freeze)
* Granola Bars
* Fresh fruit
* Other food and snacks
* Labour on toilet
* Use toilet at least every hour
* Relaxing, soothing music
* Sound of shower running
Movement and Position Change
* Change every 20-30 minutes
* Move around
* Find comfortable position
* Lean on birth partner
* Lean on wall, bed, nightstand
* Use a birthing ball
* Use a squat bar
* Squat (urge to push is signal to squat) then sit back or bend forward on knees
* Squat against stool and pillows
* Squat on toilet
* Kneel for back labour
* Kneel on floor and lean on husband’s lap
* Kneel, bending forward during contraction, helps rotation of baby’s head in pelvis when posterior
* Get on hands and knees
* Side-lying position
* Focus on and relax each part of the body
* Relax during contractions
* Let body go limp during contractions
* Release tension
* Relax between contractions
* Relax eyes
* Relax arms
* Relax perineum
* Relax bottom
* Do not clench teeth
* During contraction, let go of all abdominal muscles to look 11 months pregnant
* During contraction, let uterus “hang out”
* Do not brace for a contraction
* Let go
* Don’t hold breath
* Let body take over and do what it has to do
* Relax mind and muscles
* Look at husband, something else
* Listen to his voice, music, soothing sound
* Focus on his touch, massage, caress, focus on goal
* Focus on pictures you prepared
* Visualize something positive, pleasant, relaxing
* Floating over the crest of a wave
* Climbing up and down a mountain with the contractions
* Waterfalls, streams, beaches
* Soaring like a seagull above the waves of contractions
* Visualize labour
* Opening of cervix
* Flower opening
* Replace negative thoughts with positive images
* Visualize favourite foods
* Request privacy
* Limit distractions
* Reduce sensory stimulation
* Favourite scents
* Talk through contractions as long as possible
* Call a friend
* Yell out
* Have a good cry – release tension, allow labour to proceed
* Say verses
* Let it happen
* Your body can do it
* Encouraging words
* This far along, drugs won’t help
* Remember baby
* It doesn’t get worse than this
* Trust instincts
* Sensations are normal, not dangerous
* It is made to let the baby through
* Work with body, not against
* Do not be afraid
* Think “open!”
* One person works hard, while everybody else stands around watching
* A cheerful spirit is health to the body and strength to the soul
* Inhale peace, exhale tension
* Take your time
* Trust your body
* Encourage your baby to come out
* Keep off back
* Spend time on all fours, on knees, or knee-chest position
* Pelvic rocking or swivel pelvis
* Keep moving
* Immerse in water
* Shower jet
* Back massage
* Hot or cold compresses
* Put natural massage oil on baby’s bottom to make it easier to clean meconium.
* Drink lots of water after delivery.
* We personally chose to use oral vitamin K (not a shot) for baby.
The above ideas are personal birthing choices. They are not medical advice for your situation. Please discuss the matter with your childbirth caregiver.