You know you are pregnant when...
1. You are tired. All. The. Time.
2. And yet sleep is impossible.
3. You spend your entire 1st trimester wishing you looked pregnant.
4. You spend your entire 3rd trimester wishing you looked less pregnant.
5. You must change your underwear 5 times a day.
6. Wiping is now marathon event.
7. You avoid laughing, squatting, bumpy rides or sneezing (especially sneezing!) out of fear that you might pee yourself.
8. You can name all the toppings on a pizza with one quick sniff.
9. That one quick sniff will likely make you vomit.
10. You do your best to avoid public transit (see #7 and #9 for reasoning).
11. Strangers on the aforementioned public transit avoid eye contact (I know you see me, douche bag!)
12. You frantically look for your phone...while talking on the phone.
13. You finally accept that 'pregnancy brain' is a real thing.
14. You feel really special that you get to park in pink parking spaces.
15. You notice that the legs of your dining room chairs haven't been washed in ages (ever?)
16. You must wash the legs of your dining room chairs NOW!
17. You tear up listening to the Land Before Time theme song because it is just so gosh-darn nostalgic -- link here if you want to have a good cry.
18. You tear up when your husband brings home the wrong ice cream flavour.
19. You buy your first pair of Granny Panties and actually love wearing them.
20. Your bed looks like Mount Everest.
21. You spend your life counting down the days until your next midwife appointment or ultrasound.
22. And get really excited when you only have to wait 1 week between appointments.
23. You learn that there are more fruits out there than you thought, and that the size difference between an avocado and a lemon is two weeks.
24. The first thing you do when you enter an unfamiliar building is to be sure you know the location of the closest bathroom.
25. You refuse to wear anything without an elastic waistband.
26. You obsessively bounce on a birth ball for hours.
27. You find yourself shopping online for the best nursing pads at 2am.
28. You sit on the toilet for 10 extra minutes just to see if you can pee twice (yay efficiency!)
29. You feel like a bowel movement is tweet worthy #ifinallypooped
30. Your shoes have miraculously shrunk in size (I swear!).
Now it's your turn to finish the sentence. You know you're pregnant when...
We live in a society where many women are terrified of childbirth. We are constantly inundated with stories and images of birth complications, pain and trauma. It's no wonder that birth is something that many women fear. But maybe it's the fear that is contributing to longer and more painful labours with higher rates of complications? Does fear breed pain, which breeds more fear? Let's take a look at the cycle.
There is a connection between fear and pain. The efficiency of uterine contractions depends on your hormonal, circulatory and nervous system all working together, and fear upsets these systems by producing stress hormones that counteract hormones that your body produces to enhance labour progress and relieve pain. As a result, labour is longer and more painful.
Fear also causes a physiological reaction that reduces blood flow, and thus oxygen, to the uterus. An oxygen-deprived muscle will tire quickly and will lead to increased pain.
Lastly, fear produces muscle tension. Tight muscles not only hurt more, but they struggle to work in harmony and open the cervix. Normally, the contractions of the upper muscles of the uterus, together with the relaxation of the lower muscles work to dilate the cervix. Fear affects the lower muscles, causing them to tighten rather than relax. As a result, the muscles of the upper uterus contract against the tight muscles of the lower uterus, producing a lot of pain with little progress.
Perception is Everything
It is our perception of a situation that matters. Two people can be in the same situation and one can be stressed about it, while the other is not. When you look at labour you can decide how to interpret the situation. If you see it as and natural and beautiful process, then it doesn’t have to be stressful. If you see labour as threatening and terrifying, you will go into fight or flight mode, causing slow labour progress and increased pain.
Reduce Fear & Increase Relaxation
Some fear of labour is perfectly normal, resulting from anxiety about the unknown and individual experience with pain. However, unresolved fears can impede your labour. Here are some suggestions to help reduce fear and keep the normal birth hormones following:
1) Read inspiration stories about birth and seek out women who have had positive birth experiences.
2) Try to avoid being around women who like to tell you how awful birth is.
3) Address your fears about birth before labour starts. What do you specifically fear about birth? Do you fear pain? A cesarean? Problems with the baby? Talk about your fears with your partner, friend, childbirth educator or doula.
4) Be informed. The more you know, the less afraid you will be.
5) Surround yourself with fearless labour support because fear is contagious. Try not to have anyone who sees birth as a horror story around you while you are in labour. Consider hiring a doula.
6) Warmth, low lights, privacy and the feeling of safety, support and love will reduce fear.
7) Use a bath or slow, deep breathing to relax the whole body.
8) Total surrender and relaxation between contractions will allow you to conserve your energy and further promote relaxation.
9) Use mental imagery as a relaxation tool.
10) Touch and massage promote relaxation.
11) Remember that pain in labour is normal and natural. Try to welcome and surrender to each contraction, as each one brings your baby closer to your arms.
Kiss-ass doula, pretty okay-ish mom, spreadsheet enthusiast, punctuality freak, ice cream addict.