Pregnancy & Birth Prep
All women and families deserve to be well informed and supported as they prepare for and experience giving birth. We can help you find resources, connect with doulas, figure out the right questions to ask, and support you through this amazing and demanding time.
Articles & Resources
Preparing For Vaginal Birth
The term "natural birth" refers to vaginal childbirth without pharmaceutical pain relief or other medical interventions.
While all forms of childbirth are beautiful, natural birth has many benefits for both mom and baby.
It is a very personal decision to give birth without intervention. Making this choice will require education, preparation, dedication, and a great support system. If you’re pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, and are considering a natural birth, this article will guide you with key steps to take during your journey.
When it comes to planning for your birth experience, childbirth education provides the foundation to best prepare you and your partner for natural childbirth.
A good class will teach you and your partner topics regarding:
- Labor support
- How to manage contractions
- Preparing for labor
- Common labor interventions in labor
Childbirth classes are the best way to reduce stress about birth, help you make the best decisions for yourself and your family, and become equipped to give birth naturally.
Classes vary in their approaches and comprehensiveness. Here’s information on which birthing classes may be right for you.
Labor is a very physical journey, and exercise will help keep your body strong and your pelvis open.
You can prepare for birth physically by:
- Prenatal yoga
- Avoiding sitting for long periods
- Daily stretching
- Belly mapping
- Sitting on a birth ball instead of recliners/sofas
- Eating high-nutrient foods from all the food groups
For the mental, emotional, and spiritual areas of your journey, you can try practicing:
Those who will be in attendance with you during labor is a very important decision to make, though it is important to keep this number relatively small to limit distraction and crowding during your labor experience.
Your "support team" may include:
- Your spouse or partner
- Family members
- A close friend
- A doula
You should have a support team to:
- Help you feel more comfortable
- Help manage your pain
- Advocate for your preferences/desires
No matter who you choose, make sure it includes only those who:
- Make you feel loved and cared for
- Are familiar with your birth preferences and support your decisions
- Will benefit your experience
- Are prepared to provide the kind of support you need
Why should I hire a doula?
A doula is a professionally trained non-medical birth attendant who will meet with you throughout pregnancy, coach you during labor, and will follow up with breastfeeding and newborn care.
Women who have doulas are more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have:
- Pain medications
- Forcep or vacuum-assisted births
- Negative feelings about childbirth
Other benefits of hiring a doula include:
- Higher breastfeeding success
- Higher maternal self-esteem
- Lower blood pressure during labor
- Lower pain experienced overall
See doulas in southeast Missouri here.
When deciding where you will give birth, there are several factors to consider. It is important that you feel comfortable and safe, whatever your choice is.
Make sure to:
- Search for a hospital or birth center that supports and is experienced with natural childbirth
- Research your options
- Tour the hospital and ask lots of questions
- Research and ask others about their experience with the hospital/birth center
- Hospital - The only place that a cesarean or pain medications are options, making it the best choice for a woman who anticipates needing intervention. If you have significant health problems, are having multiple children, or otherwise have a high-risk pregnancy, a hospital is the safest option for mom and baby.
- Needing (or wanting) to give birth at a hospital doesn't mean you can’t have a natural birth, though. Read more about having a natural hospital birth.
- Birth center - Run by midwives, birth centers have the environment of a home while also having some of the same equipment as a hospital. The medical equipment is usually out of sight, and intervention options are limited. A mother will be transferred to a hospital to give birth if she deviates significantly from what is normal/healthy.
- Home births - Midwives provide the same equipment that is used at the birth center and bring it to your home. Though it’s rare, midwives have a plan for transfer of care if necessary. Birth usually happens smoothly on its own during home births.
When it comes to choosing your provider, you have 4 options:
- OB/GYN – Traditional route. These providers are the least likely to be low–intervention.
- Family physician – Tend to be more holistic, will be able to care for you and your baby after birth.
- Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) – Are midwives, not nurses, & are only licensed in some states.
- Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) – Are nurses who have additional midwifery training.
Tips for choosing your provider:
- Interview a few providers to find the best fit for you
- Look for a doctor or midwife who is open to and experienced with natural childbirth techniques
- Ask questions about previous clients, natural birth experiences, and primary cesarean rates
To manage and cope with pain during your unmedicated labor, you will want to be familiar with some tips & tools.
- Rocking, swaying, walking can limit pain from contractions and keep your labor progressing.
Some positions will ease your pain while others can help with the position of the baby:
- Squatting: to widen your pelvic area and help speed the process
- Side-lying position: to help slow down your labor
- Sitting position (on a birth ball or a backward chair): to allow gravity to assist in your labor
- Getting on all fours: to give you a break between contractions
Read more about common labor positions here.
Physical methods that can be performed by your doula or support person can also help with labor discomfort and relaxation, such as:
- Counter pressure
- Heat or cold therapy
- Water (shower or tub)
Relaxation and Breathing
Childbirth classes will teach you relaxation and breathing techniques. Here are some of the most common:
- Abdominal breathing for childbirth: This type of breathing allows you to center yourself and work on releasing tension, helping calm you. It also can be used to signal that a contraction has ended.
- Lamaze breathing: This type of breathing works on two levels. First, as you concentrate on your breathing, your attention is diverted away from your labor pains. Second, as your breathing deepens, your muscles receive more oxygen, resulting in your contractions becoming more efficient.
- Water Birth: The use of water in labor (often referred to as "hydrotherapy") with a bathtub or shower can produce some of the best pain relief available without an epidural. It is safe, simple, and effective. Check out Reasons to Have a Water Birth.
Once you have an idea of your ideal birthing experience, your next step is to develop a birth plan. This birth plan should be a one-page statement outlining what you would prefer to have happen before, during, and after labor.
Be sure to:
- Find out what policies and procedures are recommended by your provider & birth location. Talk to your provider about other options if there’s anything that doesn't fit with your preferences.
- Discuss with your provider & support team what might become medically necessary. Indicate how you want deviations from your plan handled.
- Once you have your birth plan written, discuss it with your provider during an office visit. Be prepared to make minor changes if needed.
- If there is something you feel strongly about, let your provider know
You already know that you want to avoid interventions if possible, but how do you know when an intervention is necessary?
Talk to your partner and doula and analyze the intervention using B.R.A.I.N., an acronym for:
- No/not now
Learn how to use the B.R.A.I.N. method here to have a plan regarding necessary intervention.
As you plan your birthing experience, remember that you have a say in how the experience goes (barring any medical emergencies, of course). Remember your "why," and keep open communication regarding your desires to your partner and provider.
Though you can plan nearly every aspect of your birth experience, there’s a good chance that it may not go as planned. So, be prepared to be flexible with any changing circumstances that may occur.
No matter the outcome of your experience, keep in mind the miracle you are enduring as you bring a new life into this world.
Preparing for C-Section
Every pregnant woman hopes for a short labor and delivery free of complications. But it doesn’t always work out that way, and some babies need to be delivered via cesarean section- C-section for short. Some women have a scheduled c-section, while others have an unplanned, emergency c-section.
Whether planned or an emergency, t’s helpful to learn why and how C-sections are performed, and how to best take care of yourself after. Here’s everything you need to know to prepare for and fully recover after a c-section.
A C-section is a surgical delivery of a baby performed by an obstetrician that involves making incisions in the mother's abdominal wall and uterus.
C-sections can help women who are at risk for complications avoid dangerous delivery-room situations - but they do have more risks and involve more recovery than vaginal births.
Some C-sections are scheduled if the doctor knows that a vaginal birth would be risky. A doctor may schedule one if:
- The baby is in breech (feet-first) or transverse (sideways) position in the womb
- The baby has certain birth defects
- The mother has problems with the placenta
- The mother has a medical condition that could make a vaginal delivery risky for herself or the baby
- The mother previously had surgery on her uterus or an earlier C-section. (Though having ONE c-section does NOT automatically mean you will have to have another!)
Some C-sections are unexpected emergency deliveries done when complications arise with the mother and/or baby. An emergency C-section might be done if:
- Labor stops or isn't progressing as it should (and interventions aren't helping)
- The placenta separates from the uterine wall too soon (placental abruption)
- The umbilical cord becomes pinched or enters the birth canal before the baby
- The baby is in fetal distress
How Is a C-Section Done?
To prepare for the delivery, you'll likely have:
- An anesthesiologist discuss with you what will be done so that you don't feel pain during the procedure
- Various monitors in place to track your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure
- Your mouth and nose covered with an oxygen mask or a nostril oxygen tube
- A catheter inserted into your bladder through your urethra
- An IV in your arm or hand
- Hair between the belly button and pubic bone shaved
- A privacy screen put around your belly
After anesthesia is given, the doctor makes an incision on the skin of the abdomen, usually horizontally, 1–2 inches above the pubic hairline. The doctor then will make another incision in the uterus, then the baby is gently pulled out. The doctor suctions the baby's mouth and nose, then clamps and cuts the umbilical cord. You should be able to see your baby right away, then the baby is handed over to the nurse or doctor.
The obstetrician then removes the placenta from the uterus, closes the uterus with dissolvable stitches, and closes the abdominal incision with stitches or surgical staples.
Will I Feel Anything?
Typically, you are numbed from the waist down using an epidural and/or a spinal block during a C-section, so you won't feel any pain. You may feel pulling and pressure.
An emergency C-section may require general anesthesia, meaning you will be put to sleep and won't feel or remember anything during delivery.
In general, C-sections are safe for both mother and baby. However, just like any surgery, there are still risks. Potential C-section risks include:
- Increased bleeding
- Bladder or bowel injury
- Reactions to medicines
- Blood clots
- Possible injury to the baby
Women who've had C-sections typically stay in the hospital for about 3 or 4 days, with full recovery taking about 4 to 6 weeks. Right after your c-section, you may feel:
- Itchy, sick to your stomach, and sore
- Groggy, confused, chilly, scared, or alarmed (especially if you had general anesthesia)
For the first few days and weeks, you might:
- Feel tired
- Be sore around the incision
- Be constipated and gassy
- Have a hard time getting around and/or lifting your baby
- Experience cramping as your uterus shrinks
Your health care provider can give you medications to ease any discomfort or pain.
C-Section Recovery Tips
- Try to support your abdomen near the incision when you sneeze, cough, or laugh
- Avoid driving so that you don't put any unnecessary pressure on your incision
- Check with your health care provider about when you can get back to your normal activities
- Wait to have sex until your doctor has given you the go-ahead, usually about 6 weeks after delivery
- Frequent walking early on may help ease some pains & discomfort
- Take it easy and have someone help you get around
- Let friends and family help out with meals and chores
These items can be helpful during your c-section recovery:
- Stool softeners, fiber supplements or fiber-rich foods
- Pain relief medication (talk to your doctor)
- Low setting heating pad on your abdomen
- Ice pack (this can help if you’re experiencing itching around the incision area)
- Super-absorbent menstrual pads for postpartum bleeding
- Antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly for your incision, if recommended by your doctor
- Gauze pads & first-aid tape, if covering the incision is recommended by your doctor
- Staying hydrated to reduce constipation
- Belly band or belt to help support your abdomen while you’re healing (make sure yours is c-section friendly)
- Don’t take a bath (or dip in a pool or hot tub) until after your incision is healed. Stick to showers and gently pat your incision to clean & dry it.
- Avoid heavy lifting/exercise until you get the go-ahead from your doctor - likely four to six weeks post-birth.
Breastfeeding after c-section:
- Position the baby so they’re not pressing against your incision.
- Try lying on your side to nurse or try the football hold
- Drink plenty of water to help with overall well-being
- Try nursing pillows
C-Section Scar Care
C-sections scars fade over time, they will get smaller and become a natural skin color. It can take up to three months for your scar to fully heal. In the meantime:
- Keep your incision clean and avoid scrubbing / irritating it
- Wear breathable fabrics to allow the incision to air out
- Avoid scar-fading treatments until your incision is fully healed—and double-check with your doctor
- Talk to your doctor about scar massage to help prevent adhesions to other abdominal tissues
Call your doctor if you suspect you’re not healing well or may be experiencing an infection.
Signs of infection can include:
- Pus or liquid at the incision
- Redness at the incision
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Swelling at the incision or in your lymph nodes
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Other reasons to see your doctor immediately:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Pain/swelling in your groin or legs, which could be a sign of a blood clot
- Chest pain or trouble breathing
- Excessive vaginal bleeding (soaking through more than one pad every two hours)
- Vaginal bleeding that gets heavier or is bright red more than four days after the birth
- Your incision comes open
- Vaginal blood clots larger than a golf ball
- Difficulty or pain going to the bathroom
- Pain in one or both breasts
- Depression / unusual sadness
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
These suggestions may help you manage the symptoms of morning sickness:
Eating & Cooking
- Eat smaller meals more often - missing meals can make nausea worse
- Limit eating fatty, spicy, and fried foods
- If possible, ask others to help with cooking (Food has a stronger odor when heated, which may increase nausea)
- Try eating a dry biscuit or cracker first thing in the morning
- Eat a healthy snack at night before bed
- Try ginger tablets, dry ginger ale, and peppermint or ginger tea
- Avoid foods if their taste, smell, or appearance make you feel nauseous
- Avoid brushing your teeth straight after eating as this can cause nausea
- After vomiting, clean your mouth with water to avoid damage to your teeth enamel
- Try a variety of fluids (water, fruit juice, lemonade, clear soups)
- Try crushed ice, slushies, or sucking on frozen fruit
- Avoid large drinks - instead have frequent, small drinks between meals
- Talk to your pharmacist about an oral rehydration solution
- Wear acupressure wristbands to prevent travel sickness
- Try acupuncture
- Take vitamin B6
If you are unable to take in fluids or feel weak, dizzy, or unwell, you may be dehydrated and should seek medical attention urgently.
If your morning sickness is worrying you, talk to your doctor or midwife. Medications can be prescribed to control severe morning sickness without causing harmful effects to unborn babies. It’s important to not take any medicines without first talking to your doctor.
In addition to the weight of your baby, your body’s ligaments naturally become softer and stretch during pregnancy to prepare for labor, which can put strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis that can cause backaches or pain.
Protect your back
- Move your feet when turning your body to avoid twisting your spine
- Wear flat shoes
- Work at a surface high enough to prevent stooping
- Sit with your back straight and well supported
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods
- Get plenty of rest
- Work on your posture
- Sleep on a firm mattress
- Avoid lifting heavy objects
- When lifting, bend at the knees, not at the waist
Activities that may help
- Aqua aerobics (gentle exercise in water)
- Heating pads
- Regular exercise and walking
Stretch for Lower Back
- Sit with your bottom on your heels with your knees apart
- Lean forward towards the floor, resting your elbows on the ground in front of you.
- Slowly stretch your arms forward
- Hold for a few seconds
Stretch for Middle Back
- Go down on your hands and knees
- Draw in the lower tummy
- Tuck your tail under
- Hold for a few seconds
- Gently lower your back down as far as feels comfortable
Stretch Upper Back & Shoulder Blades
- Sit on a firm chair
- Brace your tummy muscles
- Interlock your fingers and lift your arms overhead
- Straighten your elbows and turn your palms upwards
- Hold for a few seconds
If back pain persists or becomes severe, see your doctor or midwife.
During pregnancy, many women experience constipation and/or hemorrhoids. Maintaining a healthy diet and regularly exercising can help ease the discomfort of these symptoms.
Treating Constipation & Hemorrhoids
- Increase your fiber and fluid intake
- Eat wholegrain foods
- Eat more fruit and vegetables
- Fiber supplements or laxatives can serve as short-term solutions – though it is advised to first stimulate the bowel with a healthy diet before trying medications
- Place an icepack on external hemorrhoid areas to reduce swelling
- Take a warm bath to help reduce the pain of hemorrhoids
- Hemorrhoid creams for pain, itchiness, and inflammation
- Pain relief medications such as paracetamol
Constipation worsens hemorrhoids, so, treatment options center around preventing or managing constipation, or reducing pain associated with hemorrhoids. Avoiding constipation is the best way you can reduce your chance of hemorrhoids.
Speak with your doctor or pharmacist before using any medicines or creams while pregnant.
Frequent Urination & Incontinence
During pregnancy, a woman’s pelvic floor muscles (muscles around the bladder) relax slightly to prepare for the baby's delivery. Because of this, you may experience a sudden spurt of urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or change positions quickly.
While you cannot change the urge to urinate more frequently, you can prevent these "leaks" by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. This is done by doing regular pelvic floor exercises (before, during, and after pregnancy).
Fluid retention is a result of hormonal changes and extra blood circulating in the body.
To help you feel more comfortable and prevent swelling, try to:
- Avoid standing for long periods without moving
- Wear comfortable shoes (avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch swelled feet)
- Elevate your feet often
- Limit salty foods
- Sleep on your left side, (helps blood return to the heart)
- Exercise regularly - walking or swimming
- If you need to stand for long periods, try to move around and change positions regularly
- Compression stockings
- Massage and reflexology
- Circulate your ankles with your feet up
It is important to drink plenty of water. Keeping your fluids up is important to avoid dehydration and stay healthy.
It’s common to feel exhausted during pregnancy. Your sleep patterns change when you are pregnant, and your tiredness may feel increased due to the extra weight you are carrying. As your baby gets bigger, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and you may find it difficult to get and stay comfortable.
Combating tiredness & insomnia:
- Experiment with different pillows, cushions, and rolled towels to position yourself for sleep
- Try to rest as often as possible
- Make time to sit with your feet up during the day
- Accept any offers of help from friends and family
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Performing gentle exercise
Due to hormonal changes and increased blood supply to the skin during pregnancy, you’re likely to feel warmer and sweat more than normal. Pregnancy also affects circulation, which may lower your oxygen levels and cause your brain to receive too little blood, which may lead you to feel ill or faint. Here are some tips to feel more comfortable:
- Wear loose clothing made of natural fibers (more absorbent and breathable)
- Keep your room cool with a fan
- Bathe frequently to help you feel fresh
- Drink plenty of water
- Try to get up slowly after sitting or lying down
- If you feel faint, sit or lie down and put your head between your legs
- If you feel faint while lying on your back, turn on your side (it’s better not to lie flat on your back later in pregnancy)
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat regularly to keep your blood sugar levels stable
Talk to your doctor or midwife if you frequently feel dizzy or faint, or are worried about your symptoms.
Indigestion is a feeling of discomfort in the stomach which usually occurs after eating or drinking. Symptoms may include reflux or regurgitation, burping, feeling heavy, bloated or full, or vomiting. Indigestion in the early stage of your pregnancy may be caused by changes in hormone levels, and becomes more common in the second or third trimester caused by the baby pushing up against your stomach.
Heartburn is a burning pain in the throat or chest, behind the breastbone, caused by stomach acid coming up the esophagus and irritating the lining.
If your symptoms are mild, changes to your diet or lifestyle may help prevent indigestion and heartburn. You could try:
- Eating smaller meals, more often
- Avoiding eating soon before bed
- Avoiding a lot of coffee late in the day
- Avoiding eating and drinking at the same time, which can make your stomach more full
- Sitting up straight while eating
- Chewing gum, causes you to produce more saliva and helps neutralize the acid
- Raise the head of your bed by 3 to 6 inches
- Sleep on your left side
- Take note of the particular foods, drinks, or activities that cause symptoms
If your indigestion is not helped by diet/lifestyle changes, or your symptoms are severe, your doctor or midwife may suggest a medication that is safe to use during pregnancy.
If your heartburn symptoms don't go away with medicine, it's important to see your doctor as it may be a sign of pre-eclampsia. Because pre-eclampsia is dangerous for both you and your baby, you should let your doctor know if your heartburn medicine is not working and you are experiencing:
- sudden swelling of your hands, feet or face
- a headache that doesn't go away with simple painkillers
- problems with your eyesight such as blurring or seeing flashing lights or dots
- a strong pain below your ribs
Exercises that help prevent cramps:
- Calf raises
- Any regular, moderate exercise
Specific foot and leg muscle exercises such as:
- Bending and stretching your foot vigorously up and down 30 times
- Rotating your foot 8 times one way and 8 times the other (repeat with both feet)
- Pull your toes hard up towards your ankle
- Stretch your calf muscles before going to bed
- Try a magnesium or calcium supplement (talk to your doctor first)
- During a cramp, rub the muscle firmly or walk around for a while
You should talk to your doctor or midwife if:
- Cramps are disturbing your sleep
- They are very painful
- You are feeling anxious about them
Carpal tunnel can occur as a result of fluid retention that causes compression on the median nerve in the wrist, resulting in pain and numbness in the fingers and hands. Here are some tips to ease the discomfort:
- Physiotherapy to exercise and release the area
- Gentle hand massage
- Hand exercises, such as circulating the wrist
- Acupuncture and osteopathy to help move fluids around the body
- For severe cases, wrist splints can be worn
Headaches can be triggered by a change in hormones during pregnancy and the increase of blood volume in the body. Most women experience more headaches during the first and third trimesters.
Other causes of headaches during pregnancy can include:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Low blood sugar
- Feeling stressed
- Poor posture, especially as your baby gets bigger
- Depression or anxiety
Migraine is a particular type of headache that mostly occurs on one side of the head which can be moderate or very painful.
Instead of migraine medication (which is not advised), you could try:
- Getting more sleep
- Pregnancy yoga classes or other exercise
- Practicing good posture
- Eating regular, well-balanced meals
- Putting a warm facecloth on your eye and nose area
- Putting a cold pack on the back of your neck
- Taking a bath
- Using a heat pack
- Massaging the neck and shoulders
Migraine triggers that should be avoided may include:
- Chocolate, yogurt, peanuts, bread, sour cream
- Preserved meats
- Aged cheese
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Caffeine (withdrawal from)
- Bright or flickering lights
- Strong smells
- Loud sounds
- Computer or movie screens
- Excessive exercise
- Emotional triggers (arguments, stress)
Check with your doctor or midwife before taking any medication for your headache or migraine.
It is normal for women to have increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy to help prevent any infections traveling up from the vagina to the womb. The amount of discharge may increase throughout pregnancy.
A bloodstained, thick discharge may occur during your last week or so of pregnancy, which is called a "show". It's a sign that the body is starting to prepare for birth, and you may have a few small 'shows' prior to going into labor.
Normal healthy discharge should:
- Be clear and white
- Not smell foul
Tell your midwife or doctor if:
- The discharge is colored (greenish or brownish)
- There is blood in the discharge
- It smells strange
- You feel itchy or sore
- You have any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
If the discharge is colored or smells odd, or if you feel itchy or sore, you may have a vaginal infection such as thrush, which can be treated by your doctor.
Thrush is a yeast infection, usually caused by a multiplied fungus called 'Candida Albicans'. It causes itching, irritation, and swelling of the vagina and surrounding area, sometimes with a creamy, white, chunky discharge.
How to prevent vaginal thrush:
- Wear loose, cotton, or silk underwear and change them often
- Wear tights or stockings as little as possible
- Wash underwear in hot water and pure soap and double rinse to make rid of any irritants
- Change out of damp swim/sportswear as soon as possible after exercise
- If using pads, change them regularly and avoid perfumed or deodorized pads
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes such as jeans as this creates a moist, warm environment that encourages the overgrowth of bacteria & yeasts
- Do not douche — unless it is specifically prescribed by a doctor to treat an infection
- Avoid using soaps, bubble baths, bath salts, perfumes & perfumed talcs around the vaginal area
- Use water or soap substitutes to wash the area
- Wipe from front to the back after going to the toilet to avoid infection
It’s important to talk to your doctor and pharmacist before purchasing or using any treatment products while pregnant. An anti-thrush pessary will likely be prescribed by your doctor for about 3 to 7 days.
There's no sure way to prevent varicose veins, however, they might be less likely to develop if you:
- Stay active and don't sit for too long
- Avoid wearing high heeled shoes
- Put your legs up, higher than your hips if possible, when you are resting or sitting
To improve circulation, try these exercises & tips:
- Calf raises
- Walking in place
- Avoid wearing tight clothes/items around your waist or pelvis
- Wearing compression stockings
- Elevate your legs when the veins are uncomfortable
If you develop varicose veins, they will probably go away by the time your baby is 3 to 4 months old. Surgery is an option to remove affected veins, but consider waiting until one year after the birth of your baby, as the varicose veins may go away without treatment.
Talk to your doctor or midwife if you are worried about varicose veins.
Hormonal changes cause your hair growth cycle to change during pregnancy, often making it thicker or thinner.
- Many women experience their hair feeling thicker around 15 weeks of pregnancy
- Increased estrogen causes the hair to stay longer in the cycle’s growing phase, meaning that less hair falls out than usual
Some women notice more of their hair falling out during pregnancy than normal. This is due to a decrease in estrogen, which may happen as a result of the following:
- stopping the oral contraceptive pill
- experiencing a miscarriage, or stillbirth
- a hormonal imbalance during pregnancy
It is also common for women to experience hair loss after pregnancy when their estrogen returns to normal levels, until around 3-4 months after birth.
Hair growth should return to normal by the time your baby is around 12 months old. Though, speak to your doctor if you feel your hair loss is excessive or your hair growth has not returned to normal by 12 months.
What IS a Doula?
A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
A doula provides comfort measures, assists in pain management, and can make suggestions throughout labor such as the use of water, different positions, or calming techniques to help a mother through the process. A doula can help you write (and stick to!) a birth plan, provide research and information during birth prep, and keep you focused during labor.
A doula is NOT a medical professional, and does not replace your doctor or midwife. A doula does NOT perform medical procedures of any sort (blood pressure checks, cervical checks, administering IV, etc).
Doulas are associated with improved birth outcomes such as the following:
- 30-50% decrease in C-sections
- 25% shorter labor
- 40% decrease in the use of pitocin
- 60% less requests for epidural
- better APGAR scores
- higher breastfeeding rates
- mothers report higher satisfaction with birth experience
While a doula can provide many benefits for women, there may be times that you might decide not to hire one. If you’ve had multiple children, are comfortable with the process, and already have a great support partner, you might be good to go! Some women wants as few people as possible in the room during delivery, and may decide not to bring a doula.
Another consideration is the policy of the birth facility. Especially thanks to COVID restrictions, some facilities may limit the number of support people allowed to 2, or even 1. In this case you’ll have to decide carefully whom you’d like to bring with you. If your partner and perhaps mother are at the top of your list, then there may not be room available for a doula. However, SOME facilities have started to count doulas as “person 0,” so 2 additional support people may still be allowed. Make sure to check with your doctor or midwife for the most up-to-date policies.
In many communities, a search on Google or Facebook is the place to start. If you have a birthing center in the area, they may have a list of local doulas.
If you are located in southeast Missouri or southern Illinois, click here for a list of local doulas.
Dad's Guide to Birth Prep
It's not all about you - you're not the pregnant one.
- BUT, it's not all about your partner, either. You’re a unit, and must navigate pregnancy (not to mention parenthood, when the time comes) as a unit.
- Respect for each other is crucial
- Be open with your partner about your concerns, hopes, and fears about pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, and listen to hers.
- Talk to your friends and family who are dads, and ask questions!
She's growing a whole human, and will likely go through spells of fatigue, sickness, and physical strain. Stepping up help around the house can go a long way.
- Pick up chores around the house - especially ones that require more physical labor or deal with strong smells.
- Run errands.
- Watch YouTube videos for tutorials on massage basics, and help with her achy back or sore feet.
- Be aware of her physical condition, and be ready to give her a steady hand, or to help with socks and shoes once she can't reach them easily.
- Learn how to cook, and have a couple go-to meals that you can quickly and easily make. This will come in handy later, too!
This is the perfect time to cut bad habits/vices as you prepare to welcome baby into the world.
- Ditch or reduce the junkfood. You'll need to set a healthy example soon!
- Quit smoking/vaping, or any other tobacco products.
- Cut back or quit drinking.
- Start exercising. Even a daily walk has huge health benefits!
- Deal with mental health issues. Especially anxiety and anger issues - getting tools to deal with these can REALLY help once kiddo is here.
Women usually bear the brunt of the mental load for a household. Groceries, meal planning, social calendar - it all adds up. Pregnancy and parenthood comes with a LOT of decision making. Help her out.
- Go to doctor appointments with her, and ask questions so you understand what is going on with her body and the baby.
- Help with research and decision making throughout pregnancy.
- When she asks what curtains you like best for the nursery - tell her! Don't just say, "whatever you think."