Preparing for the birth of a child can be an overwhelming experience. Your body is changing in remarkable ways (okay - sometimes not so remarkable), your to-do list is growing, and your energy level may not be what it used to be to get all of this stuff done.
I spent the first few months (when I wasn't puking) creating an action plan and forming my team to help me through pregnancy, labour and delivery, and post-partum care. I thought you might benefit from my plan of action to help you shape your own:
1. Naturopathic Doctor: My naturopathic doctors have always been in my corner. I have worked with a few over the years to help me overcome depression, manage anxiety, survive an ectopic pregnancy, achieve two healthy pregnancies, and help me throughout the pregnancies and post-partum with counsel on nutrition, proper supplementation, regular blood work to assess for deficiencies and irregularities, as well as treatments for sleepless nights, cramp-y legs, terrible morning (all day) sickness and headaches. Us NDs are here with you every step of the way!
2. Midwife or OB/GYN: I had worked closely with my OB/GYN, Dr. Yaakov Bentov, MD of TRIO Fertility after the loss of my 1st pregnancy in the spring of 2015 to ensure that my first viable pregnancy was not going to be ectopic, too. At the 8 week mark (and after two ultrasounds) he gave me the all clear to choose my care provider. Since Dr. Bentov focuses on reproductive endocrinology, he no longer delivers babies. I decided to go with a midwife for my first pregnancy because I wanted to ensure thorough, natural care with as few interventions as possible. My midwife, Mei Luo, RM, works with Family Care Midwives in Vaughan. I met with her frequently to discuss family history, my health history, nutrition, pre-natal care, home birth education (although, I have chosen to have a hospital birth), pain management techniques, and, of course, to get measured, weighed, requisitioned (for ultrasounds and testing), and to hear baby's beautiful heartbeat. I feel very supported and cared for, and love knowing that she will be in attendance at my birth. She was present at the birth of my first child, but did not deliver because I developed pregnancy-induced hypertension. My care was transferred to the OB/GYN on staff. My midwife stayed with me, and attended to me after the birth. I also had frequent check ups following the birth up to the 6-week mark.
For my 2nd pregnancy, I was not able to work with midwives due to my high-risk status given my previous pregnancy-induced hypertension issue. I worked with an OB/GYN from the start of the pregnancy with my son. It was certainly a different experience than working with midwives given that visits were shorter, I wasn’t able to call with questions, he did not deliver my child, and there is only one follow-up visit at the 6-week mark. For this reason, I was determined to work with a doula throughout my pregnancy and for delivery. I wanted to a consistent care provider who would also be present at the birth. See more on this next.
3. Naturopathic Doula: Working with a doula throughout my pregnancies, labour and deliveries was never an option! It was always a must! I knew I would need someone to coach me (and my husband) through this experience. My doulas have also been naturopathic doctors, which means I get all the benefits of naturopathic medicine during my labour - acupuncture, botanicals, homeopathy, and more. Plus, I get all the benefits of a doula - coaching, support, pre- & post-natal care for me and baby. Often, working with a naturopathic doula will mean your care is covered by extended medical benefits under your ND coverage. Bonus!
4. Acupuncturist: I have been working with Anne Matthews, LAc of Energy Tree Acupuncture since fall of 2015. I initially saw her when I was going completely out of my mind studying for a huge exam. After I completed my exam, I started seeing her for acupuncture to increase my chances of conceiving. Acupuncture is certainly something I am trained in as an ND, but for me it made more sense to see someone completely dedicated to this and close to where I live. After successfully conceiving my daughter, I worked with Anne once each month to keep me balanced during my pregnancy. In fact, her treatments helped me overcome incredible nausea, backaches, and headaches all related to the little human growing in my womb. I also worked with to Anne to help induce my labour for both my daughter and my son.
5. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist: I began working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist in the fall of 2015 to ensure there was no residual scarring after my ectopic pregnancy. I was already having issues with feelings of heaviness and peeing a little when sneezing, and I did not want these to continue during pregnancy or after. I continued to work with her throughout both pregnancies to keep my pelvic floor balanced, strong, and leak-free before and after delivery, and to avoid diastasis recti - the dreaded splitting of abdominal muscles leading the "mummy tummy". The Ab System is also something I also have used after both pregnancies.
6. Pre Natal Pilates, Fitness and/or Yoga Instructor: I also used the Bump Method pre-natal pilates videos developed by Nikki Bergen. I use the 50-minute workout twice each week. I also worked with a personal trainer at the gym to learn how to properly adjust my workouts during pregnancy. Eventually, I switched to Natalie Hodson’s at-home pregnancy workouts.
7. Hypnobirthing: My husband and I took this awesome labour prep course. This course taught us how to stay calm through labour, release fear, and breathe. It's like advanced Lamaze. I am also took Dr. Corinne Brown, ND's Love Your Labour course to help me be adequately prepared for the big event!
8. Lactation Consultant: My midwives and doulas were able to provide excellent guidance on breastfeeding before and after my babies were born, but I also took an online course called Prenatal Breastfeeding Companion developed by my colleague Dr. Laura Kent-Davidson, ND, who is also a lactation consultant.
9. Meditation: MY DAILY SAVING GRACE! I have been using Andy Puddicombe's Headspace meditation app for years. He has a specially designed 30-day program for Pregnancy, which I have been using daily to get in the right headspace - literally. It helps me enter my day calmly and gives me time to connect with baby.
As you can see, I have taken a headfirst dive into preparing my prenatal team. It's important to me to be surrounded by love, support and excellent guidance as I make my way into motherhood.
Feel free to drop me a line about your prep or questions.