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 doctor, Dr. Tracy Malone, ND of Conceive Health, is always in my corner. She helped me overcome epic depression, survive an ectopic pregnancy, achieve this healthy pregnancy, and is now helping me through with counsel on nutrition, proper supplementation, regular blood work to assess for deficiencies and irregularities, as well as treatments for sleepless nights, crampy legs, terrible morning (all day) sickness and headaches. She is also there whenever I need to figure out any questions I may have. I do the same for my fertility patients. Us NDs are here with you every step of the way!
2. Midwife: I had worked closely with my OB/GYN, Dr. Yaakov Bentov, MD of TRIO Fertility after the loss of my 1st pregnancy last spring to ensure that this 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 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 am currently meeting with her once each month 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.
3. Naturopathic Doula: Working with a doula through my pregnancy, labour and delivery 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 doula, Dr. Rachel Schwartzman, ND is also a naturopathic doctor, 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.
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, and my ND does do it, but for me it made more sense to see someone completely dedicated to this and close to where I live. Since successfully conceiving, I have been seeing 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. Should I need her, Anne can also help induce my labour and turn the baby if it is breech.
5. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist: I began working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist, Anita Vandenberg, 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 will be returning soon to work with my physiotherapist 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 plan on purchasing
6. Pre Natal Pilates, Fitness and/or Yoga Instructor: In the meantime, before seeing my pelvic floor physiotherapist, I have been using the Bump Method pre-natal pilates videos developed by Nikki Bergen. I use the 50-minute workout once each week. I also worked with a personal trainer at the gym to learn how to properly adjust my workouts during pregnancy. I plan on incorporating prenatal yoga in my 3rd trimester, too.
7. Hypnobirthing: My husband and I are taking this awesome labour preparation course with my friend and colleague, Dr. Aisling Lanigan, ND, who is also a doula. This course will teach us how to stay calm through labour, release fear, and breathe. It's like advanced Lamaze. I am also taking Dr. Corinne Brown, ND's Love Your Labour course to help me be adequately prepared for the big event!
8. Lactation Consultant: Both my midwife and doula will be able to provide guidance on breastfeeding before and after baby is born, but in the meantime, I am also taking 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.