The pregnancy diaries: The first 6 months
I am now almost 6 months into my first pregnancy and cannot believe there is only a few months left until I meet my baby. Whilst life pre-pregnancy feels like a distant memory, on the same hand it feels like the time has flown and I’m not sure if it even feels real yet. An actual human is going to come out of me. Does it ever hit you?!
Being a pregnancy and pelvic floor physio has given me a great insight into the world of pregnancy and motherhood long before I even thought of having my own children. I have learnt so much through my studies about the physical changes you can expect and my clients have given me a fascinating insight into the reality of motherhood. However it is still so unique to have your own personal experience.
I personally LOVE to read stories about other women’s pregnancies and births… so if you’re a crazy-lady-pregnancy-birth junkie like myself then you will enjoy this!
Early stages of trying to conceive and pregnancy…
The decision to actually try for a baby took months of to-ing and fro-ing.
I had always wanted children and to be a mother (in fact there was talk at one stage of 6 kids!) however when is the perfect time?
How established and “set-up” should you be before you have children?
I pondered this decision almost every day for about 5 months before I finally got in tune with what my heart was telling me.
My head was telling me “Maybe you should travel more”… “Launch your business first”… “Enjoy your 20’s!”
But my heart was saying “I really really really want to start my own little family”. Finally my husband and I agreed that yes in fact we were going to leap forward into this “starting a family” business.
Luckily for us, we fell pregnant very quickly. I felt so fortunate and blessed that it happened so quickly. I had already done a lot of reading and preparation around being in the best position to conceive. I had started prenatal vitamins, had been having regular acupuncture to regulate my cycles (I highly recommend this… I saw a Chinese medicine practitioner) and was tracking my ovulation. I followed everything on my “trying to conceive checklist” and wah-la we got there!
However it turns out… it’s one milestone to conceive… it’s another milestone for it to stick.
Unfortunately we went on to experience 2 miscarriages.
Now intially I was hesitant to write about this as it feels too personal to discuss in a public arena, however when I miscarried I scoured the internet for blogs and stories of other women who had also miscarried.
I wanted reassurance that it was going to be OK, and that other women went on to have more babies and that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Miscarriage is still a very taboo topic, many women don’t talk to anyone about it and suffer in silence. If my blog can be another story of positivity and light for some women going through this then I’m super happy to share. I was fortunate to have an amazing husband to go on this journey with and now we are both so super grateful to have this crazy little ninja inside me.
I also had a wonderful obstetrician who reassured us that whilst miscarriage is common (1 in 3!) there was still a lot of hope. He also acknowledged how devastating it was for us and never down played the significance of losing a potential child. We left that appointment with him feeling so peaceful and super optimistic.
If you do ever need support, please speak to your doctor or close friends and family. You might also like to check out Sands which is an organisation to support women through miscarriage and infant loss.
First trimester feels…
Now.. on to the first trimester. Mine might have been different to others in that because of our history with miscarriage we weren’t too excited or feeling celebratory until we hit that 12 week mark. We needed confirmation before we could get too hopeful.
I was anxious, but I mostly just tried not to think about it too much. I reminded myself that it was out of my control and I needed to surrender to “what will be will be”.
I kept myself busy with work and tried to remain optimistic. I remember a lovely client of mine telling me, after suffering a tragic loss with her baby, that her attitude was to enjoy each week of pregnancy as long as it may last because it could be taken at any time. So I went in with this attitude.
Hot tip: If you don’t want your local cafe baristas to start guessing that you’re pregnant, don’t order decaf lattes at 7am. Also no-one believes that all of a sudden you’re trying to “detox”.
Fortunately by week 12, our ultrasound was perfectly normal and we could breathe a sigh of relief. I wouldn’t exactly say we celebrated but I certainly felt relief.
Thankfully I only experienced mild symptoms during my first trimester. This sounds like a really good thing (which it was!), but when you’re worried that you may miscarry again, you find yourself wishing you felt a little more nauseous… a little more “pregnant”.
I felt hungover or seedy until week 14 but that’s about it. I also would gag if I smelt strong scents first thing in the morning, but that was easily fixed by not opening the fridge at 6am!
Hot tip: McDonalds hash browns solve everything when it comes to morning sickness!
Another hot tip: Don’t book your regular Brazilian wax in the first trimester unless you plan on crying in pain. Everything “down there” becomes a lot more sensitive!
Something I did struggle with in the first trimester was the adjustment to taking life a little bit slower.
I am used to being on the go… working hard… ticking things off my to do list… being productive.
Once nausea and fatigue (oh I didn’t mention this before… pregnancy fatigue is so different to normal fatigue!) hit, I just lost all my mojo and energy.
This really kicked my butt mentally as I wanted to go, go, go but my mind and body were saying no, no, no.
It took me a few weeks to accept that I needed to listen to my body, drop the guilt around not “working so hard” and just accept this new reality. I figure it’s best to learn this lesson now because once this baby arrives, I will certainly have to adjust my expectations on what I call a productive day!
Hot tip: Pregnancy is a season of life. It too shall pass, so you might as well accept it for all its glory and challenges because one day it will all just be a distant memory.
Another hot tip: Growing an actual human is amazing and enough of a “job” without feeling the pressure of working at the same pace that you used to. Drop the expectations!
Second trimester vibes…
Moving into the second trimester saw an absence of seediness and the introduction of reflux.
I apologise to all my past pregnant clients who told me they were suffering with reflux, as I don’t feel I ever gave enough sympathy.
Reflux is the devil! If the theories stick true then this little Italiano baby is coming out with a full mop of hair!
Hot tip: Reflux tablets or chewies have been my lifesaver so far.
Another hot tip: Even if you’re craving the spiciest of spicy Thai curries. Don’t do it. It’s just not worth it.
Second trimester also saw the old “constipation” rear it’s ugly head.
I’m a pelvic floor physio… of course we’re going to talk about bowels!
It all came to a head when I hadn’t been to the toilet in 4 days. I was getting desperate. I tried drinking water, going for walks, eating prunes, eating kiwifruit, eating liquorice, taking a pregnancy safe laxative and finally (under my Mum’s persistence) decided to knock back a large jar of prune juice.
I finally went to the toilet on day 5. I was over the moon!
I text my husband and my Mum the exciting news and they were (hilariously) so happy for me and my pregnancy bowels.
Since this wonderful episode I have been taking metamucil each morning and making sure I drink 2L of water every day. I also try to walk/exercise/move my body at least 5 days per week. Touch wood… no troubles yet!
Hot tip: Metamucil doesn’t taste as bad as I expected. Definitely worth a try if you need more regularity. It is just psyllium husk with flavouring.
Now whilst we’re on the topic of pelvic health… let’s talk about incontinence.
I talk about the pelvic floor every day.
I coach women on how to improve the strength of their pelvic floor every day.
I also know that I do in fact have a very strong and efficient pelvic floor contraction.
That was until sometime around week 16. When I had a full bladder. And I was on my 10th sneeze (note: I don’t sneeze like a lady… my sneezes are violent!) and wah-la.
I wet myself.
I was mortified. How can a pelvic floor physio have incontinence?! Already!? I’m only 4 months into pregnancy!
Now it was only a few drops but it certainly was enough of a shock to my system.
Fortunately I have been safe since this episode. I do my pelvic floor exercises 3-4 times/day in a variety of different positions. I alternate between endurance holds (up to 20 seconds) and “quick flicks”.
Hot tip: Don’t panic if you sneeze-pee. So long as you are doing your pelvic floor exercises correctly and you’ve seen a women’s health physio, things will be OK!
I have enjoyed staying active during this pregnancy. My current exercise routine is a combination of walking, my own Pregnancy Posse workouts (stay tuned!), gentle strength training at the gym, reformer pilates and personal training with a women’s health trainer.
I have definitely been listening to my body. Sometimes my lower abs are sore when I’m walking, so I stop. Sometimes my right lower pelvis hurts, so I stop.
I have also been getting regular physio treatments with a friend (perks of the job!) which are so helpful at loosening up all of my tight spots and keeping my body in check.
I also try to stretch or foam roll most nights as I have certainly stiffened up in a lot of my spinal and pelvic muscles.
Quick pregnancy FAQ’s…
Cravings: First trimester was hash browns, fried chips and oranges. Second trimester Thai curries (although my reflux isn’t a fan).
Sex of the baby: Surprise!
Names picked?: Yes…1 girl name, 1 boy name. Done! No more decision fatigue!
Sleep: I’m waking usually once for the bathroom however recently I’ve been having pregnancy nightmares (this is also a thing!) which have woken me full of panic at 1am! If I’m naughty and eat a large meal right before bed… guarantee I’ll be up with reflux. My solution on these nights is to prop myself with a million pillows and sleep semi-upright.
Best part of pregnancy: Feeling the baby kick. So surreal. So amazing.
Worst part of pregnancy: The fatigue.
Weirdest part of pregnancy: Pregnancy brain has really baffled me. I forgot what the knee was called the other day. I’m a physio… I can’t be forgetting basic anatomy!
Pregnancy myths: Lathering yourself with oil will not prevent stretch marks. I started from day dot and I got stretch marks on my hips and breasts by week 20!
First baby movements: Week 14 I felt flutters at the Book of Mormon musical. Obviously this baby has a thing for politically incorrect humour!
Final hot tips for the first half of pregnancy…
- Buy maternity jeans as soon as you can. Best thing ever! I’ll be surprised if I ever stop wearing them after the baby arrives.
- Maternity underwear (also a thing?!) are so damn comfortable. Get some!
- Buy a maternity bra. Your new size may shock you but boy will it feel better once it’s fitted properly.
- Get your partner to start practicing massage on you early in the pregnancy. Firstly, they will often need direction and guidance as to how to do it properly. Secondly, you will need some soft tissue release as you get stiffer in the later stages of pregnancy. Thirdly, you’re carrying their child… it’s the least they can do! My husband still has a lot to learn but I’m hoping I can train him well before labour comes around!
I have been listening to plenty of birth podcasts and I am really enjoying hearing real life birth stories. A sample of what I listen to are Australian Birth Stories, Hello Bump and The Birth Hour (just to name a few).
I am not nervous for birth. I am strangely feeling excited (I may definitely change my attitude towards this once contractions start!). I have also being teaching active birth classes for many years so birth is not a scary or new concept for me.
Mothering a newborn… well that’s definitely a new concept for me.
I have no idea how to do this and the idea of trying to settle a screaming baby terrifies me. So I have decided to be proactive and I have been reading and listening to podcasts about the early stages of a newborn’s life (Year One is great!). All about sleep and feeding and settling.
Obviously you can only prepare so much, but I now feel less scared about the “afterwards”.
Many of my clients told me they did a lot of preparation for labour and birth and then were shell shocked with how to deal with a newborn so they wish they had prepared more for that. I’m trying to learn from the wisdom of these women!
I have also booked in to the hospital birthing classes and a Calm Birth class. I will write a blog post about all these things as I near closer to my due date!
It continues to blow my mind how much of a miracle pregnancy is. The female body is so incredible and being able to grow another human is something I’ll never quite grow used to.
Stay tuned for the 6-9 month pregnancy diary update!
xo Physio Laura