Building Your Prenatal Support Team
As I write this, I’m 27 weeks pregnant and feeling very lucky to be feeling as great as I do at this point in my pregnancy. I’ve got a fair amount of energy, and aches and pains are minimal, with nothing chronically bothering me. My wonder is… how much does luck have to do with it?
In North America, we are so conditioned to only seek therapeutic treatment if something hurts. We have the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of attitude. But what if I told you that those chronic aches and pains that generally come with pregnancy don’t have to be part of your prenatal experience? We are lucky to have so many types of treatment available to us at arms reach. For many people, they have some coverage for these treatments as well! (If not, there is lots you can do on your own to keep your body feeling good).
So who do we consider when building our prenatal support team?
The most important thing to consider before you even become pregnant is, what are you putting in your body, and how are you setting yourself up for optimal health. A baby is like a little nutrient sucker, and they will take everything they need from your body. You will get whatever is leftover. Seeking the help of a naturopath or nutritionist who can guide you in terms of what supplements to take and how to eat to support a healthy pregnancy is a fantastic first step!
2. Prenatal Fitness Specialist/prenatal specific classes
The next thing we want to ensure is that we are moving in a way that is safe for your body while it goes through all the changes you will experience during pregnancy. The first thing to happen is relaxin will start to circulate through your body, creating some laxity in the tissues. Although you may no have a huge belly right away, your body is already going through changes that need to be taken into consideration when exercising, and your current exercise routine may have to be modified.
Finding a trainer or group class that can be specific for your needs during pregnancy is so key! If nothing else, make sure to get out for regular walks, and learn how to access your pelvic floor muscles so that you can start working to contract and relax those muscles properly as you prepare for childbirth (see number 3 for more on that).
3. Pelvic floor physiotherapist
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is becoming more well known and that is such a great thing! This specific type of physiotherapy should be utilized during pregnancy as well as afterwards to help you find an awareness of your deep core muscles and how to work with your body to support your pregnancy, assist in childbirth, and recover optimally.
I’ve been seeing pelvic physio since before pregnancy, and having an awareness of my deep core muscles is one of the most empowering things I have done, and plays a major role in how great I have been feeling during pregnancy.
Chiropractors may have a bit of a reputation of being aggressive bone crackers, but working with a chiropractor who is knowledgable when it comes to pregnancy has been a game changer for me.
During pregnancy, it’s important that our pelvis is sitting in an optimal position so that baby has room to move freely in your body and make his or her way out of your body! We focus not only on pelvic position/alignment, but whole body alignment, so that I can avoid unnecessary aches and pains that often arise when the body is out of alignment. I also feel really good to know that I’m doing all that I can to set my pelvis in the right position to minimize mechanical issues during labour.
An osteopath works with the body as a whole to find harmony. They take a look at the fascial system, cranio-sacral therapy, and also do some adjustments. The goal is to be able to move freely within your body to prevent pain and allow a nice full range of motion that will definitely come in handy when giving birth.
Acupuncture has been part of my life since before making babies was even a thought in my head. Acupuncture is a great way to ensure that your body is working in harmony. We work on things like digestion, stress, and now, promoting blood flow to baby. Early in my pregnancy, we met weekly to do miscarriage prevention, and then after 12 weeks, we changed it to monthly appointments. Closer to the end of my pregnancy, we will focus on getting ready for labour and delivery, and possibly flipping baby if she’s not in the right position. As your needs change, acupuncture can help. Please ensure that you work with someone who is trained to work with pregnant women!
A doula may not be manipulating your body or telling you what to eat or how to move, but their support is so necessary. They have seen so many births and they know what kind of support you need, as well as what kind of support your partner needs to help you get through labour and delivery. Doulas can also help to advocate for you and help you make difficult decisions, leading up to and during delivery. They can be with you whether you are in a hospital or home, birthing vaginally or via cesarian.
I have a doula and it is so helpful to be able to lean on someone, to ask questions, and to help me feel the most prepared for what’s to come. It not going to be an easy feat, but having someone who has experience with labour and birth makes me feel way more at ease (and my husband shares the same sentiment).
8. Massage therapist
Lastly, a good prenatal massage therapist is a great bit of icing on the cake to take care of your sore muscles as your body adapts to getting heavier and having growing in the midsection. If nothing else, it can be a nice quiet and relaxing time to get pampered.
In all honesty, this is the modality I use the least, simply because it’s not the most relaxing to lie on my side, and I also do a ton of my own myofascial release with foam rollers, balls and dowels.
On top of all these great professionals who can help you have a great pregnancy, it’s also important to have your support team whether that is your husband/partner, close friends or family. Sometimes you just need someone to vent to or to be there for you during tough emotional times. Lean on the people around you who make you feel supported and loved, and distance yourself from people who are negative or draining because ain’t nobody got time for that!
What did/do you do to support your body/mind/soul during pregnancy?