I will always marvel at how naive I was going into pregnancy and labour, and then utterly clueless in those postpartum months. The thing is, knowledge is power, but the reality is that during our journey to motherhood and then navigating our way postpartum, we can often become preoccupied with certain things, that we can forget about – or even be embarrassed – to ask about others. So what does your midwife think you should know about pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum? Here, Kate Mundell, Midwife at Naytal – the newly launched online clinic for women providing one-to-one support for all of your pregnancy & postnatal needs – shares the things you should know about pregnancy – from early pregnancy to the third trimester, through labour and postpartum.
The first trimester is usually the most nauseating time, primarily because of the extraordinary amount of hormones that are now coursing through your body, but also due to the levels of anxiety that this trimester brings with it. Waiting for the first scan can feel like a lifetime. The best advice to combat the morning sickness is to eat little and often, eat foods containing ginger as this can ease nausea and most importantly keep yourself really well hydrated. Morning sickness usually settles down at the beginning of the second trimester and this is your time to ‘bloom’. You should hopefully feel a lot more energised during the second trimester (week 16-28) (enjoy this feeling while it lasts) and start to feel the baby move.
Moving through pregnancy into the third trimester
Moving into the third trimester can be when all those wonderful typical pregnancy symptoms tend to kick in. Things like food cravings, swelling, stretch marks (Striae gravidarum), hot flushes and nesting, but to name a few. Stretch marks are a completely normal side effect of the skin on the abdomen growing and are a perfectly normal occurrence in pregnancy. Sometimes the skin around the abdomen can get a bit itchy, try using a nice cream or oil and massage this into your tummy every day to help keep the skin supple.
The best advice for labour is to treat it like an endurance event, it is vital that you keep yourself energised and hydrated. You wouldn’t attempt a marathon without adequate fuel and water, neither should you attempt labour on an empty stomach. Find some snacks that you can tolerate even when feeling a little nauseous, things like a teaspoon of honey can really help, dried fruit, such as dates or nuts like almonds and cashews can give you the energy boost you need. Sometimes it can be useful to take some isotonic drinks with you, to help maintain levels of certain electrolytes in your system. Just make sure they are not fizzy drinks as these might make you feel a bit sick.
Keep upright and active wherever possible, if you are feeling tired lie on your left-hand side to ensure adequate oxygenation for the baby.
First night taking baby home
This can be the single most overwhelming night of your life. Be prepared for lots of feeding, nappy changing and not a great deal of sleeping. Preparation is key for this first night. Have everything you need in your room or as close to hand as possible…changing mat, nappies, wipes, change of clothes for baby including a long sleeve sleep sack if they are born in winter months, water to drink and possibly even snacks (it’s crazy how thirsty and hungry these sleepless nights can make you, especially if you are breastfeeding).
Things to remember through the first year
Be kind to yourself, learn to ask for help if you need it. You are not alone, there are always people you can reach out to if you are struggling for whatever reason.
Trust your instincts – mother always knows best, listen to your heart and trust in your own ability to parent. Whatever you think is best for YOUR baby is best for YOUR baby. All Mums are superheros – FACT.