I would like to take this opportunity to personally recount what I have learned this year from my experience of being pregnant and giving birth in June to my beautiful baby boy, Peter Benjamin! When I discovered I was pregnant with twins in November, 2013, I was a mix of emotions! I was grateful for this opportunity to experience the joy of motherhood! As well, I was overwhelmed with this huge, unexpected change in life. However, as a whole, the experience has been fantastic, and I am loving every moment of being a mother!
Physically, I felt exhausted, and the nausea all day long was quite severe. Twin pregnancies do tend to cause increased nausea and fatigue. To cope with the fatigue, I decided to reduce my workload by starting work later in the mornings. I allowed myself to go to bed earlier and slept 10 to 12 hours a night. To treat the nausea, I was prescribed the drug diclectin, but this caused severe drowsiness to the point where I had to sleep all day. Instead, I took ginger and vitamin B6 pills before bed (with no side effects) and made sure I ate small meals every two hours. I had intense cravings for fat, so I allowed myself to eat plenty of it! I focused on health fats: Cheese, yogurt, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and gallons of coconut milk ice cream! Emotionally, I felt up and down, but I found exercise really helped. I went to the gym twice a week and saw my personal trainer, and swam or walked 30 minutes three to five days a week. I also did yoga but had to modify the moves to avoid any pressure on my tummy.
I was too nauseous to take many supplements, so I took only the following necessary ones:
Thorne Prenatal Vitamins: These pure vitamins are free of additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Beware of some mainstream marketed prenatal vitamins. Read all your labels carefully. Supplements sold at health food stores and by naturopathic doctors tend to have fewer added chemicals.
Thorne Folic Acid-5-MTHF: Folic acid is essential to take while pregnant to prevent neural tube defects. Many people are lacking an enzyme to convert folic acid into its active form. This folic acid supplement is highly absorbable because it is entirely broken down already.
Vitamin D: 2000IU/day. This is essential to take while pregnant.
In January, 2013, I had an unfortunate occurrence during an ultrasound. One of the twins was no longer functioning. I went to see a pre-natal specialist in Victoria and was told that the cause of the demise was unknown. On the positive note, the surviving twin was doing just fine and I was told I had nothing to worry about. My twins had been in two separate amniotic sacs so they were most likely fraternal and did not share the same blood supply. Therefore, there was no harm done to the surviving fetus (this would not have been the case if the twins had been monozygous-in the same amniotic sac). I was told I could carry both twins to term and that the demised fetus would be absorbed by my body and come out as part of the placenta.
The shock was enormous, but I decided to stay positive for my surviving twin’s sake. I realized that things do happen for a reason, and for whatever reason, both emotionally and physically, my healthy 38 year old body was unable to carry twins to term at this time.
Physically, I felt fantastic during this trimester. I was thankful that the nausea suddenly disappeared at 12 weeks. I also felt very calm, relaxed, and happy! The hormone progesterone is like a natural anti-anxiety hormone and it is soaring while pregnant. My digestion had never been better and my food sensitivities literally disappeared! Also, my energy was back to normal and I was able to work my regular morning hours. I felt so good, that I was actually enjoying pregnancy very much.
Since I was no longer nauseated, I added the following vitamins to my supplement regime:
Calcium-Magnesium: I took this at night before bed to prevent muscle cramps, moodiness, and to help the growing baby’s bone development.
Vitamin C: 2000mg/day. Being pregnant increases susceptibility to colds and flu, and mucus production is increased. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and breaks down excess mucus. As an added benefit, it also helps prevent stretch marks!
Fish Oils: 1 gram/day. This is very important for the brain development of the fetus. Also, it decreases likelihood of post-partum depression in the mother.
Thorne Ferrasorb (iron supplement): It is important to test Ferritin (iron stores) while pregnant because iron levels often decrease as the body increases blood supply to the fetus. Taking iron really helped boost my energy levels. I ate wild game such as elk and bison, or organic beef three days a week as well, to increase iron stores.
I found this last trimester challenging because the extra weight on my abdomen was uncomfortable. I was no longer able to go for walks because the painful pressure on my pubic bone from the extra belly weight was unbearable. However, I kept seeing my personal trainer, Nomi Samson, at the gym twice a week to focus on strengthening my body for the birth.
To prepare for the birth, I read the book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. This book is an excellent read to help anyone prepare the mind to think positively before childbirth. Written by a midwife, the book narrates the story of countless women’s experiences with natural childbirth. The book focuses on positive outlook and emphasizes that stress at the time of birth can literally stop the process of cervical dilation, complicating and slowing down the birth process.
I had a doula/coach help me through the birth and delivered at the Port Alberni West Coast General Hospital. My experience couldn’t have been better. The nurses were so kind and supportive and the obstetrician made me laugh which helped relax me. My personal doula coach, Shelley Royendyk, was absolutely amazing. Her soft voice telling me to breathe and relax helped immensely. During contractions, she had me lean over a birthing ball, which relieved the pain somewhat, and she kept me focused. I did not need any pain medications and I delivered two hours after being induced. I attribute my great labour to the tremendous support I received from my doula, my positive thinking, and regular strength training with my personal trainer throughout my pregnancy.
My experience of being a mother has been a huge learning curve, very challenging and the most fulfilling experience of my life. Stay tuned for my upcoming articles about breast-feeding and solid food introductions.