Perhaps from the moment you are planning on having a baby, or from the news you are having a baby, all the way to daily life with a toddler, I find it useful to have some hired support around these transitions. Why? Because life is hard enough as it is! Why not have some hired specialists surround you?! You're worth it!
Now, this is not an exhaustive and mandatory list. You may subtract or add ones I haven't considered. Listen to your inner wisdom. I am hoping and wishing, this gives you pause to thought, consider, reach out, explore, research, and educate. I'm a strong believer that healthier mothers, create healthier families, that will create a healthier, kinder world. And really, who doesn't want that?
I am organizing this path into Motherhood in three cateorgies: fertility + life, pregnancy and postpartum. Most of these specialists you can use throughout your lifespan though!
Fertility and Life's Specialists:
Acupunture, Naturopath/Ayurveda Physician, massage therapist, stress reduction
Massage Therapist, Therapist, Midwife, Doula, Yoga and Pilates Instructor
all of the above, Internal PT, Lactation Consultant, Community (okay, so that's not a professional but, there are tools you can use, please read on)
Now, let us pause, and consider what I've suggested. I'm suggesting "how many professionals to add to my calendar while I'm working, raising a baby, and trying to keep sane?" I can hear you questioning. I know it's a lot. I wasn't prepared for it myself after having my baby. I would like to think if someone whispered in my ear what my months would look like I would have better prepared me.
Many of these services, if you are lucky enough are covered by your insurance! Definitely worth a phone call to see if you need a referral from your PCP, or just head on in. Where some are not, it's still my belief it's worth the investment. You, your body, your mind, your baby, are all worth an inquiry.
Fertility and Life's Specialist
Acupunture, Naturopath/Ayurveda Physician
This is the time to be your most healthy! How can you reduce your stress levels? Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage may be great ways to have support in managing day to day stress. Eating a mostly plant based diet (the Mediterranean diet is still known as one of the best ways of eating), and falling in love with your favorite mode of movement are also sources of tools to keep healthy and sane.
A Naturopath and/or Ayurveda physicians can also look at your current baseline and prescribe supplements and vitamins to encourage your body to be at balance and peace. Your Naturopath may take blood work as well to monitor hormone levels. These physicans take a more holistic look at you and can be a great source of support to become pregnant if you are having trouble conceiving or have had miscarriages.
If you have had a miscarriage it may be worth looking into grief counseling. www.pregnancyafterlosssupport.com is a great resource to check out. Our bodies tend to remember trauma even when we feel like it's not in our consciousness. It might be worth the time to reflect, mourn, and process properly. When trauma stays with the body it can creep up again in unexpected ways during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Check in with you.
Massage Therapist, Therapist, Midwife, Doula, Yoga and Pilates Instructor
You will find yourself with a whole new body! New aches, pains, growth, sensations, hormones, all sorts of stuff! Take it a day at a time. Try to rest, and be in awe. You are growing a human being!! I used a massage therapist when my SI joint became sensitive during my 2nd trimester. The massage therapist completely helped the joint become much more happy and symmetrical after a couple sessions! Worth every penny.
I am a strong believer that EVERYONE needs a therapist in their back pocket. It's a profound transition into motherhood that doesn't get a lot of support or time to reflect. It will change your relationships, it will change how you view yourself, and the fact that 1 out of 5 (the stats actually suggest out of 4 women. Women may not want to answer questions honestly in fear of having their babies removed from their care) women suffer/manage mood disorders (depression, and anxiety being primary examples) post baby. I would heavily consider seeking out counseling. If you do have thoughts of harming yourself, or the baby please do reach out. You are not alone. Here's the number for King County's Crisis Line (https://www.crisisconnections.org 866-427-4747, and the National Lifeline (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org 800-273-8255) for those outside of King County.
I used a midwife for my pregnancy. Many hospitals now offer them as opposed to the traditional Western approach with an OB/GYN. I did deliver in the hospital and for me this was the best of both worlds, the midwife treated me holistically and the pregnancy as a phase of life and not an illness yet, to have the NCIU down the hall if the baby was in distress made me more at ease. Midwives tend to help educate their patients which will then help patients/women better advocate, empower, and prepare themselves.
Although, I personally did not use a doula in my first pregnancy, IF we have a second I am definitely squirreling some money away to have one present! A doula is a objective 3rd party in the room during the delivery and if you have the resources to have a postpartum doula, she will be able to assist with the day to day things post delivery. Need help cleaning, preparing meals, have assistance taking those 3x a day baths for your hemmoroids.... She'll be there for you!
I also saw a private Pilates instructor to work out some tension, and became stronger for the delivery as well as carring a 7-8lb baby (+ car seat) all over the place. This was important to me because I had different goals and needs than the general population in a group class setting.
A yoga therapist can also be very healing emotionally, and physically.
all of the above, Internal PT, Lactation Consultant, Community
Ok ladies, here's the tough love: It's not normal to leak. So those of you living with a little pee leakage during laughter, coughing, sneezing etc, there's hope to correct it! A knowledgable Pilates and/or Yoga Instructor can help instruct you how to find your deep inner core muscles. If that doesn't work, or improve, an Internal PT may be a great resource to help diagnosis any pelvic floor issues or dysfunction/sensitivity. Pelvic floor issues can also manifest in lower back pain, pelvic pain, pain during sex, leakage (urine or fecal).
Breastfeeding can be beautiful and stressful. My personal story with breastfeeding was met with a lot of anxiety and stress. Having a lactation consultant and a wonderful acupuncturist was so helpful, I couldn't image what it would have been like without them.
When you are in the thick of it, it's so important to have common ground with others that are in the thick of it too. You'll feel less alone, understood, and may have a safe place to express concerns, thoughts, and feelings. PEPS groups, MOMS clubs, MOPS, Meetup, Yoga classes, might be a great place to connect with other moms near you. Facebook and Instagram can potentially have benefits of connection but, I want to caution you in using them heavily. Comparison, competition, stress, and more research is being published about how social media causes more mental illness than it may be worth. Everyone is different though. Listen to that inner wisdom.
Remember, most of these professionals are beneficial to see during all phases of this and many other life's transitions! Acupuncture, massage therapy, Naturopath, a regular mind-body movement practice and therapy are great ways to check in with you, your body, and your mind.
Other support considerations:
Mommy and me classes
Mommy and me classes get you out of the house, offer routine, meet other mamas, socialize babies, and maybe add some movement that is designed for your unique postpartum body.
Parents, and chosen family
I've been lucky enough to find myself with a very progressive father. He helps with fix it jobs, grocery runs, dog walks and attention, as well as grown comfortable watching the baby for an hour or so, so I can go to a class, or take a shower or just be apart for a wee bit. This is especially useful on days my partner is gone for the entire day. It also helps me keep myself partially together. Ask for help! Your chosen family, friends, and family members may want to help you but, looking for the green light and direction from you.
I hope you find this blog helpful and empowering.
On March 23rd at 1:30pm at Longevita Yoga and Pilates I'll be hosting a panel discussion with some of the above professionals! If you are interested in getting to know them, ask questions, meet them in person this is a great time to do so! Some of them I have personally used, and the others have been recommended by people in the Auburn community.