I consider myself a pretty laid back mom. After four kids, you kind of realize what you need and don’t need, what’s essential and what’s unnecessary. So, I thought of writing out some take it or leave it tips for would-be and hope-to-be moms…for moms “in the making.”
These are things that have been helpful for me, but at the end of the day, every mom is different, so read on, but take in to consideration your personal circumstances and what works best for you.
I am going to be cliche…”Health is wealth.”
Be fit before you get pregnant. Pregnancy really takes a toll on you. It’s going to demand mental, emotional and physical fortitude. So prepare early. Generally speaking, you “reap what you sow,” as the book of Galatians puts it. Control what you can but be open to God’s will for your pregnancy plans.
The women I know who tend to have less complications in pregnancy are women who exercise, mind their diet, and have a healthy lifestyle. They also regain their pre-pregnancy form much quicker and easier than those who have no muscle tone…especially in the abdomen.
You can be stick thin before you are pregnant but if you have neglected your core muscles, it will be a challenge to get a flat tummy after. It’s possible, but you will have to work a whole lot harder. So do those crunches regularly while you aren’t pregnant. Of course, don’t forget to kiegel, kiegel, kiegel! You don’t want your bladder falling out either. Hey, this can happen!
If you are trying to have a baby and having a hard time conceiving, try the following: start getting into shape, sleep earlier, stop drinking and smoking, take vitamins and supplements, reduce stress by going on a vacation, switch to a healthier diet, work on your romance, and have sex often. Forget the fertility calendar and enjoy intimacy with your spouse instead of using sex as a means to get pregnant. If that still doesn’t work, then consider a fertility doctor. But do what you can first, naturally, and see where God leads you from there.
When you are finally pregnant, continue to eat well and stay fit. Too much weight gain or too little can be detrimental for your baby, and you don’t want to get gestational diabetes. Be wise about what you eat. Stay away from foods high in sugar (as much as possible.) Sigh. Pastries, white rice, chocolate. Darn, I just ate two vanilla wafers!
You can treat yourself when you are out for dinner or at a party. But don’t keep tempting treats in your pantry or refrigerator. If you don’t buy it, you won’t think about it. If it’s not in the refrigerator or pantry to call out to you, it will be easier to avoid eating the bad stuff. Stock up on fruit and healthy snacks instead, so when you get a craving, your only option is something good for you.
My sugar cravings kicked in earlier this time around and my mistake was making fudge. Because it was available, I would fantasize about eating it and then give in! After my first trimester, I stopped this bad habit but it is still a temptation…
The other day, I said to the kids, “Hey, let’s make some fudge!” But, Elijah, my 10 year old “conscience” said, “Mom, if you make it, you are going to eat it, even if you say you are just going to eat a little bit!” Then he added, “If you gain too much weight, it’s your fault.” Strict! Okay, okay, I get it. No fudge. I will wait until I am breastfeeding and burning 500 extra calories a day. Woohoo!
A trick I have employed in curbing the craving for sugar is eating small meals throughout the day and drinking a ton of water. The other day, I had a camote for a snack. I did put some butter on it, but it was much healthier than something like a cupcake. Sometimes I will have a banana, prunes, or glass of milk in between meals. Prunes are great because they can help facilitate your digestive processes which tend to get cloggy due to progesterone.
As for fitness, you can stay active during pregnancy especially if you were already exercising before, but be realistic. If you are not such a spring chicken, don’t go running in a marathon. You can get back to a more strenuous work-out program after you give birth. Walking, swimming, yoga are some exercise options that won’t kill your back or put you in danger of falling over. The change of balance due to the weight of your growing belly can make certain exercises dangerous.
Even though pregnancy limits your exercise options, as much as possible, avoid being sedentary. Unfortunately, I had to hit the pause button on exercising while we didn’t have househelp and I felt the difference. More water-retention, digestion issues, and sluggishness. Now that our househelp is back, I can start again. At 25 weeks, I may not be as light on my feet but I can at least get my blood circulating with moderate levels of exercise.
If you want to track your weight gain, you can use this link: weight gain estimator
to see if you are within a healthy range based on your starting point.
YOUR DOCTOR AND CHILDBIRTH:
Choose an Ob-Gynecologist who is pro-natural birth. And if you can tolerate it, give birth without medication. Go Lamaze or Bradley. You will be more engaged, alert and so will your baby. Check out Natural Birth to get inspired to go natural.
I talked to Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan just this afternoon who suggested I consider a water birth. She gave me the contact information of Deborah Gutafson (0906-440-7059 / firstname.lastname@example.org) who has been a midwife for the last 20 years. Maricel did it and said it was wonderful but I don’t know if I am that brave! I will consult my doctor about it first. Since I tend to be the kind of person that likes to know what I am getting into or I won’t do it, I may just stick to the Bradley method again.
Although I am an advocate of natural birth methods, you need to trust your doctor. It’s possible that at the last moment, your doctor may detect that your baby is in distress or that there is a risk to your health and baby. In which case, a C-section may be necessary. So find a doctor whom you are absolutely comfortable with, someone who will consider your preferences for birth but whom you can trust to tell you what is best for you and your baby.
I was blessed to be cared for by a doctor who has delivered all four of my babies without anesthesia. I am calling this out because it’s not easy for a doctor to wait around as you labor. After all, their time is valuable. But she did not make me feel like I was inconveniencing her. Since my births have been so pleasant with her, I also endorse her as an Ob-Gynecologist to friends. (Dr. Regina Capistrano – St. Luke’s Global at 789-7700 loc. 7315, St. Luke’s Q.C. at 723-1082, and Mega Clinic in SM Megamall).
One of the reasons why I prefer natural birth is it is a very uncomplicated way to bring a baby into this world. Sure, it hurts, but God designed a woman’s body to birth babies naturally. There are exceptions but he has equipped us with the unique capacity to work through the pain and triumph over it.
The Bradley method focuses on the contraction as a positive pain, while Lamaze involves choosing a focal point and using breathing techniques to distract you from the pain. I have tried both and even done a combination, with Edric by my side as my coach. And even if I dread the pain, I wouldn’t want to go any other way.
One economic benefit of giving birth naturally is that you don’t have to stay in the hospital too long, assuming there are no complications with your birth and baby. Edric usually checks us out by the third day.
What about maternity insurance? If you are the type that wants to feel secure about your options, I recommend Globalhealth and Bupa. The cost will depend upon your age.
To give you a benchmark, my sister-in-law is in her mid-thirties, so she will spend 110k total for two years. Since she delivers by c-section, it makes sense for her to pay this amount because she still pays more without insurance. With this insurance, her coverage is up to $8,000 for maternity, but her total health coverage is 2 million dollars.
For more information, contact Betty Sy at 9649192 Globe Duo or email her at email@example.com. (Betty didn’t ask me to promote her but I know she takes very good care of her clients.) She herself has three daughters. And since she has Antiphospholipid Antibodies Syndrome (APAS), she has very high maternity costs so getting the insurance for herself has been worth it. I didn’t opt for it because we pay less than 80k for giving birth and hospital expenses.
Breastfeed! Don’t feel badly if it seems like you don’t have milk at the start. It usually comes in after three or four days. Before then, just keep letting your baby latch on and suck. It will stimulate milk flow and production. And they will get the colostrum in the first few days, which is very important for their immunity. The size of a newborn tummy is like a quail egg. It doesn’t take much to fill it so don’t worry about them starving. Just feed them every 1.5 to 2 hours after you give birth and eventually, your milk will come in.
Read all about the benefits of breastfeeding here: Why breastfeeding is important
If you want to increase your breast milk production take malunggay capsules, drink lots of fluids, eat soupy dishes, feed on demand, and pump regularly. Personally, I don’t like pumping. It makes me feel like an unattractive cow. I don’t want my husband, Edric, to ever see me pumping!
And since I am a stay at home mom, I prefer to breastfeed directly. It’s wonderful bonding for my babies and me. If I go out on a date or need to be out of the house, I will hand pump a bottle or two. But that’s it. I don’t have a freezer full of breast milk. Some of my friends are constantly donating their milk. It’s amazing. The can feed a country. Connect with Medela Moms for everything you need to know about breastfeeding and more.
Breastpumps (the electric or battery operated ones) can be expensive. So if you want to use one, try borrowing from a friend or relative who has one but isn’t breastfeeding at present. If you don’t have anyone who can loan you theirs then check out this list of breastpumps reviews to decide on what to buy.
What about other “gadgets?” Personally, I don’t get a lot of baby gadgets. First of all, they end up being a source of clutter which I don’t like since our apartment is small. And second, the usage is short-lived. In between babies, there is no room to store them. So instead of a stroller, I carry my babies in a sling. I use a roll out mat and put it on the bed to change their diapers versus using a changing table. Since I breastfeed, I don’t need to lug around bottles and milk. I am the bottle. It’s either a crib or bassinet for the baby to sleep in. Not a co-sleeper, rocker, cradle, Moses basket, etc. When they start crawling, I just put out a big comforter on the floor, on top of foam mats, surround it with pillows, throw some baby toys in the middle, and let my babies explore. You get the picture. If I can improvise, I do.
People used to tell Edric and I that it is expensive to have kids. And yes, it is “costly” to be a parent because it is a long term emotional and spiritual investment. But getting pregnant and having babies can be a lot less complicated and inexpensive that most people think, especially if your lifestyle choices tend to be simple. The great thing is, nearly 4 kids later, with one more on the way, and God has faithfully provided for each pregnancy, birth, and the child-rearing stage. Furthermore, Edric and I continue to discover that the blessings of having children far outweigh the costs, too!