It’s been an amazing 8 months growing this little guy in my belly and I can’t wait to meet him in just a few short weeks! I’ve gathered so much information over this time and I thought it might be helpful to share it here. Even if you’re not pregnant, I hope it can be helpful for a friend of for you to come back to when the time is right for you.
My intention in writing this short guide is not to tell you everything you need to know or to be a replacement for a pregnancy book. I merely want to share with you what I’ve learned about pregnancy and myself over the past 9 months – one girlfriend to another.
As you may have read (if not, you must here) my pregnancy was a surprise. (Public service announcement, the rhythm method is not effective). Jonathan and I were always planning on having kids, but I got pregnant a year earlier than expected.
This was seriously the best thing that could’ve ever happened. So although the rhythm method is not effective (when I say rhythm method I mean that when I was ovulating, we used a condom) I HIGHLY recommend using it as a form of birth control for married couples who want to have kids someday. Here’s why:
1. Jonathan and I were perfectly content to use a condom until…we weren’t. There came a time when my body was like “TIME FOR BABY!” and seriously tricked my brain into thinking I wasn’t ovulating (even though I clearly was). Jonathan recalls feeling a similar primal instinct to just go for it, no matter what. Bam, baby made.
2. I am the type of person who thought I needed to have everything totally planned and sorted out before I got pregnant. I didn’t know how I would balance a baby and business, where we would live (we were, and still are, in a one bedroom apt) and if I was “ready” to be a Mom. I tried for years to imagine how I would make the whole thing work to no avail. But when I discovered I was pregnant, I got my two trusty biz advisors together, Nisha Moodley and Liz DiAlto, and we figured out exactly how I would run my business during my pregnancy and post-baby in just 10 minutes. It’s like a new part of my brain was born and it just became so easy. If I was waiting to go off birth control until I had all my ducks in a row, it never would’ve happened.
3. The lack of stress and pressure we felt to get pregnant I am convinced helped the process happen so easily. You’ve heard how a lot of Moms get preggo after they adopt a baby… stress plays a huge role in our fertility.
4. The surprise of finding out I was pregnant, was BEYOND.
Pretty early on I think it’s good to figure out what kind of pregnancy, maternity leave and motherhood experience you want to have. One thing I did plan ahead on is that I knew I had to support my own maternity leave, so over the course of a year I put 6 months of living and business expenses aside into a savings account. When I got pregnant, I realized I wanted to have 2 months off before I got pregnant and 6 months after, so I opted to do Live More Weigh Less Mastery in the Fall of 2013, instead of the spring of 2014. This was going to help me with the extra cushion I needed financially, provide the support my community needed and freed me up to be with my baby the months after he’s born. Though I did run the program again, I didn’t get all fancy or create a new marketing plan. I just had to trust that what I had built was already great, and just pressing play was ok. LMWL this fall luckily was a HUGE success and such fun for me.
Now, I’ve had a lot of people tell me “you’re so lucky you get to take so much time off!” Um, luck has nothing to do with it. I try to remind the people in my life who want this flexibility that I deliberately chose, created and planned it this way. If this is something you want, think it out, get creative, plan ahead.
I also had to make sure I pre-created the materials I needed for my business to run during my maternity leave. For me this meant writing weekly blog posts through August, pre-planning the launch of LIVE FREE Sonoma and giving my business manager a little more training and a LOT more responsibility.
The First Trimester: Bread Wars
Now we can talk about the fun stuff… nausea. I had night nausea that hit around 4 everyday for 3 months, but honestly, it really wasn’t that bad. Overall I felt fine, perhaps a little hungover feeling (not from drinking) and tired, but I was in much better shape compared to most pregnant women. When I started reading the more “holistic” pregnancy books they kept telling me to eat lots of greens, nuts, fruits and organic meat. I am convinced these people were never pregnant. There were only 3 things I could eat in my first trimester, bread, cheese and ice cream. And I ate a lot of it.
Anything green made me want to puke, meat made me want to cry, nuts made me dry heave. I’m not kidding. Anyone who tries to tell you to be gluten and dairy free during your pregnancy is bat shit crazy. For me, the first trimester is all about survival, and you just have to do what you can and eat what you want to.
The first thing I did when I got pregnant was do a ton of research on drinking wine. Of course there is a ton of controversy around this (if you leave a ranty comment below I will delete it so please don’t, this is a space for women to make their own decisions and not a place for you to tell others how to behave). What I decided was best for me was no wine during the first trimester and a small glass twice a week-ish for the rest of the pregnancy. Most of the research actually reports that women who drink moderately during pregnancy have more social children. This obviously has a lot more to do with the personality of the Mom, but I still decided that it didn’t have any adverse effects. But make sure to do the research yourself and talk to your doctor. “Expecting Better” is a great book if you’re interested in this.
Pregnancy books suck
This is a generally agreed upon sentiment. I kind of found Deepak’s book for preggo ladies helpful, but please don’t read What to Expect When You’re expecting, it’s garbage. I did love many books I read about labor, which I’ll get to later. But overall I say avoid sushi and unpasteurized cheese and mostly go with your gut, listen to your body and take care of yourself.
Moving your body
When I got pregnant my “inner perfectionist” came out and convinced me that I was going to have the most toned legs, ass and arms while I was pregnant. I went to Pop Physique (similar to bar method) twice a week for the first few months. I usually felt like I was going to pass out, and after 2 months I had completely messed up my hip alignment, my butt was gripping constantly and I was super stiff. The key with pregnancy and having an easy labor is that you want your hips and ass to be as open and supple as possible. Jello butt as my yoga teacher calls it. So I tried dance, and all the jumping and tightening my buns had the same hip tightening effect. Bummer. As my masseuse put it, you have your whole life to have a tight ass, this is not the time. So my butt got a little saggy and my legs a little lumpy, but I am so open and flexible it’s amazing! This baby is hopefully going to slip right out.
Instead, I went to pre-natal yoga and walked a lot. Sometimes I lift wine bottles at home to tone my arms so carrying my baby will be easier. I looooove pre-natal yoga. It’s not the best “workout” but it is incredible preparation for birth and a fabulous way to meet other pregnant moms. I go to Jane Austin’s and Brit Fohrman’s class at Yoga Tree in SF (all of this info is in the resources section at the end). In most yoga classes you go around, introduce yourself and say how many weeks you are. I wish all yoga classes did this! Social yoga is so up my alley.
I started going around 14 weeks and I felt totally uncool because my belly wasn’t as big as the other ladies, and I was convinced they were going to think I was so lame for going when I wasn’t even showing. Can you see how I play out the 5th grade playground in every situation? I soon realized that I’m CRAZY and many women told me how great it was that I was there early. It was also so amazing to be in a room of gorgeous pregnant women in all shapes and sizes, it made me feel more pregnant and connected to my baby when all I felt was bloated and nauseous.
Live More Weigh More
I still don’t know how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained, I never looked at the scale or had the nurses tell me. It says very clearly on my chart to not talk to me about it. I told my midwife that if there was reason for concern, we could talk about it. But it has never come up.
I have a friend who ate so much during her first pregnancy and gained 67 pounds. For her second pregnancy she decided to reel it in and be more mindful, she said she ate completely differently. She gained 67 pounds for her second pregnancy.
Your body is just going to do what she needs to do, leave her alone. Now, that is not an invitation to eat only junk food. What you eat does affect the health of your baby. But, as always, I focused on eating what made me feel good. In the first trimester, it was bread and ice cream (again survival), after 16 weeks I could add in some cooked greens, more whole grains and a LOT of soup and stews. I really couldn’t eat cuts of meat until the last 2 months. I realized that I could eat a pint of ice cream a day if I wanted, but it made me feel really constipated, so I switched to a bowl of coconut ice cream most days, and ice cream once or twice a week. This is what made me feel like my body was working the best. Plus I could tell that the days I ate kale I had way more energy so it motivated me to eat it more.
The unexpected revelation about my relationship
One of the most surprising and hard things about being pregnant is realizing that the days of “just me and Jonathan” are ending. Sure we’ll create space for us and go on plenty of dates, but we both know that it’s just not going to be the same, and it was incredibly sad for me. I feel like a lot of people miss this grieving process, this letting go of the way we’ve been together for so many years. Jonathan and I took a lot of time to process this, reflect on our relationship, celebrate it and talk about the future. We of course know that things won’t be worse, but they will be different, and it’s important to recognize that.
Because of this we planned a last minute trip to Paris to really celebrate the ending of this “just the two of us” chapter. We’ve also being paying special attention to going on lots of dates and having lots of snuggle time. I will say that giving this huge change the attention it deserves makes it easier.
No longer the life of the party
Around month five, I had a week where I cried every day. Poor Jonathan thought I was dying. I felt so overwhelmed, depressed and paralyzed. It was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. My therapist was the one who pointed out to me that in one week I had my LIVE FREE Retreat, a surprise birthday extravaganza for Jonathan, leaving for Paris and running Live More Weigh Less Mastery all at the same time. It was too much of a good thing. Plus when I looked at my calendar I had a birthday party, bachelorette, wedding or family weekend every week until my due date in February. Now, this is the way I had always lived my life, and I loved it. I was filled up by being with my friends and family and celebrating others. But once I got pregnant, I changed. All of the sudden I realized that I felt like I needed to go to her birthday or else she would hate me, or if I don’t go, then she wouldn’t have enough people there. There was all this pressure. So I cancelled everything. Almost everyone was understanding, some were not, but their disappointment was well worth the freedom I felt.
It was hard letting go of that identity I had, being the social one, the one who shows up for people, but I had to let go of that to make room for the future. I don’t know what I’m stepping into yet, but I’m excited to see what unfolds.
I think it’s so important to tell your friends that you can’t commit to anything and if they want to make other plans they should feel free, or you can play it by ear.
I always thought that when I got pregnant we’d move to a bigger place with a yard. However, I realized that the increased rent, moving stress and the risk of not feeling “at home” when the baby arrived was way more stressful than figuring out how to have a baby in our one bedroom apt. At first, I felt so cramped and uninspired by my space. I felt like I’d outgrown it and hated being here.
So I called on my dear friend and interior coach Rebecca McLoughlin. Over the course of three sessions we threw out, donated or stored half of our belongings. I can’t stress enough the magic of having a storage space. We keep out of season clothes in there, ski’s, furniture that no longer fits but we wanted to keep, our christmas decorations… tons of stuff, for only $150 a month! So worth it. We went from feeling like we lived in a cramped dorm room to a palace.
Now here’s the key, you couldn’t see any of this extra stuff. It was packed away in closets, under the bed and behind the couch. But the energy just seeped into the space and made it feel so yucky. Now we have a half empty linen closet, a completely vacant kitchen cabinet and nothing under or behind any furniture. All in all, lots of room for the baby and baby stuff to come in.
On top of that I “glammed” the place up by replacing a wall of messy photos and paintings with a huge gold framed mirror. Bought a vintage Russian rug and pulled more blues and deep reds in instead of the bright colors we once had. My living space now feels grown up and refined with just a few changes.
Now… the nursery. We are very lucky to have a “stand-in” (not quite walk-in) closet with a window. We bought a huge armoire from Ikea that we set up in our bedroom and then turned the closet into the nursery. Hey, it’s bigger than my belly!
Preparing for labor AKA being a Professional Pregnant Woman.
Preparing for labor was by far the most defining theme of my pregnancy. I truly believe that there are some great things women can do to create an easier, more empowering labor.
Here’s all the stuff I did:
1. Monthly massages for 6 months, and then every other week for the last 3 months. I bought a package from Tracey Stone at More Mojo which made frequent visits much more affordable. She made sure my hips were lose, my belly in alignment and me just plan old relaxed and happy.
2. Prenatal yoga 2-3 times a week.
3. Acupuncture weekly the last 6 weeks with Rachael Webb of Lucent Alchelmy. This helped align my energy and clear out any blocks or fears that may come up during the labor. We worked on things like opening up my heart to love the baby and connect with him more, trusting him and strengthening my intuition. We analyzed my dreams, talked about my fears, visualized my future and connected with the being inside me. It was amazing.
4. Hypno centered birthing with Rachel Yellin. Rachel is the top dog of hypnobirthing in these parts and she is AMAZING. The philosophy behind hypnobirthing is that when we are relaxed and understand that what is happening to us is normal, our body is stretchier and surges hurt less. Think about it this way, when we are scared or in pain, we get into fight or flight and all the blood rushes to our arms and legs for a quick get away, and to our brains for quick thinking, and our bodies tense up. When there’s not enough blood in our uterus, the muscles are less pliable and every surge is like falling on concrete. Ouch. But when we’re relaxed it’s like falling onto a trampoline. Much less painful.
5. I hired an amazing doula, Sandra Lloyd. A doula is there to teach you about labor and support you through the labor and the birth. Sandra has been by far the most important part of this whole process, I truly believe that regardless of where you are giving birth, whether it’s at home or in the hospital that you hire a doula. Having someone around who’d been to hundreds of births makes you feel so much more at ease. Plus, these days doctors are managing many laboring women at the same time so it’s nice to have someone there with you the whole time.
6. I made sure I had the “life support” I needed. I increased the frequency our housekeeper comes to clean and trained her to spruce up our home, fold my clothes nicely and just help me put things away. Having help with my home is just invaluable. I also signed up for an organic laundry and dry cleaning service that picks up and drops off our laundry at the same time every week. The other incredible change I made was sign up for an account at the UPS store 3 blocks away to take all of our mail and packages. I can’t tell you how often I was driving all over the city to our post office, the UPS store and FedEx to collect packages that I missed. Now I can get my packages all in one place when it’s convenient for me. My housekeeper is also on my account so she picks things up before she comes over. Just doing these few small things makes my life flow so easily and will allow me to focus all of my energy on my little man when he comes without my home or life falling apart.
I hope this short guide was helpful for you!! In the comments below I’d love to know if you have any questions for me on topics I didn’t cover and if YOU have any great tips for our community.
Sending you lots of love,
Interior Life Designer
Rachael Webb: Lucent Alchemy
Pictures by Melanie Duerkopp