I had my babies a while ago. But as a pregnancy writer, I can almost feel in my body the tremendous stress that current moms-to-be experience. There’s an overwhelming amount of info online and on shelves, and many pregnant women I talk to report feeling pressured to ingest every speck. They’re stressed out and worried, when they should be relaxing. That’s why I was motivated to write a book that distilled and delivered the most important advice while simultaneously inspiring calm. Working with two amazing doctors who spend their days caring for pregnant and post-partum women—Adrienne Simone and Jaqueline Worth—I learned a lot about evidence-based self-care, old wisdom and iffy trends.
Here are just a few of the helpful nuggets I took away as we crafted our just-launched book The New Rules of Pregnancy: What to Eat, Do, Think About, and Let Go of While Your Body is Making a Baby.
Um…don’t eat the placenta!
There’s a trend among some folks of saving, freezing, then cooking and eating the placenta. But the placenta is partially a filtration organ, like the liver—a place of waste concentration. There’s no evidence of health benefits associated with eating the placenta, and, in fact, there have been cases of people who’ve gotten infections from doing this.
Labor doulas are the best
Continuous labor support by a trained, experienced person—aka a labor doula—can make a tremendous difference in the hard work of birth. She can help with positions, breathing, comfort and can just plain normalize the situation. Doulas also tend to decrease the chance of interventions, like C-sections. And a doula takes pressure off your partner to know what to do!
Nitrous oxide is sometimes available for birth
You know the gas the dentist sometimes administers before getting to work on your mouth? The one that makes you feel relaxed and happy? That stuff is available at some hospitals for labor. You inhale it through a mask, just like at the dentist’s office, and it’s gone from your system quickly. It can be used on the way to an epidural or potentially instead of an epidural. Ask if nitrous is an option at your hospital—it’s ramping up in popularity but is not yet available everywhere.
“Vaginal seeding” is a thing, and it’s not recommended
Erring on the side of caution obviously makes sense in pregnancy and delivery. Vaginal seeding—a trendy practice of swabbing the vagina with gauze, then wiping down the newborn with that gauze (believers do it for babies born via C-section, because those babies miss out on exposure to the good bacteria of the birth canal) is not a good idea, because it can expose the baby to potential pathogens. The best way to support the microbiome of a baby born via C-section —and any baby—is by breastfeeding.
You don’t have to let your partner watch if you don’t want to
This is your experience, and when it comes to points that are not a matter of safety, you get to make the call. If you prefer not to have your partner watch you push out a baby, that’s totally legit. Talk it through and come up with a plan. You don’t necessarily have to do things the way your friend did it or your sister did it.
Your body knows what it’s doing
Support yourself with common-sense care and caution, and don’t make yourself crazy with worry. When you can allow yourself to trust your body, trust the process, and trust your caregivers, you’ll be more able to relax—and relaxing is one of the best things you can do to care for your pregnant self.
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