As I am about to end my first pregnancy with the soon to be birth of my first child I thought it fitting to write a summary of my take on pregnancy as a whole from both a personal perspective but also from my perspective as a chiropractor, functional medicine practitioner and mobility specialist.
One of my most common observations throughout the pregnancy was that so many people really do think of it as some sort of disease…..now I don’t mean like cancer or heart disease but they really do think of it as something that needs to be managed, that will limit you and is something that needs to be controlled…..my personal view is that its natural, that your body knows what to do throughout the pregnancy and the birth and if you allow your body to perform its innate tasks, listen to it when it speaks to you and nurture it then that is the best you can do.
So my first trimester started out with as so many women have nausea and some vomiting, luckily not much for me but nausea was present until about 15 weeks and with a physical job as a chiropractor it was testing to say the least on some days. My first thoughts were why on earth would the body want you to be nauseous and not be able to eat that sounds like an an evolutionary mismatch and does not make any sense – when you need to be feeding your body and baby properly to ensure a thriving baby. After some thought on the subject and the experience when I listened to my body the message it was saying was……feed me the right food at the right times and my sense of smell, taste and ability to perceive food that may be spoiled is heightened….which evolutionary wise actually makes a lot of sense. So my threshold for food that was off or may harm the baby was on high alert in this period of vulnerability – makes sense. Food when given in the right type, quantity and time alleviated the nausea – also makes sense. So for me getting up at 3am eating some scrambled eggs, avocado then going back to bed was to be my routine for those 15 weeks and really if you think about it going from 7pm to 7/8am without food also known as fasting is really way to long of a time for this highly metabolically active growing foetus and the only way it knew how to tell me was to make me nauseous – then I would eat and it would alleviate so smart really.
Even before we conceived I tried to listen to my body – over a period of a few years I changed many aspects of my lifestyle, upgraded my health and prepared for what pregnancy is to bring. I went off birth control years before to allow my body to get back to what its normal rhythm/cycle is, I altered my diet removing processed foods, grains, sugars, dairy increase healthy fats, vegetables, quality protein, nuts, seeds, broth etc. I committed to daily meditation, movement practice where not only did I exercise but also simply moved and improved my mobility from ability to squat, walk in natural shoes and much more. To conceive naturally and easily it also begins with listening to your body, providing it with the right fuel (food), movement, relaxation and optimising the health of both the mother and father. When we finally began to ‘try’ with all this hard work behind us it was gratefully for us easy we conceived on the first try even at 36 and 40 years of age and this is absolutely not to say that it was easy or is easy for everyone because I know it can be so frustrating, a struggle for so many but rather to highlight that if you give the body what it needs to function well, to be well then fertility and conception should be naturally easy.
Back to pregnancy and the second trimester – this time was the best of course you tend to feel well, no nausea, your not too big and you sleep well so its bit of a hiatus between the first and third trimesters where so much is going on. As my body began to show the growth of the baby the question arose from patients, friends and family – all coming from a place of love and concern – are you sure you should be working? Working? Should I be working? It seemed such an odd question to me….what else would I be doing, why wouldn’t I work?
Well it seemed so many and as I went further and further into the second and third trimesters the fear become more present in the people around me. What was this fear, this concern for me and my job, my manual work? Well it seems that as a society we are so out of touch with what is normal or natural and how we really should be in pregnancy. As a chiropractor I stand all day, move around, use my body to manually treat patients and personally I actually did not see any issue with continuing fully for as long as I could – of course there would be a time where I may have to modify, change things due to the physical size of my belly but to say that I could not work or not move….that just seemed absurd. I actually heard about a friends wife that stopped work in the first trimester because of fear – and although I do believe every woman should do what is best for them….I truly believe that this fear not only does a disservice in the mind of the woman but also it will affect the baby and its sad our knowledge on the subject of natural/normal pregnancy and birth has seemingly been lost to so many. I continued to move and to stay active by walking, lifting weights, working, doing Crossfit and running all until my body gave me messages to the contrary. I personally stopped running at 20 weeks my pelvis from years of chiropractic adjustments in school is not the most stable thing and at this point my body was saying no more but I have another patient who literally ran the day of labour and for her that was ok its all individual. So you see you need to listen to your body, be in tune with your body and what its trying to say to you.
There were times during my pregnancy where maybe I didn’t listen weather it be needing more sleep, modifying exercise or movement, altering my food but very quickly it would speak up force me to listen and I would relent…..my stubbornness had no place in this pregnancy and I had to learn to listen, embrace the changes as they came and allow for growth and learning to occur.
So in conclusion, every woman is different, pregnancy should not be feared or seen as some sort of disease state it is a natural/normal process that should be allowed to occur with careful observation, listening and allowed to occur as it should. Just as in health, disease and pregnancy you have the power to listen, learn and embrace life as it should be. The control we so often seek should be let go of and we need to embrace the seemingly unknown – in reality the innate wisdom of our bodies to know what is best and how to thrive.