*In this blog, I refer to my personal experience of pregnancy. This is the 2nd post in my story series. Learn about my life before pregnancy here…
I’ve always known I wanted children. My other half and I spoke about it a few times and we were both quite comfortable with the idea of having children.
I practiced mindfulness and meditation on a regular basis and often received images, messages and guidance from my higher self while meditating. On this particular morning, we were in the car on our way to an island in Thailand, Koh Chang for a long weekend. I sat in the car meditating and saw an image of me holding a baby girl. I already knew I was pregnant but my fiancé, at the time, was very skeptical when I told him of my vision. I was excited and everything inside me just wanted to protect this little miracle inside me.
Once we arrived on the island we rent a scooter and drove off to the hotel. The smell of the hotel made me feel sick and the construction was very loud right next to it, so we moved to a different hotel. On the way, we stopped at a 7 Eleven convenience store and I grabbed the cheapest pregnancy test on the way out. I didn’t even wait until the next morning as I was so excited to show my other half the proof! I wanted to scream and shout and let it all out, if you know what I mean☺
So, I did the test and a very faint line showed, which got darker with time. My other half burst out in tears of joy and I remember we both sat there on the tile floor just outside the bathroom in pure utter joy. It was surreal and very exciting. After our weekend on the island, we made an appointment at the hospital to do a blood test just to be 100% sure and it came back a positive four weeks pregnant.
Once reality sank in, I started feeling a combination of happiness and confusion especially when I realized I know absolutely nothing about pregnancy other than the usual things like, don’t drink alcohol and eat soft cheese.
A whole new unfamiliar world opened up to us and we were quite lost in the beginning. So, I started Googling. I took the DO NOT EAT IF PREGNANT list very serious, too serious if you ask me!
After week six the nausea and vomiting (Hyperemis Gravidarum) kicked in. Man, that felt like a never-ending struggle until after 32 weeks. I never left the house without a plastic bag in my pocket. Before getting out of bed in the morning, I had to nibble on something dry like muesli to get me up and going. I tried ginger, I ate A LOT of ginger but I’m not so sure it gave me any relief. The doctor prescribed Vitamin B6, I couldn’t even keep one sip of water down, so that didn’t go well. The smell of coffee made me feel sick. On the bright side, I lost about 9lbs in the second month of my pregnancy but I was worried that it wasn’t healthy for my baby. I tried hypnosis for the nausea and vomiting, that started working for me as I accepted that my body needs to change to accommodate my baby. I wanted this baby more than anything in the world but I did have a few internal battles, thinking I’m going to grow big and never get my body back afterwards. Accepting the changes in my body helped me a lot. One thing that gave me a lot of relief was the acupressure point for nausea and vomiting – pressure point Nei-Kuan (P-6) (learn more about it here!).
My fiancé, at the time, and I decided it might be a good idea to go on holiday before we became very pregnant and then parents. We thought about going to Bali, Indian Islands or South Africa. The thought of going to South Africa to see my family made so much sense, I really missed them and needed them in this time. As we started planning our trip to South Africa, I got this brilliant idea of getting married while we were there. Two weeks before our trip we decided to get married. I had about three weeks in total to plan our wedding, thank goodness, my best friend handled the venue for me. I walked into a dress rental shop, I didn’t see the point in buying a dress that I’ll probably never use again. My best friend, who I call my sister, said lace would look nice on me but I wasn’t so sure about it. I tried it anyways and I LOVED it!
It was in the middle of winter in South Africa, it’s been raining all week. My soon to be husband and I sat on the bed that night, working on our vows. When we woke the next morning, it was like the sun came out just for us. Our wedding was very small and intimate, only family and close friends attended, many couldn’t make it because of the short notice. I was shaking as my dad walked me down the aisle, I was so happy to see my soul mate waiting to marry me. It was a perfect day and knowing that we shared it with our daughter made it even more special.
On our return back from South Africa, I spend lots of time finding more information and support to help us through this pregnancy. I had no family nearby to help me and be there for me. The only thing my mom told me over the phone was that she was also very sick throughout all four of her pregnancies, like that made it any better for me. As I Googled I also found that there was no such thing as Midwives in Thailand. Maternity care in Thailand is strictly consultant lead. In the labour and delivery suite you get a few nurses who takes care of you until the consultant comes in but more on that in my next blog post when I write my birth story. I also found that it was illegal to give birth at home. Birth overall in South East Asia is very medicalized and it’s really hard to get a natural birth. Thai’s think if they choose an elective caesarean section on a lucky day, the child will be lucky for the rest of their lives.
I then stumbled upon the term doula and for the first time learned what a doula is. I was so relieved to know that there was someone nearby to guide me, inform me and walk this path with me throughout my pregnancy and birth of our first baby.
As I entered my second trimester the consultant convinced me that I needed a scan at every visit, which was monthly. There was no real reason for this, this is just the way they do things in Thailand. Half of the conversation goes missing in translation and for the rest of it they just don’t bother informing you. When I think about it now it really makes me cringe.
All I really wanted from my care providers was transparency and to inform me of my choices but it was very hard to find someone like that in Bangkok, I changed several times until I found a pro-natural consultant, she wasn’t very friendly nor very informative but a bit more respectful than the others. I felt like the only way through all this would be with a doula by my side.
I met up with a few doulas, it was a hard choice to make as they were all very nice. I chose my doula because she was also a hypnotherapist and I planned to try hypnobirthing. I got in touch with her when I was early in my second trimester.
As we approached the end of the second trimester we decided we wanted to go on a babymoon. We wanted to make sure we’ve travelled enough before baby arrives, as we knew we would be housebound for a while. We decided to go to India of all places! I was nervous about flying while being six months pregnant but I was even more nervous about going to places where medical help might not be that great. I made a list of all the places with hospitals and made sure we carried it with us at all times just in case. It was the feeling of doing something adventurous that inspired me. Flying was fine, I just made sure I was hydrated at all times. Riding in the back of the Tuk-tuks was fun. We went from one island to the other on a boat. Spend days on a private beach while I did yoga and meditated on the hot white sand surrounded by my crystals and stones. We even rented a scooter and did a slow, slow because of the potholes, 30-minute ride to one of the most beautiful beaches in India, Havelock beach in Andaman. Our last destination wasn’t a very comfortable one. The hotel bed was very hard and they refused us more pillows. We ended up going home 2 days before initially planned.
Back in Bangkok we started focusing a lot more on how to prepare for the birth of our baby. At our first antenatal session with our doula, I gave her a two-page long list of birth preferences. She went through it and told me it was all very good but most of these people won’t be able to read all of that. I changed it into an iconic birth plan instead. In short, I wanted a drug-free, undisturbed water birth. We did the hypnobirthing together which I found very useful. I often fell asleep as I practiced the self-hypnosis at night.
I have found pregnancy yoga very helpful and it does amazing things to the body and mind. I’ve always loved doing yoga, even before my pregnancy. I started reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and really enjoyed all the positive birth stories in her book. Watching positive birth video clips on YouTube also kept me motivated. I started taking art lessons when I went on early maternity leave. I painted my own birth affirmations and motivational pictures. I painted a mandala of a baby crowning which I focused on while in labour. I ate loads of steamed veggies and I would have eaten more fish if I’d allow myself.
Eventually when my nausea calmed down, I started craving avocado. I would wake up at 7am and ask my husband to go get me three at least. It wasn’t easy to find ripe avocados in Bangkok. Later on, in my pregnancy I also craved green Japanese melon, ate about one a day. In my third trimester, when my full appetite returned, I really started missing sushi and foie gras. My husband suffered from my high libido, ha! As my pregnancy progressed, my body felt very soft and sensitive. I couldn’t sit in hard chairs for very long. I was too uncomfortable in any position for too long to be honest. My husband and I shared our bed with Mr. Big, the massive body shaped pregnancy pillow whom I couldn’t go to bed without.
Around 35 weeks of my pregnancy I discovered information on the benefits of eating dates late in your pregnancy. Consuming up to six dates a day from 36 weeks onwards help with:
- Keeping membranes intact for longer – SROM once labour is established
- Going into labour spontaneously
- Have a shorter first phase of labour
- Greater cervical dilation
I love dates, they’re so juicy and sweet, I thought it was worth giving it a try. I also saw an amazing homeopath throughout my pregnancy. She gave me a set of remedies useful for when I go into labour. *> Learn more about the benefits of dates in pregnancy…The week approaching my guess date I felt so sick of being pregnant. I was experiencing Braxton hicks all the time and really had to slow myself down. I was tired and felt super heavy. I experienced severe lower back pain. Except from my consultant constantly telling me that my baby is very big, and doubting in my ability to birth vaginally, I was starting to feel ready to bring this baby into the world. I went for reflexology the day before my guess date and for another foot massage that evening. I bounced on my ball, making circles with my hips. Took a nice long bath, practising my hypnosis and getting familiar with my perineum and the feeling of pressure on it. I was ready to open up mentally and physically. All I wanted was to meet this baby. And then it happened. Read more on my birth story in my next blog.