The final weeks of pregnancy feel like they each have 18 days in them. They last forever. Your mind has a hard time thinking about anything but the fact that you won’t be pregnant soon, and you are curious if THIS moment, oh wait! This moment will be the last one where you feel this way as a PREGNANT PERSON!
There is so much anticipation! You can’t help it. Experts tell you to try to find distractions and to rest as much as possible. (It’s true! Ask me how I know!) But on the other side of those distractions are the same worries and anxious feelings.
“When is labor going to start, and how will I know if it’s labor?!”
Most people don’t know they are in labor – they think they are in labor. Especially if they have never been in labor before, having a contraction can feel to some like a massive cramp that catches their breath, to a slightly uncomfortable poke in the ribs. Every labor is different.
From a professional standpoint, labor is contractions that get longer, stronger, and closer together. If that isn’t happening, then you most likely aren’t in labor.
But just like everything that has to do with children, there are always exceptions!
- There is prodromal labor.
- There is Precipitous labor.
- There is “back labor.”
- There is “false labor.”
- There is early labor, active labor, and transitional labor.
So when you ask how do you know if you are in labor – the answer is complicated!
Prodromal labor is labor that feels real in every way. The contractions are consistent, they require your attention, and over time they zap you of energy and motivation. But prodromal labor is labor that goes on for an extended period with no cervical change. Often, this type of labor also plateaus. This labor often feels discouraging and requires a robust support team to help you work through it.
Precipitous labor is labor 3 hours or less from start to finish – including pushing! This labor is intense. All of the physical changes that happen for others over 12 or 24 hours happen quickly, and those who have experienced claim that it was not something they felt any control over. Instead, it feels like their birth happened to them.
“Back Labor” is a term laypeople use to describe labor pains that occur mostly in the lower back or upper tailbone area. This feeling may be evidence of a baby’s position being slightly unfavorable. Position changes can help, as can direct counter pressure to the spot of pain. Back labor, if at the start of labor, may not be identified as labor right away, as many pregnant people complain of back pain in their third trimester.
“False Labor” are contracts that come and go, with no sort of pattern or consistency. It can also be where contractions ARE consistent, but that they do not persist past a few hours. It is not uncommon for people to have contractions during the night but then have no contractions throughout the day, only to have contractions again the next night! We want you to know that in no way are these contractions false! But they are part of early labor, and they sound like they are, it’s not time to get too excited. It’s early yet.
Early labor is the contractions that are the beginning of your labor. They tend to be up to 30 seconds in length, where you can breathe and talk regularly through them, and they cause little to no discomfort. They can have spread out the frequency from 10-25 minutes apart, or no consistent pattern. As you get closer to active labor, your contractions will still not take your breath away. They can happen every 5-10 minutes and produce cervical change from 0-5 cm dilation. It is easiest to identify early labor AFTER you have delivered when you start to see your actions and feelings in a new light!
Active labor is the phase where your body is working through the cervical change from 6-8 centimeters. Your contractions will be noticeable and more intense. They will come every 3-5 minutes or so, and last about 45-60 seconds. You will focus more intently. Distractions no longer being welcome, jokes no longer seem funny, and you may find rhythmic movements and sounds to be helpful. You may want to find a low lit space and calming energy to be near you. If you enjoy hydrotherapy, this is the time to use the shower or bath to help you release tension with each contraction, and breathe deeply through each contraction.
Transitional labor is the hardest, and typically the fastest phase of labor. Your contractions will come every 2-3 minutes and last 60-90 seconds. Transitional labor is the last centimeters of cervix getting out of the way for your baby. The intensity is again heightened as you have less time to rest between contractions. This is a point of enormous vulnerability for the laboring person and can be when they feel weak and discouraged from continuing. Having support through each contraction with positive reinforcement, affirmations, and help with position changes or pain relief is needed now more than ever.
Even with these descriptions of labor, there is still a wide window where one phase can blend with another. As you get closer to the end of your pregnancy, we encourage you to let go of expectations of what should happen and pay closer attention to what is happening. If what is happening is popcorn and a movie, we want you to enjoy it. Because when you are in labor to the point of meeting your baby, there is no way you won’t know it’s happening.
We’ve all unintentionally put our foot in our mouths when talking about delicate subjects. Fertility is one of those topics!
While it is still common to ask couples about their plans to have or not have kids, when there are known fertility issues (- or not), we hope the following topics to avoid will help keep you on the right side of your friendships.
Don’t tell them to relax.
Never in the history of history has the phrase “relax” ever helped a person relax. Usually comes out as a judgment or evidence that you are unable to show genuine empathy.
What to say instead:
A genuinely caring reflection of what they shared with you. “Thank you for sharing that with me. It all sounds incredibly difficult, and I’m so sorry you are dealing with all of this.”
Don’t say there are worse things that could happen.
This is minimizing, and it is another example of your lack of empathy or sheer discomfort with their struggle. You may be trying to offer some optimism, but unless your friend is asking for that sort of help, pivoting a vulnerable conversation using this phrase shows you are not a person who can sit with your friend in a moment of pain or discomfort.
What to say instead:
Any reply that shows you were listening and are willing to continue to listen as they share. “I hear you. That is incredible. How does that make you feel?” or “I hear the pain in story. You are so strong for going through this, even though it may not feel that way right now.” “Thank you for trusting me with this. I am here to listen anytime.”
Don’t ask why they are not trying IVF.
The plans and strategies a couple chooses to use or not use are none of your business. Not everyone is a good candidate for all therapies, and personal choice, cost, risk, and a variety of other individual choices mean you could be unintentionally adding pain to their experience. Most insurance plans do not cover IVF – infertility stress is physical, emotional, and financial.
What to say instead:
Nothing. Asking questions about a couple’s fertility journey is not something you get to do. If your friend is open to discussing more, a great first question is, “I am so curious about your journey. Do you mind if I ask some questions?”
Don’t say, “You’re young, you have plenty of time to get pregnant.“
This is one area where the facts of infertility are not well known. It is recommended that people who have been unsuccessful for a year to get pregnant see a fertility specialist. Being young increases your chances of treatments being successful; however, there is never a guarantee of success. Fertility begins to drop in women widely in a person’s late 20s to early 30s and begins to fall rapidly over age 35.
What to say instead:
“I am so glad you are aware of what you want and your situation so you can take advantage of the most options available to you. It is courageous to explore needing help.”
Don’t gossip about your friend’s condition.
This is a poor reflection of your trustworthiness, and you mark your self as an unsafe friend. Fertility is very personal. If you feel comfortable sharing information with your friend, you are telling your friend you may do the same thing to them with someone else.
What to say instead:
Nothing. Gossip is never productive. If you think you are revealing your knowledge of possible treatments, that is possible without bringing another person into the conversation.
Don’t push adoption or another solution.
The decision to adopt is entirely separate from the decisions that are made with fertility treatments. Couples exploring ways to grow their family are already aware of adoption. You are not sharing new information. Choosing to end treatments to explore other family growing options is a choice riddled with grief that you minimize by pushing your preferences.
What to say instead:
Nothing. When a friend is at the point of choosing to end treatment or to explore other options, they will bring those options to you. Your ability to validate their feelings and affirm their choices shows you can be with them through all of the choices they make along the way.
Don’t complain about your pregnancy.
For couples struggling with fertility, they would love the opportunity to have the experiences you are struggling with. And it can be hard to be around people who are pregnant, with growing bodies a constant reminder of their inability to conceive. Not complaining is one small thing you can do for your friend.
What to do instead:
Your feelings are just as valid as your friends, so finding trusted people and space to share your feelings is a kinder option.
Don’t ask whose “fault” it is.
Fertility challenges are statistically 1/3 male, 1/3 female, and 1/3 unknown. Applying blame to a situation as complicated as conception is crass, uneducated, and none of your business. The details of a couple’s struggle with fertility could be something they choose to discuss or not. But you asking only threatens to weaken your relationship.
What to say instead:
Nothing. You don’t get to ask.
Blessings, Rituals, and Ways to Honor Your Pregnancy Journey
Imagine walking into a pleasant and caring space where you are the focus of an afternoon. There is no one there who adds to your anxiety, and everyone who you hope to see when you are at your most vulnerable.
4 Common Pregnancy Complaints and Holistic Solutions
4 Common Pregnancy Complaints
and Holistic Solutions
We have put together some holistic solutions to some of the most common pregnancy concerns.
Nausea – For some, nausea never comes, and for others, it can last through the entire pregnancy. However, for most, nausea typically comes mid-way through the first trimester and continues until the beginning or middle of the 2nd trimester.
- Ginger – be it tea, a ginger chew, or a cookie, consuming ginger has helped many with pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.
- Peppermint – Drinking peppermint tea, eating peppermint candy, or even smelling peppermint through a diffuser can be helpful. *Peppermint can adversely impact breastfeeding relationships once the baby is born, however, using during pregnancy is not typically harmful
- Eating small but frequent meals with protein, like yogurt, nuts, or chocolate milk.
- Acupuncture – Nausea is one reason of many that having a relationship with an acupuncturist through pregnancy can be helpful.
- Regular stretching in the morning and evening, such as yoga
- Staying hydrated
- Taking deep breaths throughout the day to help expel any build up of lactic acid
- Increase potassium consumption such as bananas, sweet potatoes, or spinach
- Begin receiving regular prenatal massage
- Get plenty of rest
- Diet rich in fiber
- Staying hydrated
- Chiropractic care for alignment support
- Regular exercises, such as pregnancy yoga or walking
- Toilet Stool
- Finding ways to reduce stress
- Establishing a relationship with a physical therapist with training in pelvic floor health
- Consider Yoga courses with a focus on pelvic floor
- Breathing and full relaxation when using the restroom to allow for your bladder to be emptied entirely
- Schedule and take frequent bathroom breaks
Self Love This Valentine’s Day
Self Love this Valentine’s Day
While many people are thinking about passion with Valentine’s day arriving soon, perhaps a little compassion will be extended as well. And not generally speaking – but love and compassion for working towards a healthier you.
Looking inward and having a vulnerable personal conversation about what you want, what you need, and how you wish to walk through the world is a gutsy gift to yourself this Valentine’s day. The questions get asked over and over, and how often do we stop and find a real answer to, “What do you want?”
What do you want to give in relationships?
How do you want to be treated?
What impact will you have?
However, before all of that. Before looking outward, the brave first step is to love your whole self and practice radical acceptance. All of your parts – those you are proud of and those you hide because of embarrassment or shame – all of those parts together make up the body, mind, and spirit of the unique you: a person who is deserving of the best and is capable of individual thoughts and feelings and change.
Connecting with ourselves is more than self care practices like an herbal bath or a pedicure (which are important too!). It’s taking an in-depth look into what helps us feel whole, and the things we each need to belong genuinely. For many, there is a need to heal wounds that get inflicted as we assimilate into a culture or society.
Take time for yourself to explore what needs attention. One way to do this is to tune into Stephi Wagner as she describes the “mother wound” and helps people understand that there is an innate need for healing. More so, that we are all born into a pattern of being a person who is ready to re-connect, but that our parents, and ourselves as parents, are often not supported socially enough to then give to our babies and children.
- Feeling like we are “not enough”
- Feeling like we are “too much”
- Being tone policed by others for our authentic feelings
- Feeling shame about our authentic feelings
- Struggling to make and maintain boundaries
- Shame storms: “I AM a bad mistake” (shame) rather than “I made a bad mistake” (guilt)
- Feeling responsible for other people’s feelings
- Accepting poor treatment from other people
- Self-sabotaging by backing away on the brink of a success
- Attenuation: trying to stay small in body, mind, impact,
Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about your healing journey? Please post below and join us on our Facebook Page.
Surviving Winter Pregnancy
Surviving Winter Pregnancy
Being pregnant during winter months brings unique challenges to the forefront, and we’re not talking about trying to find a jacket that fits comfortably around your torso. No, winter months are simply a lot of work for pregnant people, on top of other difficulties that can come from pregnancy.
If you are pregnant this winter, we hope it is an experience filled with cozy fires and relaxation in your home, and not red-noses and shuffling down the sidewalk on the lookout for icy patches.
A few common complaints about being a winter pregnancy have to do with the weather and soreness and muscle pain. The cold weather can make anyone’s muscles tense! If you have hunched shoulders, back and hip pain, or tight calf or shin pain from taking shorter steps in the cold, take a big deep breath…
…and take a bath.
I know, I know! They say to avoid baths with super hot temperatures. We are not advocating for you to raise your body temperature so significantly that you are sweating while bathing. What we are saying, is that in the winter, finding a way to be completely surrounded by a warmth that promotes a certain distance from the world is hard to find. Being in the water is one way to have some of that distance.
For sore muscles, we suggest adding Epsom salts to your water. And don’t be shy. Add a full cup or two. Let the stresses from the day slowly ease out and enjoy some time to be fully in your mind and your body.
If you are concerned about dry winter skin being exacerbated by the bath, add a small amount of body oil to your water. When you are ready to leave the water, take a minute before grabbing a towel, to rub in the thin layer of bath oil into your skin to help keep dryness at bay.
After getting warm and relaxed, take a few moments to really stretch. If possible and desired, have your partner give a gentle massage on the places you feel most sore. Here is a great guided video.
Another common complaint during a winter pregnancy is treating sickness or keeping it at bay. Many over the counter medicines are not recommended during pregnancy, as well as many other medications.
So what can you do to keep a cold at bay?
Bone Broth – Essentially long-simmered stock to allow as much of the bone collagen to seep into the fluid of the broth. Some choose to roast the bones in the oven before starting their Bone Broth to help with flavor and for a deep brown color. It is not the same as any stock you find in the store, and it is recommended by home remedy purists to make your own or have it come from a loving friend, especially if your friend is a kitchen witch. It is great for your hair, nails, and skin, but also promotes strong gut health.
Elderberry syrup – With vitamins A, B, and C stimulating the immune system, and the berries seem to be able to “disarm the enzyme virus’s use to penetrate healthy cells.” It can be hand-made, but is also readily available as a syrup or gummy. Cote has some delicious syrup in stock in her Our Healing Roots Etsy store. This syrup been help to stave off sickness in our families for many cold and flu seasons!
Wash your hands with soap. Often. Bacteria and viruses have extended living time on surfaces and can be easily transferred through touch and the air. Some viruses live longer in the cold weather, and that paired with the closer contact of us all staying inside more often in colder months can increase the likelihood of spread illness.
If you are interested in learning more about a medication you would like to take or are currently taking, MotherToBaby has an extensive fact sheet database you can search.
If you are looking for herbal remedies, there is still reason to do your research. Luckily we have a trained herbalist here on staff, Cote Garceau, who is skilled in discussing the purpose and methods for using natural medicine that can support you. You can find Cote’s herbal work here or you can search locally to find an herbalist near you. Here are is a great blog on the use of herbs during pregnancy by the amazing Aviva Romm.