The natural path
Natural pregnancy resources
I’m always looking beyond the conventional and I’m so happy that I did that when it came to reading! The following books have been so enlightening and have given me so much confidence about this natural pregnancy journey.
- The Natural Pregnancy Book, Third Edition: Your Complete Guide to a Safe, Organic Pregnancy and Childbirth with Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices by midwife and herbalist, Aviva Jill Romm
- The Mindful Mom-To-Be: A Modern Doula's Guide to Building a Healthy Foundation from Pregnancy Through Birth by doula and pregnancy coach Lori Bregman
- Currently starting on the highly recommended Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by leading US midwife, Ina May Gaskin
- Next in line will be Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong--and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster, an economics professor at prestigious Brown University
Free yoga videos
I've been practicing yoga, sometimes more regularly than others, for the past 17 years. Pregnancy has helped me to finally develop the daily practice that I've been aspiring to for years! I've made it a priority to give myself this time each day. I know everybody is different and that there may be other factors at play but, I believe that the yoga has been instrumental in me not experiencing aches and pains, swelling, cramps and other pregnancy discomforts you hear about.
Sometimes I do a self-directed practice but mostly I follow a video. I’ve been trying out several on YouTube, throughout my pregnancy, and below are some of my favourites:
- Tonic's pregnancy yoga playlist – Very clear, easy to follow classes that make me feel great about moving my body
- Ali Kamenova’s pregnancy series – I’ve been doing her yoga videos for a few years now and they are amazing and challenging! I was so happy to find out that she had some prenatal videos too (many of which are also challenging so great for days when you want to push yourself – safely of course
- Prenatal yoga with Lara Dutta – I especially feel like I’m connecting with my baby during these classes
Things to watch
The Beginning of Life is a super-inspiring documentary which was recommended by a friend (thanks Andrea!). It explores the impact of a child’s early environment on their cognitive, social and emotional development and makes such a great case for how investing time in being with our children is possibly the most important contribution we can make to a better world for everybody! You can find it on Netflix, iTunes and Google Play. Check out the trailer below:
Midwives in Kenya
Pregnancy has become so medicalised that we forget about our innate knowledge and wisdom as women. I knew I wanted to work with midwives - as opposed to a doctor - because their philosophy tends to be more aligned with mine. From my understanding and experience, midwives will encourage the natural progress of events, as far as possible and is safe for you and your baby. They are not quick to recommend medical interventions; they are not rushing to their next patient; and they have no incentive to insist on costlier procedures. Unlike some doctors.
It was interesting to learn that, women giving birth in the care of midwifes, at home or at a birthing centre, are less likely to end up with a Caesarean section, than those giving birth in a hospital. In one US study, 6% of a 15,574 sample of women receiving care in midwifery-led birth centres ended up having a caesarean birth. This compared to the general US c-section rate of 33% (source).
I was taken care of by Quin and Cecelia at Eve’s Mama in Nairobi, Kenya, for the first half of my pregnancy. Eve’s Mama is a midwife clinic and birth centre, that exists to care for, nurture and provide practical guidance and support to parents-to-be during the Pre-pregnancy, Pregnancy, Birth and Early Parenting Phases of their life. My initial plan was to give birth in a pool in their birth centre. Plans change but, if I go on this adventure again, that will be my first choice of birth place! That is to say, I highly recommend Eve's Mama.
KG Hypnobirthing is a pre-natal training program designed to release fear and build confidence during birth.
In the past, 3 people I know have effused about its benefits and talked about the wonderful birth experiences they had as a result. I knew that it was something I would look into when the time came for me. I’m so happy I did.
I did a course in Nairobi with the lovely Yvonne Meyer-Onyando of Pregnancy Birth & Beyond.
Birth affirmation cards
Anyone with a keen interest on self-help/self-improvement will be familiar with the power of affirmations. These are a big part of the hypnobirthing practice.
I’ve been attending a prenatal yoga class with Lucy … at Zen Yoga in London and, a lovely thing she does at the start of class is spread out some pregnancy and birth affirmation cards. We are encouraged to pick one out that resonates at that time, and keep it for the week until the next class.
I decided to illustrate a couple of my favourites and share them with you. The images relate to what I'll be visualizing during labour (the sun rising and waterfalls) and to the heart-womb connection I meditate on, during my yoga practice. You can download the cards by signing up here.
For all the mamas and mamas-to-be reading this, what pregnancy and birth practices have had a positive impact on your experience?
Photographs by Joe Were