I felt incredibly alone. My body had failed me.
It is ironic that the act of baby making can feel so unsexy.
Expect the unexpected.
When they came into the world, I knew I was complete.
It has been six months since I miscarried in November last year.
Content warning: This post contains details of miscarriage some readers may find triggering.
I was irritated at the lack of knowledge, and angry, because this shouldn’t have happened to me.
I didn’t give my placenta another thought until it splashed loudly in my toilet.
Human creation is a wonderful thing.
No, I wasn’t ‘too posh to push’.
It’s a roller-coaster of emotions when you conceive a “rainbow baby” – a baby born directly following a miscarriage or stillbirth. At first, you’re incredibly happy and relieved and then the cold, hard fear and dread creeps in. A rainbow baby will never erase the pain or the memory of the lost baby, but it’s a beautiful, new beginning.
For the loss of a baby through miscarriage and/or a stillborn is an incredibly devastating and debilitating life event and can take you much time to grieve. It’s as though your mind/body/spirit has undergone such massive stress and gut-wrenching upset and sadness, you wonder if you’ll ever heal.
Pregnancy loss is then worsened, at times, by society’s ill-treatment of the bereaved; your no doubt well-meaning friends, family and work colleagues will want and expect you to recover very quickly, as well might you may. But, in my experience, after two miscarriages, the grief process can take some time and you can think you’re well recovered until something sets you back: a friend falling pregnant; a violent reaction to seeing a newborn in the street; and/or you’re pregnant again and you’re overcome by fear.
I fell pregnant with our first child just four months after the soul-sapping horror and heartbreak of finding out our much-wanted, 12-week baby had no heartbeat. Of course, my husband and I dearly hoped we’d fall pregnant again quickly and we were very blessed that it did, but I wasn’t quite prepared, either physically or emotionally, to fall pregnant again so soon. I felt incredibly scared and numb.
Would I miscarry again? Could I survive it? What if I just couldn’t carry a baby to term? All these hideous fears and more were clouding my heart and my head to the point it was overshadowing any pregnancy joy I was experiencing with my first child.
So, what did I do? Here are my tips, from my heart, on how to embrace having a rainbow baby. Below, you’ll also find top advice from a clinical psychologist I interviewed, who wishes to remain anonymous.
And did I get my happy ending? Yes – I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who was a whopper, born ten days overdue. And I’d venture dear reader, you’ll get your happy ending – a much-wanted child – just as I did, too.
My coping tips
- Keep busy: Working through my first pregnancy right up until week 32 (when I got too huge and cumbersome to travel) helped me stay sane and focused on something else outside my pregnancy.
- Get help: I got some very helpful short-term grief counselling from a clinical psychologist to help me better resolve my grief over losing the baby.
- Mind over matter: I practised a lot of pregnancy yoga and meditation to resolve my angst. There’s something so healing about both yoga and meditation and it’s good for your health too.
- Talk, talk, talk: Loved ones you can lean on, who offer wise, practical and sane advice, are who you need to surround yourself with right now. Stay away from negative people who regale you with pregnancy horror stories. And talk it out – I talked about my fears and stress a lot and it helped me no end.
Psychologist coping tips
“Miscarriage is a very distressing event,” says the clinical psychologist. “It’s bound to be followed by a period of grieving and sadness, making it hard to enjoy a subsequent pregnancy. But it’s so important to move on and allow yourself to feel the joy and optimism of a new pregnancy,” she says.
It’s not easy, but the psych says to try these suggestions:
- Discuss your fears: Tell your worries to a professional such as a nurse/counsellor, someone who can reassure you on the statistics of having a normal pregnancy this time around.
- Practice some mindfulness: Learn to be in the here and now and enjoy the moment – do something you enjoy and immerse yourself in that.
- Seek strong support: Be with friends and family who are supportive and positive, who will talk if you want to or just be there with you in a kind, caring and understanding way.
- Breathe in and out: If you are experiencing anxiety, try relaxing using slow deep breathing and picture the new baby, healthy and safely arrived. Imagine holding her/him and allow yourself to feel happiness. Hold onto that feeling.
Images via froufroumonkey.com, lendmeyourkite.com, inspirefirst.com, Pinterest
What do you think? Did you have a rainbow baby?
While Carrie Bickmore is shutting down Steve Price about his breastfeeding comment, social media has been blowing up about a woman’s right to breastfeed whenever and wherever she wants. And while most of the population are supportive about women breastfeeding in public, there are still those that hate on the natural process.
I would like to call all those who get so distressed about breastfeeding to jump on a new cause. The other day, I witnessed a woman, easily her third trimester, smoking. I was shocked. Knowing that there is so much research and support to show the problems that smoking during pregnancy causes, and rarely seeing women publicly smoke while pregnant, I was in disbelief.
Smoking during pregnancy is the number one cause of adverse effects on children’s health. Being born premature, being born too small and death before birth can all be avoided if a woman was to stop smoking during her pregnancy.
And I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Through the glass windows of our office, three other women saw the puffs of smoke escape the woman’s mouth as she talked on her mobile phone, causing a discussion about neglect for the unborn child that is trying to grow in her uterus.
Many have forgotten about smoking during pregnancy, purely because it’s not something the media reports on at the present moment, but it is still occurring, putting many more babies at risk of developing a debilitating disease. While babies who have suffered from cigarette exposure can suffer from problems at birth and infant death, the smoking also affects them later in life with children having a higher risk of asthma or decreased lung function, an increased risk of childhood obesity and an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in adulthood.
A decision of a woman to smoke during her pregnancy will cause health effects on her child for life. It has even been suggested as child abuse or neglect due to the fact that smoking harms an unborn child who has no say or rights.
In such a modern and sophisticated world with ample access to research and technology, I wouldn’t think we would be having this conversation, but as people forget what isn’t being publicised in the media everyday, we need to remember that smoking during pregnancy is very harmful.
If you need help quitting, you should see your doctor.
Image via jacquewatkins.com
Did you ever watch What To Expect When You’re Expecting? And think, I’m going to be Elizabeth Banks, who has the awful pregnancy experience while Brooklyn Decker is still wearing stilettos and going to pre-natal yoga classes. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, but staying fit and healthy during a pregnancy is good for you and your baby. However, there are certain things that you should take into consideration when you’ve got a bubba growing inside of you.
There’s a certain false impression that working on those abs is going to help you push out the baby when the (terrifying) time comes but accredited exercise physiologist Kate Faber from Precision Physio is here to bust that myth, saying it’s just not going to help in the way you think it is.
Kate Says, “Many women (and some medical, health and fitness professionals) believe there is great need to strengthen the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, in order to assist in pushing the baby out during delivery. While this may seem logical, the abdominal muscles are not directly involved in delivering the baby – the uterus and pelvic floor are responsible for that!”
And if you’re thinking that’s not a problem, but you’ll continue to do crunches to make it easier to get that flat belly after your pregnancy, you should definitely think again about that one.
Pregnancy exercise is a great way to keep yourself fit and minimize the extra weight gain that isn’t pregnancy weight but just ‘I can eat whatever I want weight’. Everyone gains weight during pregnancy, but let’s take a tip from Jessica Simpson to put down the deep fried Oreos and Southern spiced wings and keep it healthy for the baby. Eating a healthy diet and engaging in some pregnancy-friendly exercise is a great way to keep yourself fit and not have to shock your system once you’ve given birth and you’re looking to get your pre-baby bod back.
Kate also has some great pregnancy tips for the type of exercise you are looking to do. You should always take your baby’s health into consideration and see your body as a place that you are nurturing a life. Women don’t need to be completely wrapped in cotton wool when they’re pregnant, but there are safety tips to follow when considering how you’re going to work out.
Let’s take a look at Kate’s top pregnancy workout tips:
- Include a gradual warm-up and cool-down pre and post exercise.
- Exercise at an intensity that is comfortable for you – avoid unsupervised high-intensity exercise during pregnancy if you weren’t doing it before you fell pregnant.
- Stay well hydrated and avoid over-heating.
- Avoid any activities (e.g. very heavy lifting) which cause you to hold your breath or alter your posture.
- Beyond 16 weeks, be careful when lying on your back – you may be more comfortable in a seated or incline position.
- Avoid activities which increase the risk of physical injury (e.g. contact sports).
- If you do develop abdominal separation, seek guidance around exercises you need to include or avoid.
- Get moving – reduce time spent sitting and get regular exercise in!
- Maintain good bowel habits – go when you need to go!
- Practice safe manual handling techniques – whether it be at work or home.
Keeping it gentle is key and activities like walking, swimming, yoga and pilates are low impact activities that keep your body fit and build a strong cardiovascular system, which makes mum and bub healthier.
For more information about Kate Faber and Precision Physio, you can visit their website.
Images via myrtylebeachbirthservices.com and precisionathletica.com.au
While women are usually elated during pregnancy, dads-to-be can sometimes put a damper on things. The reason: FEAR! Many men experience unrelenting fear because life as they know it has changed in an instant – and despite most men not revealing what they are thinking, as soon as it’s official that they are about to become fathers their minds race off in a million different directions.
Initially, there’s the prospect of complications during pregnancy. Men won’t say it, but there are some who fear losing the baby as a result of miscarriage. Giving the commonality of miscarriage, said to occur in about one in five pregnancies, this fear is understandable. As a result, some men may distance themselves from their partner or the pregnancy and their thoughts surrounding this loss can make them do some weird and not-so-wonderful things.
For example: some men avoid talking about the baby or purchasing essential items before the baby is born. To women this can be frustrating or hurtful and tends to look like he’s really not interested. That’s often not the case. Basically, they want to avoid the pain associated with miscarriage – and whether they realise it or not, some dads-to-be put up protective boundaries to prevent this from happening.
On the other hand, some expectant fathers worry obsessively about their unborn baby and partner. They don’t want anything to go wrong and take every precaution to prevent complications. This is when pregnancy can effect a couple’s sex life. There are men who worry about vaginal penetration or additional pressure on their partners stomach during sex. These men are genuinely concerned about harming the baby. And despite the lack of evidence that sex could be a reason for miscarriage, there are men who don’t want to take the risk or feel uncomfortable about having sex with their pregnant spouse specifically for this reason.
This brings many to have fears about their partner and relationship. Although fatal birthing complications are as rare as hen’s teeth these days, most men don’t want to contemplate the idea that anything could happen to their partner or baby during delivery. Other thoughts surrounding their relationship include: whether it’s strong enough to survive parenthood, how will the baby change their life together and how their roles as partners and people will shift.
Ultimately, all men expecting a baby ask themselves the biggest question and that is how will they cope with being a father. All these thoughts and feelings manifest as some type of behaviour. Those confident about the challenges ahead will excel, while other men will struggle with the concept of fatherhood and this is when negatives arise – they may not be telling their partners directly how they feel, but their behaviour will be a prime indicator of what they are experiencing.
Image via essentialbaby.com.au
Preconception care prepares your body for a successful, healthy pregnancy and is one of the most responsible choices you can make for you and your baby’s health. It helps eliminate harmful substances from your diet known to affect reproductive and general health and foetal development and should be considered by everyone looking to start a family.
“You need a healthy body to make a healthy baby,” explained naturopath and author, Lisa Guy. “It takes three months for female eggs to mature and four months for sperm to mature which is why it is so important to consider preconception care as early as possible, at least four months in advance, to increase your chances of a successful, healthy pregnancy.”
“Being healthy while trying to conceive is vital for both you and your baby. The preconception period is the time to make life changes for you and your partner that can help boost fertility, reduce problems during pregnancy and assist in recovery from birth,” added Lisa.
Here, Lisa outlines her essential tips for preconception care;
1. Examine your diet
At no other time in your life is your diet more important than before, during and straight after pregnancy. Eating a wholesome, well-balanced diet is vital and will increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. Try to include at least five portions of fruit or vegetables, protein, fish and some iron-rich food in your diet and make fast food and sweets an occasional treat.
2. Take essential supplements
Although nothing takes away from the significance of a healthy, well-balanced pre-pregnancy diet, nutritional supplementation is extremely important and is known to help prevent congenital defects and malformations often caused by nutritional deficiencies. Taking a supplement every day is a small change that will pay big rewards. When planning pregnancy, there are three essential vitamins and minerals your body needs:
- Folic Acid: Essential for healthy foetal development and reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, folic acid is crucial in pre-pregnancy. You should consider taking folic acid three months prior to conception. Each FABFOL tablet contains 500mcg of folic acid which is the recommended daily intake for the Australian diet.
- Zinc: Zinc works to support and strengthen the immune system and is important for hormone balance and to boost fertility.
- Omega 3: Increasing the intake of omega 3 fats helps support reproductive health.
3. Kick unhealthy habits
Making some important lifestyle changes is a great way to prepare for pregnancy and will help ensure a healthy conception. Avoid anything that poses a health risk to you and your baby such as alcohol, cigarettes and some prescription medication.
4. Visit your GP
A trip to your GP for a preconception consult is also important when you begin thinking about starting a family. Your GP will provide you with expert advice on planning your pregnancy, discuss any health problems or concerns, lifestyle issues, diet and organise any essential pre-pregnancy immunisations.
FABFOL has all your nutritional needs covered pre, during and post pregnancy, so all you need to focus on is your growing baby and is available from pharmacies nationally. FABFOL 56 tablets RRP $24.95.
Is there anything that yoga can’t do? Not only is prenatal yoga good for you, but it’s also great for your baby! There are many institutions all over the country which offer great yoga classes for you and your unborn baby – with stellar results.
Prenatal yoga is divided into three different levels – one for the first-trimester, second and then the third and final trimester just before the baby is due. Below you can find just a few ways prenatal yoga is good for you and your baby, and how to get started.
Not only does it help you stay in shape during your pregnancy, yoga also keeps your muscles nice and toned, improves circulation in the body, and helps with a variety of breathing exercises that will keep you calm and centred during labor.
One of the first steps of any yoga classes doesn’t actually focus on the arms or legs at all – instead it teaches you ujjayi. This technique means that you breathe in through your nose and completely exhale through your mouth, leaving your stomach to decompress.
- Before you embark on your first ever prenatal yoga class, it’s a great idea to drink a lot of water. Sometimes yoga can feel physically exerting, so it’s always good to keep your body hydrated.
- Take a deep breath after every movement. With each class, this will be easier to remember, and soon you’ll find your body just does it naturally after every rhythm.
Best yoga position: Side-lying position
This is one of the best positions to end a class, and is suitable for women in their first, second or third trimester. Feel free to take as long as you want with this position, and practice breathing.
- Your instructor will let you know which poses to avoid, and which to embrace since your joints will begin to loosen up due to pregnancy. As a general rule you should avoid lying on your back, since the weight of the baby isn’t comfortable and it could block blood flow.
- Don’t rush into every position. Remember to take your time and listen to your body. If you feel extremely strained and tired, it’s best to take a break and ease back into the position later on.
Best yoga position: Cat Cow
This position is perfect for women who are in the early stages of their pregnancy. The exercise focuses on stretching the back muscles, and relieving any tight back pain.
- If you’re well into your trimester, you may feel that your sense of balance is compromised, and it’s harder to perform some of the standard poses. Use a chair to keep your balance, and remember to go slow and don’t rush into anything.
- It’s important to keep your body moving, so don’t hold poses for a prolonged period of time.
- Focus on breathing exercises which will help you in labor. Sometimes this could mean just reinforcing the ujjayi technique over and over again.
Image via Fitta Mamma
A good friend of mine, who’s mere weeks away from giving birth to her second child, recently had a hilarious, X-rated dream about a handsome Indian man who skilfully pleasured her, then fed her pappadums. Win, win!
And, confession time: I too had many such pregnancy sex dreams during both of my pregnancies; I was a right hornbag, to quote Kath and Kim.
This is all good and well, until you wake up from such an erotic dream, only to have your husband ask you what you’ve been dreaming about, because you’ve been moaning and thrashing about in your sleep?! And it can be especially awkward if you’ve been having bizarre X-rated dreams about someone random in your life, like say the neighbour next door, or the local barista who so adeptly makes you your favourite daily coffee.
So, why do pregnant women have porn films going in their subconscious, when asleep?
Don’t panic, you’re not losing your mind: is it those crazy hormones – the bane of all pregnant ladies – to blame, yet again? Experts say yes, in part. And chillax – these pregnancy sex dreams are very, very common.
Your heightened hormones may well be the cause, dramatically increasing your libido. Or, maybe you’re not having as much sex with your husband as you’d like, now that there’s a massive baby bump in the way? Thus, your crazy sexual cravings are consuming you?
Of course, pregnant women’s dreams are more vivid and unusual when up the duff. In addition, experts say these dreams may reflect any anxiety and emotion you may be feeling about being pregnant.
What’s more, you often don’t sleep as soundly when pregnant, especially in the uncomfortable last few months before your EDD – not to mention the fact that you have to get up to pee all the frigging time – so, inevitably it’s more likely that you will remember your crazy, porn-star dreams.
One idea, and a nice way to make the most of your bizarre porno dreams while pregnant, is to keep a journal next to your bed, for when you can’t sleep, then share your crazy sex dreams with your partner. It could lead to deeper intimacy between the two of you at this tumultuous time of expecting a baby and turn him on, too.
Maybe just don’t mention the pappadums. Now, that’s just weird!
What do you think? Have you ever had pregnancy sex dreams?
Images via www.pixabay.com