How my first pregnancy shaped my idea of proactive health care & self-care

In my first pregnancy, I learned a few lessons about myself. I was a health professional, not taking my own advice. Now I am not the first health professional to admit that either, after all, we are all human. However, this time the difference was I was pregnant and needed to see my health as even more of a priority as before. The first lesson in parenting- the baby is relying on you to look after it before it is even out of the womb. I want to share with you how my first pregnancy has shaped this one and briefly what I am doing in terms of proactive health care and self-care to prepare not only my body but my mind.

I had a fairly straight forward pregnancy. No complications with my health and no other pre-existing health issues. The only thing I guess was my slight scoliosis. I worked from home and in my home based Myotherapy clinic. I had my electric massage table and rarely did house visits to treat patients, so my lifting and bending were limited. However, at around the 2nd-trimester mark, I noticed increased back soreness at the end of the day. I was treating about 30+ clients a week. This back soreness turned into pelvic girdle pain to the point where simple tasks like putting my pants on caused tremendous pain in my groin and don’t even ask me how I managed to change gears in the car. I knew if I didn’t slow down, I would not be able to carry on working, or worse, spend the last few months on bed rest.

I decided to seek out a Chiropractor as I had always found this form of treatment helped my body. Of course, as I was a Myo specialising in pregnancy massage it was only fitting that I too had pregnancy massage by a trained professional. For the rest of my pregnancy, I continued to alternate between massage and chiro as I found this worked best for me and my body. I placed a lot of importance on my physical health, and when I say physical, I am limiting it to only muscles and joints, (there was so much else I could have been doing to help myself, but I will get to that in my next blog). I also focused a lot of attention on birth and what my options were. I decided to work with both Rhea Dempsey and Gill from CalmBirth to attempt to achieve the birth I wanted.

What I was not prepared for was what came after the birth. The fourth trimester, my transition into motherhood. I struggled with feeding and sleeping issues. I felt isolated, alone and totally overwhelmed. This was all so new to me and looking back now I was underprepared. After the birth I would be a mother and my whole identity would shift in that very moment I birthed my son into the world. Nothing would ever be the same again. I have loved being a mother, but some days I have wondered what the hell I was thinking and not because of my son, because of my unrealistic expectations and lack of preparation made me feel like I was failing.

I fell into this work from the passion I have for caring for women, but also because I see how when women are taken care of, really taken care of how this shapes future generations. Our children get the best of us. Not what’s left of us. I feel I have both experience and perspective now on the other side of that journey. I believe that when we practice proactive health care and self-care this intern better prepares us for what is to come and we can cope not only physically but mentally with the ups and downs of new motherhood.

When I was 6 months postpartum, I studied and trained as Postpartum Doula. I’ve just loved my role in caring for many new mums and supporting them to prepare for motherhood. This experience led me to study to be a registered nurse and midwife of which I am currently undertaking. For now, I am slowing down. I am doing what I wished I had done the first time around. I am reducing my workload so that I can give myself the energy that’s required to get through the last trimester and enjoy it. And this time, I will be taking longer than the 3 weeks maternity leave I had with my son. I have big plans for Untangled Living. I plan to really embrace my journey from having lived postnatal anxiety and depression and coming out the other side stronger and with clarity.

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