Sooner or later, people will start wondering about ‘the bump’. “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” is an all too awkward, yet all too frequently used lead-in to the inevitable question: “…are you pregnant?” (subtext: or are you just putting on weight?) So, why not just get it over with and tell everyone you meet – and save them the potential embarrassment? (Although, I did have people asking me that same, awful, awkward question when I was 8 months pregnant!) Of course, what comes along with telling everyone you meet, “Guess what? I’m pregnant!” is a litany of ‘advice’ some warranted, some not, some credible and the rest, well…here’s a digest of some of the more interesting and/or useful ‘Wives’ Tales’ I was told during my pregnancy:
- Boy or Girl? Greg and I decided to wait and let it be a surprise, which prompted the whole town (we live in a small mountain community) to start drawing bets either way. It’s definitely a boy if the wife has to climb over her husband to get out of bed at night. Boys ‘carry’ high, girls ‘carry’ low…or vice versa. The Italians believe it’s a boy if you can’t tell whether or not a pregnant woman is pregnant just by looking from the back, and it’s a girl if she’s rounded out from all angles. As for me, I knew it was a boy from the first moment. I had recurring dreams of a little boy, and of astronauts. Of course we would have been happy either way, but my instincts proved right (this time)!
- Morning sickness! Some women get it, some lucky ones don’t. I’ve had pregnant friends experience projectile vomiting at 9:04 every morning without fail. I’ve met women who, after several pregnancies, have never experienced it. For myself, it wasn’t just ‘in the morning’, it was all the time. I was constantly nauseous, my appetite went helter-skelter; I had vertigo and fatigue. Apparently, morning sickness has no physiological basis and is technically psycho-somatic (someone prove me wrong, please!). The reality of it, however, is a woman’s entire system – biological, psychological and spiritual – is being turned upside down. My theory is that some women handle the upside-down-inside-out transition better than others. As for dealing with morning sickness, two remedies that some women swear by, yet didn’t work for me: papaya fresh, dried or in capsules is supposed to ease nausea and heartburn; one tablespoon of marshmallow root taken as a cold extraction (let it set overnight) in one cup of water for heartburn and vomiting. The saving grace all throughout my pregnancy (and post-partum) turned out to be homeopathic Sepia – for all problems relating to female hormones and reproduction, it is well indicated for all symptoms of morning sickness, profiled by the worn out, overworked, overwhelmed mom. When I couldn’t eat, sleep or speak in logical sequences (pregnancy messes with the mind, too) I took Sepia in mass quantities – in every potency I could get my hands on. By the time I had worked my way from 30c to 1M the benefits lasted for a few days up to a week before I had to repeat the dose, but it never failed to act. As always, consult a professional homeopath who can help you find the best indicated remedy for your individual needs, but in the meantime keep Sepia close by! (As well as Pulsatilla, but we’ll save that for the third trimester.)
- Sciatica and cramping: Calcium/Magnesium mineral supplements and Pilates worked for me, but only temporarily. The pain kept me awake night after night, perhaps there was some underlying mis-alignment? Visiting a massage therapist who specializes in pre- and post-partum issues is definitely worth your while. A calcium deposit was found in my son’s first ultrasound, in his left ventricle, which is supposedly indicative of Down’s Syndrome. Fortunately, it had disappeared by the second ultrasound, but I wondered if it had anything to do with the calcium supplements. Hmmmmm….
- Talk to the belly: Lots of mothers told me to talk to the being growing in my belly – if I read to him, he’ll be smarter. If I sing to him and talk to him he’ll recognize my voice. Why not? Both my husband and I spent a good deal of time talking to Jimmy in-utero – telling him stories, telling him how excited we were to meet him, singing to him, etc. Interestingly, when Jimmy would be kicking, stomping or squirming around in my stomach so much that I couldn’t sleep, Greg (my husband) would put his hand on my belly and tell Jimmy that his momma had to sleep now so would he also try sleeping? I couldn’t believe it, but Jimmy would calm down right away, and ever since Jimmy was born, Greg seems to have the ‘magic touch’ with him. So enchanting.
- Pre-natal supplements? This is a very personal choice for every woman. However, Iron and Calcium are some of the most important minerals to pay attention to. While I was supplementing with Calcium for the leg cramps, I chose to avoid more synthetic vitamins and try to get everything we needed (baby and me) through my diet. My blood tests proved a tendency toward anemia, so I increased my consumption of chocolate, tahini and dark, leafy greens with positive results. The RDI for Iron during pregnancy is 30 mg, about 150-200% more than the average recommended daily intake. Iron needs Vitamin C for absorption, and Calcium can interfere with Iron absorption, so pay attention to this delicate balance whether you are supplementing or relying on your diet to provide adequate nutrition for both you and your growing baby. A really cool resource to help you track the vitamins and minerals in your diet, as well as making sure your diet is balanced and healthy during pregnancy is the USDA food tracking program. On the USDA food tracker website you can set up a personalized profile and receive coaching and useful information on nutrition and pregnancy: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov.
- Calf Cow! The VERY BEST advice I got, and followed, during my pregnancy was to do the ‘calf-cow’ exercise ALL the TIME!!! Seriously, ALL the TIME: on your hands and knees, arch your back and look up, and then reverse the curve of your spine and look toward your belly button. It’s that simple, that easy, that important. The benefits are prevention of diastasis recti (a post-partum condition where the abdominal muscles have split); it aids in proper fetal positioning, using the natural force of gravity to allow the fetus to swing in your belly as in a hammock so he’s ready to come out head down and face down; and it strengthens and tones the muscles that you need to carry the extra weight without unhealthy stress on your spine. This exercise is also recommended post-partum for perineal weakness and distatsis recti.
What are your wives tales? What worked and what didn’t? Feel free to submit your experiences, the more the merrier, I say!
- Parenting Advice | PREGNANCY MYTH-BUSTERS (emirateswoman.com)