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Pregnancy & Birth Experience

After Ruahné was born, I have received quite a few questions from other soon to be mammas with regards to my pregnancy and birth experience. So I asked on my social media pages if you guys would like it if I did a live talk. The answer was a resounding yes!


So on Thursday, Ruahné turned 3 months old (how did we get here so soon?😱). And when she took a nap - I decided it was now or never! I did the live talk in Afrikaans as requested, but decided to do the blog in English for the rest of you!🤗


You can watch the Afrikaans Live here:


Please note that this is NOT any medical or pregnancy & birth related advice. I am simply sharing my experience. Please consult with your doctor / midwife or relevant health care professionals before you make any choices.


I also do not want to trigger anyone or make anyone feel bad about their own experience. The ultimate theme of the Bible is about choosing LIFE. And if both you and your baby came out of this whole ordeal alive - it's a win! Regardless if your baby was born normal, via an emergency C-section or a scheduled C-section.


Also this post is a long one... it's our personal journey so it's impossible to give you the full picture without giving you all the detail.

 

Pre-Pregnancy


When we got married, we said that we would wait at least five years before we start with a family. If it was André's choice - he would have had kids straight away. But we agreed that we'll wait a bit and just enjoy married life for a while. We got married when we both were 23 years old - three weeks before my 24th birthday. (We are both 1992 babies, but André's birthday is in October & mine in April.)


Several times when people heard that we wanted to wait at least five years they would tell us that once we have kids, we would regret not starting sooner. However, I can truly say that it's not the case. So if you felt like this as well - it's completely normal. Once kids are born - they are part of your life for the next 18 years at least. And whilst it's a beautiful adventure, I believe that it's super important that a husband & wife prioritise their marriage. Once the kids are out of the house, you don't want to feel like you're living with a stranger. For us, spending time as just the two of us was really important.


At the start of April 2021, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. And at the end of April 2021, we found out that I was pregnant! Abba's sense of humor is THE best! We said five years and He kept us to our word.


I was on the pill for just over 4 years. At the end of September 2020 I decided to stop using the pill. Me & my hubby spoke about it - seeing that we knew so many people who struggled to fall pregnant after being on the pill. I also read up a little more about the pill myself and did some research on the reaction it triggers in your body, the side effects and long term complications, etc. And even though we didn't plan on trying to conceive back then, I didn't want to continue using the pill. So I stopped using it there and then.


I then tracked my period with my Garmin app & also started to track it with the Flo app (a friend recommended it to me & I can seriously recommend it to you as well). So from October 2020 until April 2021 I used these apps to track my ovulation dates - until I obviously found out that I was pregnant.


Pregnancy


So, I suspected that I was pregnant during the week of my birthday. Even before my period was due, I just had a strange feeling that I might be pregnant. I thought of buying a pregnancy test and test on the morning of my birthday (it was on a Friday) and then if it was positive - I could surprise my husband with it, since he was very keen to start with a family for since we got married!🤣 But the week was super busy & I honestly thought that I probably was not pregnant. But by the Sunday, my period still didn't come and my period was always regular. So a late period was strange. I then told my hubby that I think I might be pregnant & we then got a pregnancy test which I did on the Monday morning & we found out that I was pregnant.

I have shared my husband's reaction when he found out on Instagram - if you want to watch it: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVQauVmqHrj/


I was truly blessed with a super easy pregnancy!


The week before we found out that I was pregnant, my energy levels were depleted. By eight at night I could barely keep my eyes open. But I didn't think too much of it (despite having the gut feeling that I might be pregnant). As the few weeks before that & that week as well - I had super early mornings. Earlier than usual and more hectic days than usual. So I though that it was just burn out from the intense schedule. Which I still believe it was mostly, but the pregnancy's hormonal changes obviously also played a massive role as well.

I had a bit of morning sickness from round about week 6 up until week 16. But it wasn't severe. I'd wake up in the mornings and either had to run to the bathroom and then it was all over for the rest of the day. Or I'd wake up and know I'm fine - no nausea and then I'd be fine for the rest of the day as well. I was nauseas for say 2-3 days average per week.


At approximately 26 weeks, I was chilling on the couch watching teachings when I started to feel pain / discomfort in my lower abdomen. I am super chilled and don't get upset or startled easily. So when I felt the discomfort, I started googling what it might be.

(Side note: please do NOT google your symptoms whilst pregnant, it might cause some serious triggers to go off for some people).

I discovered that what I was feeling is called Round Ligament Pain. It happens often with pregnant women and it's not dangerous at all. It simply happens when your baby is growing faster than the tempo at which your ligaments are relaxing - hence you feel the pain / discomfort as the ligament is stretched continuously. There's also not much you can do about it other than waiting it out - until your body produces enough relaxin for the ligaments to relax & stretch to accommodate your growing baby. The next couple of days, I didn't instruct my usual group fitness classes - just to allow my body to adapt without any added stress. And within a week the discomfort was gone.


I have also experienced braxton hicks (mock contractions) a few times during my pregnancy. And they never hurt. I'd be busy and then just feel "ah there we go!" To someone who isn't aware about braxton hicks it might feel alarming when you first feel it. But it is completely normal. If you have any concerns - please discuss it with your health care professionals regardless if it's deemed normal.


I have continued exercising throughout my pregnancy. I instructed group fitness classes until I was 36 weeks pregnant. And after that I went for the occasional swim in the lap pool.

I am a certified pre- & post natal exercise specialist and have been working with pregnant & post-partum ladies for the past 4 years. So I was able to modify my workouts to ensure that it's still safe for me and my baby.

The general rule of thumb is that you can continue with the exercise routine you have done before you got pregnant, when you are pregnant. Modifying when & where needed.

Please note that basic personal trainers are NOT qualified to work with pregnant & post-partum women. They need to have further qualifications to work with pre- & post-natal women. Fitness professionals that are qualified to work with pre- & post-natal women are biokineticists & physiotherapists. Please ensure that your trainer is qualified to assist you in this special journey.


We did not find out the gender of our baby whilst I was pregnant. This was something I was set on doing my entire life. Initially when we got married my husband said he would like to know what the gender is when we find out that we are pregnant, but along the journey he changed his mind. And by the time we found out that I was pregnant, we were both set on the idea to not find out the gender of our baby.

I have absolutely no problem with people finding out the gender of their babies during their pregnancies. It just was not something that we wanted to do. The blessing of being able to expect is so big that the gender truly doesn't matter. And I feel that all too often, people get so caught up in hoping for a specific gender - when Abba already knows best on what gender you will have & you end up missing out on simply being grateful for the fact that you are able to have children and that your baby is healthy and alive.

During my pregnancy I know of FIVE women whom have lost their babies during their pregnancies and I have so many friends and family members who would love to have a baby - but things just didn't work out for them that way. When you start to get perspective of that - the gender of your baby truly does not matter anymore.

Plus there is absolutely NO greater feeling than that moment when your baby is born and you find out the gender! The pregnancy was a gift and then finding out the gender is like a double gift! It's a feeling I cannot put into words but will cherish for the rest of my life!


Birth Experience


I really wanted to do a home birth. But to do that, you need a support system & you need them close by. My mom & sister both live over 700km from us. So eventually we decided to do a hospital birth. I don't regret doing the hospital birth As I have had a great experience. However - the home birth option is definitely still on the table for future babies.


I'm not going into the details of why I wanted to do a home birth. I did share a bit on the lives but I will one day do another live, focused on just the birth process. But for Thursday's live & this blog - it's irrelevant.

Did you know that I is completely normal to go past your due date? Yep! Despite doctors getting all hyped up about inductions and C-sections the moment you hit 40 weeks. I was very blessed with my OB - he did not push for induction or anything when we got to the 40 week mark, but not all OB's are like that.


So, when I was 40 weeks & 2 days pregnant- I started feeling contractions an hour after we went to bed. I got up, went to the bathroom. And I tracked my contractions. They were 3 contractions every 10 minutes. The contractions were irregular though and they were not painful at all. Although they were not painful - I could feel that this was the real deal and not just braxton hicks.

We planted (started) our veggie garden on my due date 😆 - so I may or may not have induced myself with the physical labour. But anyway, once I started to feel the contractions, I went to my office and went through some last minute info to refresh my memory & work through a prayer that I wrote (more about this in the coming live talk as well).


After an hour of continuous but irregular contractions, they started coming regularly every 2 minutes and the intensity increased. It still wasn't painful! Praise Abba! I got up from my office and went to wake up my husband. When I woke him up, he first didn't believe me that it was really happening. He though I was joking as he said I was way to calm for someone who was in labour. But when I told him that I've been awake for over an hour, tracking my contractions - he realised this isn't a prank. He got up and packed our stuff in the car & sorted our dogs. While he did that, I took a long shower and just chilled it out. At approximately 01:30 am, we got to the hospital, checked in and got admitted. The nurse then monitored me for 30 minutes. I was only 3cm dilated. That was 02:00am and the nurse told me that she would come back to check in on me again at 06:00am. I though to myself - I'll be seeing you before 06:00am but no worries. Haha


The first hour after being monitored was fine. I walked around in the labour room - lying down was the worst position to be in.🙄 Movement really helped. The contractions remained 2 minutes apart but increased in intensity. And it became slightly painful, but still completely bearable without any medication. After an hour the intensity took it up quite the notch! My contractions were by then 60-90 seconds in duration with only 45-60 second breaks in between. I'll be honest - it was pretty brutal! They don't call it the transitional phase for nothing. It's the final stage before the actual pushing phase. It's not so much a feeling of pain as it is a feeling of immense pressure. Round about 03:45am, my water broke and the pain was gone. Literally in an instance! The contractions were still going strong, but the pain was gone. The pushing phase was NOTHING like how movies and media portrays it. May I remind you that our bodies are literally designed to do this. And once my water broke, there was only one thing left to do and that was for our little miracle to be born! Less than an hour after my water broke, Ruahné was born & filled our hearts with more love than we could ever imagine!


We did delayed cord clamping. And didn't do any measurements immediately after birth. We just soaked it all in and enjoyed our golden hour with our biggest blessing. During the golden hour, I also breastfed for the first time. And at round about 07:00am I had already taken a bath and walked around in the hospital. One of the best things about giving normal birth is that your truly are back to normal right from the get go!


Post-Partum


Ruahné was born just before 05:00am on the Friday morning and the Saturday morning I was discharged from the hospital. So I only slept one night in hospital.

Just like with my pregnancy, my post-partum journey has been a blessed experience so far as well. Ruahné sleeps like a little champion - she has slept through 12 times in her 95 days here on earth. Which is a pretty good ratio for newborns. So no complaining from our side!


We didn't do anything to make her sleep through. I am a firm believer that babies will sleep through when they are ready to. And I definitely do not expect her to sleep through every night at such a young age. Whenever she wakes up and wants to feed - her mamma will be right there for her! On that note, I am exclusively breastfeeding her. And yes, it's a demanding task having a baby that feeds on demand. But it is also a massive blessing to be able to breastfeed and to have enough milk supply. I know many moms who would love to breastfeed but their milk supply just can't meet the baby's demands & I also know many moms who don't / didn't enjoy breastfeeding at all. And all of the above is okay. Whatever WORKS best for you and your baby IS best for you and your baby!


Breastfeeding has also helped me a lot to lose the weight that I have gained during my pregnancy. I have trained a few times (5 sessions to be exact) after giving birth, but I am not training like I used to. I will start teaching group fitness classes again from May onwards - and I will modify as I go along... Building back my strength one day at a time. There is absolutely no rush to get back "into shape" or "bounce back" after having a baby!

 

If you are a mamma and you would like to share your birth story - please contact me! Let's get the word out that birth can be beautiful, despite the fact that no two women's journeys will ever be the same!

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