A few weeks ago, I “randomly” tossed a question out to my group: would they be interested in following my journey, should I happen to get pregnant again?
What I didn’t tell them — then — was that I was pregnant! I just wanted to get a feel for how interested people might be. This is, after all, baby #6, and I’ve spent the last 10 years pregnant and/or breastfeeding, as well as researching what it takes to have a truly healthy pregnancy and baby.
This post, though, isn’t about all that research. I know some people really want to dive into the nitty-gritty, and I will. But first, I want to lay the groundwork for what a natural pregnancy even is, and what the beginning of it looks like.
What a Natural Pregnancy Looks Like
At this point, I am about 11 weeks along. Some readers are familiar with my previous pregnancies (I have chronicled pregnancies 3 – 5 in some form), while others are not. So the basic step is: what does a “natural” pregnancy even mean?
It will mean something a little different for everyone, so keep in mind this is my definition and experience. I’m just sharing my thoughts here, not telling you “the” answer or what you should do. It’s likely that my circumstances are different than yours, so take from this what works and leave what doesn’t.
To me, a natural pregnancy is one with the least possible intervention. I prefer to limit testing and procedures as much as I can.
- No Doppler use
- No ultrasounds
- No blood tests
- No internal exams
- Few (if any) prenatal visits
- No GD test
- No GBS test
Basically, I am very hands-off.
Why So Hands-Off? Don’t We Need These Tests?
I’ll get into these tests a little bit more later — each test in more detail and why I chose what I chose. For now I’ll just summarize my feelings on the subject in general.
Most of these tests are intended to check to make sure the pregnancy is progressing normally. In most cases, the answer will be yes. The tests don’t actually prevent issues from occurring; they only detect them. Some of the tests come with their own set of risks (from false positives to much more serious risks), and I don’t think that the risk of further intervention is worth “checking on” in a pregnancy that appears to be going fine.
For example, in the first trimester, some doctors commonly perform an internal exam to see if the uterus “feels” pregnant. Why? Either you are or you aren’t. A simple urine test can tell you that. If things aren’t progressing normally, then something will happen — you’ll notice cramping, spotting, or loss of pregnancy symptoms. In that case, rest, water, and possibly progesterone supplements may be in order, depending on the situation. A blood test to check the HCG and progesterone levels and how they are changing will give you much better information on what’s happening and what needs to be done next (if anything). But there is nothing to be gained from “feeling” your uterus. And, there is a risk of introducing bacteria and causing infection. No thanks.
Also common in the first trimester is a “dating” ultrasound. Why? If you know the date of your last period, or the date of ovulation, you can get a due date that is going to be within a few days to a week of accurate. A dating ultrasound is useless in this case. There is also no need to just “see” your baby. I know some women who have had miscarriages before may find peace of mind in seeing that their baby is alive and developing, but personally…yes, I have had a miscarriage and I had absolutely no desire to check on anything during or after, because I knew that it would not change the outcome anyway. Plus, ultrasounds do come with risks to the baby, possibly including causing a miscarriage. So no, I don’t do this.
Doppler use is common in the first trimester, too. It’s possible to hear baby’s heart beat from as early as 7 – 8 weeks. I do not allow this. Doppler is a stronger form of ultrasound and not necessarily safe for the baby. Without a Doppler, you cannot hear a baby’s heartbeat until 16 – 20 weeks (with a fetoscope). Is it nerve-wracking to wait? Well, for me…not anymore. I’ve simply grown used to this, it’s normal to me now. In our culture, most women expect to see/hear a baby’s heartbeat between 6 and 8 weeks (via Doppler or ultrasound). So if they don’t/can’t, it feels very difficult and they are nervous. I understand that.
I’ve found quite a lot of peace in staying in tune with my own body. My pregnancy symptoms let me know that things are still happening. Feeling my uterus (from the outside) lets me know it is growing and changing. In the first trimester, outside of a progesterone deficiency, there is really nothing that doctors could even “do” if a pregnancy issue cropped up. Baby would not be viable (obviously) and is too young to really “test” or treat for anything yet. So barring serious symptoms (which I have not had), I see no point in doing much of anything, care-wise.
I do want to say if you know you are high risk, if you do have a progesterone deficiency, if you are extremely sick and dehydrated…those are indications to get some help, because doctors can offer progesterone supplements, anti-nausea medications, and hydration so that you stay feeling okay and you don’t lose the baby to something preventable. This was never my situation, though.
What About Pregnancy Symptoms?
My experience this time around has been interesting, because it’s been a bit different than all my other pregnancies. We were trying, and I was able to track exactly what was happening, as it happened. I knew at the moment of conception. I knew exactly when implantation happened (based on random, central cramping at an ‘odd’ time in my cycle and slight discharge). I knew the test would be positive…and it was, at 12 DPO. (With darker tests to reassure myself at 15 DPO and 18 DPO.)
“Morning sickness” started at not even 4 weeks, which was really early. With my first and fifth pregnancies, it started around 6 weeks. With my second, third, and fourth pregnancies, it was more like 7 – 8 weeks. Thankfully, the worst of it — and it was not bad — resolved by 10 weeks, although I still have the occasional rough time. Dehydration and tiredness seem to play a role in making it worse.
My experience with morning sickness, this time, was that I felt fine most of the time, but certain foods and certain times made me feel very bloated, in my upper abdomen (near my stomach/liver…very central). Also, certain sights/smells/thoughts could trigger instant nausea.
I did discover the following things helped:
- Light, brisk walking for 20 min. per day
- Drinking milk kefir (other probiotic foods helped some too, but supplements did not)
- Staying hydrated (huge trigger is thirst)
- Avoiding things that bothered me (certain foods or smells)
I have a number of theories on why morning sickness occurs, which I’ll discuss in another post — it’s long, and this is already pretty long!
I also want to mention that currently, I have not seen a doctor or midwife. This may change, but I won’t be seeing anyone in the first trimester (see above — there’s not really anything they can do anyway right now). Either way, I will be planning my fifth home birth.
That’s just a brief introduction to where I am right now! I will share on more specific issues in future posts, and I’ll include some of my research in those posts too!
Have you had a natural pregnancy? What does that mean to you?
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