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Diary of a Pregnant Doula: First Trimester Round up

Siobhan Ridley

So it turns out that the third pregnancy goes even faster than the second! How is that even possible?! I feel as though my experience of time has gone totally DeLorian* on me. I remember those first three months of my pregnancy No.1 went achingly slowly. I was so eager to get to the first scan, the 'safe point' and to share our news with our families. Simultaneously I adored having this special secret...this little miracle thing that was happening in my body that belonged only to my husband and I. Now, with two children, whom I home educate during the week, a business with many facets and my other voluntary ventures, it's no wonder this pregnancy is going a little differently.

This first trimester has also been the hardest hitting in terms of sickness. I'm really lucky to have barely experienced anything resembling 'morning sickness' in either of my previous pregnancies but this one came with ten weeks of feeling like I was the colour green and my battery pack had been unplugged. My memory always goes to shit with pregnancy but this has been unprecedented...I'm double booking things, muddling days, forgetting basic vocabulary and loosing my keys...when I'm actually holding them(!). I'm pretty sure my brain has gone “THREE! Are you crazy...I'm outta here”.

This is my first pregnancy since becoming fully immersed in the world of birth work and it's been a fascinating journey for me already. This time around I'm much more nutritionally aware and despite going off food altogether during those 10 weeks of nausea, I have made more of an effort to consider the supplements that I take, up my hydration levels and generally focus more on my dietary requirements.

Starting as I mean to continue: making informed choices early on

I have begun my journey through maternity services by weighing up my choices at every stage. In this initial stage the only things that have been offered to me to consider have been the first ultrasound (or otherwise termed the 'dating' scan) and the three chromosomal abnormality screening test. In my previous pregnancies, screening for Down's Syndrome was available but not for Edwards’ and Patau's. My husband and I spent some time discussing which screening we would like and why. I read up on Edwards’ and Patau's and we really considered how a discovery that our baby might have one of these two syndromes could effect my pregnancy. It was an interesting journey and I realised that some 'routine' or innocuous looking tests that are offered might have huge ramifications.

We asked ourselves these questions (we didn't ask ourselves these questions with Down's only because we've already been a position where we've been offered this screening and know how we feel):

  • What is Edwards’ and Patau's?

  • What does a it mean for a baby?

  • Would we choose to terminate? What would that look like? How would that effect my state of mind, our family etc?

  • If not, what would that mean for the rest of the pregnancy and birth, carrying a tiny human with a condition 'not-viable with life'? What would that look like? How would that effect my state of mind, our family etc?

It's not entirely relevant what we chose to do, but starting the process of researching, analysing, hypothesising and discussing this offer, filled me with the confidence of being in control of my experiences and the next 6/7 months. In an odd way it also helped my husband and I to connect with the reality of having another human.

Sharing this experience with clients

I have totally loved teaching hypnobirthing and supporting doula clients whilst growing this little life. It's been magic talking to my wonderful clients about their journeys and then afterwards, thinking about my own. I always learn so much from the families with whom I work and have recently been making a mental note of the things that may enhance my own pregnancy and labour experience. When I am with my clients, I witness grace, intelligence, courage, honesty, team work, amazing strategies and I hear how they navigate all the complexities of their own contexts. Even before thinking to my own pregnancy and birth, I am all the better for having been party to their journeys.

Plans for the next trimester

I don’t really have any. We have the great benefit of already owning all the baby paraphernalia that we liked/found useful and we don’t have any of the general crap left that Pinterest told us to buy (curse you shiny pin boards). We also have bags of clothes, toys etc ready to go. We now know that babies are unpredictable and that our style of newborn parenting is to kind of just roll with it. So we don’t plan too much. I have started to give some thought to our birth plans though and I’m excited about starting preparations sometime over the next few months.

What has your First trimester been like? What have been your highs and lows? Has your second pregnancy differed from your first?

I’d love to hear your stories.

Disclaimer: Every woman and every perinatal experiences (pregnancy to motherhood) is entirely unique. My journey is just that, mine. In no way do my choices reflect on how I support others through their own journey. I support all pregnant people and their families through all their choices. You can read about why I've chosen to open my third pregnancy up to anyone who might want to follow along.

*Pardon the Back to the Future reference.