Yesterday I had my 35 week appointment with the midwife and had quite a few questions for her.
I’ve been experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions since about five months pregnant, but over the past week their frequency and intensity increased. I continued with my normal routine for the most part: chasing around my two year old, lugging laundry up and down the stairs…the typical activities of a mom with a toddler. But on Saturday the contractions seemed a little more frequent and a little more intense (2-3 per hour, strong enough that I had to sit down or stop close my eyes and try to breath through them to relax my belly). We had an active week last week at the beach and I ran on Friday (activity can contribute to Braxton-Hicks), but the felt great and was easy with walk break. I atributed Saturdays fatigue and contractions to the busy week and figured they’d be gone the next day.
But Sunday it continued: more contractions, frequent and intense. They didn’t feel like the cramping pains of labor, just an overall tightening. I was sure they were Braxton-Hicks, but I just didn’t feel like my usual self. I felt like something was “happening” or “progressing.” I felt like I should rest and take it easy so I did. Monday I felt the same, it was now three days without exercise and limited activity and proper hydration (I was constantly monitoring my hydration from Saturday to Sunday as dehydration can also contribute to BH contractions). Monday I felt the most “off,” we did normal errands: a trip to the library and the grocery store. But the rest of the afternoon I relaxed, my energy felt up compared with Saturday, but the contractions/tightening continued. As I sat on the couch last night I wondered if this baby was going to come early? But there were no other distinct signs of “real” labor and the baby is still really high (he hasn’t “dropped” yet). I tried to relax into sleep but had a fitful night.
This pregnancy has been so different from my first. With Sophia I didn’t feel a BH contraction till 38 weeks. I even traveled 6 hrs to PA three weeks from my due date. I was confident, but this time around I’m a littlntractions were normal, even with their frequency and intensity.
This morning I woke up feeling more “normal” the “off” feeling was gone and I felt like my energy level was good. I had a scheduled appointment this morning (which is part of the reason I didn’t call yesterday, had there been any significant signs of labor I would have). I checked in with my midwife and she assured me that the Braxton-Hicks contractions were normal, even with their frequency and intensity. It seems that in women who have given birth before, the uterin muscle requires more “toning:” its like a pre-work out warmup preparing for labor. And although I have “progressed,” I am 1 cm dilated, all other signs say that labor is still a ways off.
This pregnancy has been so different from my first. With Sophia I didn’t feel a Braxton Hicks contraction until 38 weeks. I felt like she was “solidly in there” until the night I went into labor. And intuitively I knew when the contractions started that it was the real deal. I even told my husband “I’m going to have a baby tonight.” He thought I was a crazy because he was thinking of what they teach in birthing class: if you think you’re in labor you’re probably not just wait. So many first time mothers go to the hospital too soon, I arrived at the birth center at 8cm and an hour and fifteen minutes later we had a baby in our hands. But with this pregnancy there have been a few more uncertainties. Things feel different, I have the same intuition and knowledge of my body, I’m just keep second guessing it and that sets me up to worry.
After the midwife assured me that everything was normal and I won’t be having the baby anytime soon, she addressed her primary concern: I haven’t gained much weight in the past two months. My belly is still measuring to show growth each week, which means the baby is still growing on track but the weight on the scale hasn’t changed much.
There are so many things that could be contributing to this. The major one is the fact that a few months ago I re-focused my diet: cutting out desserts, trying to avoid fried foods and potato chips and trying to make snacks whole foods rather than protein bars or shakes. I’d hardly consider that restrictive, but lets be honest here: I have a history with eating disorders. Every time I put my focus towards diet or food, there is the possibility of slipping back into restrictive eating patterns and an overall unhealthy view of myself. I am probably more aware of this than ever since I’ve been sober from Bulimia for three and a half years now, I want to protect and guard that sobriety with everything that I can. I don’t feel as if the changes I made were restrictive or detrimental to my sobriety. But the fact that I haven’t had much weight gain begs the question: Were the changes good? Should I be doing things differently?
There was a temptation for me to leave out this entire part: just talk about the Braxton Hicks and leave it at that; not talk about the lack of weight gain. Partly because I feel like people won’t think I’m credible. That I”m a liar or a fraud. She’s lost weight during her pregnancy and she claims she doesn’t have an eating disorder anymore. Tsk.
But if I step back and look at the facts I feel like I’ve been consistent with maintaining my sobriety and my lifestyle free of obsession with food: I don’t track calories, I don’t weigh myself, the guidelines I outlined for my diet a few weeks back were simply guidelines: I haven’t followed them rigidly. There have been desserts here and there, donuts, potato chips and generous serving sizes. When I step back and look at it (and ask my husband his opinion) my eating habits haven’t changed much.
What I do think is the real reason for the lack of weight gain? Activity. I’ve been incredibly active this past month. My running has been reduced to about three days a week, no more than ten miles a week. But I’ve been doing some major projects around the house: cleaning out the basement, refinishing a few pieces of furniture, overhauling and organizing every closet in the house, bringing baby stuff up from the basement and taking toddler stuff down, vacuuming out the car, weekly trips to the playground, a week at the beach, walks together as a family…in the summer we don’t stop. Partly because summer here in New England is so short that if you do stop, it might start snowing and you’ll have missed your chance.
Since I”m still two weeks away from being full term my midwife suggested I stop running. I was kind of surprised that was the solution as I don’t think running is the culprit. But considering all the other things I still need to get done maybe it would be good to relax a bit, at least until this baby is full term. Then I’ll see if I can run again:-) I can live without running. I can walk with my stroller instead of run with it. But I hate being told what to do…So does my daughter…come to think of it.