Ep 215: 11 Must Know Tips to Have the Best Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Experience

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In this episode you’re going to learn 11 must-know tips to have the best pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. As you know, I’ve delivered thousands of babies and I’ll be the first to tell you that you can’t predict how any birth will go. The only predictable thing about birth is that it’s unpredictable.  

BUT….you can absolutely be ready for that unpredictability! I’ve put together a list of tips that everyone having a baby can benefit from. Whether it’s your first or your last, whether you’re giving birth in the hospital, a birth center or at home, whether you have a midwife or a physician, this advice will be super helpful to you!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What making the most of your prenatal care looks like
  • Why it’s essential to attend all of your prenatal checkups
  • What a support system is and how to build one
  • Why you need a birth partner who you can communicate with
  • What are some ways you can bond with your baby (even before they’re born!)
  • Why you need to understand that SELF CARE ISN’T SELFISH
  • How to manage the inevitable stress that will come with pregnancy, birth, and parenthood

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Dr.Nicole (00:00): In this episode, I'm sharing 11 must no tips to have the best pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. Welcome to the all about pregnancy and birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OBGYN, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now, let's get to it.

(00:52): Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 215. Whether you are a new listener or a returning listener, I am so glad that you are spending some of your time with me today. In this episode, you are going to learn 11 great tips are going to help you have the best pregnancy, the best birth, and the best postpartum experience. These are tips that everyone having a baby will benefit from, whether it's your first baby or your last baby, whether you're giving birth in the hospital, a birth center, or at home, whether you have a midwife or a physician, you are going to want to hear these tips. Now, if you've listened to me at all or follow me on social media, then you can absolutely guess that one of the tips is going to be educating yourself. So let me tell you about a great education option that I have for childbirth education. That's the birth preparation course. The birth preparation course is my signature. Online childbirth education class is going to get you calm, confident, and empowered to have the most beautiful birth experience. I've had thousands of folks go through the course and I'd love to have you too. So check out all the details of the birth preparation course at drnicolerankins.com/enroll.

(02:16): All right, let's get to it and get into these tips. All right. Number one is make the most of your prenatal care experience. All right. Prenatal care really has been shown to improve outcomes, but the issue with prenatal care is that it's really restricted, okay? In the sense that the reality is that visits are typically pretty short. They may be five minutes, 10 minutes at the most, so you have to make the most of those visits that you have. So underneath making the most of prenatal care, let me give you these more specific tips. Number one of course is attend checkups. All right? We know that the checkups are important for monitoring the health of you and your baby, checking on your blood pressure, checking how the baby is growing, all of those things. They're also scheduled tests that need to be done at certain times during pregnancy.

(03:13): I actually have a guide that gives you all of the tests that are to be done during pregnancy. You can grab that free guide on my website at drnicolerankins.com/prenatal, but definitely attend all of your appointments because that's going to be like the first step to making the most of prenatal care, and you want to go to your appointments, however prepared and ready to ask questions. Now, I am a team Android person like Android all the way. So on my phone, I would open up something like a keep note in order to keep track of things. So what I want you to do is open up whatever Android or Apple a note on your phone for your prenatal appointments. This is the place that in between appointments, you can jot down, put those questions. We all carry our phones around with us all the time. They're like personal computers.

(04:05): You want to open up that note, jot those questions down so that you can bring them with you to your appointments. That way you have this central place that you can always discuss things. You can even share the note with a partner so you guys can keep one running document of things. It can also be a great place to keep records so that you can jot down any thoughts or things that you got from the appointment. All right? So make that list of questions and topics and things that you want to discuss so that you can make the most of those quick appointments. This is going to help that your questions, your concerns are addressed and you're not like leaving and realizing, oh, I forgot to ask this. I forgot to ask that.

(04:53): And again, that note is a great place to keep records, jot down anything, any important discussions or decisions that that happened. It'll help serve as a reference to help you keep track of your care. It can be really useful if you're in a practice where you see different providers every visit or if you decide to switch to another healthcare provider. All right? Now, of course, your doctor keeps records, but you don't have any control over the records that they keep. You do have control over the records that you keep, so keep those good notes. It doesn't have to be anything detailed or write a dissertation, but keep notes. So what's going on? Definitely also register for a patient portal these days a lot, if not most places have electronic medical records and you can register for a patient portal to see your results and things like that.

(05:44): Now, we'll give a caveat about the patient portal. Any labs that you get done or test, the results are going to show up in your portal right away whenever the results are available. There's actually a law that mandated that, and your Dr. May not have seen the results yet, so don't freak out and call your doctor at 11 o'clock at night when a lab result shows up or over the weekend when a lab result shows up because they probably have not had an opportunity to look at it. So definitely call or follow up about those things during regular business hours because it can be kind of frustrating. I'll be honest, with physicians getting these calls and concerns when they haven't even had a chance to look at those lab results yet. And then also the benefit of the patient portal is that you can send messages.

(06:29): A lot of doctors use robust message systems where you can communicate with the nurse and get a lot of your basic questions answered as well. So make sure you keep records as part of your prenatal appointments and definitely register for those patient portals. And someone's going to ask, I know I can hear it. Somebody's going to ask about recording appointments. You can definitely, if you feel like that's helpful to you, record appointments, maybe it's for something that is a big discussion about something, but you should for sure ask someone's permission before you record. It's not cool to just record someone without their permission. You should really let them know that you're recording the conversation. I think there are rare circumstances where you would need to secretly record things. That's only if like there's a contentious sort of thing going on. So in general, you can ask, Hey, it helps me to record if that's something that is better or useful for you.

(07:25): Okay? Now also under making the most of your prenatal care is communicating your concerns. You definitely want to clearly express your preferences, the things that are important to you, your values, the things that you want for your birth. I say this in my birth plan class that you cannot just show up to the hospital with your birth plan and then all of a sudden think that they're going to necessarily honor what is in that. You want to know well before you get to your birth that the things that you want will be honored. Your prenatal visits are the time to discuss things because it's not a rush. It's not an emergency. You're not in labor. Things are a bit more low key. So you want to discuss things like your pain management options. You want to discuss things like, or pain management preferences, I should say.

(08:18): You want to discuss things like, I don't want to be induced, or I do want to be induced. You want to have these discussions during your prenatal period. Okay? Maybe it's something like, I'm really uncomfortable with cervical exams. Can you please put that in the chart so when I go to the hospital, there can be a note of it. Just use that time to really communicate the things that are important for you, that open communication is going to help pave the way for better collaboration and trust and working together. You expect that anyone is going to be able to read your mind about the things that are important to you. Don't leave these things up to chance. All right? Definitely communicate your preferences and concerns during the prenatal period. And then the last thing I want you to understand as part of your prenatal care and maximizing the most of your prenatal care is understanding your rights.

(09:16): All right? You don't have to agree to anything. You have informed consent, refusal of treatment. You have the right to make decisions about your care. All right? Now, I will say the caveat to that is that in order to create and establish a relationship that works well, you want to be making decisions from a place of being informed and being able to explain your rationale or thought process behind that. Do you have to? No, not necessarily. But yes, it's helpful in order to make sure things don't end up being contentious, right? So for example, if you, for whatever reason, I'm trying to think of an example. If you don't want Pitocin postpartum, even though Pitocin has been shown very clearly to help reduce postpartum hemorrhage, then you want to say, okay, this is why I'm concerned, and you want to bring this up ahead of time, not like right immediately postpartum, this is why I'm concerned, this is why I don't want to do it, and be open and flexible to new and different options or choosing different things or being open to learning different things.

(10:26): I guess I'm saying all that to say is understand your rights, but make sure you're making decisions from a place of being informed, okay? Know that you don't have to accept anything. You can refuse anything. I think this comes up a lot around labor induction, for instance. People are pushing induction maybe sometimes unnecessarily. So just know what your rights are. You don't have to agree to anything, but I want you to be able to communicate your thought process behind something in a clear, concise way. All right? I hope that makes sense. Okay? And just keeping it in a respectful and collaborative matter. All right? Your voice of course, absolutely matters, and you absolutely need to take an active part of your care, and this is how you're going to have the best pregnancy and birth experience. Okay? So all of that was under make the most of prenatal care.

(11:26): Number two is build a support system. Your support system. The first part of your support system is going to be choosing a supportive doctor or midwife, whoever you choose to see. You want someone who listens to you, who respects you, who really hears your concerns, who is going to support the preferences and things that you want for your pregnancy and birth. And if they don't want to or they feel like they can't, that they are explaining their rationale why. All right? When you have that good rapport with your healthcare team, and it may be more than just one doctor because you may see several doctors, that's going to make it so much easier to advocate for yourself, both during your prenatal appointments and any discussions that you have. So the first thing you want to do in your building your support system is choosing a supportive doctor, choosing a supportive midwife, choosing a supportive practice structure, and also I will add choosing a supportive hospital.

(12:31): You half of your birth is the person who's there. The other part is the hospital where you give birth. So you definitely want to choose a hospital that has information about or has practices in place rather that are going to support the things that are important for you. Do they have experience with people who want to do an unmedicated birth? How many of their people get epidurals? If those are things that are important to you, what is the C-section rate for the hospital? I have some questions in my birth plan class. Make a birth plan the right way that are going to help you know that you have a supportive doctor and supportive hospital so you can register for the class. I do it live. I'm doing it like now once every couple months, three months, and that's dr nicole rankins.com/birth plan. You can check that out there.

(13:17): Now, the other part of supportive of building a support system is building like communities, friends, parenting groups, connect with other pregnant folks so that you can share experiences, so that you can receive support from each other. A lot of times, hearing stories from others, especially people who are in your local community, can help give you a lot of valuable information to help advocate for yourself. You can feel really empowered or be more empowered when you're connecting with people in your community. So try to connect with other parents, try to connect with other friends who've had children so that you're not feeling so alone in the journey, and you have that support system around you. And then the final piece of building a support system is professional help. You may seek out professional help. I know sometimes it can be prohibitively expensive, but seek out professional help with a birth doula.

(14:15): Having a birth doula has been shown to decrease your need for pain medication, increase your chances for vaginal birth. These are studies that show that, and people really appreciate having a great doula, so seek out professional help with a birth doula. Also, a postpartum doula may be something that you look into as well, where people can provide, or a doula can provide that support for you postpartum, and a lot of people don't realize that having a postpartum doula doesn't necessarily mean that someone is there every day. It may mean that they come once a week or twice a week. You can stretch it out a little bit. Even those few hours of support can be really helpful in helping you show up as a better parent. Okay? Other things you need in your support system are lactation consultant. You want to identify a lactation consultant before you give birth, so you know someone that you can reach out, reach out to, check with your insurance, see if it's covered.

(15:07): Find someone. It's much better to have that information and not need it than to be scrambling afterwards. In most hospitals, you're going to see a lactation consultant while you're in the hospital, but you definitely want to have some information lined up from when you get out of the hospital. And then other professional support systems that you want to look into are a pelvic physical therapist. I so much did not know the benefit of pelvic physical therapist until these last few years of being in practice is just not something that OBGYNs have necessarily been connected to. But they can be really, really important both for helping you during your pregnancy actually, and helping you learn your body and the right muscles and things to push, and also in the postpartum period if you're recovering. So definitely consider a pelvic physical therapist. Check and see if your insurance covers that as well.

(16:01): Okay, number three, communication with your partner. Communicate with your partner. Y'all. Effective communication is so important to maintaining a strong relationship during the period of pregnancy to having a baby, especially if this is your first baby. This is going to be a really transformative time. This is really going to change the dynamic of your relationship for many, many, many years. Those kids are around for a long time, all right? And the better able you are to communicate now, that's going to help you in those years when after parenting, all right? And just help strengthen your relationship in general. You really want to discuss your expectations with your partner. Do you expect your husband, boyfriend, wife, girlfriend, to do diapers, to do dishes, to cook? Listen, I've been married for 17 years. Let me tell you, don't make people guess what you want. Tell your partner.

(17:03): Tell your partner what you want. All right? Discuss your expectations. Share your feelings openly about the things that are important to you, the things that you are concerned about. You are a team, and when you work together, then you are so much better able to navigate any challenges that come your way and ups and downs of parenting. I can tell you it is never a 50 50 relationship, all right? It's never 50 50. Sometimes it's going to be 2081 way. It's going to be 2080 the other way. It's an ongoing balance and dance about who contributes and what things to the relationship and to parenting. And the better able you are to discuss those things and communicate those things, the better able you are to navigate all of those ups and downs of pregnancy and parenting. Now, the other thing that is important to communicate with your partner is specifically your wishes and concerns surrounding birth.

(18:03): They can definitely be there to help advocate for you during your prenatal appointments. Maybe they like don't feel comfortable watching all of the birth and things like that. You want to know what they can and can't do for you. You really need an advocate for you. If you're giving birth in the us. You've heard me say this before, if you haven't, you'll hear me say it now. The US maternal system is a system that too often takes a patriarchal approach, can take away power from women over what happens in their own bodies and can be racist. And you really need someone with you to advocate for you just in case. Hopefully you won't need that person with you, but you need someone to be there. And for some people, it's going to be their partner, but not all partners feel comfortable doing that or play an advocacy role in speaking up.

(18:46): So you want to have that discussion ahead of time because maybe that means you need to have your sister or your mom or a friend or a doula who can be there with you during your prenatal appointments and during your birth because you need to have that advocate. There's nothing wrong if the partner doesn't feel like that advocacy role is not something that they feel comfortable doing. In a similar note, doulas don't always feel comfortable doing advocacy as well, right? They may want to do more labor support, so you just want to have those things lined up. Effective communication, again, is key, key to maintaining a strong relationship as you transition into parenthood or adding a new baby into your mix. Okay? Number four, start bonding with your baby or be intentional about bonding with your baby while you're pregnant. Definitely talk to your baby in your belly.

(19:38): Studies show that talking to your baby actually helps with bonding and it helps improve your baby's language skills. All right? They will recognize mother's native tongue more than they recognize another tongue after they're born. So definitely talk to your baby in your belly. Also, bonding with your baby may mean doing something like a maternity photo shoot. And y'all, forgive me if I'm talking fast. I feel like I'm talking really fast, but I get excited about things sometimes, so forgive me if I'm talking fast. Another way of bonding with your baby again is a maternity photo shoot, and it doesn't have to be anything complicated. You don't necessarily have to hire a professional. iPhone. Cameras are fantastic. Cell phone cameras are fantastic these days. You can get a friend to take some pictures, get dressed up, those kinds of things. It doesn't have to be anything major, but a maternity photo shoot can be a great way to help you connect and bond with your baby.

(20:27): Also during the birth, you want to focus on that golden hour after birth. Skin to skin contact. Skin to skin contact means your baby comes out of your vagina and up onto your belly. It's been shown to help improve bonding. It helps with your baby's transition, has lots of benefits. So in that golden hour after birth, you want to do skin to skin contact as soon as you can. If you have a cesarean, it may not be able to be done right away, although it can be done in the or at some places, but you want to focus on that skin to skin contact. You want to focus on breastfeeding. If you plan to breastfeed, initiating that within that first hour after birth and really just holding and touching your baby can help with that bonding. Take time to just cuddle. Take time to sing to your baby, talk to your baby.

(21:13): These really simple things can help strengthen the bond and promote healthy development for your baby. All right? So be intentional about bonding with your baby and also know that that bonding may not come right away. I don't want to mislead you into thinking that you're going to instantly have this connection where it's like, oh, I'm like in love, and I look at my baby and oh my God, this is the best thing ever. You may have that and that's great, but you may not look at your baby and be like, what the heck is this? What am I supposed to do with this? But still being intentional about that bonding is going to help strengthen that relationship. Okay, number five is so important, y'all. One of the key, I'm going to say even the most important piece of having a healthy baby is having a healthy mom, a healthy parent.

(22:14): So that means you have to take care of yourself. Like the saying goes, put your oxygen mask on first before you can take care of anyone else. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is actually necessary. Prioritizing, taking care of yourself is important, and that doesn't have to be necessarily anything huge or expensive. There's obviously a lot of market around self-care and like, oh, you need this serum, or this potion or this activity, or anything like that. I'm talking about even things as simple as getting enough rest while you're pregnant, doing your best to get enough rest. Maybe that's sleeping at night. Maybe that's a little nap during the day. All right? It means putting nourishing foods into your body that are fueling your growth, that are fueling your health. Sometimes it may mean putting that favorite dessert into your body because that's what you want at that moment to help you feel a bit better.

(23:14): There's always a balance. It may mean saying no to something so that you can take a moment and relax and unwind and de-stress. All right? It may mean taking a walk. All right? I just want you to prioritize taking care of yourself and the better able you are to do that when you're pregnant, when you can carry that into that new baby being born, it's going to be so important. Now, there're going to be ebbs and flows and how time and availability you have to put into self-care. Sometimes it's going to be more than others, but just don't let it fall by the wayside, all right? Don't forget to take care of yourself and the importance of taking care of yourself. Okay? Number six, manage stress. All right? Pregnancy is going to bring about a lot of emotions and potentially stress, all right? And honestly, life is going to bring about stress.

(24:20): So you want to find healthy ways to manage stress. Stress is not going to go away. I wish it would not, but stress is a normal part of being a human being on this earth. We do not have control over the things that necessarily happen to us that we just don't. But what we absolutely have control over is our response to the things and the stressors that happen in our life. And when you come up with a way to actively manage your stress and practice that and put that into place, I guarantee you guarantee you will get better at responding to stress and things won't be as upsetting for you when those stressful events occur, because again, they're going to happen, all right? Stress is going to happen whether it comes up during your pregnancy, whether it comes up in the postpartum period, but you can control how you respond to it.

(25:26): So ways that you can control it are, and these are simple techniques they do take practice with over time, they get better and better. So meditation is a big one. People say this a lot, and I know it can be hard to meditate and sit down, but meditation really does help you manage stress. It helps you show up to events in a more calm state and not quite so unwired. It does take some practice, but meditation can be really helpful, and it doesn't have to be a lot like I meditate two or three times a week, usually on my Peloton app with 10 minutes at a time, because anything more than that, and I'm like bouncing off the walls, so it doesn't have to be a ton, but over time, it really does get to be helpful. A simple technique, and this is one that again, people are like, okay, if you say so, but breathing and intentional deep breathing will immediately decrease your stress in any moment.

(26:20): I'm not joking, all right? Because you can't keep that amped up level when you are slowing down your breathing, breathe into account of three, five, let it go to account of three, five. Even doing that just three times is going to immediately bring down the stress in your environment. Now, sometimes it's hard because you want to stay in that stress. I want to be angry. I want to be mad. I want to be pissed off. I need to live in that stress for a second. But you don't want to stay in that stressful state. You want to get out of it, and deep breath, deep breathing is going to help you do that transition out of stressful state very quickly, very quickly. It's also a great tool for managing contractions and labor pain, and then of course, moving your body is helpful for managing stress.

(27:08): That can be yoga. I love yoga. I also do yoga on my Peloton app. I also do my Peloton tread as well, so yoga can help, walking can help any sort of exercise. Affirmations are a great way to manage stress, whether you listen to them, whether you say them to yourself, engaging in activities that you enjoy, whether that's going for a walk, whether that's running, whether that's religious services, whether that's art, whether you know things that you enjoy that are important to you can help you manage stress. Now, I would love it, right? If you get to a point where it's like, okay, I am check done. I have this perfect plan for managing stress, it's evolution, it's constant. You have to keep at it. You have to keep doing it. You have to keep refining it. I wish I could tell you something different, but it's a lifelong skill.

(28:01): It's just a lifelong skill that gets easier and better The older that, I shouldn't say, the older that you get, the more that you put into being intentional about managing stress, the easier that it's going to be. But it is going to be a lifelong, whether it's pregnancy or postpartum, even after the children are out of your house, it's managing stress is going to be important. Okay? All right. Moving on. Number seven, practice self-compassion, practice self-compassion. Give yourself some grace, and I want to speak to two things. One, physically, pregnancy and postpartum are going to change your body 1000%, okay? Be kind to yourself. Embrace the changes. You are growing a whole entire human being. Don't take that for granted. Not everyone gets to do that. Be grateful for that ability of your body to do such a thing, and that doesn't mean you have to actually being pregnant.

(28:57): I didn't necessarily like being pregnant. I felt like a big fat cow with a big, big old butt, but I was grateful that I was able to grow. Both of my babies and your pregnancy and your postpartum journey are going to be unique to you. So celebrate your body, celebrate the work that it's done. Give yourself some grace in that physical period. Forget the snap back. Don't do it, okay? Don't get caught up in the social media images of like, I'm six weeks after my baby. Here's what it looks like. I think we're getting better about showing realistic images and expectations of what things look like after birth. If you were seeing a lot of that, I'm after birth, unfollow that stuff on social media and start following some other accounts like because algorithms will feed you more of what you look at. Start unfollowing.

(29:52): Don't. Don't follow that information if it's not helpful to you. Look for realistic expectations. I also have an episode of the podcast that talks about weight loss after birth. It's with the endocrinologist, and she talks about weight loss after birth. That's episode one seventy five of the podcast, dr nicole rankins.com/episode175. So definitely check that out. And then in general about practicing self-compassion. I want you to know that you are not going to get everything perfect. You're not going to get everything right, okay? You're not going to necessarily do all of the exercise you want to do while pregnant or eat the most perfect meals or get all the nursery things together or have all the clothes ready. Maybe you will, but a lot of us, most of us probably won't. Okay? You can always start anew. The next day is an opportunity to start something different.

(30:43): Do something different. Don't carry your past into your present. Live in the moment. Live in the now. Give yourself some grace. Practice self-compassion. That things aren't necessarily going to be perfect, and that is okay. It's not only okay, but it is actually normal. Okay? Number eight, embrace the mess. Embrace the mess. Parenting is messy. Okay? And this is most specifically or more specifically about the postpartum period. Having a newborn baby is messy, both literally and figuratively. All right? It's going to be spit up. It's going to be poopy diapers. It's going to be poopy blowouts, it's going to be laundry. It's going to be bottles that have to be washed. It's going to be breastfeeding, it's going to be pumping, it's going to be figuring out a sleep schedule. It's going to be dealing with family who wants to visit. It's going to be figuring out how you go back to work is chaos, okay?

(31:37): That is a normal part, especially in the first few weeks of having a baby. It can be a bit chaotic. Embrace the chaos, embrace it, and understand that it's normal. Find joy in those small moments, and remember that that chaos, that messiness, again, is a normal part of becoming a parent and raising a child, okay? Social media, again, is a place that can make you think that things are perfect. We're lined up dishes and washed and folded laundry and closets that are super organized and things like that. Don't let that fool you into thinking that that is normal, because it's not. Most of the time, parenting is a messy thing. Embrace it and know that you are doing your absolute best. Okay? Number nine, in order to help with some of that mess, ask for help. And I'm going to take it a step further and say, ask for specific help.

(32:42): Parenting is a challenge. It really does. Take a village to raise a child. There's no shame in getting support when you need it. Ask for help from your friends. Ask for help from your loved ones. And when I say ask for help, I want you to be specific. All right? Go ahead and say, listen, I need you to come over here. Please bring me a meal. I'm dying. I can't cook. Just bring me something. Bring me something. Also, bring me something I can pop in my freezer. Hey, can you come over and watch the baby for an hour while I go do this? Hey, can you go to the grocery store and do this? Be specific about asking for help. Don't think or don't try to do everything yourself. Please don't. That is not normal. Don't do that. If you have help that's available, please take advantage of it.

(33:31): And if you have resources, maybe you hire help. Maybe you hire a babysitter, maybe you hire a nanny for a short term. Maybe again, you hire that postpartum doula who can come once a week and give you a reprieve for a few hours in order to help with things. Ask your family friends for help, definitely for family. When in-laws come over it, it is really, especially in the immediate postpartum period, it's really not the time for them to be cuddling with baby. Yes, they can cuddle with baby and they can hold baby, but that time is really for you and your baby to bond. They should be helping with the things around the house, all right? They should be helping with the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, things like that. So be specific about the things that you want for help. And then on the flip side of that, if you want to help someone that's having a baby, give them some options.

(34:25): Okay? Say, Hey, I can bring you over a freezer lasagna. Do you want me to do that? Or do you want me to walk your dog every day for a week? Or do you want me to come do some laundry? Okay, so give people some options, because sometimes people, especially women, have a hard time like saying the specific things that they need. So give them some options. Is it? Or I can give you a, do you like DoorDash? I can give you a DoorDash gift card to help, so you can order food sometimes. So give people some options instead of just saying, what can I help you with? Give them some specific things that they can choose from. Okay? Number 10, we're winding down. Now, prepare for the unexpected. Again, if you've listened to me for any length of time, you know that I'm going to say, or you've heard me say, the only predictable thing about birth is that it's unpredictable.

(35:21): Same thing about parenthood. It's definitely unpredictable and a bit of a rollercoaster ride. So you really need to embrace that unpredictability that comes with it and prepare for that unpredictability. The way that you prepare for unpredictability is to be flexible, to be adaptable, and to educate yourself. Knowledge is truly power, and when you have knowledge that better prepared, you will be. Of course, that is what you will get here in the podcast. Also, attend childbirth education classes. Find two or three sources of social media accounts to follow that, that help you. Maybe you read books. It doesn't have to be overwhelming. I don't want you to think you have to spend like your nose in a book or listening to education classes all the time, or listening to podcasts all the time. In addition to my podcast, of course, there are other podcasts you can listen to, but definitely educate yourself when you aren't prepared, when you have that information, again, from reputable, trustworthy sources, then you will have the tools to navigate the challenges that naturally come with pregnancy, with birth, with being a parent, and it will help you feel more confident.

(36:41): It will help you feel calmer and more at peace with the decisions that you make, and really help you do things from an informed place. Okay? So prepare for the unexpected. Do so by educating yourself. Of course, obviously, I'm going to tell you about the birth preparation course, this childbirth education to educate yourself. That's my childbirth education class. You can check it out, dr nicole rankins.com/enroll. I believe so strongly in childbirth education. Everyone needs to do it. If you don't do my course, do someone else's because it's really, really important. Okay? And the final one, number 11, and this might even be the most important. Trust yourself. Trust your self. Stay in tune with your own body and the intuition and the guidance that you receive about your own body and your own baby. When your baby is born. Trust your instincts. Advocate for yourself during your pregnancy.

(37:49): If something feels off and you need things to be better investigated, that doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong, but maybe you need some reassurance that things aren't wrong, okay? Trust yourself and advocate for yourself. You will be your strongest advocate. Remember, at the end of the day, the doctors and nurses, they go home and go on about their business. We go on about our business, and you could still potentially have that problem. So you have to advocate for yourself and trust your self. This is also going to be important when you have a baby. If you think something's going on with your baby, if you have concerns about your baby, trust yourself and advocate for your baby as well. Now, sometimes it can be tricky because the feedback and the things that you get come from a place of anxiety, like totally, especially after my first daughter.

(38:41): She was born eight weeks premature, and she had something called duana Latricia. She had surgery three days after she was born. She spent a month in the nicu. I definitely had some anxiety led concerns because all of that takes a toll. So sometimes you have to step back for a second and say, are these concerns coming from a real place, or are they coming from a place of an anxiety? But keep working on trusting your intuition and trusting yourself because that internal voice, especially when you get truly connected to it, when you sit, get quiet with it, when you listen to those whispers, they rarely steer you wrong. Okay? So trust yourself. All right? Just to recap, the 11 tips that you need to know in order to have the best pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience, make the most of your prenatal care. Number two, build a support system.

(39:51): Number three, communicate with your partner. Number four, actively bond with your baby. Number five, self-care. Self-care, self-care. Number six, work on a plan for managing your stress. Number seven, practice self-compassion, practice grace. Number eight, embrace the normal mess that happens with parenthood. Number nine, ask for help. Number 10, prepare for the unexpected and educate yourself. And then number 11, trust yourself. Trust yourself. Trust yourself. All right? And just remember that pregnancy, that parenthood is a journey with so much joy, but also challenges also surprise things that happen. Cherish those precious moments that occur. Learn from the tough moments that occur. You are so capable of doing this and doing this in such an amazing, uplifting way. So you got this. Trust yourself. Trust yourself. Again, I'll end with that one. That's the most important one. Trust yourself. Trust yourself. Okay, so there you have it.

(41:05): Do me a solid share this podcast with a friend. It helps me to reach and serve more people. I am on a mission to serve as many pregnant people as I can. So sharing this podcast helps me to do that. Also, subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening to me right now, and let me know what you think. Hit me up on Instagram. I'm on Instagram at Dr Nicole Rankin. Shoot me a dm. Let me know what you think about the show, or any tips or any advice or suggestions you have for episodes. My dms are open. Okay, so that's it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.