Second trimester: Catching the waves of hypnobirthing
Most pregnant women agree that the second trimester is the easiest three months of the pregnancy, some even calling it the ‘honeymoon period’. For me, by the end of the first trimester I could see calm and happy days to come, once it was clear from the ultrasound and blood tests that the baby was perfectly healthy. Moreover, I felt the baby’s movements before the second trimester began. These reminded me of tiny moving bubbles in my belly.
In this period I had further consultations with midwives and blood tests. All the tests continued to confirm that I belonged to the low-risk group of pregnant women, so I was able to take part in a group consultation between the 16th and 18th week of my pregnancy, intended for mothers interested in giving birth in a birthing centre at UCL Hospital. The consultation was led by a sympathetic midwife and she was happy to answer all our questions, which were concerned mainly with prenatal preparations and obstetric procedures in the birthing centre.
The group consultation literally charged me with positive energy and I was so excited to give birth naturally, in the best case into water. So, I started spending my evenings with the book Mindful Hypnobirthing by the outstanding British doula and hypnotherapist Sophie Fletcher, a book dedicated to hypnotic methods and other relaxation techniques for women in labour. I watched dozens of lectures and interviews with experienced midwives on natural childbirth on YouTube. To make the birth easier, I also ordered an Aniball pregnancy balloon on Amazon, which promised to reduce the probability of episiotomy during birth. My hubby and I spent free time hiking in nature with our dogs and my every moments were filled out by affirmation positive cards for a positive pregnancy.
While I was completely immersed in the preparation for childbirth, my time was pleasantly running out and the baby was growing, so very soon we had a second ultrasound. Pregnant women in the UK are invited to their second ultrasound between the 18th and 21st week of pregnancy, and in most cases they also find out the sex of their baby at this point (if they wish to know). At the beginning of March, my husband and I came for an ultrasound examination and they informed us that our baby was healthy and that we were expecting a baby boy! The news I was having a boy, of course, added even more to my ‘prenatal fever’, and I couldn’t resist buying basic equipment to be as prepared as possible for his arrival. At the turn of the second and third trimesters, usually around the 28th week of pregnancy, the mother will have a glucose tolerance test (a test for gestational diabetes).
Third trimester: Baby Shower Party in Prague
I must say that I really enjoyed the period of the last trimester – growing my baby bump, regular movements of the baby, his footprints on my skin and incredible thoughtfulness in the crowded London Underground or on the streets. English people just love to ask with interest about your pregnancy and due date. They are super cute! I would be as bold to say that the English love pregnant women and children in general. Towards the end of my pregnancy, however, I began to feel that I would become a whale at any moment!
I really did eat enough for two at times and my body asked for so many things that I wondered how much I could fit in. However, I think that to constantly monitor your weight and the expectation that you will be the same weight after giving birth as before, is unnecessary pressure which can harm you mentally, and also your baby from a nutritional point of view. This is a time when you should be enjoying your pregnancy and loving your body! Moreover, the human body is an amazing ‘factory’ and knows well exactly what it should do – if we let it. After all, many of those pounds disappear in the maternity unit in hospital in the form of placenta, amniotic fluid and your little bundle of joy! The body stores some fat for your milk supply, as the breastfeeding time will be very challenging as you care for your new-born.
Of course, I had to keep an eye on my weight in some way, but really, as I jumped from 56 kg to 72 kg at the end, I can genuinely say I didn’t stress out about it! I followed a healthy diet, because higher sugar levels could endanger the baby, as well decrease the chance of having a relaxed birth.
But my sugar levels went right up after my arrival in Prague, where my family and friends were waiting for me to organise a Baby Shower party in the American style. I had been thinking for a long time about where to organise such a celebration, as most places in Prague are not especially friendly to pregnancy parties. The choice would be between a classic pub, restaurant or an overpriced Prague lounge, and in any case the vast majority of cafes and patisseries do not have enough space for this kind of celebration. Fortunately, after a long search on the internet, I managed to find a great café called Kavárna Snů (Dream Café) in Ke Karlovu Street, which provided its entire lounge with amazing refreshments and friendly service at a good price. So, we were able to celebrate the upcoming birth of Lucas in the relaxing and pleasant environment of this unusual café.
Upon returning to London, I had a third ultrasound, which is non-standard procedure in England and is done only in cases where there is the slightest concern about the progress of the pregnancy. The midwives had been monitoring the foetus’s growth chart since my second ultrasound, so they wanted to be sure that baby was gaining the right weight and was not below the minimum required. I didn’t let the positivity from my pregnancy be taken away, so I took it more as another opportunity to see my baby once again before the birth. In the end, my personal well-being was probably reflected in what the doctor saw, as she was very satisfied with the growth chart and the upside position of the baby. So, the very last weeks of pregnancy were waiting for us.
The following prenatal appointments were more regular, about two weeks apart, and in the 38th week of pregnancy we had a group consultation at UCL Hospital. The antenatal course was led by an experienced and humorous midwife, and it was clear that the gentlemen also enjoyed the course. One British daddy even joked that if they weren’t born an alien, they would be ready for anything! The lecture took around four hours and was really so comprehensive! Even now, I find it funny how even though the midwife reassured us with words at the end of session that everything would go smoothly, staff at UCL Hospital almost had to help one woman give birth in the parking area in front of the hospital, or that one British mother ended up having her baby in a shopping mall.
As my pregnancy became ever longer, and the time to delivery became shorter, I found it harder to sleep. I basically slept on my left side for the entire third trimester. Luckily this sleeping position was highly recommended by the midwives for improving the baby’s blood circulation and placental nutrition.