Ten months ago, we found out we were expecting our fifth child. After practicing a traditional foods diet for two and a half years, I was so excited about the potential impact on me and the new child during my pregnancy.
Although I don't believe that to be enough time to radically change the pregnancy, birth, and health of the child, I hoped that some improvement would occur.
Perhaps lack of morning sickness, sustained energy, adequate and proper weight gain, healthy blood levels and pressure, healthy baby, smooth delivery…? My list went on.
My Rare Genetic Disorder
I have a rare genetic disorder that affects my muscles. My body can only utilize fat storage for energy 10% of the time, so I have to eat carbohydrate-rich foods frequently to sustain energy. Because of this, I am considered high risk for pregnancy; the uterus is quite the overworked muscle during pregnancy and especially labor.
By the grace of God, throughout my past four pregnancies, I didn't have any complications. However, my labors were unnatural — dependent on early epidurals and a continuous glucose IV to ease muscle stress during labor.
I greatly desired a natural birth during my first pregnancy almost ten years ago, but followed the recommended protocol for someone with this genetic disorder: an epidural and glucose IV upon onset of labor. With my third child, I labored at home for some time before arriving at the hospital — already 6 centimeters dilated — to have the epidural and IV administered.
This time around, on my fifth pregnancy, I wondered if I could go without the epidural, seeing that I had come so close before. Obviously, I could not jeopardize my health for the sake of the baby, but the lingering desire remained.
My Pregnancy Diet
My diet did not change from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy. My family and I consistently ate fresh soaked or soured home-milled grains, pastured meat and soy-free non-GMO eggs, wild-caught fish, soaked and sprouted legumes, minimal sugar (honey or Rapadura), fermented foods, raw milk and dairy, and whenever possible, local and organic vegetables and fruits.
Breakfast usually consisted of some soaked/soured bread or oats with an egg or two. Throughout the day we ate various vegetables and fruit with raw cheese and nut butter. Supper was a meat or legume, a salad or vegetable, and some sort of starch like potatoes or soaked bread. The diet was nothing special or fancy — just real food all of the time — with, of course, rare deviations. 🙂
I never experienced morning sickness, or any other kind of sickness. I had enough energy to stay awake while reading a naptime story to my children in the middle of the day. The few ultrasounds showed a healthy, active baby, and my blood tests all came back normal, although I did need a bit more iron halfway through the pregnancy. I supplemented with an herbal formula.
I also frequently sipped raspberry leaf tea. Much to my family's disappointment, I developed a huge aversion to sauerkraut. Even the smell upset me. But, overall, I had a pretty seamless pregnancy.
As the weeks passed, I still desired a natural birth. My doctor supported the idea as long as all seemed to be going well. In addition, a good friend of mine recommended an herbal supplement to ease labor, which was touted to strengthen the uterus, lessen contraction pain, and encourage a healthy recovery. With the doctor’s knowledge, I began taking this supplement about 6 weeks before my due date. During this time, I did not notice any significant change in my health or the health of the baby.
Three weeks before my due date, I experienced erratic contractions. They lasted for about three days. I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled on one of the days, so I went in, hoping that the contractions were preparing my body for labor. Unfortunately, my body wasn't progressing. The next day the contractions increased in frequency and intensity, but maintained their irregular pattern. My son recorded contraction times, only to be disappointed when they suddenly stopped.
That night I slept off and on, woke up to further contractions, but proceeded with the day. By 11 am I called the friend who had offered to watch my children during labor to let her know that I thought the baby was on its way. That evening, I felt overwhelmed and worn out. Things weren't consistently progressing. However, soon after the contractions came more regularly and we went to the hospital.
At The Hospital
We arrived 8:30 pm and immediately requested an IV of glucose to help maintain my muscle function. I resigned myself to the fact that I would need an epidural. The nurse checked my progress and gave me heartbreaking news: my cervix was still only 1 centimeter dilated. She said they would observe the baby and me on the monitor for a few hours and then perhaps send me home.
During the next hour, my contractions gained intensity and increased in frequency. However, the nurse did not seem to think I was in labor because I was not dilated. She mentioned that my patterns were consistent with false labor. Everything in me knew that I was in labor, and I wanted the IV as well as the epidural after experiencing intense fatigue and pain.
The next hour brought me contraction after contraction. I ate grapes in between to give my body and muscles the needed sugar.
I still didn't have an IV or epidural.
Amos Thomas Is Born
My husband and I remained alone in the hospital room despite repeated attempts to seek assistance.
At 10:30 pm, I felt the baby descending, my body naturally bringing a new life into the world. I leaned over the bed rail and pushed. My husband rushed out of the room for help.
Ten minutes later, after only two pushes, I held our new little gift from the Lord in my arms. Amos Thomas screamed in all glory and then calmly lay at my breast, the two of us staring eye to eye. He was born.
We walked out of the double hospital doors a day later, another era in the life of motherhood ended. I felt strength rather than weakness. Was our commitment to traditional foods and supplemental herbs the key to unlocking my ability to give birth to children naturally?
Without the grace of God, I believe it to be a minor factor. We don't follow this lifestyle to guarantee a certain standard of health or to have a child with a good set of wonderfully-spaced, healthy teeth. Rather, we do it to serve God with all of our strength.
Our Purpose: To Serve God
Traditional foods give us the strength to serve God with bodies and minds. I thank the Lord for providing us with the food that gave me the strength to give birth naturally. Praise be to Him who knits us together in our mother’s womb and ordains the number of our days!
How has God helped your pregnancies, labors, or births through traditional foods or herbs? Please share!
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