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Laying The Foundations Of Gut Health: A Birth Story

Dave and I got pregnant November 2017 and were beyond thrilled because it was something we had wanted for so long. We delayed starting a family because Dave was finishing up school but then, when he graduated and wasn’t able to find work, we decided to take that leap of faith and just try. To our surprise it didn’t take long and our precious Aubrey began her journey on the inside.

Rewind about a year. In a desperate attempt to work at healing Dave’s body of MS, we made major changes to our diet and lifestyle (see my previous blog post here ). With that, I decided to stop the birth control pill because I no longer was interested in adding toxins to my body. Little did I know how important those lifestyle changes were going to be in preparing my body to conceive and carry a baby. It wasn’t until over a year later that I learned how extremely crucial it is that our bodies are in that healthy place to be fertile and also so that our babies can get the most from us as they form inside. Our current gut health and its history directly effect the formation of our baby’s gut at birth. Meaning, not only does our gut health play a part in the formation of our children’s guts, but also our parents, grandparents, etc as it’s transferred down through the generations. So, if there are continual patterns of poor health passed down, we become progressively weaker as our bodies try to adapt. That is unless we make the effort now to change those patterns for future generations! Pregnancy is no joke but our bodies are amazing and were specially designed for the whole process if we take care of them.

I was so ready to have a family, but a little scared of what birth was going to be like, until I discovered Hypnobirthing. The Calm Birth School opened my eyes to a new way of thinking around birth as it focused on empowerment and the mind-body connection. I needed to trust that my body was created for this purpose and with the right tools (informed preparation, breathing, visualisation, and mind-set) I could birth my baby naturally, calmly, and without intervention. It also focused on preparing for various circumstances that may not be at the top of your birth plan Helping you be calmly prepared for whatever may come. In our case, this happened to be a caesarean section, which was bottom of our birth plan…

So that is what I set out to do. Dave and I prepared over the months to come and felt very confident as the day approached. My pregnancy was a breeze, other than some aches and fatigue I felt confident that I could ‘do this’ and was prepared. I felt so connected to Aubrey the whole pregnancy and was planning a natural hospital birth without intervention. I longed for the chance to have that incredible birth moment, but God had other plans for us.

Around 30 weeks we learned that she was breech, so naturally I began doing all manner of gymnastics to get her to turn. Check out spinning babies if you are wondering what I am talking about. I kept this up for weeks and began to feel desperate week after week as the Dr. kept telling me: “still breech”. I cried so many times at the thought of needing a C-section. After everything that we had gone through with Dave’s health, I felt fiercely protective of this unborn baby. I knew that a section meant many unwanted drugs in my body, affecting everything good that I had built in my gut, and a recovery that I wasn’t sure of. I struggled with this (and still do) not only because I felt like I was being cheated out of the birth I wanted, but also because I knew how important vaginal birth was to establishing a baby’s microbiom (gut health) and bonding, with who knows how many more benefits lost that are unknown and un-researched.

I knew I still had time, so without loosing hope I turned to my Hypnobirthing training. I worked at visualising the birth I wanted, visualizing her turning in the womb, and slowly preparing my mind and body for a C-section. At 39 weeks we met with the OB surgeon to discuss our options. Dave and I had done our homework and went into the apt very prepared. Firstly, we didn’t want a planned section because we knew if we could wait until I went into labour it would be a signal that both my body and baby were ready and at that point if she hadn’t turned she likely wasn’t going too. We talked about a breech delivery, which I seriously considered, but they can also be risky. Secondly, I wanted to feel involved in my birthing, so that meant: lowering the surgical screen so I could see my baby’s delivery, getting immediate skin-to-skin, and not being separated from my baby. We had also discussed vaginal seeding to help with establishing gut bacteria that would be missed with C-section birth. Even though this wasn’t my first choice, having these criteria met meant having a happy and enjoyable birth for me. 

The apt was on Tuesday Aug 21, I was due on Aug 25, but fully expected to go past my due date as is the pattern with most first time mothers. To my surprise, after an evening of swimming laps (still trying to get her to turn), I went into labour around 5am the morning of Aug 23. I woke up with cramps and so busied myself in the kitchen assuming if it was false labour it would soon subside. As the morning progressed so too did my labour. The contractions were getting stronger and were consistently close together. Excitedly I told Dave, we better get packed for the hospital. We had our weekly Drs. apt that morning so decided to go there first. I walked up two flights of stairs (willingly) and stated to reception “I think I am in labour”, which was then confirmed moments later and we were on our way to the hospital.

With an extremely thin cervix, 3-4cm dilated, and a baby that was still breech the decision was made to deliver via C-section. By that point I felt so at peace. God had spoken to me a few weeks prior reminding me that I was not the one in control of this child and that only He had the power to protect from whatever may come. I knew both her and I were ready, as He had blessed me with the start of labour, so Dave and I prepared to meet our little one. At 12:07pm the Dr. announced “It’s a girl” and Aubrey Evelyn Dyck was born to us in all her screaming glory! The reason she hadn’t turned in utero was because she had the cord wrapped around her neck twice, which made me so thankful for a potentially lifesaving C-section! Even though it wasn’t what I had hoped or imagined, it was still the most beautiful moment of my life and I am so thankful for how prepared I was to handle and enjoy it.

After birth, my dearest husband came prepared with bone broth and all sorts of gut healing goodies. I didn’t require much pain medication following the section and my body healed so quickly! I was so surprised but our bodies are so amazing and a healthy body has the ability to bounce back if taken proper care of. We made the decision to have the placenta encapsulated and I took those for about two months, which I think really helped with my mood. Postpartum I have been feeling so good and happy, which again was a surprise to me, especially considering the challenges we have gone through since her birth. I am also dealing with Diastasis Recti which is abdominal separation leaving in its wake a lovely mommy tummy, but luckily there are lots of gentle exercise resources out there to help.

Fast forward: life with Aubrey is wonderful and terrible all at the same time. Nothing can prepare you for how demanding and exhausting it is, but it’s also so beautiful and joyous. Right now I am working with my naturopath to help build Aubrey’s gut bacteria through the use of probiotics. Gut health is vital for a healthy immune system and healthy body for life. The gut is commonly referred to as your 2nd brain because it spends more time communicating with your brain then your brain communicates with your gut. The research on the gut microbiom is astounding, showing not only how it affects every area of your body and overall health, but also how it’s greatly impacted by birth, your genetic predisposition, toxin exposure, foods, and stress. So it’s vital that we take good care of it!

When babies travel through the vaginal canal they are passed their mothers’ gut bacteria as a kickstart to the forming of their microbiom. We need the right (it’s different for everyone) good bacteria in our gut to help us form strong immune systems in order to effectively ward off sickness and disease throughout life. Skin-to-skin and breastfeeding also greatly contribute to this. But a baby birthed C-section misses out on this and instead they start collecting bacteria from everyone else they come into contact with at birth. There isn’t a lot of research out there yet as to how to address this problem, but we do know that by introducing probiotics early we can help section babies having a fighting chance towards developing a strong immune system.

Our bodies were incredibly designed and so this isn’t to say that we can’t adapt and survive in a C-section circumstance. But there is always hope towards a healthier life, and if we have a good start from the beginning we are already leaps and bounds ahead of the curve!

Thank you to Charity for allowing me to share my story. I think it’s so important for women to share positive stories around pregnancy and birth. Women’s bodies are absolutely amazing before, during and after birth so have some confidence girl, and take care of those wonderful bodies you have been gifted with! I’ll leave you with the wise words of my friend,

Eat your veggies!

(also some dirt and liver…. But more on that another time)

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