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All Mommy wanted was a back rub… (the benefits of prenatal massage)

I did it! I finally decided I was worth being taken care of and allowed myself what I had previously considered a luxury: a prenatal massage. You’d think after three pregnancies, I would have done it ages ago; however, I am a very stubborn and “tough” girl who doesn’t believe in “wasting” money on things purely for me. Boy was I wrong. It was wonderful and it will not be the last time I go. This looks like it’ll become a regular thing for me now that I know better. I felt so much more relaxed afterwards. And I slept! I actually slept through the whole night! This never, ever happens to me, especially during pregnancy.

So, you may be asking: What is a prenatal massage and how is it different from a regular massage? A prenatal massage is a specialized technique that is designed for a woman usually in her second trimester up to part way through her third. It’s meant to improve circulation, give you some energy, and take some of the strain away from your over worked muscles and joints. It uses a lighter pressure and you lay on your sides as opposed to your back and tummy. Lying on your back is never a good idea when you’re pregnant. The weight of your baby and uterus blocks circulation to the placenta. This can cause complications that no amount of massage can help. It is a little more difficult for the masseuse to rub you down at this angle but far safer.

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It also has the same great benefits as any message does. Loads of studies have shown that they relax and loosen tight muscles, reduce cortisol (that nasty stress hormone), increase blood flow (+++ for us preggers ;-), keeps the lymphatic system going strong, and flushes toxins out of the body. Just be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards as massage releases toxins that have built up in your muscles to float freely through your body, which can make you sick if you are not properly hydrated afterward.

What all this means is, that with regular prenatal massages you should become generally more relaxed. They help relieve insomnia, get rid of joint pain, and relieve swelling and headaches, even sinus congestion. Also not forgetting to mention all those neck, back, hip, leg and sciatica pain you’ve been having.

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Here are just a few warnings to keep you safe and happy. The first trimester is a little too risky for a massage.  With everything changing, it’s just not a good time (especially for surrogates or anyone getting assistance with conception). Also, research your masseuse first, don’t just go anywhere. People who specialize in this type of massage need to be specifically trained in prenatal massage. The right hands work miracles, the wrong ones could put you in the hospital. New studies are showing that the amount of trust you have in someone is equal to the amount of relaxation you will allow yourself to feel. If you’re not 100% with the person you won’t be able to reap all the benefits. Another thing: stay away from those ankles! They don’t know exactly why yet, but when you rub those bad boys, it can start labor. Unless you are past your due date, keep away. Just skip down to those well deserving (probably slightly larger) feet of yours.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to go book my next appointment…

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Twins

This is one of the only words in the English language that elicits a positive and negative response simultaneously in the human brain. The levels very, depending on the person’s point of view. To someone who is using a surrogate to start their own family, it could be the equivalent of winning the lottery. Killing two birds with one stone, if you will. Some of the best news they’ve had in years! To someone finding out for the first time they are carrying twins, it can also send up a red flag of a potentially high risk pregnancy.  With twins come Complications such as: bed rest, premature delivery, fetal demise and others. A new father may become doe-eyed at first, then as the realizations of double the responsibility sink in, his eyes may then keep widening with nervous apprehension. To feel so excited and so scared all at once is a roller coaster of exhilaration.

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I recently discovered these feelings myself. When I filled out my surrogacy application I, like most others, put down that I would be willing to carry twins. It is clearly stated that the probability of this happening through IVF increases due to several facts. People tend to use more than one embryo in a single transfer to increase the likelihood of one sticking and turning into a positive pregnancy. When you are going through so much it’s best to hedge your bets as much as possible. Also, you’re on fertility medication and have been accepted as a surrogate because of your beautiful uterus. All of this makes for a pretty cozy environment that persuades embryos to stay put. It’s by no means a guarantee however, it just increases the odds. In the past 10 days, my IPs found out that they are going to become parents to not one, but two baby boys, sometime here in the next 7ish months. They are ecstatic; it’s what they dreamed of! I’m so happy for them. This is exactly the payoff moment of why I do what I do. I’m also nervous as hell. I openly admit it. I’ve heard a range of twin stories from “easiest pregnancy I ever had!” to “Oh my god, I was on bed-rest the whole time and I was so sick!”

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I can’t speak for other surrogates, but I do get the strong feeling that though most of us are generally excited about the concept of carrying twins, when the reality hits it’s a whole new ball game. My head races with all the complications that “could” happen and I start to freak out. My main panic attract came about by worrying the babies won’t be getting enough nourishment and they will come too early. That’s when I took to the old faithful social media and reached out to friends who were twins or have had twins. I discovered I wasn’t alone and that yes, my fears are justified, but there is absolutely no reason to freak out any more then with the other three pregnancies I’ve had.

You see, our bodies are amazing things that can adapt to almost anything we throw at them. Well, we fortunate few who pregnancy comes easy to, can anyways and Doctors are very used to twin pregnancies and know what to expect and what to look out for from beginning to end. Now I really do believe I’m getting the easiest end of this deal. The parents are the ones who’ll have to deal with the midnight double feedings and diaper double-dutch. Which of course, they are more than happy to do :). I’ve been down similar roads before. This will be a new adventure for me. My IP put it best. “You’ve been pregnant before, we haven’t. This will be great because it’ll be new to both of us. Something we can experience as a first together.” They are on board and ready to dive in and that gives me the confidence to take the plunge too.

Funny enough while putting my thoughts together for this blog I got a call from the lovely Ms. Ann at SAI wanting to share something she had heard on the news this morning: A mother in Ireland may have just beaten the world record for time apart delivering twins. Her first was born after her water broke at only 23 weeks and was born June 1st of last year weighing just 1lb 3oz. Bizarrely enough her contractions stopped after the first and the other’s fluid remained. Her second twin was able to stay in her womb until August 27th and weighted 5lbs 7oz at birth. A full 87 days later! Both twin girls are perfectly healthy now and doing very well.

Stories like this just go to show that yes, we can worry and fret about unpredictable things in our future, but they also can turn out miraculously. I’m excited. I know the home these boys are going to is going to be so full of love that, in my bones, I can tell anything will be surmountable.

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Twins, wow, what a word!