Having just experienced my first pregnancy, I thought I would take the opportunity to quickly share some of my top tips that kept me feeling like myself as much as possible during a time of extreme change. Hopefully these tips can help the friends I have who are pregnant now and those who hope to be at some point in the future. Everything below is personal opinion through experience. I’m not an expert by any means so please take what you want to take and leave what you want to leave 🙂 FEEL better.
- SLEEP. I was SO tired the first trimester and my usual schedule was thrown for a loop. Pre-pregnancy, I would be on the go for up to 16 hours a day, easily. Once pregnancy hit, I was absolutely exhausted all the time and it took everything I had to stay awake until an “adult hour”. I remember being on vacation with Jeremy and going to dinner at 6:30. We were finishing up at 8pm (which is when we usually started dinner pre-pregnancy!) and I was struggling to keep my head from falling onto the table! Take advantage of sleeping as much as you can – your body needs it. It’s making a human! PLUS, sleep will never be the same after that little one arrives.
- EXERCISE. I’ve always been active; sticking with exercise throughout my pregnancy helped me physically but also mentally to maintain part of the “old” me. It also gave me much needed energy and helped me avoid gaining unwanted excess weight (offsetting my desire for anything sweet!). I’m also convinced that being active helped me steer clear of morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness. If you have always been active, keep it up throughout your pregnancy, and if you weren’t active before, start! Obviously you will need to adapt your workouts more and more as your pregnancy progresses and there will be days that you really don’t want to exercise, but keep at it. I was in the gym the day before Molly was born and wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂 Disclaimer here – listen to your doctor. Don’t exercise if he/she doesn’t clear you to do it.
- EAT WELL. I’m not going to try and say that I ate perfectly throughout my pregnancy, but I will say that I tried to eat things that I knew would contribute to my health and the health of my baby, and I was sure to take a prenatal vitamin everyday. Your body is going through a lot, and anything you can do to help it stay healthy is really important. Your immune system is compromised as your little one takes a lot of your nutrients before you get any (rightly so!). Medication you can take is limited, so making sure to eat well and get lots of vitamins through food will be incredibly beneficial. While I’m at it, drink lots of water! I’m TERRIBLE at this, but I made a huge effort to drink 3 liters a day. I don’t even think that was enough, but it’s more than I usually have!
- TREAT YOURSELF. Get that manicure/pedicure. Buy some clothes/shoes (maternity or not) that make you feel good about your changing body and growing belly. Spend a day at a spa. You deserve it and you need it. Taking the time to relax and do something nice for myself made me happier throughout my pregnancy.
- VITAMINS. Take them. You need the prenatal vitamins to help support your little one anyway, but you also need it for yourself. Because babies take the nutrients they need first, you will feel the difference if you don’t supplement with the extra vitamins daily. Feeling better = looking better.
- CREAM. Your belly and bust will grow A LOT, and it happens a lot faster than your skin can adjust to, meaning it gets pulled more and itches more. Cream, cream, cream to help alleviate it. There are a million creams out there, just pick one! I used Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter and Mama Mio Boob Tube Bust Protection Cream. They are meant to help increase elasticity and reduce the chances of getting stretch marks. I have to admit that I don’t have any stretch marks, but I think what I loved most about these was the delicious smell and the fact that they helped reduce itchy skin. Get whatever works, and start using them before you think you need them.
- Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is going to give you an opinion at some point. You will hear simple and unimposing opinions (how to combat sickness or ways to alleviate heartburn) as well as personal and intrusive opinions (why you HAVE to breast feed or why a caesarean is so much better than natural birth). Listen when you want to listen, but make sure you also know how to politely tell someone to keep their opinions to themselves. You know what you want better than anyone. Ask for opinions if you want them.
- Don’t believe everything you read. I attended a prenatal class and one of the doctors asked how many of us use “Doctor Google” to get answers to questions we have. Everyone raised their hands. He then reminded us that pregnancy chat rooms and Wikipedia are not always reliable or accurate. If you have a question, ask your doctor. He or she should know best – it’s their job!
- Pregnancy is hard. Even for people who have an easy pregnancy, it’s hard. You’ll cry, you’ll get frustrated, you won’t always feel like yourself. Give yourself a break. You are creating a little person, and that person will be the best thing that ever happens to you. Everything along the way is a stepping stone that gets you closer to meeting your little miracle! 🙂