I can honestly say, that prior to getting pregnant (and for the first month or so of pregnancy) I thought that being pregnant meant getting fat. “Now I can eat whatever I want! Sugar, fat, carbohydrate, protein!” I thought that being pregnant was all about letting everything go, giving in to cravings and getting huge.
7 months and only 6 kilos later – I stand corrected.
Over the last 7 months or so, (despite eating only tomato & avocado sandwiches for a month and having a couple weeks of only eating salted crackers & chips during the worst of my nausea) my body has been receiving possibly the best treatment that it has ever received and has never felt better. It makes sense really… growing another healthy human being should mean that I should really be in the best shape and health of my life!
I thought I’d write about this quickly because as I’m counting down the weeks to give birth I thought it worth reflecting a little and preparing a guide for myself for pregnancy #2. It also might be useful for if/when someone in your life gets pregnant. It’s such an exciting journey and I honestly can’t wait to go through it all again!
So you find out you’re pregnant…
1. Get online.
www.babycenter.com has been the most amazing resource for me. I was living in Vancouver at the time, so I don’t have any NZ specific sites that I really like – but even now that I’m back in Auckland I still find myself visiting this website weekly. The 3D videos are incredible (and I’ve only made my friends & family watch them about 10 times each) and the checklists, advice and weekly newsletter updates on each stage of my pregnancy has been so helpful and informative.
I’ve also recently discovered babble.com which I’ll probably be spending a lot more time on post baby.
2. Get informed
I’ve heard somewhere that we spend more time researching our best options for buying a new camera or television than we do researching our best options for where and how we want to give birth. Prior to getting pregnant I was pretty sure that my labour would go something like ‘get me to hospital ASAP, drug me up and GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME’. If that sounds even a little bit like you, I’d suggest these resources:
Watch it with your partner, friends and family. Watch it especially if you are living in America.
I’ve watched it twice now, and it will change the way you think about giving birth. Trust me… watch it.
Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I was recommended it by a friend of a friend and I read it from cover to cover. It sorta seems a little bit hippy and free loving – but it changes the way you think about giving birth too. Giving birth is not an illness that needs to be treated, it’s a natural process that we (women) are designed to go through.
I got this book about 6 months into my pregnancy, but I’d recommend reading it from about 3 months – or even before you get pregnant. The author (Dr Gowri Motha) offers a somewhat restrictive diet, exercise and relaxation programme to follow after extensive research into the belief that the quality of a mother’s pregnancy will determine her labour experience. Some of the herbs that she suggests taking are impossible to find in Auckland (I’ve tried extensively), but the rest of the programme is easy enough to follow and has kept me feeling wonderful.
3. Get healthy
You’ll need to start taking folic acid before you get pregnant (or as soon as you find out!)
The selection of multivitamins out there is terrifying. I remember heading to the organic pharmacy and asking the guy behind the counter how I was supposed to decide between the $20 prenatal vitamin and the $150 prenatal vitamin. I didn’t actually expect him to answer, but thankfully about 5 minutes into his explanation about each one, a nice looking customer butted in to inform me of the prenatal that she had taken during her pregnancy. I glanced at her baby and decided it was cute enough for me and hence my multivitamin was chosen.
I’ve been taking the New Chapter Organics Multi for two which has since been renamed to Perfect Prenatal. Some weeks I’m good and I take it every day. Other weeks I forget and I take it every few days.
4. Get active
There’s plenty of advice online about the best sorts of exercise to do whilst pregnant and how to ease yourself into it etc, so I won’t babble on too much except speak quickly from my experience.
I managed to keep running for about the first 3-4 months. When I say running, I mean jogging and when I say ‘keep’ I mean drastically reduce the time I jog down to about 20-25 minutes 2-3 times a week. It felt weird because I just kept imagining our baby being thrown around inside my womb, thrashing against the sides and wishing I’d stop.
So I quickly turned to swimming. In Vancouver I was lucky enough to be swimming at the brand new YMCA which doesn’t use chlorine in it’s pool (much better for me) but in NZ I’m swimming at the Olympic Pool in New Market. Swimming feels wonderful to me – the weightlessness, the temperature of the water, the ease with which I can move around. It’s also apparently a really good position for me to be in to encourage the baby to get into a good position too. So I hear.
Not being able to run means that I have taken up walking as an actual exercise. This is a big deal for me, as walking never really felt like I was achieving much BUT being larger and more out of breath makes walking quite a satisfying activity. I tend to walk at least 20 minutes each day (briskly) as a minimum and then at least 3 days a week I walk for around 40 – 60 minutes.
My first prenatal yoga class was a bit of a joke (I was so tiny and nauseas and self-conscious about my small bump) but since getting back to NZ I have had a wonderful experience with my prenatal yoga classes around 3 times each week. I go to Elementa in Remuera, conveniently only a 15 minute walk from my house!
I also belong to the Olympic Gym. Earlier in my pregnancy I was doing a light resistance training programme about 2 or 3 times per week. In these last 2 months I don’t think I’ll go more than once a week (the yoga is enough).
5. Get moisturising
The best time to get your skin all nice and stretchy is before you start growing.
From week 12 or so I’ve been using this Dr Hauschka Blackthorn Body Oil that my mum bought me. I’m onto my second bottle already!
Over the summer I’ve also been using the Palmers Organic Cocoa Butter Massage Cream for Stretch Marks. I can’t swear by either of these yet, as I’m sure I’ve still got a bit of growing to do, but I can promise that so far there are no signs of any new stretch marks!
6. Get fitted
If you’re anything like me you’re boobs are going to grow. My boobs are hugemongous. They were actually probably the first thing that started growing (And hurting) and the best best best thing I ever did was go out and buy NEW PROPERLY FITTING bras.
As my due date has crept closer I’ve also purchased a super sexy maternity bra from Hot Milk – being large doesn’t mean being frumpy!
7. Get comfy
I think I’m lucky that I’m pregnant in summer – despite being overheated much of the time, the blessing is that I don’t really need to invest in new clothes.
In fact, the only ‘maternity’ thing I’ve bought has been a pair of stretchy pants in Vancouver (where it was still winter). Glassons have these incredibly comfortable LONG STRETCHY singlets that make being pregnant pretty damn easy. I must admit I still get frustrated at the inability to be fashionably awesome when pregnant – especially in the final 10 minutes before heading out the door to a BBQ or drinks date with friends. Poor Ivan can only watch helplessly, muttering over and over again that I look ‘beautiful’ as every item of clothing is flung onto the floor and I flail about in my underwear wishing that I wasn’t so damn pregnant.
8. Dealing with nausea
I know that every pregnancy is different, which is why I’m excited to do it again. This time round, I was feeling wonderful up til about 8 weeks and then BOOM, nausea and vomiting hit me. Everyone said it would disappear by about 12 weeks… but nope, mine lingered. The next milestone was about 16 weeks people told me, but nope… mine stayed. It wasn’t until the start of my third trimester that the nausea and vomiting really subsided.
Dealing with it was difficult. We tried everything. Ginger, salted crackers, avoiding hot foods, herbal remedies, seabands, vitamins – you name it, we tried it. After a few episodes of not being able to keep anything down (not even water) – my doctor at the time prescribed me Diclectin. It’s a drug that is only available under that name in Canada and I haven’t been able to find it in NZ under a different name. It was a life-saver. If you’re in Canada and are suffering from nausea… I recommend finding this.
9. Other therapies
Being pregnant means being a little bit less comfortable than you would otherwise be. A constantly growing baby means that different internal organs are occasionally prodded and moved around with increasingly less space. Sleeping has become difficult and a peaceful uninterrupted night’s sleep has become somewhat a distant memory for me. (And I’m sure will continue to be for some time!)
During month 3-5 I was receiving regular Chiropractic care at the Advanced Spine and Joint Clinic in Auckland. I highly recommend this!
More recently I have been trying Craniosacral therapy with a family friend and pregnancy massage with Sam at Bella Mama. Both of these have been amazing and whilst possibly a little on the expensive side, if you can make time (and fit it into the budget) – both of these therapies have been proven to help the baby move into a good position whilst also promoting general relaxation and good health of the mother.
10. What I eat and what I avoid
As I mentioned earlier – during my more nauseas months I ate whatever I could. This was only buttered bread for about 2 weeks. This moved to salted chips & crackers for about a week. Which moved to tomato/avocado/cheese sandwiches for about a month.
After this, I resumed eating pretty much whatever I could stomach in an effort to gain a little bit more weight.
In the last 3 months of my pregnancy (so for the last month and for the next 2 months) my diet is more or less this:
Month 7 –
- No wheat
- Limited sugar (no fizzy drinks, only the occasional fruit juice)
- Trying to reduce caffeine intake
- Oats for breakfast
- Cheese sandwich or scrambled eggs for lunch
- Lots of avocados
- Plain yoghurt
- 2 cups of ‘Pregnancy Tea’ a day
- Limited red meat
- Lots of salmon and nuts
Month 8 – same as above, continuing to reduce caffeine intake and sugar intake
Month 9 – same as above plus:
- No wheat or gluten
- Very very limited caffeine
- 3 cups of ‘pregnancy tea’ each day
Being pregnant is extremely full on. It’s life changing in an amazing way and it has taught me so much about my body and my health. I feel so good that I can’t imagine feeling any better about my body after the baby arrives. I’ve forgotten what a flat tummy feels like, but I kinda enjoy this big round one that I’m carrying around.
If I could do it all again from day one I don’t think I’d do anything differently (except maybe try to cut out caffeine a little earlier). I hope that pregnancy #2 is this glorious!