Pregnancy is an such an important time in our lives. I enjoyed my pregnancies, and I want the same for you. No matter how much you try to have a perfect pregnancy, you will still get tired and be a little more restricted than normal, but that is ok: You’re growing a baby! Your body is doing something really quite incredible, so give it a break.
This is not a way to beat you up. We can’t be perfect- it’s impossible. Don’t give yourself guilt if you weren’t able to enjoy past pregnancies, or if you just can’t stomach liver when your pregnant. Life happens! None of us are doing any better than anyone else.
No mommy guilt! Do what you can, don’t stress about the rest.
I am a total birth junkie. I love pregnancy and birth. Such an amazing time! I’ve carried 10 beautiful little ones: 4 angel babies and 6 that I got to keep, so I feel I have a fair amount of experience. The following are things that I did that made a difference in my pregnancies.
My disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, before you make any changes in your diet, exercise or supplements, talk to your healthcare provider.
1. Nutrition. Nutrition is key. I remember one midwife saying that 90% of a good birth is dependent on nutrition. What you eat matters through before conception, your entire pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Eating a traditional diet means you have all you need to keep a healthy body and feel good and it gives babe everything it needs to grow and develop well. Good nutrition means less heartburn, (eat regular amounts of protein to avoid heartburn), more energy and faster recovery. Read here to see what a traditional diet is.
2. Exercise. Next to nutrition getting adequate exercise is at the same level. Having a brisk 2 mile walk every day means you reduce change of hemorrhage after birth, it also means that birth will be easier do and recover from. Some care providers have opinions on what exactly you should do for exercise, but my general rule is: If I did it before I got pregnant, then I can do it until my body tells me to stop. Most of the time when my body tells me to stop it’s uncomfortable. But pregnant women can still do a huge variety of activities, I have friends that did cross fit and even played basketball up to the last a couple months. Although, I do believe we should to avoid contact sports. Two of the most helpful exercises are flat footed squats, and these 7 exercises.
3. Sleep. Sleep is vital. Your body is working hard at helping that little one develop: which means you are going to be tired. Listen to your body and sleep when you need to sleep. This typically means napping (especially in the first and third trimester) and getting a good amount of sleep at night. 8 to 10 hours is best. The best practice is to relax from head to toe, each time you lay down.
Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes and breath deeply a few times. Then think about the very top of your head, take a deep breath and as you exhale, relax the muscles on the top of your head. Next, think about your temples and ears: breath deep and relax your temples and ears. Continue working through every part of your body, ending with your feet. Often, people fall asleep before they get all the way through this relaxation technique. Bonus: it’s perfect to do during labor as well!
4. Supplements. I always take Supermom vitamins. They make me feel so wonderful and full of energy and I notice a huge difference if I miss a day. I also take cod liver oil, fermented is best, but even regular is good for you. Magnesium was helpful to avoid headaches and getting rid of restless leg syndrome I used this oil and sprayed it directly on my legs.
5. Relaxation. Being calm and relaxed is extremely important. Studies show that when babies are exposed to high amounts of stress hormones in utero, it affects their temperament and IQ, it also makes them more prone to depression and irritability. <source> We can’t avoid all stressful situations and we can’t blame ourselves for it. But we can manage our day to day stress. Get up early enough in the morning to get going on the day with ease, rather than rushing about and putting on makeup while you’re driving to work.
A great way to get into a habit of calm is to practice meditation, have a time of prayer every day and get regular massages. There are masseuses that specialize in prenatal and postnatal massage. During my pregnancy I got to know Laura from Mother Earth Massage and she is so great! She even came to my home in the first 48 hours to give a postnatal massage, which helps with recovering from birth. You’re working hard- give your body a treat!
6. Elimination. Frequently pregnant moms complain about being constipated. The easiest way to avoid constipation is to eat 2 stalks of celery every day. (Spread some peanut butter on them and you have a great snack!) You can take yellow dock, which helps with increasing iron (which, in turn increases your energy levels) and is a mild stool softener. <source> Incontinence can be an annoyance as well. To keep your pelvic muscles in shape and not fear sneezing- pee in the shower, with a flat footed squat. Read this article to see how it helps.
For an easier birth I used Gentle Birth Formula. It did make a difference in how easy birth was. I did 5 births without it, and the last birth with it. It made a significant difference in my comfort level.