For anyone out there who’s been curious how my pregnancy has been going, here’s a brief synopsis! I’ve been blessed to have a happy and healthy pregnancy and I’ve hit 39 weeks. The second trimester (~week 14-27) was awesome and I fully recommend taking advantage of that time to stay as active as you can and to get things done that you may not be as anxious or comfortable doing when you get well into the third trimester (like the nursery). It’s the sweet spot so to speak…where morning sickness and fatigue has faded away, you get a great source of energy back and your belly isn’t quite big enough yet to cause you very much discomfort. That’s not to say that the third trimester is going to be awful though. I was surprised at how good I felt for the majority of this too. I really couldn’t complain about anything until around 37 weeks. And even since then, there’s days that I feel good, content and pretty much no different than being a non-pregnant person. Those are mixed in with days, usually at night, that I have felt pretty uncomfortable…where neither sitting, standing or laying was working well for me. But all-in-all, I feel lucky to have had everything go smoothly.
Here a few things I did that I think really made a difference in me having such an easygoing pregnancy:
- Stay active however you can for as long as you can. I went on a walk almost every single day of the first trimester (it was summer), a majority of the second—up until snow was on the ground and temps were too cold to go outside—and throughout the third trimester (which was winter for me) I found ways to move inside whenever I felt up to it. I suppose it’d be even easier for those with a treadmill or gym membership, but since I lacked either, I chose to do prenatal yoga routines at home and go to the mall or other big stores like Target or Meijer and walk laps or weave through all the aisles to get my steps in. I occasionally mixed in some strength training exercises using lightweights for arms and doing lots of squats. Stretching regularly was also extremely beneficial to my hips, legs and back as they started to feel stiff and often cramp up later in the pregnancy.
- Everything in moderation. When I first found out I was pregnant I was in the middle of a detox that had me eating cleaner than I ever had my entire life. I did my best to finish the 30 days of it I had committed to, making slight alterations to be safe, but once that time was up I slowly regressed to eating many things I had just spent a ton of effort eliminating from my diet. But I took it all in stride. For one, many of the foods I had gotten used to eating all the time starting sounding repulsive all of a sudden (like chicken, sweet potatoes, kale, cashews) and secondly, I knew I had to still fuel my body with something to get me through the nausea—not to mention develop a growing fetus. So I let carbs back in. Not long after dairy followed and within a couple more weeks processed snack foods were in the rotation as well. The key was I would let myself indulge if I was craving something but I kept myself from going overboard. And the thing I recommend always abiding by is to take note of the amount you eat. Any time I ate beyond the point of being satisfied, like being overly full, I regretted it later. Especially when baby gets bigger and is pressing on your stomach and everything else down there…making gas and bloating twice as bad as having it without a baby in your belly.
- Staying regular. Typically an uncomfortable thing to talk about, especially for me personally, but gut health is a big part of your overall health and I’ve heard lots of women and sources say that constipation can become a big pain in the butt (literally and figuratively) during pregnancy. I was worried because of all my past problems that I’d be a top contender for this. Surprisingly, I was able to maintain regularity for the majority of my pregnancy. A couple things that I think helped were: drinking lots of water (morning, noon and night), eating six small meals/snacks every day (an apple was usually one of my snacks), taking my prenatal vitamin and a fish oil supplement at night right before bed (which usually seemed to aid in delivering a BM come morning) and lastly as I already mentioned, staying active. Even a 10-minute walk can help and is better than no activity at all.
4. Listen to your body. Some days you may not feel like doing anything, while others you feel like you can’t sit still. If it seems like way too much effort to exercise in your free time, take the time to rest or nap if it feels good. And don’t feel bad about it! If you can manage the aspects of your life so that none of them become too overwhelming at once (or at least not more than one part), your body and mind will thank you for it. Stress has such a huge impact on every aspect of our health. I know it’s often not possible to avoid stress in some situations but it’s so important to recognize when it’s becoming potentially harmful to you and take a step back to see if there’s any way to alleviate some of it. There’s almost no situation where you can’t at least step away for a few minutes, take a break to get some fresh air, reassess how to move forward, change direction or do something else entirely and come back to it. I can’t stress enough how much I feel being active and minimally stressed has helped me feel this good this long. Exercise helped me keep discomfort and back pain to a minimum AND get nearly full nights of sleep until the very end, with the exception of getting up to pee once a night—which I’m pretty sure becomes unavoidable.
Some other thoughts…
· Now that I’m in my final days and looking back, I wish I would have documented more of the pregnancy and my feelings about it throughout. I think I was so set on getting to the end (or the full term mark) and anxious to know things would be okay with our baby that I was mostly wishing time would go faster instead of enjoying each part of it. Each pregnancy, each life really, deserves to be celebrated. And although at times I felt myself holding back on bonding with this baby because of fear or worry, I don’t think that would make it any easier if something were to go wrong. And it doesn’t make me any less human for having those worries, in fact it probably makes me more like any other parent, wanting the absolute best for my offspring so much it hurts.
• Don’t worry about what other people say. Some times you might have to completely ignore it (Cue: "You're HUGE!" in reference to your growing belly). But do expect people to ask you questions like: When are you due? How far along are you? Is this your first? Boy or girl? What names do you have picked out? Over and over. And be prepared for them to share their opinions whether you want to hear them or not. I wish we would have not shared any names we liked with anyone at all because I did not always appreciate people’s reactions or opinions of ones we liked. People are nosy! But just because they ask doesn’t mean you have to share.
• Educate yourself. On the pregnancy as a whole but definitely about childbirth and your options. You’ll have lots of questions throughout the process and it’s always better to be prepared than in the dark. Keep track of your questions so you can ask at your appointments. I’ve found that some doctors of modern day medicine tend to recommend what’s best/convenient for them. If your gut is telling you something different than what your doctor recommends don’t be shy about voicing your concerns and standing your ground. I’m in favor of natural childbirth at the hospital and looking back, I wish I would have found a midwife instead of a traditional OB who is so quick to turn to drugs whether for induction or an epidural.
• Childbirth. Let’s change the stigma/stereotype! It bothers me that through movies, media and word of mouth most people (myself included before learning more) have an awful perception of what childbirth is like. Sure it’s not going to be painless or an easy stroll through the park but I have read and heard about many experiences that were very positive and in fact pretty much the opposite of what you’d expect in a birth. Even while striving to prevent horror stories from altering my feelings on childbirth, I still must remind myself to keep an open mind on all aspects of the process. Drugs for pain and induction, cesarean deliveries…all are not among my preferences if I could choose my ideal delivery but that’s the thing, a lot of times things don’t go to plan and you don’t have a choice. So I’m trying to stay flexible. Keeping in mind that as long as the end result is a healthy baby... the journey there shouldn’t matter.
Well, that’s all this preggo brain can muster up right now. If you have any tips to share for having a healthy happy pregnancy or birthing experience… feel free to leave a comment!