Pregnancy can be a wonderful experience. It can also be pretty horrible, leaving some women feeling sick, exhausted and wishing those 40 weeks away! Or it can sit somewhere in the middle of the two! No two pregnancies are the same and sadly it’s not the case that all mums-to-be have that ‘glow’ of pregnancy radiance!
Perhaps you had a fairly grim start to pregnancy and then found that the hallowed second trimester magicked away those feelings of nausea and tiredness? Or maybe you sailed through the first 20 or 30 weeks only to find that life became significantly less comfortable as you reached the home straight!
But however you’re feeling, know that this is an amazing thing you’re doing. Growing another human being – feeding their life force with your own. And that can be exhausting! Not just because you need extra energy to sustain their growth, but also because of the dramatic changes in your own body which throw you off balance, pull things out of alignment and give you backache, pelvic pain, stop you sleeping… the list goes on.
So it’s really key that you look after yourself – because that in turn is looking after your baby! Here are a few things that you can do to help keep energy levels up and common pregnancy ailments at bay!
We know that it’s not always what you feel like when you’re tired and feeling those aches and pains, but believe it or not – exercise (when done in a pregnancy safe way) is self care!
Even 20 minutes of tailored strength and cardio or Pilates will boost your energy stores both mentally and physically and release those feel good endorphins!
Many mind-body classes like Yoga will also really help you to connect with your breathing which can be very helpful when you’re being kept awake at night by those baby cancan moves – not to mention staying calm in childbirth and managing your contractions effectively. The mindfulness exercises can also really help you to bond with your growing baby in utero.
Movement can also help to combat nausea, while strengthening your body in all the right places can combat the onset of pelvic girdle pain, back ache and more.
Whatever you’re doing, it’s really important to listen to your body and how it’s feeling.
Even in a pregnancy class environment only you can know what feels good and what doesn’t, ensuring you do not to push yourself in areas you don’t feel comfortable with. The weight of your baby and the relaxin hormone released in pregnancy will both cause your ligaments to be pulled into deeper stretches than you would normally experience, so it’s not a time to push the boundaries of what you can do!
Eat well – but not necessarily for two!
Contrary to popular opinion, pregnant women don’t need that many more calories each day to sustain their little one’s growth. But what you eat is important!
Start your day the healthy way, with a breakfast that will keep you fuller for longer and help you keep up with the demands being placed on your body. Protein like eggs (make sure you’re choosing those Red Lion stamped ones if you’re planning on having them runny) or Greek yogurt will help to give you the sustainable energy you need – and the latter gives you the double whammy of the calcium boost you also need. Avoiding sugar first thing in the morning will keep insulin levels even and in turn help with those afternoon sugar cravings!
Across the day, plan to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, lean meats or non-meat sources of protein (beans, lentils and pulses for example).
Drink plenty of water (8-10 glasses every day) and try to curb your caffeine cravings! Pregnant women are advised to consume less than 200mg of caffeine each day because of the link between caffeine intake and low birth weight of babies. Drinking water in between meals (rather than with) can also help with indigestion if you’ve been experiencing that.
Make time for yourself
Whether ‘you time’ means exercise or a trip to the cinema, an afternoon on the sofa with a book or an hour-long bath, carve out some time to switch off, relax and do something which makes you feel happy. Sometimes being pregnant can feel like suddenly everyone’s very involved in your life and it can be overwhelming. But marking out some time for you – or you and your partner together if that’s what you need – is really vital self-care. It becomes a lot harder when your baby is here, so if you can get into a good habit of some ‘you time’ now then it’s a lot easier when you have another person to factor into the equation – and you’ll know how important it is to your sanity!
Banish baby brain!
The forgetfulness of baby brain is real! Partly the result of tiredness from disturbed sleep patterns, partly the sheer number of new thoughts and feelings relating to having a baby and partly the impact of the way in which our brain functions change during pregnancy, it can leave you feeling like you’re one sandwich short of a picnic! But you can plan for it – and not let it get you down, or feeling behind with life!
Planning might come naturally to you – especially as you start to respond to those ‘nesting’ urges that impending motherhood can instil – but it can be a really useful tool to helping you feel more in control of life as other things (like your changing body) can feel as though they’re starting to get away from you! Plan your week with what you need to achieve, any classes you might be planning, healthy meals you want to cook, etc. Having a schedule and / or to do list is can help you stick to good intentions, and being able to cross things off when they’re done leads to a great sense of achievement!