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Everyone’s pregnancy is different, obviously. Before becoming pregnant, I heard some horror stories about being pregnant, from both friends and people I don’t know. For some people, the experience can be painful, uncomfortable in all ways (not just physical) and not a fun experience. For me, I’m fortunate to say that things have been going pretty well, as far as what I can control. I’ve really focused on healthy pregnancy habits, or lifestyle things. And so far, at 24 weeks, I’m really enjoying this pregnancy journey.
I would never say, “this is what you have to do to have a healthy pregnancy,” because we are all different. SO much is out of our control with pregnancy…like SO MUCH. My skin has been breaking out in places I’ve never got pimples before and its painful and uncomfortable, but there’s not much I can take for it that won’t affect the baby so I’ve just learned to focus on the lifestyle habits I CAN control.
I’m thankful to still be running and eating most of my normal foods. I have been able to travel normally, and aside from the thing growing inside my belly, I feel like a normal human. It’s still pretty crazy to think that there’s a super small human growing inside me though – the body is so cool!
I thought I would share some of my tips for a healthy pregnancy. I realize that some women may do all of these things and still have a painful or negative pregnancy, or just get a bad luck of the draw. But, focusing on what you can control in your lifestyle is the best we can do. Stressing about things out of our control will just make things worse. Even before pregnancy I was consistent with these habits, but they have become all the more important now that I’m doing them for two.
While it’s obviously at a much lower intensity and rate than my previous bouts of marathon training, it’s still very important for you as a soon-to-be mom and the baby. I have learned to listen to my body so much more. While pregnancy is a wonderful time to learn about and implement intuitive eating, I’d also say the same for learning intuitive exercise. Your body just isn’t capable of many of the same things. At first, that was harder for me as a long distance runner. I thought I should still be running my normal paces and distances in the beginning. But, the important thing is not meeting all of your old PR’s or times, but instead, just getting out there in the first place.
For me, the second trimester looks like a lot more walking and lower intensity movements. Sometimes, that’s just peddling on the bike and listening to a podcast. I still run about 2-4 days a week depending on my mood and what I have going on, but it’s not a “have to” feeling. Anything that is a have to feeling will not be enjoyable or maintainable.
My sleep was actually really bad in the beginning. The lack of good sleep was making me anxious about how it would affect the baby. Once I calmed down about it and added in some light meditation to my nighttime routine, things improved. I also started journaling before bed. Nothing too intense, but bullet points of things that may be on my mind, highlights from the day to remember, and what I’m grateful for. Getting things from brain to paper makes a big deal in my world. I love this book for chronicling pregnancy feelings and key points from appointments.
Writing things down on a to-do list doesn’t have to be anything extravagant but it prevents me from thinking about these things in more detail and worrying about them not getting done.
Joining Support Groups/Learning from other Moms
This one isn’t really a habit, but something I have done proactively. My favorite groups have been through some of the pregnancy apps – I’ve found some virtually through Ovia and What to Expect Apps. I even found a group of other RD’s going through pregnancy. This has been SUPER helpful for learning and sharing tips and also helping to plan out what we really need.
I’m also in some Facebook groups. Some of the time I can’t relate to things other women are going to. But, more often than not, I can. And when I have a question, it’s great to get responses from many other women in the same boat. Facebook can be such a great tool for community and I would urge anyone who is pregnant or TTC to join the discussion!
Nutrition + Hydration
These are the obvious ones – giving your body MORE of everything (more on those nutrients below). Not only are you feeding and hydrating an additional human, but you need to supply him/her with additional nutrients. My diet hasn’t changed too much – lucky for me, not having many food aversions, I’m eating many of my normal foods. In the beginning, my appetite was more constant and never ending. Now that I’m in the 24th week, the baby is taking up more space and I’m getting fuller much earlier. So, I need to be conscious about not overdoing it and feeling worse later. Also, it’s exciting that I’m back to loving my regular veggies – in the first few weeks of pregnancy, I felt “blah” about them and didn’t crave them whatsoever.
I will say, being a member of Sam’s Club has been a life saver because we have been able to stock up on my favorite staples – frozen veggies, pasta/mac and cheese, bread, seltzer water, peanut butter and more, without having to buy these things constantly. I know once the baby comes I’ll appreciate the bulk too!
You need extra water to deliver those nutrients to the baby and because your body is pumping more blood through your body. Water also helps with preventing headaches and constipation, which are symptoms we want to avoid if possible!
If you are in the planning stages of pregnancy, start your prenatal now! The general recommendation is to start taking prenatal vitamins with food up to six months before getting pregnant. After doing my research, I decided on taking Nature’s Made Prenatal MVI + DHA. Nature’s Made Prenatal MVI with DHA provides the essential vitamins and minerals (before and during pregnancy) including Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Iodine, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D3†. As you’ve probably heard, Folic Acid is an important B-Vitamin for women of childbearing age and pregnant women especially because it plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system.†
Also, you should know that not all multivitamins have DHA in them, so this was a win in my book. It provides 200 mg DHA which may help support fetal brain and eye development†. Plus, it’s an easy to swallow softgel, free from synthetic dyes, artificial flavors, yeast and starch. It is also made from carefully selected ingredients under strict manufacturing processes, with clinically proven absorption of folic acid and iron.
Plus, I purchased them at Sam’s Club (in bulk) for a cheaper price and so I wouldn’t have to worry about a refill every few months. I love buying in bulk and getting 5 month’s worth, rather than your general 3 months from a drugstore (at a higher price). You can find them in the vitamin aisle.
Also, I’ve heard it’s a good idea to continue your prenatals throughout breastfeeding as well, since your needs are still increased during lactation and your baby is still feeding off your nutrients.
Setting Boundaries and Saying No
Last, but certainly not least, give yourself a BREAK. This is a hard one for all of us and has been especially hard for me. But, I’m more picky about what work I decide to take on now. I am extra vigilant about including enough self care time for me. For rest and relaxation. Even if it’s not productive time, it’s so important to me to not feel stressed out and go go go all the time.
I feel like this has also made a difference in my stress and anxiety levels, and improved my sleeping too. It’s hard to let others down and not always be a “yes” girl, but when it comes to my health and the health of my future baby, I know it’s much more important.
Since I can control my schedule (to some extent), declining certain opportunities that don’t bring me joy has been very freeing. I have less stress and anxiety, so I can focus on growing a healthy baby!
I hope you found this post helpful! Let me know if you have any pregnancy specific questions, as I’m planning some future posts on the topic as well.
Note: † These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
What are some of your daily health habits?