7 Things You Should Know About Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a constant state of uncertainty, particularly if it’s your first. I’m 30 weeks (about 6 and a half months) pregnant at the moment and I seem to be faced with a new worry each week.
You get a barrage of information from everyone about what you should and shouldn’t be eating/drinking/doing and if you Google something it’s ten times worse!
You don’t know what’s normal and what’s not – because you’ve never been through it before – and there’s a lot of pressure on you, as ultimately you’re the one in charge of the process for the next 9 months. Although a partner can be supportive, you’re the one who has to make the call if there needs to be a midnight trip to the hospital because you can’t feel the baby kicking.
There is also this idealised view of pregnancy, one where we’ll all be blooming and happy and look like Gwyn Stefani every day. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when you do feel fabulous, but there are also days when you’re exhausted, in pain and a bit freaked out by everything.
So, here are my top tips for surviving pregnancy’s ups and downs…
- Don’t Listen To Others
Your body will respond/behave in a completely different way to the next person’s, so try not to listen to anyone else when it comes to what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not. Your baby will start kicking at a different time, move around more or less and your bump will be bigger/smaller than the next person’s but all of this is totally normal. There is no right or wrong time for anything and each pregnancy can be totally different. Your body is very clever and it will tell you if something is wrong, so try not to compare yourself to others and just focus on yourself and your own well being.
- Drink Lots Of Water
About 6 weeks ago, I started to get period-pain like cramping. It didn’t feel painful enough to be anything sinister and I wasn’t bleeding, but it did feel quite uncomfortable. I rang the hospital and their standard response is to come in to be on the safe side. I didn’t fancy being sat in a hospital waiting room for 6 hours but at the same time there was clearly something not quite right. I’d heard that dehydration can cause cramping, so I drank 2-3 litres during the morning and the cramping had completely disappeared by the afternoon. I’ve since kept a 2 litre bottle of water on my desk at work and I make sure to drink at least this daily.
- Listen To Your Body
This leads on to my next point, which is listen to your body. We spend so much our lives ignoring what our bodies are telling us. We drink coffee if we’re tired, rather than getting more sleep, we have a few glasses of wine if we’re feeling stressed, rather than taking some time out to relax, and we try to suppress what our bodies are telling us on a daily basis. Pregnancy is the one time when it’s time to actually listen. Our bodies are incredibly clever and they will give us everything we need from them, if we’ll only allow them. So if you’re feeling aches or pains, tired out or other symptoms try and take some time out to get to know your body and understand what it’s telling you.
- Use A Body Oil Daily
This is a great way to help prevent stretch marks and gives your skin a daily moisture boost. I rub a body oil into my bump every evening before bed and add a good glug of baby oil to every bath I have. (I love Elemis’ Japenese Camellia body oil – Victoria Beckham tweeted about using it during her pregnancies – and also Bio-oil). As the skin stretches it can become itchy and uncomfortable too, so the more supple and moisturised you can keep it the better. Touch wood, no stretch marks so far! It is very much down to genetics of course, but if you can do anything you can to help – it’s got to be worth it.
- Invest In Some Pilates Kit
I’d been doing weekly pilates since before I became pregnant, which has now moved to antenatal pilates, and it’s a great way to help prepare your body for birth. A few things I picked up from the classes and found brilliant are the big Swiss ball, small (slightly deflated) exercise ball and the spiky massage ball. I’ve bought all of them from Amazon and use them constantly at home. The big Swiss ball is good for bouncing on whilst your watching TV or relaxing, which is great to get the pelvis moving. The smaller ball is brilliant to put in between your shoulder blades and lie flat on (in early stages) or lean against a wall with (in later stages) and then move up and down. It really opens up the shoulder blades and helps stretch out the back muscles. The spiky ball you can again use on the floor or against a wall too, and if you place it on your shoulders or anywhere that aches and rub against it, it create an amazing massage. If you have a friend or partner handy, they can also use it on you.
- Invest in a Maternity Belt & Pregnancy Pillow
I started to get really bad lower back ache, I did some research and found out about maternity belts. They’re a stretchy, cummerbund-style belt which you can wear underneath trousers and tights. They hold the bump in and up, giving you that much needed support on the lower back. I picked mine up from Blooming Marvellous, but there are lots around. Another god send is the pregnancy pillow, a long u-shaped pillow which you lie within and wrap your legs around. It allows the bump space and helps you to get into a comfy sleeping position at night. I got a really big pillow from Amazon, but there are smaller version available too.
- Try Hypnobirthing
I could dedicate a whole article to hypnobirthing and its principles (which I may do in another post), but I would suggest you do some Google research and find out a bit more about it. The basic premise is that birth is very natural and normal and by getting in the right zone of a calm, relaxed breathing state you can help assist the process by allowing the body to do what it is naturally intended for, without the need for medical intervention. It’s about positive thinking, positive energy and feeling empowered and in control. Even the language of hypnobirthing is positive, you talk about surges rather than contractions, and your birthing partner is encouraged to be with you every step of the way. I attended an absolutely brilliant hypnobirthing course, with midwife and hypnotherapist Judith Flood (you can visit her website here: www.hypnobirthing-london.co.uk) which not only demystifies the whole birthing process and really takes the fear out of it, but also arms you with techniques and tools to take control of your birth. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
If you have more tips, please feel free to add them as comments! Thanks.