Pregnancy is a weird and wonderful individualistic journey that is like no other. I was blessed with a pregnancy that was super easy. And yes even though I was healthy, strong and fit to start with I also believe that there are no hard and fast rules where this is concerned. The pregnancy hand you are dealt is just luck of the draw. Your body can take you on all sorts of twists and turns through the 9 months and sometimes you just have to let go and go for the ride. In my 10 days of feeling a little nauseas (boo hoo so hard for me!) it made me think of women who do this for months on end. Worse still, some women spend endless time hugging a toilet not knowing when the nausea will pass. My heart honestly goes out to them, not only do you feel physically horrible the head game and depression around this must be so intense.
Personally, what I have loved most about this journey is learning and discovering a deeper appreciation for my body and for what women go through as a whole on a pregnancy journey. I thought that today I would share some of my insights, what I have discovered and some things that helped me along the way.
You are not incapacitated….
People are beautiful and supportive during a woman’s pregnancy. You only need to watch the crowds part on a street as soon as they see you coming. Lifting anything that could possibly be over 2kg everyone will jump to your aid and god forbid your husband leave you to hunt down a stool in a cafe or not carry the shopping. As amazing as this is, I also believe that this could leave you to indulge the whole experience and get into this mindset of being incapacitated. Life doesn’t have to stop. You can still do and achieve purpose filled things during this time and I believe that as your priorities are about to shift, it is more important than ever to have an identity about yourself and who you want to be moving forward. Yes you are about to be a mum but it is not a time to pull up a chair and check out on life. People have told me I was crazy for starting pottery, going to work as often as I do and also training right through with a lot of questioning of why aren’t I at home watching Netflix. I know that checking out on these things would make me miserable and keeping active and doing the things I love has been a massive investment in my own happiness.
The main thing here is to keep everything uber simple and any supplements taken must be pregnancy specific. When choosing a multi vitamin, one thing to flag which is super important is to ensure that it only contains activated forms of folate and not folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate which has been added to multis. The problem being is if you have a mutation in what is called the MTHFR gene you will not be able to convert this synthetic form to forms your body can use. In saying that, even if you don’t have this particular mutation, a blockage in the conversion can still occur leading to a host of issues such as birth defects. The aim is not to scare you but it is important to do your homework. I used this multi.
Fish Oils are another one that I included right up until my third trimester. I am sure you would have heard the saying baby brain. Well omega 3’s are important to plump up your cells and each cell has a fatty cell membrane. When you have enough omega 3’s your cells sit closer together and communicate better. Due to a lot of your nutrients going to the baby you can be lacking in omega 3’s which can be a part of the issue and can create brain fog. I cut these out for the last trimester because fish oils are also a blood thinner which you don’t want leading into labour.
My thoughts on training….
Weight training right through my pregnancy has been my ‘thing.’ I have felt huge physical and mental benefits of sustaining this level of activity. I remember right after getting the exciting (yet overwhelming) news that I was in fact pregnant. I was given a booklet on do’s and don’ts of exercise at this time. When reading up on exercise the information is to do light walking, yoga and swimming. Now I get it, everyone wants to protect themselves as the fact is there is such a diverse range of fitness levels to cater for in the advice the booklet offers. However there is such a lack of information available to most women so it is no wonder there is a lot of confusion and overwhelm around this. Personally I love yoga but if it was combined with light walking, and swimming alone I would have lost my mind! Being equipped with the advantage of a deeper understanding around the benefits of strength training I have been fortunate to know what to do. In saying this it doesn’t stop that little niggle in the back of your mind hoping that you are doing the right thing so you really have to trust that if it feels good then it is good.
When it comes to hard and fast rules to follow:
- Don’t let your body overheat
- Avoid lying on your back for longer than 2 min
- Avoid exercises which create a lot of abdominal pressure to help avoid or reduce abdominal separation
- If you experience pain and it doesn’t feel good don’t do it
- Single leg exercises may not work for all women depending on hip stability
Aside from these tweaks and adjustments there is SO much you can do. I would recommend working with a trainer to personalise a program for you. We love including loads of glute activations, squats, anything that strengthens the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) and working upper back. As the weight increases at the front of your body it is so important to have a strong posterior chain to counter balance this.
Magnesium Oil is something that I have used right through. In my next section I discuss how sleep being a bit of a bitch but I have found that this helps a lot. I use Salt Lab which we actually sell at our HQ and have created the routine where I have a shower or magnesium bath about an hour before bed and mix it with a pregnancy oil for stretch marks and rub it all over my belly and spray on my feet. You might find it surprising to learn that using a topical form of magnesium means you absorb more than taking it as a supplement. The reason is that you actually have less filtration systems through your skin when compared to your digestive system! This is also something that you can use on your baby’s feet after the arrival. Fingers crossed this helps with sleep.
Sleep is a bit of a bitch…
A sleep routine has been more important than ever. Wind down 2.5 hours before bed, dim the lights, include magnesium and on the days where you feel a little more stressed a magnesium chloride bath is great. During this time I also invested in some block out blinds to make my room more like a cave.
One thing that has also kept me awake is acid reflux. It is slightly better if you are lying on your left side because of the positioning of your stomach but when it is intense I have included bicarb soda mixed in water and it has been a godsend.
The head game of labour
It was probably around the time that I hit my last trimester that the reality of labour kicked in. This huge event in your life where it is amidst this unpredictable twist and turns that you can really only plan to a certain degree. I spent weeks on end dreaming about it and processing it and feel like I have reached a point where I am ready. I also gained huge benefits from working with a midwive/doula to help plan for this. Personally I would like as little medical intervention as possible but I also know that I have to be completely open minded. I will go in with my main priority being the health and safety of my newborn as well as myself. My motivators for trying to keep everything natural is to do it as nature intended. My research into using drugs during labour shows that this can slow down the process. Whatever the direction a woman chooses it has to be something that feels right and is aligned with her own beliefs. This is really a time to block out other opinions and connect with your own.
As I write this I am basically sitting around waiting for labour to kick in. Everything I tell you here could all fly out the birthing suite window and I will give you a follow up post to let you know how I go but I will share what I have learnt.
Quirky things I have included to help with labour
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Introduced in the last trimester Raspberry leaf tea is supposed to help reduce labour time and relax your cervix for dilation to take place.
I read through the Wellness Mama blog that eating 6 dates a day in the last 3 weeks leading into labour that this cuts hours off the duration. Whether this works or doesn’t I could think of worse things to have to eaten.
Through working with a midwife/doula she recommended I include daily inversions to help get the baby in the correct birthing position as well as to help loosen off the ligaments around my hips. You can read more about this here on a site called Spinning babies.
For the last 4 weeks I have been including chiropractic hip adjustments to help with alignment
They say that most months have 30 to 31 days yet the last month of your pregnancy has 1330! This is my exact feeling as I wait to finally meet this little girl. I really hope that she doesn’t keep me waiting too much longer. I am sure that no matter how it unfolds it is going to be quite a ride and I will make sure I come back and share how the rest of this pans out.
Until next time….
The Queen of Lean