How I'm taking care of myself this pregnancy
My first pregnancy was fairly easy. I experienced the common early-pregnancy nausea, which felt like an all-day hangover and lasted until 18 weeks. And then at week 30 I had some intense pelvic pain, however that only lasted for two weeks. I also had leg cramps, but they weren't a big deal. Most, it was smooth sailing. Though I did spend the entire third trimester trying to get my baby to change from breech to the ideal, head down (occiput anterior) position. Spoiler alert: nothing worked and my baby came out bottom first. This time around, my initial experience was very similar (except with a lot more dry-retching, which lasted a fraction longer than my first pregnancy). We're now 25 weeks and I'm yet to experience prolonged or significant back, pelvic or joint pain (here's hoping it doesn't kick in!). The only other symptoms that have been happening semi-regularly are headaches and feeling faint every so often. And we'll just have to wait and see what position this bubba gets into!
All this is to say, I have been very lucky with my pregnancies. In writing this post, I am whole heartedly acknowledging this fact. I also recognise that I have a supportive partner, a flexible and undemanding work schedule, and the financial means to treat myself to a box of my favourite, fancy crackers every now and then. Not everyone has these privileges, and I am grateful I can take care of myself in lots of different ways and with ease. Regardless of how your pregnancy is going and what kind of self-care is realistic and available to you, I hope that by sharing what is making me feel good, you are inspired to find things that will make you feel good. Growing a baby is a big deal, and you most certainly need to be nurtured.
I won't go into too much detail as to how I survived the early, nausea-filled days, as I already wrote a post on the topic when I was pregnant with Joan (link here). I will say, though, that I tried to ensure I ate regularly (including a little something as soon as I woke), and favoured meals and snacks that were high in fibre, protein and nourishing fats. That didn't always happen, of course, but I felt better when I was able to eat in a balanced way.
Now that the nausea and food aversions have cleared, I am making sure to eat lots of my feel-good foods - i.e. foods that make me feel my best. In addition, I have developed a new passion for fruit - specifically citrus and kiwi fruit. During pregnancy, I find I need to eat more regularly and bulk out my snacks so that I am satisfied, my energy levels stay high and the nausea doesn't creep back in. Most evenings I'll make myself a snack plate of fruit and cheese - often apple, cheddar and preservative-free dried apricots or sultanas. In general, I like to eat a large variety of foods, with an emphasis on whole foods (that is, foods that haven't been unnecessarily processed). And when pregnant, I prioritise these foods even more (specifically vegetables), as these nutrient-dense foods are helping my body & baby to grow, while ensuring my nutrient stores don't get too depleted. Oily fish is a big priority for me, as it's super beneficial for both myself and my baby, so I make sure to eat canned, wild-caught, oil-packed salmon a few times a week. I'm trying to eat more sardines, too, but I don't love them quite like I do other fish. Eggs are a staple for me and I've been eating more red meat than usual, as my body has been craving it and I always need to watch my iron intake. I've also been snacking on homemade jellies, made using this gelatin (I'll try to share the recipe soon), as glycine is great for pregnancy. Lots of smoothies, too, with frozen berries, yoghurt or kefir and hemp seeds. In addition to all these foods, I also go out of my way to eat lots of garlic and spices, as research tells us our babies are exposed to the flavours we consume during pregnancy and this can influence their food preferences later in life.
In terms of how much I am eating, I don't count calories of grams. Instead, I am intuitive about what I feel like eating, how much I will eat and when. Towards the end of my pregnancy with Joan, I found myself not wanting to eat much of anything, and so I had to get a bit crafty with ways to keep my nutrient intake high. However, generally speaking, I do just eat intuitively. I'm also avoiding alcohol, besides the odd sip of Ben's wine here and there, and I limit myself to one coffee a day. My main fluid choice is water, with some non-caffeinated tea and the odd juice or lemonade here and there (I love these).
Lastly, I take the following supplements: a daily prenatal by Eagle. Every other day I'm also taking an iron tablet and a fish oil by the same brand. I also just bought this probiotic, which I'll start taking soon.
I'm usually a fairly active person. I love my morning walks (with Joan in the pram) and ballet/barre videos via YouTube, however in the early stages of this pregnancy, for whatever reason, I intuitively didn't feel like moving vigorously. That started to change around 15 weeks, and I developed a strong urge to exercise. Since then I have been loving this Youtube prenatal workout, and will do a 20 minute video perhaps 3-4 mornings a week in place of my morning walk. The reason I'm not going on as many walks at the moment is because it's often raining in the morning, or it'll be super cold. And while I LOVE walking when it's cold out, if Joan has a cough (which isn't uncommon at the moment), I don't like to take her out in the early morning, 5 degree Celsius weather. My goal with exercise is to build strength and stamina, which will help support my body as it grows our baby and hopefully assist me during labour, as well as help my recovery postpartum. I also find that being active helps increase my energy levels day-to-day. I considered doing some yoga or pilates, but would prefer to do it at a studio rather than videos at home (just for the extra guidance). But right now, with everything else we've got going on and that I'm already paying for (a private OB and monthly acupuncture), I'm not able to fit it in. I do a quick stretch every morning and night, though. About that monthly acupuncture, I started it to help me balance my hormones after our second miscarriage last year, and have just kept it up! It's not something I did last pregnancy, but I have been really loving it this time around, and find it helps with my headaches and back tenderness.
Another thing I am really intuitive about is resting my body. When I feel as though I have been on my feet for too long, or if I recognise that I have been too busy darting around, I make sure to stop and rest. When this happens, Joan and I will make a cup of tea, grab some books and park on the couch for an hour. I might also scrap dinner plans and defrost something from the freezer. I think it's so important to listen to your body and not push yourself - at all times, though especially during pregnancy. I also try to go to bed early and avoid screens at least thirty minutes before sleeping. I'm not feeling as rested, these days, as I'm waking multiple times overnight (I blame hormones, needing to pee more often and the fact that it's harder to get comfortable), and so I'm trying to do whatever I can to maximise my sleep quality.
SHOWERING AND MOISTURISING
I am such a fan of showers. Even just one minute under running water makes me feel completely revived. As my body grows and starts to stretch and ache, I'm finding warm water and moisturising to be increasing beneficial. I have a quick shower every morning and night, and try to remember to moisturise my body afterwards. To be honest, I rarely moisturise more than my face, however when I do put oil or cream on my belly (usually just coconut oil), I feel so good! I am super excited for when our bathroom renovation is finished and I can start having baths again.
When I was pregnant with Joan I devoured pregnancy and birth books. This time around I'm only just starting to get into them, however I plan on reading a little every night, just to get my head in the space of baby + birth. Ina May Gaskin is such a wonderful resource, and leaves you feeling so empowered. I plan on re-reading her guide to childbirth and spiritual midwifery, and perhaps Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering (which was great! I just need to see if my library has it). Once I hit the third trimester (in less than a month!) I also plan on reading over my Hypnobirthing resources. Oh, and though it's not reading, I am watching Call the Midwife. I love that show.
I didn't really get the nesting bug when I was pregnant with Joan. This time around, it's hit early! I'm cleaning, decluttering, rearranging and making space for this new little love as a way of mentally preparing for this new chapter. I prefer to live in a clutter-free environment, so I'm hoping this decluttering nesting bug will help make our home environment as pleasant as possible for the hazy postpartum days. Oh, and lastly, I'm already thinking about what I will be cooking and freezing before bubba arrives. I plan on making a tonne of broth, as well as some slow-cooked beef dishes, soups and snacks like banana bread and cookies.
PLANNING FOR TWO
I'm not just preparing for one baby, I'm preparing for life with two children. Lately I've been jotting down ideas that come to me, or which I come across from other people, that I think will help ease the transition - for both Joan and myself. Joan can play by herself really well, and encourage that, however there are definitely occasions when she's not in the mood and just wants me. And so, I plan on creating a few different activity bags that I can easily whip out, which will hopefully distract her and keep her content when I need to care for the baby. I don't expect it to always work, but if I can think of some awesome things to put in the bags (I've already got some crafty things and books like this, which she adores) hopefully it will work some of the time. It's been the two of us for almost three years, so I know it'll be hard to feel like I'm not giving her my everything. Maybe I should make myself a comfort bag, too, filled with chocolate.
I've also been intentionally connecting with Ben and making sure we are on the same page with the sort of support we will need to give each other. We're in a really easy stage of life now - Joan is almost three, we're not as exhausted and we have loads of time for Joan, ourselves and each other. I am very conscious that soon this will all change, so I'm trying to think about how to make this transition as easy as possible for all of us.
There you go, folks! I'd love to hear how you're taking care of yourself during pregnancy, or what worked for you in the past. And any tips for transitioning from one to two!