This is it. You’ve got your mind set on having your family’s birth the way you want it.
You want to be in control. Sure, we all know that birth can be unpredictable but when you plan ahead it makes your mind at ease and surprisingly can take your mind off it.
Which is probably a good thing considering the lack of sleep you’re getting as you approach the end of your pregnancy.
Who said waffles at 4am?!
That said, sometimes it can be hard to know where to turn to with so much information over-boarding the net.
Drink this, eat that, do this ONE simple exercise that will guarantee you a pain-free birth. It’s just not doable nor realistic when all we’re really looking is a nice wind down technique.
So because I know the struggle that comes with being faced with the unknown (in this case, birth) and having way too many tips and tricks to digest, I’ve made it simple for you by putting together a quick list of some healthy habits you can get into starting from now.
Are you ready? Let’s begin…
1. Eat light
Let me just clarify before you all throw your empty Ben and Jerry’s cartons at me: I don’t mean diet, I don’t mean skipping meals…in fact what I’m trying to say is quite the opposite.
I guess what I’m getting at is that the old ‘Eat for Two’ myth is both outdated and not any help for those that want to stay in shape during pregnancy. Think about it: you’re going to have a much easier time moving about during active labour if you haven’t put on excessive weight beforehand.
Please note I am in NO WAY saying that you can’t treat yourself now and then, just keep it to a minimum.
Eat wholegrain and ‘good fats’
One way you could do this is to try food swapping for example: white bread for brown bread, biscuits for dried fruit, butter for olive oil…
This tip will also come in handy when it comes to the famous heartburn cause it is kinda common sense to assume that smaller, more frequent meals also give your body time to digest as it needs to and prevents stomach acidity from arising.
Should it arise anyway, (it is a pain in the backside like that) you can find a useful article about it here.
To round up nicely:
- Try to eat smaller quantities of food more frequently throughout the day
- Try food swapping to whole grains, sugary drinks for juice; you get the jist.
- Stock up on plenty of fruit and vegetables (organic wherever possible)
Moving onto the next healthy habit…
2. Drink up mama-to be!
I’ll admit that I’m the first to struggle with keeping on track with this one, but I try my best cause it’s just so important.
For the average person, 2L a day is the recommended. we, however, are not average, are we ladies? Not with that ever growing bump! Instead aim for a little bit more like 2.3 litres. That roughly works out to 10 glasses a day – including your soups, juices and other fluid intakes.
Watch out for misleading sugary juices
Bearing in mind, as we covered in point one, you might want to drink more water than juices as they tend to be high in sugar – unless it’s summer and you need an extra energy boost!
One way to track if you’re getting enough water is to have a quick look at your pee (you might wanna turn around if your belly doesn’t allow it!) and check it’s more of a diluted, clear colour rather than on the yellow side. It shouldn’t smell sugary either – if it does, it could be related to diabetes or thrush so just observe your body carefully.
If I still haven’t convinced you, here are some reasons you should stay on top of your water intake during pregnancy:
- This goes without saying but the more water you drink, the more water baby gets as all the nutrients are absorbed by your body thanks to the magic liquid!
- It prevents the risk of a urine infection, a pain in all women but potentially dangerous while pregnant as it could develop into a kidney infection if not treated properly.
- Helps you keep constipation at bay, which can be a biggie during pregnancy – water will help to break down waste that can be more efficiently….evacuated.
- Fights over heating and fatigue – which if you’re lucky enough to be heavily pregnant during the summer (note the sarcasm there?) obviously becomes a life saver.
3. Move that gracious pregnant silouhette!
This one you’ve obviously heard before? But what if I told you that exercise doesn’t have to be so tedious? That you don’t HAVE to go jogging 6 times a week to stay fit?
Say that again? Yep, I’m talking about just getting in the minimum amount of exercise you need in a day – adapted to your own standards.
Experts say that when it comes to exercise in pregnancy, as long as there are no complications with the pregnancy, that a mama-to be can exercise as she did before she got pregnant – that is to say, if I only did some gentle exercise before, I’m not going to plan on running a marathon, for example.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring!
As I’ve already pointed out, as long as you’ve got the OK from your health provider, exercise can not only be great prep for the birth itself, but also a way to blow off some steam before your evening wind down begins, which leads me onto my next point…
But not without mentioning that you can, if you’re not really a fan of walking, go on a serious YouTube binge for some old dance workout videos and get your funk on at home. Oh yeah!
Or you can try swimming – this might one of the best forms of exercise you can do while pregnant as it’s low impact for the body, and you won’t feel so heavy! Do check before you head to the pool though that you’ve got the OK – some doctors advise not to do so in the last month in case you lose your mucus plug.
OR you could signup for a prenatal class like yoga – that way you get a two in one deal – you give your body the movement it badly desires AND you meet new mama friends. By the way did you know that the body during pregnancy is naturally more flexible? So if you’ve never tried yoga before or you’re a bit scared at the thought, now’s the time to take the plunge! Here are some quick benefits of prenatal yoga:
- It’s a stress reliever – great for those anxious preggo moments
- It decreases lower back pain
- Reduces the risk of preterm labour
- Lowered risk of inauterine growth restriction (a condition that slows baby’s growth)
More information from the source here.
4. Get to bed earlier
Note how I didn’t say early? I was told that throughout my pregnancy and apart from the first trimester where I would fall asleep at 8pm on the couch most nights, it just wasn’t a feasible idea? My wiggly worm had other ideas!
If you are already an early sleeper, then stick with your routine. If not, just try and slip into bed a little earlier. You might want to start with just ten minutes earlier everyday until you reach your target bedtime.
A good idea is to have a wind down routine as I like to call it, this can consist of various activities, depending on what works for you. Here is an example below:
- Early dinner around 7pm, wherever possible followed by:
- Gentle walk around the block (providing it’s not dark)
- A soak in the bath (always making sure that the temperature is not too hot)
- 15 minutes yoga to ease those pregnancy aches and pains
- A quick back rub from your partner
Of course, if this is your second baby or more, it might not be so easy to establish some me time but it’s important you do so you can tune in to your body and connect with baby. Could your partner put the eldest child to bed? Could the neighbour look after him/her while you get some serious pampering?
These are just points to consider to help you relax. If you’re really having a hard time sleeping – which is not uncommon during pregnancy, with so much to think about from changing relationships to balancing baby and work – this is especially true if it’s your first child. Here are some more healthy habits you can get into:
- Reduce your screen time before bed – read a book instead
- Try and get comfortable with you pillows
- Get up and do something til you’re tired if you can’t sleep
You can find more on getting a decent night’s sleep during pregnancy in this post here.
5. Do your research
I know, this sounds quite the opposite to the advice I gave you earlier on.
Hear me out. I don’t mean raid the internet until the early hours of the morning for every minor detail of the pregnancy (though you’re free to do so if you wish!). I mean invest in a couple of good books and watch some inspiring talks about birth.
For example, if you’re interested in having a natural birth, which is probably the reason you’re reading this post in the first place, you might just want to get the book ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’. Make it part of your evening wind down ritual as we mentioned earlier – the mind is a powerful tool and it’s important that you feed it positive messages throughout pregnancy.
Soak in positivity
I know that a lot of women would argue not to dwell so much on birth before the day arrives – I however, completely disagree. The more knowledge you have going into labour, the more prepared you’ll feel and the more trust you can have of your body and it’s capacity to do the job.
I, for one, watched natural home birth videos months before it was actually my time – now that’s not to say it’s for everyone, but I certainly felt that if the women I was watching had the strength to power through even when it got tough, well – so could I.
Granted, I was always a watery mess when mummy was finally united with baby. I think that’s the part you’ve got to remember going into labour, and it will be hard not to anyway – that in just a few hours, you’ll have your baby in your arms!!
6. Surround yourself with other women
Yep, as if you didn’t need an excuse to ring up your girlfriend for an hour long chat on the phone about the ups and downs of pregnancy. Or a nice brunch out somewhere nice before you don’t have the time to brunch anymore (sorry for mentioning that!)…
You know, this is your time, lake the most of it. I’m not saying that you gotta get stuff done before baby arrives, cause I was the first to want mine to arrive already. But you gotta get stuff done.
Nope, I’m not talking about re-painting the entire house cause custard cream is suddenly much more appealing than the original beige you’d planned on having, or re-ordering baby’s clothes for the millionth time.
Go out together and enjoy yourself!
In fact, what I’m saying is quite the contrary – I’m saying go out a little (somewhere comfortable, granted), let your hair down, forget about what the future holds for just a few hours. Your planner will still be there the next day, I promise.
I truly believe that women boost each other up when they’re together – it’s instinctive. Your friends will take care of you, listen to your rants and offer you copious amounts of cereal if that’s what you want.
You’re going to be a mother, we know that, but that doesn’t mean you stop being a woman. In fact, the more you stay in touch with that notion, the smoother the transition into motherhood will be.
To round up
Pregnancy is such an exciting chapter of life – but it can also be challenging at times. Don’t feel alone in this, reach out to other women and make sure to follow the advice I’ve given.
Ladies – is there anything in particular that worked for you? Leave a comment below or share on my Pinterest. Thanks for reading! I hope it helped.