This is my first pregnancy. I have to admit that having been overweight before, I was a little terrified of putting on extra weight during my pregnancy. Now that I’m 7 months in, healthy and feeling pretty good, that fear is a distant memory, however I did need to have some coaching myself early on just to be able to come to terms with my own changing body.
I am the first to admit that as far as pregnancies go, I think I’ve been blessed with a dream run so far. I am sure a lot of that has to do with having a positive attitude, healthy choices pre-pregnancy, and also a fair bit of luck. The only reason I am sharing my experience is in the hope of helping other pregnant or soon to be pregnant women with a story of a good experience of pregnancy, health & sensible weight gain. If you have had a different experience of your pregnancy /ies, please remember to only compare yourself to yourself. Everybody is very different, and every pregnancy is different (so I’ve heard!) so only take from this what is useful and helpful for you. My hope is that you can use my experience to model the positive thoughts and mindsets I share to help you to have a healthier pregnancy.
My husband and I were both ready to take the leap into parenthood. He waited 5 years for me to really feel ready, and after our wedding we decided it was time to get going! We intentionally started preparing ourselves to conceive 6 months prior to beginning ‘trying’.
We are both relatively healthy anyway, however we decided to ramp up our healthy practices and cut out all alcohol & unhealthy habits for the 6 months prior to be in tip-top shape for conception. I was also training for the Sydney Marathon, so I was running more than usual, and became quite fit.
I removed my implanon (hormonal contraception implant) to let my hormones and cycle return to normal and we used other contraception during this period. ( I tracked my period during this time on an iphone app, which was very useful to work out when I was pregnant) At this stage I also stopped using chemical based stuff on my skin, I switched to organic, or natural, paraben, pthalate, aluminium free skin & hair care & deodorants. I had also stopped using BPA laden plastic water bottles a long time ago. I really recommend these chemical-removing steps, if you can to limit your exposure to xeno-estrogens which can mess up your hormone balance.
We conceived within the first month, I think largely due to taking the time to get super healthy. Even though I have had “woman-troubles” with ovarian cysts & cervical abnormalities in the past, I was completely positive about my ability to conceive. My internal voice said – “I’m really fertile. I’m going to fall pregnant easily.”
When I did fall pregnant, we figured it out about 6 weeks in, due to the usual sign; my period was late. I didn’t expect my breasts to get so big right at the start. I also started to get really hungry, nauseous in the morning and needed to eat every 3 hours or so. Often I would go to bed at night, and then get up again and have some cheese & gherkins or a glass of milk and a small handful of nuts because I was too hungry to sleep.
I was concerned that I would put on too much weight during the pregnancy and had a fair bit of mental resistance to letting go of the idea of controlling my body.
I was eating healthily, though a fair few more carbs than usual (mmm avocado, tomato & cheese on toast.) and not training at all to the intensity I would usually because I was very tired. I switched from HIIT running, spin, & weights, to yoga, lighter cross-training, and weights, over the first trimester put on about 5 kgs. I felt a bit fat and frumpy, and had to have a coaching session to give myself permission to put on healthy weight for the baby. After my coaching session I was thinking of my extra fat like my bodies insurance policy; to keep my baby healthy through the pregnancy it stored a bit of extra energy, just in case. Luckily, as all the books said it would, my hunger settled down after 3 months and I got more of my energy back. Hooray.
Second trimester was pretty good for me, as soon as my hunger stopped being crazy, and I was not so tired, I resumed my normal eating routine, and slightly less intense exercise program. I wondered if the the baby was alright, as I didn’t even feel pregnant in months 4 & 5. Then I started feeling baby flutters, and relaxed a little bit more.
My bump is getting much bigger now, and we’re preparing for birth and baby. I have been reading loads of books and articles on pregnancy & baby health. The best I’ve come across are: Well Adjusted Babies, and Pinky McKay’s books
I am preparing for birth with the same kind of mindset I was preparing for the marathon: Putting in the training beforehand makes the marathon easy. (btw, I never got to run the marathon because I fell pregnant first) I am doing everything I can to assist with creating a healthy birth experience. Obviously a large part of that is not under my control at all, however I am taking responsibility for what I can; including: Chiropractic visits weekly, pelvic floor exercises, epi-no birth training (soon), regular exercise, reading & researching, positive visualisation & hypnosis.
Many women say things like:”I’m going to get fat anyway so I might as well eat what I want” This is a limiting belief and prevents you from creating a healthy experience for your pregnancy and afterward. There is no reason to stop healthy habits, if anything, it is even more critical; as the food you eat is not just affecting you, but creating the cells of your child. I make sure I take my pre-natal vitamins, juice plus, omega-3’s and eat loads of healthy vegetables (raw when possible),wild deep-sea fish like salmon & mackerel, lean meat & eggs, nuts, legumes, fruit, and some dairy & grains.
There were many times I didn’t feel like going to the gym, especially in the first trimester, but I went anyway and did something light, like yoga, walking or swimming to keep up the habit of going. I would say to myself “just get out the door and do something”. I read a great e-book which had a lot of sensible advice from a PT & Mum specialising in Pregnancy. Pregnancy without Pounds
I took lots of naps in my lunch breaks and took it easy days whenever I could. Even though it doesn’t look like it on the outside, you are doing a LOT on the inside.
Giving myself permission to trust in my body was a huge step forward, and allowed me to remove the fear and pressure about staying slim, putting on too much, or not enough weight. I have been listening to my body, eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full, and it really does know what to do.
My only legitimate strange pregnancy craving was for brussel sprouts early on in my pregnancy. ( There’s lots of folate in brussel sprouts!) I also decided to begin drinking milk again. Craving ice-cream and sweets is not a ‘pregnancy craving’ that you need to follow. It is a just a thought, often an emotional or habitual craving like any other you may have had before you were pregnant. Deal with the emotion and the craving will go away. If you are genuinely hungry, eat something healthy if you can before giving in to the craving.
I have seen too many Mums put incredible pressure on themselves through their pregnancy, post-pregnancy and while looking after their children. Wracking themselves with guilt about every choice. All you can do is the best you know how, make the decisions, do what you can, accept that nobody is perfect and let go of the guilt, your kids will be better off with a relaxed, calm, happy, imperfect mum, than a stressed out, guilt-ridden “perfect” one.
What were your big learnings, challenges and ‘aha’s through your pregnancy, and afterwards looking after your baby and your health?
Have you got any good advice or tips for me and the other ladies in the community?
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