Self-care During Pregnancy: Tips for a Healthy Journey
Pregnancy can be a beautiful experience, but it can also come with a lot of challenges and changes to both your physical and mental well-being. Soon after getting that initial, big fat positive (BFP) on that pregnancy test, so much is already happening in your body internally though not immediately visible to others unless you choose to share your big news early! Your body is undergoing a complete transformation to create this new life and taking care of your health and wellness during that 40+ weeks becomes that much more important.
During pregnancy, a woman's typical selfcare routine may need to change and/or be modified for the safety of unborn child. For example, if you used to enjoy a glass of wine occasionally as a way to relax and unwind, you have to give up alcohol, at least that’s what most medical professionals continue to advise. If you previously relied on caffeine to get through the day, you have to cut back. If you smoke (marijuana, nicotine or use any drugs), that is a big no no and you must STOP. If you previously enjoyed certain foods like sushi, deli meats, and a good medium rare steak here and there for safety reasons you might have to give that up. Raw and undercook meat can contain parasites and can lead to toxoplasmosis which can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or damage to the organs of your developing baby so it's just not worth the risks. Some people even have to modify their exercise routine or can’t exercise at all because they don’t feel well enough, particularly while managing first-trimester “morning or all day sickness.”
With all the hormonal changes and the many don’ts of pregnancy and adjustments that must be made to lifestyle, it can really feel like you are not yourself. However, it’s important to remember it is only temporary and you can find other ways to cope and keep a positive mindset throughout pregnancy journey. Whether you are a first time mom (FTM), or this is your second, third or fourth child, be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself during this transformational period in your life. Below sharing tips and activities that you can actually do to practice self-care and have a healthy pregnancy journey.
Selfcare and Wellness Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy Journey
Eat healthy nutritious meals that are safe and good for you and your growing baby. For example, eat lots of fruits and veggies and stay away from too many sweets as well as salty foods.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Though you might want to limit water intake closer to bedtime to limit frequent trips to bathroom at night.
Remain physically active, even if you have to modify your exercise routine. Pregnancy yoga seems to be quite popular. Also, going for walks in your neighborhood or park might also be a great option to stay fit and keep blood circulation and heart in good shape. Also, some people do start to feel better and have more energy in the second trimester, and may be able to resume normal exercise routines at that time, after first consulting with your doctor of course.
Try to get a good night sleep as this is beneficial to your health and the health of your growing baby. According to new research, women who are not getting enough sleep during pregnancy, may have a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia or high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Developing a night-time sleep routine and getting a pregnancy pillow might be helpful.
Don’t forget to take care of your skin and moisturize to minimize and prevent stretch marks and scars during pregnancy. As your body is changing, you may experience rapid weight gain which is a leading cause for stretch marks. Though stretch marks may appear anyway as it has a lot more to do with genetics, it’s still better to have moisturized skin rather than dry and itchy skin so taking preventive measures is worth it.
The consensus seems to be that you can continue getting mani/pedi during pregnancy, so long as you go to a place that observes safe hygiene protocols and is well ventilated. Also, prenatal messages might also be okay but double check these things with your own medical professional in case you have certain unique health needs.
For emotional well being, try to locate a support system and coping mechanisms. Meditation and writing in a journal might be helpful as well as connecting/bonding with family and friends. There’s also no shame in seeking professional help and talking to a therapist if you are having negative thoughts and feelings about anything.
Attend all of your medical appointments to make sure things are progressing well and to spot any potential issues early. Don't forget to also take your prenatal vitamins or any other medication that you are prescribed by your doctor.
It’s important to try to avoid stress during pregnancy as this can negatively impact your health and the health of your developing baby. Focus on the people and things that brings you joy and limit exposure to toxic people and situations. Your unsupportive spouse, your annoying MIL, overbearing grandparents who thinks they can dictate exactly how you are going to parent and what is best for your baby, and your stressful job, just take a deep breath and keep your eyes on the prize. A healthy mommy, safe delivery and healthy baby—that is your focus so keep calm, ignore, delete, return to sender and "not today Satan" is your new mantra! Don't feel guilty for setting boundaries early and letting folks know who's in charge. God entrusted you with the responsibility of raising and taking care of this child, and while you appreciate the support and helpful advice/suggestions from others, ultimately you get the final say.
The pregnancy journey can feel like the time is going by fast and other times feel like the weeks are going by super-slow, at snails pace. If you are a working professional, you can try to focus on your work and business and let your body focus on doing its job of growing your baby. You can also focus on baby prepping activities and celebrating all the different pregnancy milestones and before you know it, you’ll be wondering where the time went and you’ll be holding your precious baby in no time. For example, shopping for your baby or preparing nursery might be something fun to do to occupy your time and mind. If you are a FTM, reading books on parenting and taking classes on what to expect pre and post pregnancy might put your mind at ease and minimize stress once you are well informed and can get organized before your baby arrives.
Happy to hear what other suggestions others have on this topic, so join the conversation! Until next time, a safe and healthy pregnancy journey to all the expectant mamas out there. You got this and God bless!