How to take care of yourself during pregnancy? There’s no magical answer, only healthy habits you can instill throughout pregnancy to improve both your physical and mental wellness. In this pregnancy blog post, I’ll be sharing my advice on how I’ve incorporated physical and mental wellness into my own pregnancy, the challenges I’ve faced, and how I overcame them.
Eat healthy (despite your food aversions)
Easier said than done, especially when you’ve been like me and have had a ton of food aversions and nausea throughout pregnancy. Truth be told, I went through weeks where I could only stomach bland foods like mashed potatoes, crackers, or bagels.
So, instead of making ambitious healthy eating plans, I tried making small swaps, like picking whole grain options (brown rice, whole wheat bread) instead of their refined counterparts, or choosing crackers that had seeds baked into them, or ‘hiding’ calcium in my mashed potatoes by mashing them with a lot of milk. Got a sweet tooth? Try blending smoothies you can slowly sip on, or making your own fresh juice (carrot, apple, and ginger is my favourite combination). Can’t stomach the thought of eating steak for dinner? Meat seems to be a common food aversion with pregnant women. Try bits of ground beef instead in pastas or casseroles. If you have a strong aversion to smells, eat cold foods like salads and sandwiches.
Take vitamins (to supplement your diet)
That being said, with changing tastes and appetites during pregnancy, it can be challenging to make sure you’re eating a well balanced diet at all times. That’s where prenatal vitamins and supplements come in, and can help you round out your diet and ensure that you’re getting that extra boost of nutrients you need during this period of growth and development.
MegaFood Canada’s Baby & Me is a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement with B6, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, and many other vitamins and minerals formulated to support a healthy pregnancy. This specific product supports both the health of pregnant mamas-to-be, our developing babies, and even lactating mamas in the post-partum stage. Yes, you should still be taking vitamins even in your “fourth trimester”, to maintain your health. In addition to the nutritional benefits, Baby & Me is also B Corp certified, non-GMO, and gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free; and, you can also take it any time of day, even on an empty stomach.
Needless to say, the opposite of putting healthy nutrients in your body during pregnancy, is to give up any vices you might have that could be harmful to you or your baby, like drinking alcohol or smoking.
Get moving (every bit counts)
Whatever your comfort level of exercise, keep at it. For me, walking has been my most consistent (and only) form of exercise during pregnancy; don’t underestimate its benefits! I love scheduling phone call catch ups with a friend on weekend mornings and walking for an hour or two. Having my dog Teddy Bear as a walking companion also gives me a reason to go outside for longer walks. Make the effort to walk uphill or take the stairs. Use a step counter (there’s a free one built into your iPhone health app) if it helps motivate you by setting goals. Every little bit of activity counts, especially if you can make a regular habit of it.
Stretch it out (keep your changing body loose)
As your body grows and changes, things shift around and it’s totally normal to feel achy or sore throughout pregnancy. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I put a yoga mat right next to my bed to encourage myself to stretch before bed. Later on in pregnancy, I bought a big inflatable rubber ball to sit, rock and bounce on, which has helped with stretching out discomfort in my lower back and hips.
Stay Social (while practising social distancing)
As of Spring 2021, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. But just because we’re practising social distancing, doesn’t mean we have to stop being social. With so many tech-forward communication tools at our fingertips, we can easily jump on a Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook or Facetime call with any of our friends and family from around the world.
If you want to connect with other pregnant women, you could join an online baby forum. I’m in the What To Expect community and subscribed to a forum with women around the world who have a due date the same month as me and have found it interesting to read about the experiences of others – everything from picking baby names, to seeing bump or ultrasound photos, to how to handle friends or family who are overstepping boundaries.
You can also use social media to connect with moms around the world. Look up relevant hashtags (ie. #30weekspregnant or #thirdtrimester) to find others who’ve tagged their photos with the same phase of pregnancy you’re in, and reach out to another glowing mama-to-be with words of encouragement.
Finally, if you haven’t already signed up for (virtual) pre-natal classes, this is also a good way to also connect with other pregnant women who have a similar due date to you, as you learn about the pregnancy, birthing, and post-partum stages together.
- More on Modern Mix Vancouver: Real Moms Share Best Pregnancy & Labour Tips Via Instagram
I kept my pregnancy ‘secret’ until around twenty weeks, but as soon as I could share about my experience and connect with others — especially through writing pregnancy articles on my blog — I felt so much better.
Rest up (get a good sleep)
I have never felt so grateful to be able to work from home! Being able to control my own schedule and workload means I can wake up when I want, take naps when I need it, and get an early night’s sleep.
Here are some tips on improving your sleep:
- Avoid screen time for two hours before bed; the blue light radiating from phones, laptops, your television, and other electronic devices can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and keep your body awake.
- Create a restful environment free of distractions, noise, and lighting; you can use earplugs, an eye mask, or pregnancy pillows to help improve your sleep quality.
- Avoid tea, coffee, or pop after lunch. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from relaxing at night.
Keep a positive attitude (it does wonders for mental health)
Whatever gets you in a positive mind state, keep at it. Maybe it means working on a tangible project like decorating a nursery to help visualize your baby in your life or dressing up and celebrating your bump with a maternity photoshoot. For others, keeping a positive attitude can be more personal or private, like reading birth affirmations, journaling, or meditation. As a rule of thumb, surround yourself with positive people who won’t instill fear or anxiety in you, and who accept the decisions you make about your pregnancy and birth choices.
This post was written in collaboration with MegaFood Canada.