How to have a better pregnancy….

What a difference a few weeks make.  Yesterday marked 4 weeks since this photo was taken, the night before I had my sweet baby girl. 
bellyonbed DSC_0268
Yesterday I wore the same outfit and since both she and I are sick and not doing much more than lying in bed, my husband took an “after” series of photos. It was so much fun to see how far we’ve come in four short weeks.
DSC_0614 DSC_0626
With the time since she arrived having been so eventful, it seems like years since I was pregnant so I wanted to share a few things that made my pregnancy easier while I still remember anything about it.  In fact I might make this a WFMW series as the baby grows.
This was my 6th pregnancy (5th birth) and after the first horrible trimester was over it was probably my most enjoyable one.  Considering I was more than a decade older than I was when I had my first child, (22 when my first was born, 35 this time), this was not necessarily to be expected.
Here are a few things which helped ease the aches and pains to make this pregnancy one I will remember (mostly) fondly.
1. Check out this morning sickness cure/remedy. It didn’t make everything 100%   perfect but it definitely, definitely helped.  I had some almost fully functional days thanks to this cocktail. Another thing which really helped with everything from morning sickness to heartburn was:
2. Exercise. I can’t even begin to express how much of a difference this made to my physical and emotional wellbeing. But I will make a list of just some of the things it did for me:

  • One remarkable thing was that I was able to go off anti-depressants (which I have been on for the last 7 years) and did not suffer from the profound depression I had during my last (exceedingly inactive) pregnancy.  In fact I did not suffer from depression at all.
  • I also did not suffer from the debilitating pelvic pain I had in my last two pregnancies.  When I compare how I felt pregnant with this 9lb baby to how I felt the last time I was carrying a 9lb baby, it is amazing.  In fact for most of my pregnancy I was pretty sure that this was going to be to my smallest baby (my smallest was in fact 7lbs7oz) because it was such a comfortable pregnancy and baby never felt very heavy whereas I felt every oz of my first 9lber-another very inactive pregnancy. In fact once my water was broken during labour, my stomach got so small that the midwife was estimating a 7lber also. I reckon this was due to having good muscle tone in my stomach. In addition to cardio, I worked hard on maintaining core strength throughout my pregnancy and never had back issues.
  • Good sleep. Again I attribute this to having good core strength which kept me comfortable when I was lying down, despite sleeping on a truly awful 15 year old mattress for most of my pregnancy-it was also the first time I did not need a pregnancy pillow or anything like that for extra support.
  • My recovery was also remarkably easy.  I did not feel at all as if I had just given birth even hours after I had. By far my best recovery even though the birth kind of sucked. 
  • Speaking of the sucky birth. I am 100% confident that I could not have pushed that baby out if I had not been fit. It was the hardest physical exertion I have ever experienced-half marathons/wall-sit record breaking efforts included- and I know that I could not have done it if I was not fit.
I really like the Tupler method for maintaining abdominal core/strength and tone during pregnancy and after, excellent, effective and easy to integrate into your every day routine.
Now, miraculous as exercise was for me in so many ways,  I won’t lie and say it helped me to remain skinny. I wish I could, but the sad fact is that I still have a good 15lbs to lose at 4 weeks post partum. I gained pretty much what I always gain. But that may be because I was not exactly what one could classify as disciplined with my nutrition.  I was disciplined about exercising though. I worked out consistently throughout my pregnancy.  And I worked out pretty hard. I didn’t aim to break any of my personal bests or anything crazy like that, but  I got sweaty. Here I am working out the day before I had my baby. I was 41 weeks along here.
What you do is up to you. I don’t recommend going too easy on yourself though. If you are fit you can probably safely continue what you are doing. Up until the last few weeks of my pregnancy I was doing more or less the same workout as I had the people in my cyber training group doing. This included jumping, squatting, wall-sits, weights and lunges.  I checked multiple times with my midwives and was vaguely disappointed when they always told me I was fine to continue ;)  Provided you have no complications, you do not suddenly become an invalid when you are pregnant!  Don’t be tempted to let it become an excuse to be inactive. Well actually, you will be tempted but don’t give into the temptation.   At no time was I injured while working out during my pregnancy. I went past term and had a healthy baby.
I also more or less ignored the keeping your heart rate at 140 or below guidelines after checking with various Dr’s and fellow personal trainers.  One reason was because even when I am very fit I have a much higher than average heart-rate when I work out.  The other reason was because I discovered that these guidelines are considered antiquated and unrealistic for many people who want to have a meaningful workout. Check with your Dr. but don’t be afraid to get sweaty. I found getting sweaty had far greater benefits than when I would just do gentle yoga or walked.  If doing gentle yoga and walking gets you sweaty, then by all means-that is what you should stick to. 
Most people choose walking. I found swimming to be lovely but the pool closed early in my second trimester so that could not continue for long. Surprisingly I could comfortably (although it took effort as a good workout should,) complete a hardcore hill elliptical workout in the final weeks/days of pregnancy, but even moderate walking and jogging were not comfortable at all. I think it was because there was zero impact and  I could lean slightly forward on the elliptical machine which took pressure off my lower back and also encouraged my baby into a good launch off position. If you have access to an elliptical machine to work out on during pregnancy, I highly recommend it. I hated them before I was pregnant but now I may never go back to the treadmill.
3. Zantac 75. Heartburn was pretty much my constant companion (although it was much worse on days I skipped working out). Thank heavens for Zantac 75. I took 2 pretty much every night so that I could sleep, with a small glass of milk. I would not have survived my last four pregnancies without Zantac.  Bless you, inventor of Zantac!
4. Humidifier. I started using a humidifier when I had allergies early in my pregnancy. It worked so well that I continued to use a humidifier for the rest of it and still use one now.  I did not suffer from any of the stuffiness/congestion after that.  I also didn’t feel the need to drink all night to ease my dry throat as I had with my other pregnancies which cut down drastically on bathroom visits.
5. Lots of date nights. I just asked my husband what else helped me and he said, “TV?” “Chocolate?”.  I guess that explains the residual 15lbs ;) TV and chocolate were indeed my close and constant companions, but another thing that really helped keep things on an even keel was keeping up with regular date nights with my husband. It can be tempting to go into hibernation especially when you are very pregnant in the dead of winter,  but going out regularly, getting dressed up nicely even if it was just to go baby shopping together, really helped me to keep my pre-pregnancy identity and kept us close as a couple. (You really do want to have a great relationship going into the childbearing/rearing adventure. It is wonderful but it can also be a huge strain on a marriage and you want to go into it in a good place as a team. ) Granted, having older kids it was a lot easier to go out than when we had a bunch of little ones, but I know and admire lots of people with little ones who make it happen and so I stand by the recommendation even if date night is at home after the kids are in bed.
6. Baths and pampering. I have mentioned before that the bathtub was my happy place during pregnancy. It really really helped me to relax and sleep better when I would have a nice warm bath every night. It eased my sore muscles and seemed to chill my ever-active baby out too. Now that she is here I get such a kick out of having a bath with her on the outside and remembering talking to her as a bump just a few weeks ago. I also tried hard to be good about using lotion and oils to prevent stretch marks this time. I don’t think I was in danger of that having been all stretched out in prior pregnancies but it definitely helped with the dry/itchy skin issues. I really liked this oil for keeping everything nice and smooth.
If you made it through this far you must be suffering from pregnancy induced insomnia. I hope you have a great pregnancy!

I'm reading: How to have a better pregnancy….Tweet this!