20 Expert Tips To Survive Your First Pregnancy
You’ve got a stack of baby books covering your coffee table. You’ve got a shortlist of baby names that will be perfect for your little bundle of joy.
In just a few short weeks, your life will change forever with the addition of a tiny new family member… what’s to worry about?!
Despite all the excitement of a new baby on the way, it’s totally normal to feel clueless about your changing body and how to prepare for what’s next.
We’ve rounded up the top pregnancy tips on food, fitness and yes, even sex, from 20 pregnancy experts and moms who have been there to help you prepare.
Some may not be safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.
“Bring up any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins/minerals/supplements, and natural/herbal/homeopathic remedies,” said Sally Rafie, Pharmacist Specialist and Blogger at Choose Control. “It’s an important conversation to have so the risks of continuing versus stopping or switching the medication can be discussed.”
Frequent urination is normal during pregnancy, but doing preventative exercises can help avoid incontinence post-baby.
“One of the best ways to prevent this is to do “kegel” exercises while pregnant,” said Dr. Michael Ingber with the Center for Specialized Women’s Health. “Several studies have shown that when started DURING pregnancy, this can reduce the risk of postpartum incontinence and need for surgery in the future.”
Ask for help from loved ones in advance.
“Develop a plan for recovery after birth,” said psychologist Katayune Kaeni who specializes in maternal mental health.
“[Plan] how to get sleep, help and support from friends and family with household chores and food and how to take care of yourself while taking care of your baby.”
“Dive in! The pool or ocean is a great place to feel weightless for the first time in 40 weeks,” said mom of two and certified personal trainer Katy Widrick. “You can also get a great workout in without taxing your poor joints too much.”
Widrick also suggests drinking red raspberry leaf tea with your doc’s approval; they’re known to tone the uterus, which may help get things going naturally as you approach your due date.
“Magnesium is necessary for the enzymes that digest supplements and food,” explained Dr. Carolyn Dean, women’s health expert and medical director of the National Magnesium Association. “If you don’t metabolize your supplements and food properly, you and your baby don’t get the nutrient benefits from the food or supplement. Magnesium is also key to preventing eclampsia and high blood pressure from pregnancy.”
“Have sex, take your time and enjoy it,” said Demetria Clark, director of Birth Arts International. “You may sexually slow down when the baby comes, so have fun.”
Clark advises taking time to enjoy your body, especially as you near the end of your pregnancy. “It is doing something incredible, honor yourself for that.”
“Research shows that receiving chiropractic care results in an easier and more comfortable pregnancy, labor and delivery,” said chiropractor Dr. Jeanett Tapia of Intouch Chiropractic. Tapia says chiropractic care before delivery can result in a 50% reduced need for pain medications and a 25-40% faster than average labor time.
It comes with countless benefits for you and baby.
“I spent my third trimester doing 10-15 minutes of gentle laps in the pool followed by some light yoga stretches in the shallow end,” said new mom Maegan Watson. “I slept like a baby–which I now know is a misnomer–until the day I went into labor. My midwife said it was because I stayed active.”
“Nutrient dense food are optimal for you and your baby right now,” said mom and acupuncture practitioner Kristen Burris. “Think avocados, sweet potatoes, pomegranate, berries, dark leafy greens and organic meats. As your baby grows, it takes up more space literally squashing your stomach, so meals need to be smaller in order to feel comfortable and reduce the likelihood of getting heartburn.”
If you do experience heartburn, Burris suggests sipping a mixture of ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar with warm water and honey to soothe the burn.
Sit tall, in a comfortable straddle position on a large exercise ball with your hips slightly higher than your knees,” said prenatal exercise specialist Helene Byrne of BeFit-Mom. “Now start little bounces. Keep both feet on the floor at all times. As you bounce, you’ll feel a slight sensation of compression and release of your pelvic floor. Bounce on the ball for about 10 minutes daily.”
“DON’T stop moving in your third trimester!” said mother of three Sarah Prince.
Even when it gets difficult, keep going (with your doctor’s approval, of course).
“When we let ourselves quit exercising or being active once we become big, it actually makes life so much harder for us. Yes, it’s like moving a mountain. But our bodies and births are ever so much easier on us when we keep things strong and flexible.”
Practice yoga breathing.
“Yoga breathing techniques reduce stress and calm the body and mind,” said mom and yoga practitioner Anita Perry. “Simple nostril breathing with intention setting is a basic technique. Those who want more can go for Sitali breathing, or using the Ujjayi Breathe to help to balance both sides of the brain and to force tension to leave the body.”
Learn to practice these techniques by visiting Anita’s website, YogaAnita.
“If you’re having trouble getting comfortable at night, lie on your side–preferably on the left as this encourages baby to get in the best position for labor,” said blogger and mother of three Jenelle White. “Try placing a pillow between your thighs and resting your bump on it. This can be a great way to get comfortable and to get some much needed rest.”
“One third of pregnant women suffer from severe leg cramps that awaken them from sleep,” said Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialist Dr. Robert S Rosenberg. “This can be due to low calcium and magnesium levels during pregnancy.”
Dr. Rosenberg suggests talking with your doctor about taking Calcium or Vitamin D3 supplements as well ask eating foods high in magnesium like almonds, cashews, legumes, and dairy products.
“Schedule a dental checkup two to three months after your delivery,” said Dr. Gregory Cumberford, who says new moms often put off their routine cleaning during the hectic first year after the new baby arrives. “I see this once or twice a month–suddenly a new mother comes into the office after the delivery and she has eight to nine new cavities. A lot can happen over the year or two.”
Dr. Cumberford helps out with a free, mobile dentistry volunteer program for kids in need.
It can help ease swelling in ankles, legs and feet.
“Toward the end of my pregnancy, I would lie on my back on the bed facing toward the top of the bed, then rest the backs of my heels on the top of the headboard (if no headboard, then the heels can be on the wall),” said yoga teacher and mom Erin Michaela Sweeney. “I would take slow, even, long, full breaths in this position for 15-20 minutes before going to bed.”
PUPPP (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) is a benign condition that affects many pregnant women, appearing as small pink, extremely itchy bumps in the stretch marks.
“It does not need to be treated, but if it is too itchy, start managing itch with ice packs and oral antihistamines,” said board-certified dermatologist and pediatrician Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse. “In severe cases, oral prednisone might be warranted. If you see blisters or raised hives, it may be a different condition that requires treatment, so see your obstetrician or dermatologist.”
This is especially important during the third trimester.
“The hormone relaxin is helping prepare your body for a successful labor, but can leave the rest of your joints feeling loosey goosey,” said exercise specialist Sara Haley. “This is not the time to overdue anything – you are so close to the finish line!”
“Head below the hips positions, such as headstands or downward dog, could contribute to a breech baby,” explained pre- and postnatal fitness coach Birgitta Laure of Expecting Fitness.
“Inversely, if the baby is already breech, inverted positions may move baby back into a head down position.”
Life coach and mom Gervase Kolmos of Shiny Happy Human offered the perfect advice to wrap up our list: “Let go of all expectations. Let go of all expectations. Let go of all expectations!”
Try to relax and savor the moment as much as you can. You’re creating a life, after all! You’ve got this.
What’s your best piece of pregnancy advice? Leave it below in our comments section.