Before I start, these tips are based purely on my own experience and I don’t intend to offend anyone with what I say…. Kay?? 😂
- Wait a while to break the news ……I think this one is important. Of course it is very exciting to break the news that you’re expecting a little bundle, but it is also a massive change that can take weeks to properly process what is ahead for you and your partner. Myself and Ben waited 5 months to “announce” our news to a wider circle. This wasn’t out of being sad about our news, but rather, we wanted to process everything first ourselves and give our families and close friends time also. For myself, I found that during the first and start of the second trimester that I had weeks of feeling so excited, and then weeks where I felt somewhat trapped and frightened about knowing we would become parents. It’s important to know that once your news is out, it’s out! By announcing it too early you open yourself up to people’s comments and questions that you may not have even considered yourself before. Enjoy your little secret for a while!
- Have your ‘go to’ team ….. this was really important for Ben and I. In relation to the first tip, we chose to tell a few select friends and our parents and siblings at the start, and that was it. We found out very early, 5 weeks in fact. I remember the day like yesterday, I had been feeling like my sense of smell was heightened for the weekend, and I was late (not unusual for me, my time of the month liked to take a lucky dip for when it would arrive) . I took a test on a Monday afternoon (before I was due to start a week of night shifts might I add!). I obviously told Ben and my mother (I’m super lucky we are very close) but I knew that I couldn’t work a week straight of nightshifts without having a bit of support in work. I decided to tell a well trusted colleague/friend who was so supportive and reassuring. From there, I told maybe 3 other close friends, and that was it! I had enough support from those select people to air all my thoughts to and meet up with. A small ‘go to’ circle of trusted people is so important to get you through those first few weeks of crazy emotions.
- Continue with your fitness pursuits and do not eat for two!! …….. as long as you are experiencing a low risk, non complicated pregnancy, there is no need to give up what your body is used to. It’s only important that you don’t start any new exercise regime during pregnancy, aside from pregnancy yoga/Pilates perhaps, as they are tailored for pregnancy and scaled to different abilities. What I mean is don’t start lifting weights in pregnancy if you’ve never done it outside of pregnancy etc. For myself, I was used to going to the gym 3-5 per week. My body is used to lifting weights and Crossfit. I didn’t adjust anything to my workouts until the second trimester when I was obviously getting bigger and wasn’t as agile. I left out ab work, and exercises like burpees for obvious reasons due to my bump. I had so many back handed comments that I was being dangerous continuing going to the gym, and that I was being somewhat irresponsible. I had thick skin to that. Exercise during pregnancy meant I had a very healthy pregnancy, gained minimal weight and had good stamina for labour and the recovery afterwards. I didn’t suffer with many pregnancy ailments due to keeping active and I maintained decent energy levels throughout. Another really important thing not to fall into, is eating for two. I see so many women that use pregnancy as an excuse to eat what they like, but they are doing themselves no favours for recovery afterwards. Of course it’s TOTALLY acceptable to indulge in moderation, but it’s so important not to let cravings take over, and allow yourself to eat what you want everyday. It can turn into a bad habit that is difficult to get out of once pregnancy is over and you may find yourself a good few kilos over your pre pregnancy weight. I increased by calories by approx 200 from the end of the second trimester and left it at that. By 2 weeks postnatal I was only 5 pounds off my pre pregnancy weight. I know I may be one of the lucky ones, but 5 pounds wass a figure I wasn’t going to stress out about and I knew I could gradually shift it in a reasonable amount of time. So long story short, continue with exercise , and have a healthy approach to eating habits in pregnancy. You don’t want to fall into the trap of giving up all exercise , eating for two…. and then get into an absolute PANIC and get upset that once baby is out,m you have no idea where to start to get back to where you started.
- Do your research on how you want to feed your baby…. this isn’t a whim decision and takes careful consideration. I think both bottle and breast feeding are equally difficult. With bottle feeding you have all the time consuming prep involved with making bottles up and deciding what formula suits your baby best. With breastfeeding you have the all demand on you that you’re the only person with the equipment to feed your baby. I see many women come into the hospital and decide they’ll give breastfeeding a go for example ….. but they haven’t done any research into it. It tends to result in feelings of disappointment and guilt when it doesn’t work out for some of them. It’s so important to have a clear idea of what you want to do, and know what your getting yourself into. Link in with breastfeeding support groups, read up on the normality of cluster feeding on night 2-3, and the importance of skin to skin etc. Before anyone bashes me…. I know that there are women who do all their homework and it still unfortunately doesn’t work out for them (this is not aimed at you!!). What I am saying is have yourself clear on how you would like to feed your baby. If bottle feeding prepare yourself for the time consuming preparation of bottles and have all the equipment in place for when you get home. If breastfeeding, prepare yourself for uncomfortable breasts for a week or two, cluster feeding, a huge lack of sleep (as your the only one feeding baby!)and no longer feeling like your boobs are your own anymore! 😂
- Go to antenatal classes and involve Dad!…… this probably only relates to your first baby, but I think it’s vital. I had a few funny looks off friends when I said that Ben and myself were planning on going to an antenatal class (as I work as a midwife!) but I felt it was important for him to go, and to hear information off someone else. I tend to slag Ben that he himself could pass as midwife at this stage from everything I tell him from work, but it was important he had info from someone else. For 9 months (well, more like 10) your partner can’t do much more than give you a pat on the back and say you’re doing a great job carrying their baby around…. and I say that can feel a little helpless for them. By involving them by going to appointments and antenatal classes together it helps them have input to decisions when baby arrives, and helps them to instinctively look after their baby as well. I remember feeling so proud of Ben one night when Ellie was having a ‘diva’ moment and wouldn’t settle for us. Ben casually said to me “I think she needs a bit of skin-to-skin”. He was dead right! I felt so proud that he absorbed that info from the class, and I’m sure he did as well. He instinctively knew a solution to calming her down other than sticking her back on the boob!
- TED stockings, moisturiser, preggo pillow!!!……. my essentials for pregnancy! I worked 13 hour shifts on my feet in work and couldn’t have survived those heavy legs without the use of my TED stockings (or flight socks in other terms) they helped so much by having counter pressure working against fluid retention and increased weight in the legs. Legs can be prone to swelling and varicose veins in pregnancy due to the relaxing effect of progesterone. Except for the occasional day where I would get mild swelling in my feet and ankles, I never got varicose veins. I owe this to my trusted sexy TED stockings (they are hideous looking things!!). Secondly invest in a nice belly cream! This is not only important to try and avoid stretch marks, but also to soothe that horrible itch from the skin stretching. I remember I could nearly be tempted scratch my belly with a hair brush somedays as the itch was so unbearable! I invested in a gorgeous belly butter from ‘MamaMio’ skincare. It wasn’t the cheapest but it was certainly worth it! I only needed two tubs throughout my pregnancy (I started to apply it from approx week 15) and used it morning and night. On a side note… I didn’t get one stretch mark … perhaps from good genetics, but I also think it was owed to religiously applying my cream! Lastly… get yourself a pregnancy pillow! I got a gift of the ‘Dreangenii” which I am still using 9 weeks postpartum as a breastfeeding pillow. This pillow is big (but doesn’t take over the whole bed) and offers fabulous support for your belly, back and in between the knees to help with pelvic discomfort!
- Pelvic Floor…Pelvic Floor …Pelvic Floor!!!! I cannot preach this enough even if you’re not preggers! DO YOUR KEGELS! Your Pelvic Floor goes through some bashing between pregnancy and childbirth so look after it! Like my belly cream regime…. I did my Pelvic Floor exercises every.single.day. Even at that….. I found it took a week for me to feel control down there after all my antenatal preparation. There is no amount of warning that can prepare you for how you will feel ‘down below’ after having a baby, let me tell you! This is probably because I had an episiotomy though! I remember feeling like I had been beated black and blue down there, and I also felt totally betrayed by my body after doing so much prep. I foolishly expected to have an intact perineum and feel fine after having Ellie. If I hadn’t of done all my Kegels prior to delivery, I dread to think how I would have been left afterwards. Thankfully I am back to normal now, but I still make sure to engage that Pelvic Floor when ever I think to do so!
- Have thick skin to strangers’ comments….. you will not understand the lack of filter that some people’s mouths have….until you are pregnant, hormonal, and take everything to heart! I remember shortly after we announced our news I was talking to someone about it and their first response was “oh god….how old are you?” Ehhhh…. why is that even relevant??. When I replied, I got a smirk and eye roll as if I had just ruined my life. I am sure that person thought nothing of what they did, but I remember feeling so upset. Similarly, people will LOVE to tell you how big you’ve gotten and that your really showing all over. I eventually learned to take these comments with a pinch of salt, as they are particularly hard to deal with when you’ve a history of and ED. It’s important not to let other people’s comments impact you, I don’t know how many times I was told “you can say goodbye to going out again” or “you can say goodbye to going on holiday again” as if my life will stop as soon as I had a baby. Of course babies are expensive little things, but that’s not to say we won’t manage to ever leave the country again for a family holiday or go on a night out again!
- Trust your instincts …. this is coming from the one who didn’t!! As I am a midwife I felt the pressure to ‘just know’ everything. I doubted myself too often for fear that I could be wrong. How dare a midwife be wrong about something to do with pregnancy or labour?! I put my hands up and say I was too embarrassed to go into the ER when I thought my waters went, for fear that I’d waste my colleagues time and be sent home for in fact …wetting myself ! I was wrong! My waters slowly started to break on a Friday and ‘Miss Too Proud’ over here, waited until SUNDAY to get myself checked out. Very irresponsible of me and stupid….but I was too afraid that I could have been slowly peeing myself all weekend…. even though I instinctively kinda knew it was my waters leaking . TRUST your instincts! I opened myself, and my baby up to the risk of infection which was very very stupid (*slaps self on wrist*)
- Take bump pictures! Last but not least….. document your growing bump! You may only get the gift of being pregnant once in your life and it will be a time you may miss in a few years. I am so happy I took weekly bump pictures and documented my pregnancy on Instagram (@burpeestobump). I used it as an online diary as such, and still go back to look at my belly shots with pride. Your body will amaze you with what it can do and growing a human has to be one of the most amazing things to experience. So why not snap away to remember such a special time and flaunt that bump with pride!