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Pregnancy Well being

Posted on December 08 2019

 

Am I glowing yet?

Pregnancy is an exhilarating and beautiful time during a woman's life. With terms like “pregnancy glow” and the promise of thicker and shinier hair, one would think that a pregnant woman instantly becomes a modern-day Aphrodite.

 

However, there is another side to pregnancy. The dry skin, the lack of sleep, and not being able to see your toes. In truth, some women feel sad, fatigued, and unlike themselves for most of their little one's gestation. It can be difficult to acknowledge and manage these feelings when you are supposed to be feeling fabulous, and swollen only with the cheer of what’s to come.

 

Ask ten different pregnant women about how they feel and you will almost certainly receive ten entirely different answers. Responses range from ecstatic to completely drained, beautiful to reminiscent of a blubberous sea creature.

 

Pregnancy can’t exactly be considered glamourous. Though others will tell you that those blissful nine months are nothing when compared to what is to come. But for a decent percentage of women pregnancy can mean swelling, constant nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, and even anemia.

 

Some are sweaty all the time while others freeze. Hormones are on the fritz, causing you to weep and ruin your eye makeup when a Pampers commercial comes on.

 

Fortunately, for most, the whole nine months aren’t all terrible. There are good days and bad days, high energy trimesters and sluggish ones. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to keep a positive attitude and a pleasant smile when your pants no longer fit and you are being battered from within.

 

The physical symptoms can pale in comparison to the mental ones though. Anxiousness, irritability, an overwhelming sadness; they can all make an unwanted appearance.

 

It is easy to stress over the fact that you are stressing. After all, stress is supposed to be bad for the baby. And when you are not worrying over every minute symptom, it is easy to stress over your lack of worrying. Should I be more concerned? Is the baby moving enough? Who has time for kick counts anyway? Am I a bad mom already?!

 

Getting a hold of your emotions is the first step in staying positive throughout pregnancy. Often compared to a marathon, pregnancy like distance running is a mental game. So how can you maintain your psychological and emotional wellbeing when you are expecting?

 

A Positive Mindset

First, realize that it is totally normal to experience worries during pregnancy. You are responsible for growing another human. Stressing over every symptom, what you choose to eat and drink, and if you are getting enough sleep is completely natural. Worrying is a component of parenthood that lasts long beyond the birth of your little one.

 

Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that you are a crazy pregnant lady. It is natural to be concerned and feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster. Partners and dads can feel these worries too, typically in the form of “will I be a good parent?”. Pregnancy is a big change and one that is expected to cause feelings of anxiety to surface.

Talk to Someone

Sometimes, just voicing your troubles can help. Even if you are crying in the drive-through line because the ice cream machine is broken once again, unloading your anxieties on the window attendant probably won’t be too helpful.

 

Talk to someone that you can trust. This could be your partner, a friend or family member, or even your medical provider. Having a shoulder to cry on, someone to commiserate with, or allay your fears will help put your mind at ease. At least for a little while.

 

Talking to your midwife or doctor about your concerns can be particularly useful as some women face the onset of mental health problems during pregnancy. Postpartum depression, a once little-discussed condition, is gaining recognition. But depression and anxiety can also occur during pregnancy. Your doctor should be able to recognize any red flags and assist you with getting back on the path to mental well being.

 

Another great tip for talking it out is connecting with other mothers-to-be. Some communities or hospitals have antenatal groups or offer pregnancy classes. Enrolling in a course with other expecting mothers will allow you to create new friendships and bond with women who are in a similar situation.

Meditation

If you have tried talking until you are blue in the face, maybe try the polar opposite. Sitting calmly, and quietly, to meditate. This ancient form of complementary medicine can be done in a variety of ways in order to help you relax and refocus.

 

Meditation consists of keeping your body still while you focus on your breath, a mantra, or your surroundings. By taking a moment to pause and focus on the present, you can reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, it has been found to have positive benefits on sleep, mood, and energy levels.

 

If you are already a mom, finding a moment to meditate can be quite an undertaking. But meditation and a minute of solace can be taken while waiting in the school pick-up line, by hiding out in the laundry room, or even after the kids have gone to bed. Just a few calming breaths can go a long way.  

 

Types of meditation to try include:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Also known as body scanning, this form of meditation involves you consciously relaxing your muscles one group at a time from head to toe (or vice versa). It can be a great way to completely relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Walking meditation. Check off two items at once, cardiovascular activity and mental health, with this active form of meditating. Focus on your breathing, your steps, or just being present in your surroundings.

Managing Expectations

Setting realistic goals and going easy on yourself will help to maintain your sense of wellbeing. It isn’t sensible to think that you can maintain all aspects of your lifestyle while pregnant, especially as you get further along.

 

If you aren’t up to going out with friends, don't be afraid to turn down offers and commitments for a night relaxing on the couch. If you need some extra help around the house enlist your spouse or even other family members. Ask for help when you need it and don’t be hard on yourself when you find it challenging to complete tasks; even if they used to be simple for you.

 

During pregnancy your body has to work harder, it easier to become fatigued and short of breath. Nevermind that bending down to pick up toys or dirty laundry is nearly impossible thanks to the watermelon attached to your stomach. Give yourself some grace.

Try to Get a Goodnight’s Rest

Easier said than done. Pregnancy insomnia is a real thing and it stinks! But a full night's sleep will provide you with energy and a chance to turn off your overactive mind. To help yourself drift off, try drinking some pregnancy safe herbal tea, taking a warm bath, or even writing down what is running through your mind. Remember, SOS, or sleeping on your side is the best position for pregnancy and will probably help you to stay asleep for longer periods.

A Healthy Body

The second component of pregnancy wellbeing is physical activity. It's true, pregnancy is not the time to set any fitness and weight loss goals, or even try to maintain your pre-pregnancy workout. But, that doesn’t mean you can just lie on the couch with pickles and ice cream for the entire nine months. Staying active when you are expecting produces good outcomes for both you and the baby.

 

Earlier it was mentioned that pregnancy was like a marathon. Using that analogy, the birth is like the final mile push. By that point you are exhausted, probably hungry and thirsty, and the finish line is in sight. However, if you haven’t been preparing your body for labor, the end of your marathon will become much more difficult.

 

During pregnancy any movement is great! As long as you are cleared by your doctor to exercise and do so safely, the American Pregnancy Association suggests “Exercising for 30 minutes on most, or all, days can benefit your health during pregnancy[1]”. Not only may it make labor smoother but it may also ease many pregnancy discomforts.

 

You can try any or all of the following exercise types as long as your doc gives you the go-ahead. Of course, activities where you may be prone to falling, contact sports, exercising in extreme heat or humidity, and lying on your back after the first trimester are not advised.

Prenatal Yoga

Yoga practices designed for expecting mothers can produce a myriad of physical and mental benefits. Don’t envision your bump clad in Lululemon sweating it out in a Bikram class though; these sessions are gentler and focus on maintaining strength and stability.

 

You will work on breathing, flexibility, relaxation and holding a few postures. Pregnancy yoga aims to maintain physical activity, destress, and prepare your body for labor. This is one of the most gentle and soothing forms of pregnancy fitness that almost anyone can participate in. 

Pregnancy Strength Training

Eight-month pregnant mama’s doing deadlifts have been in the media lately. But don’t hit the weights just yet. If you were physically active and strength trained regularly  before becoming pregnant, then the American Pregnancy Association recommends that it is likely safe to continue doing so. If you did not regularly lift, consult your healthcare provider and start slowly.

 

Whether you were a fitness guru pre-pregnancy or not, you will probably need to make a few adjustments to your routine. You will want to manage your heart rate and make sure that you can talk throughout your workout. Use lighter weights when necessary and employ modifications.

 

Pregnancy weight training can help to strengthen your muscles for labor, reduce back pain, improve your posture, and provide an excellent distraction. 

Cardiovascular Activity  

Running during pregnancy is almost as hotly contested as weight training. Yet, it can be safely done for women who routinely ran before they became pregnant. Reducing your mileage, slowing your pace, and wearing a support belt can all help you maintain running throughout pregnancy.

 

For those not obsessed with pounding the pavement, there are other forms of cardiovascular activity that are considered safe while pregnant. Swimming is perhaps one of the most popular. Not only will it get your heart and lungs working but it can provide much-needed relief for your overtaxed joints. For an expecting mother, floating weightless in the pool is akin to heaven.

 

Walking is another great form of cardio for mothers-to-be. It can be done anywhere, you can even walk in place in the comfort of your own home. Regular walks will help to tone your muscles, decrease constipation, and prevent extra weight gain.

Eating Right

The final component to a healthy body is nutritious eating. Eating foods that are plentiful in vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients are doubly important during pregnancy because you are nourishing your growing baby.

 

Every pregnant woman is entitled to her pregnancy cravings and can certainly indulge now and then. Just be sure that you are taking in the recommended amounts of fruits, veggies, grains, and proteins as well.

Putting It All Together

When you are expecting, each day is completely new and can be nothing like the previous. Therefore, treat yourself with care and compassion. Some days you may feel like you can walk three miles while other days it is all you can do to walk to the bathroom.

 

You may get full servings of all your fruits and veggies and even remember to take your prenatal one day, and binge on pineapple pizza the next.

 

Trying to maintain some consistency while giving yourself plenty of grace is key. You will also want to work closely with your doctor to make sure that you are cleared for exercise during each stage of your pregnancy.

 

Growing a baby is a beautiful and exciting time. However, it is also perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, overburdened, and just plain over it. Hang in there momma, it will all be worth it in the end! 

 

 

[1]  https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/exercise-during-pregnancy/

 

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