Nine months. It feels like it has been a lifetime but also that it has gone in an absolute flash!
I am now 37 weeks along (almost 38) which is classed as full term and there is at most only a handful of weeks left until a baby will be here. That feels so surreal!
During my pregnancy I have loved reading and hearing about what other people have been doing to prepare and so wanted to share my journey here too in case it can help anyone.
I am not a particularly sporty or exercise-centric person but I do really appreciate a little exercise each week and it always makes me feel so much better. I knew that I wanted to keep active during pregnancy as much as I could.
Of course, this is my experience and everyone is different. Please do your own research, ask your doctor and midwife before doing anything and don’t do anything you aren’t sure is safe or doesn’t feel good to do.
Carry on – After a bit of research and a chat with my doctor and midwife I realised I could continue what I was doing which was mainly Hiit classes so didn’t change much for a while during my first trimester. I did take it a bit easier mainly due to being knackered although I always felt better and more energised after a workout. Sadly a few months in to my pregnancy my gym and favourite classes changed so I stopped going and took up the below instead.
Online pregnancy workouts – Kayla Itsines (check her out on Instagram) was a number of months pregnant ahead of me and created pregnancy specific workouts on her Instagram page. I created an Instagram workout folder and saved my favourites in there and would pick one or two for my workouts which I did at home or in the gym.
I also really liked this quick workout on YouTube which required no equipment and is suitable for all trimesters.
Walking – By my third trimester I found the Hiit type workouts really took it out of me so I started to go on daily walks of about 30 minutes. This would get my heart rate up (walking becomes surprisingly difficult when pregnant!) and that alone felt like more than enough on some days. It is also good to help get the baby in position apparently.
Swimming – By far my favourite thing to do especially in the last few months. I have been trying to swim 2-3 times a week and do about 500m (thats 25 laps of the pool I go to) in a gentle breast stroke. It feels so nice to be weightless and is also great for getting the baby in a good position.
Pregnancy pilates – I have been going to pregnancy pilates once a week when I can. Holidays etc have meant I haven’t gone to loads of them but I have found it really useful and beneficial and would absolutely recommend. Again it is said to really help during labour and once the baby is born.
*If you are local to Birmingham/Solihull I go to the class here run by physiotherapist Kate. There isn’t a specific page for the class but ring the main number and they will put you in contact with her.
Pregnancy yoga – Again, I go to this as often as I can but it hasn’t been that consistent. It is very gentle and focuses on breathing and gentle movements.
*For locals, I go to the Bump to Baby class at I am Yogi in Moseley Park.
Like I said, everyone is different but for me doing a bit of exercise has made me feel so much better and kept up my fitness for the marathon that no doubt will be labour.
I’ve come across a lot of people who think you should completely stop doing all exercise and have questioned what I have been doing (oh the unsolicited advice you get when pregnant!) but all the medical advice I have received has been keeping up a level of fitness is very good for mum and baby.
I recommend you do your own research, speak to your own doctor and midwife and make your own decisions that you feel comfortable with.
I was a bit clueless with regards to pregnancy and babies and so have done some light research just so I felt like I was a bit more informed.
Books – How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out is a brilliant book for first time parents. It is fun, straight-talking and informative. I think it also makes a lovely gift for friends/family who announce their pregnancies and I sent one to a friend who announced her pregnancy a couple of months after me.
Will ordered this book for dad’s and it has really helped him with understanding what is going on/what to expect/what he can do to help.
My friends have bought me a number of books – I haven’t managed to read them all yet but can’t wait to get through them. Again, I think they make lovely presents for mums-to-be and new parents.
Hurrah for Gin (I’m half way through this and it is very funny)
NCT – we signed up to our local NCT class and whilst the information was really great and helpful (and not at all pushy or felt like it was following an agenda which I have heard some people say), the best thing has been the friends we have made which is pretty much what everyone says!
The mums-to-be have all been having regular coffee dates before our babies are even born and it is so lovely to have a network of local people who are going through the same thing at the same time.
Mini First Aid – Will and I did this at about seven months along, and it was really useful. I think we’ll probably need a refresher but it gave us some useful skills and knowledge.
The Positive Birth Company Postpartum Pack – I haven’t done this yet but will be hopefully before the baby comes along. It is a series of videos that cover topics for those first few days, weeks and months with a newborn such as feeding, sleeping, recovery, mental health and more.
The Parent and Baby Coach – I have really enjoyed following this account on Instagram. Heidi talks a lot of sense to me and I like her philosophy in terms of feeding/sleeping etc
It is another to-do but I am definitely planning on doing the online sleep course before the little one arrives so I have an idea of what to expect and what good habits we might be able to get in to when the time is right.
I was interested in hypnobirthing right from the beginning but took a while to actually get started with it.
I bought a couple of books first – The Positive Birth Company book ‘Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better‘ and ‘‘Your Baby, Your Birth’
The Positive Birth Company saw that I was reading the book and offered me access to their digital course (*Gifted). Will and I watched the videos and I honestly can’t tell you how brilliant they were.
It really isn’t woo-woo, actually more scientific than anything. Will really took some convincing to do it, but very quickly got on board once we started. I feel really well informed and confident I can crack childbirth!
Eating and nutrition
Veggies, protein, eating well and balance – I already eat a pretty healthy diet and as a pescatarian my meals are normally quite veggie focussed anyway so this hasn’t changed much. I have just made a slightly more conscious effort to eat things I know are good for me/the baby. This has meant having a proper breakfast normally of eggs and a veg such as tomatoes and mushrooms (I would often skip breakfast or have something quick/convenient) and then have a nutritious lunch and dinner.
I have developed a bit of a sweet tooth though so I am indulging in way more sweet stuff than usual but as long as I have eaten healthily throughout the day I don’t feel bad about the extra cake/chocolate etc! It’s all about balance after all.
I have made an effort to make sure I have been eating enough protein as your body needs more when pregnant so have done this with more eggs, peas, tofu, fish, cheese and yoghurt etc I looked for a protein supplement for a while but couldn’t find anything that I was confident was veggie and suitable for pregnancy. Perhaps a gap in the market?
Protein smoothie – As a way to get my protein fix, I have been making up a protein packed healthy smoothie which has also been great for my newly acquired sweet tooth – it is a perhaps more like a chocolate milkshake than smoothie but either way, so delicious!
I simply blitz up the following ingredients in my Nutribullet: Half a banana, half an avocado, small handful of cashew nuts (or sometimes oats), heaped teaspoon of raw cacoa powder, Kefir milk (this is full of gut-healthy bacteria, but you could use plain/Greek yoghurt with a dash of water or milk instead if you preferred), two Medjool dates and some ice.
Sometimes you need to loosen it up with a dash of water as avocado always makes things really thick. A sprinkle of cinnamon on top doesn’t go amiss either.
Vitamins/supplements – I started taking Pregnacare liquid from the very beginning and still am now. I am not good with tablets so this has been great for me. It feels reassuring to know I am getting all the vitamins and nutrients me and the baby need every day.
Stretch marks – I have used Bio Oil every night before bed since the very early days. Finger’s crossed, no stretch marks yet!
Acupuncture – I had a number of migraines in my first trimester and started seeing an acupuncturist as a result. It really helped reduce the number and severity of the migraines and I am now a convert. I have been going reasonably consistently throughout the pregnancy and get treated for various things depending on how I am feeling/if I have any concerns etc and I think it has really helped me.
Harvesting colostrum – I hadn’t heard of this until I got pregnant but basically it is the first thing your body makes to feed the baby even before your milk comes in and it is a super-super food, providing so much goodness for your baby’s first few feeds.
Your body makes it early on but they recommend you don’t harvest it (such a funny concept/word!) until 37 weeks. You can hand express it – there are lots of tutorials/You Tube videos you can watch to show you how – and store it in a syringe and freeze it.
It is useful to have in case you can’t feed your baby straight away or just as a little extra top up. You can keep it for six months so can use it anytime if your little one is under the weather or needs a little boost.
Taking time off
I have been so lucky to be able to start my maternity leave early (you can take it any time from 11 weeks before your due date in the UK) and it has been the best decision.
A lot of people have questioned me but being able to slow down, focus on my health and wellbeing and also tick a few things off my wish list has been great.
I have been able to see friends and family far more, simply slow down, put a bit more effort in to exercising and cooking healthy meals and I feel great as a result. I know it isn’t possible for everyone to do but I am so grateful I did it and have really enjoyed my time.
Whilst I know it will mean a little less time when the baby arrives, for me it has been great and so many of my mum friends have said they wished they had done the same too.
Phew! That was longer than I expected!
Have I missed anything that you did or would like to know about?
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