Being pregnant has, without question, been one of the most beautiful, humbling, and vulnerable experiences of my entire life. It has caused me to slow down, listen to my body, and think about the choices I make on a daily basis, as those choices no longer only affect me.
Perhaps the most challenging life lesson pregnancy has taught me, however, is how to give up control (something I am NOT good at on the best of days…and something I continue to struggle with on a daily basis, let me tell ya).
With a tiny human growing inside of me, I realized VERY quickly that I am at the whim of mother nature. She knows what is best for my developing baby, and in order to create peace and synchronicity between us, I’ve had to learn how to adapt to her processes; not an easy feat for a hormonal and innately stubborn pregnant lady, I can assure you.
#TRUTHBOMB: being pregnant can be super uncomfortable. Period. Once I finally accepted this reality and gave into the process, I began to find ways that both literally and figuratively helped to “lighten the load.” Over the past nine months, I?ve become an expert at paying attention to mother nature, listening to what my body needs, and steadfastly sticking to what works for me and baby. In return, I have found balance in my everyday routine, making my life infinitely more comfortable during pregnancy.
While every woman is different and must listen to her own needs and own body, I have compiled a list of things that have worked wonders for me during my pregnancy. My hope is that some of them may resonate with you on your journey toward motherhood.
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#1: Get Moving with a Regular Workout Routine
One of the best ways to stave off aches and pains during pregnancy–as well as to ensure a swift recovery after birth — is to keep moving. The most important advice I received is to not do any exercise I wasn?t already used to doing prior to pregnancy. So no marathons or mountain climbing, but some yoga, cardio and resistance training were definitely on the menu.
For yoga, I signed up for a prenatal yoga class that was more gentle and more aware of specific movements that might impact the baby (than, say, the hot yoga I?m typically drawn to). When I couldn’t go to classes, however, I would do my own light stretching or follow along to a prenatal yoga video on Gaia.com.
For general fitness and conditioning, I picked up Flavia Del Monte’s All Belly Pregnancy, which is specifically designed around the unique needs and challenges of each trimester, while ensuring you get a great full-body workout for toning and fitness conditioning.
No matter your exercise routine or level of physical fitness, make sure to do something physical every day. This will help keep your body in tip-top shape for birth, keep the inevitable pregnancy exhaustion at bay, and alleviate any aches and pains caused by your growing belly.
#2: Get Pampering Yourself with a Regular Self Care Routine
Self care is soul care, and your body changes so much during pregnancy that it?s more important than ever to take care of it outside and in. For me, creating a morning ritual of self care, which includes pampering my growing belly with Spoiled Mama Bump Gloss and Tummy Butter, has made all the difference in the world. Not only does this leave me smelling fresh for the day ahead, but it consistently provides some much needed relief from the inevitable itchiness that comes with stretching skin. The added bonus is that it also helps prevent stretch marks! In fact, I’ve made it through my entire pregnancy without any extra visible stretch marks. A definitely win-win!
In addition to this, I acknowledge the things I’m grateful for on a daily basis. This could come in the form of a gratitude journal, or simply recognizing the beautiful things that happen to you throughout the day, and then consciously giving thanks for those things. For me, showing gratitude on a daily basis helps me stay focused on what matters in life, keeps my stress levels down, and provides my soul with some much-needed nourishment.
#3: Get Rolling with a Birthing Ball
A birthing ball (aka an exercise ball) is a pretty common piece of home fitness gear, but for my pregnancy it has also become a fixture in our living room. Not only is it great for exercise, but it has also provided me with some much-needed relief. During my second trimester I often found it more comfortable sitting on the birthing ball than I did on our couch as it helped relieve lower abdominal pressure. In my third trimester I?ve been getting on my knees and hugging my arms around the ball and just rocking (back and forth, side-to-side, in a circular motion, etc.). This helps to alleviate the pressure and tension in my lower back. For those of you who might also be experiencing abdominal discomfort due to gas, rocking back and forth like this over a birthing ball works wonders at relieving gas that might otherwise be blocked by crowding in the abdomen.
#4: Get Sleeping with a Large Rectangle Bolster
A lot of moms-to-be find it more comfortable sleeping with a body pillow for support. That’s where I started out, but I found it was just too big and awkward — not to mention WAY too hot! — to allow for a comfortable sleep; especially with two of us in the bed. Being a certified yoga teacher, I knew the benefits of large bolsters, but I hadn’t thought to use one for sleeping. To my surprise, my Halfmoon Rectangle Bolster has been a lifesaver and sleep saver throughout my pregnancy. Not only does it force me to sleep on my side, which isn’t my natural tendency, but it also offers plenty of support for my leg without taking up too much room in the bed. Steve calls it my “giant fluff brick,” but that’s only because he gets clobbered with it sometimes when I switch sides in the middle of the night. I know secretly he loves it as much as I do.
#5: Get Cooking with Regular Meal Planning
During my pregnancy, it’s been important to me knowing that I’m getting the proper nutrition I need for me and baby. Anyone who’s ever worked in fitness knows that “winging it” is never a good way to dial in nutrition, so Steve and I make a concerted effort each week to plan our meals, and create our grocery lists accordingly. While I was still working, it really helped to alleviate the stress of decision making to keep all of my breakfasts and lunches the same throughout the week. As we move towards the birth of our child, I’m hoping having meals prepared and frozen ahead of time will make life with a new baby more manageable (check out one of our favourite go-to freezable recipes HERE). I’ll be nursing, and Steve will be looking after us and our ten-year-old, in addition to working from home, so it will be a hectic juggling act for all of us. Anything we can do to get things set up in advance will go a long way to saving us stress and anxiety in our daily routines.
#6: Get Nesting with Amazon Subscribe & Save
Speaking of planning and preparation, an important nesting ritual that I’ve been experiencing is the necessity of stocking up on things so I don’t have to worry about them when the baby comes (i.e. diapers, wipes, cream, paper towels, toilet paper, shower gel, etc.). I recently read up on Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, which allows you to place a regular order for items you use all the time at intervals that suit your family’s specific needs and budget. The cool thing about it is that the program pricing tends to be cheaper than regular Amazon pricing, and the more items you subscribe to the better the discount. As a special bonus for families, diapers purchased on the Subscribe & Save program are discounted by 20%, which is a huge cost savings for new parents. We just received our first order in the mail, and it already made me breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that shopping for essentials every week is one less thing we have to worry about.
#7: Get Used to Asking Your Team for Help
If you?re stubborn like me, one of the most difficult things to do is to ask for help when you need it. Being pregnant has forced me to abandon my old “I can do this myself” mentality and adopt a more collaborative approach. Having a good team; partner, parents, doctors, and more experienced friends; is a definite asset when preparing for probably the most important change in your life. Once I accepted that fact, I became much more open and comfortable with allowing people to do things for me. For example, I?m a neat freak of epic proportions, but managing a full pre-baby deep clean of the house just wasn’t possible between work and the holidays. Having Steve arrange for a cleaning company to come in and do a deep clean from top to bottom alleviated my anxiety and made our day-to-day upkeep more manageable.
Not to mention, having my mom offer to wash and organize all of the baby clothes and blankets we were generously gifted from friends and family members saved hours of going up and down the stairs to our laundry room. You may think that you can get everything done by yourself, but trust me, having a team supporting you can make all the difference in the world during this life-changing time.
Have you had the experience of trying to make life more comfortable during pregnancy? What kinds of things have you found helpful? Let us know in the comments below!