When I told my acupuncturist that I was pregnant, she told me that the Chinese want their pregnant women sitting, looking at beautiful things, and getting fat. I didn’t go this far because I know moving my body and working out help me *feel* better physically and most importantly mentally, but I appreciated the permission to take things easy.
First off, your own personal health should be a priority all the time because you deserve it. But when we have a little being living and growing inside of us it’s natural to want to pay a little more attention to how we’re treating our bodies. Here’s what I did to take care of myself while pregnant, along with some things I wish I had done and hope to do better next time!
Lololol no I did not treat myself well during the first trimester. I experienced nausea and overwhelming exhaustion from week five through twelve and was lucky if I made it off the couch. The only things I wanted to eat were bagels, mac and cheese, and cereal. So much Cap’n Crunch was consumed during those weeks. Some days I made it around the block with the dog.
My tips: it’s a season, so give yourself lots of grace. It is HARD WORK and your body is getting used to some crazy hormones. One of my midwives told me that the baby will get whatever nutrients it needs from you no matter what, so don’t worry too much that Baby will turn into a bagel. Keep taking your prenatal vitamin because it will help YOU feel better and get the nutrients YOU need. Eat protein and veggies when they sound good. Have your partner make you a grilled cheese. Go outside if you can. Hide in your office if you need a break. Hopefully you feel better in a few weeks and can work on getting more nutrients!
Thankfully I started feeling better as the weeks went on. I was eating all.the.things. at this point, but focused on trying to move my body more! I started my second trimester during the dead of winter and the polar vortex of 2019 so there was some trial and error trying to figure out what worked best for me.
I attempted to continue walking the dog, but I slipped and fell on the ice one day and got spooked even though Baby was totally fine. I focused on living room workouts and going on walks inside the school building when I could.
I also signed up for a prenatal yoga class. I had such mixed feelings about it! On the one hand, it felt great to move my body after being sedentary during my first trimester. On the other hand, the class format started with the group sharing out about their pregnancies and talking about a topic. Some people LOVE this and find this community amazing. It’s just not for me. I do a lot of talking and feelings processing in my day job, and yoga for me is an opportunity to shut off and just focus on myself. I learned some great sequences, however, and incorporated a lot of the movement into a home yoga routine that I kept up throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. If you’re interested, here’s a copy of what my routine looked like. I had different stopping points based on how much time I had or how I was feeling that day. Reach out if you have questions about any specific poses and sequences in there 🙂
For living room workouts, I purchased the Mom Plan from Lauren Gleisberg. These workouts were great for what I was looking for: minimal equipment, moves I knew how to do, and relatively short (most were about 20 minutes long). At the time, there was a deal going on and I was able to purchase a bundle of her Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Pelvic Floor plans. The price was pretty decent, and she’s originally a Wisconsin girl so I like supporting her.
My third trimester was spent half at the end of the school year in a middle school and half during summer vacation (THANK THE UNIVERSE). I kept up my living room workouts (mostly, I’m not a saint) and focused on walking since the weather was better and during summer break I could walk whenever the timing worked best (i.e. in the morning before it got too humid and my feet swelled up).
By the end of my pregnancy I gained a little over 40 pounds which was a little above what was recommended for me. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around as someone who hasn’t gained a ton of weight in the past. Mentally, I tried to focus my workouts on what would prepare me for birth and being a new mom. Instead of telling myself “Workout to not gain too much weight,” I tried to phrase it instead as “upper body weights will help me gain the strength needed to hold and pick up a baby all day” (in hindsight, back strength helped soooo much with breastfeeding!) and “lower body weights are great birth prep.” Walking is for my own sanity (as well as the dog’s) and knew that it was also great birth prep. While walking I listened to a ton of episodes of the podcast “The Birth Hour,” the Harry Potter audiobooks, and the amazing podcast “Binge Mode: Harry Potter” because I was obsessed. When you’re 38 weeks pregnant, all walks take long enough for some good podcasts.
The most important thing I did: REST! I sat and laid and bounced on the ball when my swollen feet let me and watched so much TV and went out to dinner with friends because I knew I would never have that time again. That time to just be with myself, no babies, no big responsibilities. If this is your first baby, do all the things your single self and partnered self enjoys. You’ll get back to some of those things, hopefully, but it’ll take awhile, so enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.