Pregnancy. Some love it, some hate it. Most are somewhere in the middle. Here are my top 10 tips for pregnancy to make your pregnancy more enjoyable.
My Top 10 Tips for Enjoying Your Pregnancy
- Coconut oil + Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter = No stretch marks.
I really did not want stretch marks on my stomach. Call me vain, call me whatever you want, but I already have some in other places, and I wasn’t interested in having them on my abdomen. But I have eczema, so my skin is naturally very dry. It is so dry, in fact, that while I was barely showing, I was already getting stretch marks – around week 17. One morning I woke up to find the tell-tale red lines inching their way up my abdomen, and I did not like what I saw. So like any normal person, I started researching solutions. So many of them are very expensive! They were much more money than I really wanted to spend, because while I’m vain, I am also cheap. But coconut oil and shea butter seemed to be common themes, so I went with that. Coconut oil is marked up a lot when it was marketed for your skin, so I went over to the baking section and bought some food grade coconut oil and then added the Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter for the shea butter. Soon my faint red lines became a distant memory. I applied this combination (coconut oil first, then belly butter) twice per day in my second trimester, and three times per day in the third trimester. I also used some after I gave birth because I read about some women who got stretch marks then. The price and the results were perfect. All in all, I used 1 bottle of coconut oil and about 4 tubs of belly butter. I spent about $50, and had no stretch marks. I call that a win! I obviously can’t guarantee this result for anyone else, but I’m glad I found what works for me, and I hope it works for you too.
- If you need medication for morning sickness, just get it and save yourself a lot of time with your head in a toilet.
At exactly 6 weeks pregnant, I threw up for the first time. And it did not let up. Riding in the car was the worst. My mom made me a little vomit cans for car rides out of a coffee container and a grocery bag – something she had to do plenty of when she was pregnant with me. I tried all of the more natural remedies that I could find – ginger, Vitamin B-6 supplements, saltine crackers, vanilla wafers, Preggie Pops, avoiding fatty foods, drinking lots of water, etc. And one morning after throwing up four times in the span of an hour, I knew something had to change. My husband scheduled me an appointment with my OBGYN, and I finally got some relief. The prescription that worked best for me was called Bonjesta, a medicine designed specifically for pregnant mothers. Like any medication, it had risks and side effects, none of which I dealt with, but with how sick I was getting, I fully believe that not taking the medicine would have been worse for my baby and me than taking it. I believe that I would have ended up in the hospital due to dehydration and malnutrition if I had continued on my trajectory. Yes, I definitely felt judgment from other moms, especially those who did not need medication through morning sickness. It seemed like many of them felt that they were stronger than me for not needing it. But that is simply not true. Pregnancy symptoms are very different for everyone. After week 22, I had a wonderful pregnancy. I didn’t deal with swelling, extreme fatigue, insomnia, preeclampsia, etc. I had a big belly, but none of the symptoms that make many women miserable late in the pregnancy. I was working out, going for walks in the summer heat, and even touching my toes they day before I gave birth. Now I know that if I need medication with future pregnancies, I will feel no shame because I know that each woman has a different experience (even between pregnancies).
- Take bump pics!
I’m surprised that not everyone does this! I loved watching mine grow, even in those first weeks when the outside world didn’t necessarily know I was pregnant. I knew early on that taking a picture every week would get old after a while and that I wouldn’t keep up with it. I took one per month the first trimester and then one every two weeks after that. It’s amazing the change two weeks makes!
These two photos are me at week five and at week 38 (two days before delivery). My body obviously went through a lot to change so much!
- When you buy clothing for your maternity shoot, think about its longevity after the photos are taken.
Can you wear that dress when you are no longer pregnant? How will it do when you are nursing? Can you wear it when you aren’t nursing? These are questions to ask yourself before making a big purchase. I bought three wonderful dresses from PinkBlush Maternity, (linked here, here, and here). And while I did think about how I could wear the dresses after I was pregnant, I was not as selective about the dresses working for nursing. So only one out of the three dresses works for that. Now I know that I will wear the other two after I stop breastfeeding, but I do hate that they aren’t practical for me to wear right now. They are such great dresses, and it’s no fun not getting to enjoy them during this year.
The middle dress works well for nursing, but I have to save the other two dresses for after weaning.
- Buy some reusable nursing breast pads.
If not sooner, at least by the end of the third trimester, you will likely start to have some leakage from your breasts, and it’s easy to just toss them in the laundry. I have been using these from Amazon, and I like them a lot.
- Take naps while you can.
Naps are a little harder to come by these days – I imagine this is even harder as a parent of more than one child. So this was one piece of advice that I took very seriously. And I’m glad I did. I don’t regret a single nap I took before baby.
- Care about what you eat for your physical health, but don’t neglect your mental health.
Never before was nutrition so important to me as it was during pregnancy – because never before had my decisions on food so profoundly affected another person. So I limited my tuna intake because of mercury levels. I wondered over salad dressings, gave up feta cheese and other soft cheeses, and microwaved lunch meat to avoid listeria. I ordered nitrate and nitrite-free hot dogs and cooked them well. I cut my caffeine intake in half and avoided raw sushi and alcohol altogether. I ate more leafy greens and took my protein intake very seriously. I watched my weight so that I didn’t endanger my baby by putting on too much or too little fat. And I took my prenatal vitamins every day. I don’t regret any of these decisions. I am proud that I took good care of myself and him while he was with me. Sure, I freaked out when I realized I ate feta on accident once, and I cried over limited salad dressing options in a moment of pregnancy induced-hysteria, but I did everything I could to ensure my son’s success while he was on the inside. I also took care of myself. I didn’t stress out when I craved ice cream every single night – I just ate it. I also ate donuts about 1000% more than I did before I was pregnant. I was pretty selective about the food I chose while I was pregnant, but I didn’t let it run my life. Food is fuel, and while I wanted the best for my physical health, I also recognized that my mental health mattered too.
- Start praying over your baby now.
I could not connect with my son when he was in the womb the way I can now that he is on the outside. But prayer gave me a place to wonder about him and think of him fondly even if things weren’t looking perfect and serene on the outside. We realized early on that my son had a marginal cord insertion. I had never heard of this before and immediately began looking into and worrying about the implications of this. A placenta looks sort of like a plate and usually the umbilical cord comes out of the middle. In my son’s case, his umbilical cord attached very close to the edge or margin of the placenta. In some studies, that has been shown to have increased risk of preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, placenta previa, low birth weight, malformations, even fetal death post-delivery, etc. Some doctors disagree with these findings as many babies are born with no ill effects (as my son was), but prayer gave me a place to wrestle with this diagnosis and come to terms with it, knowing that God had my baby in His hands whether or not he was safe in my womb. We were so blessed that he suffered nothing because of this, but I was much better prepared for negative diagnoses due to my strengthened relationship with the Lord.
- Write down lists of questions you have for your health care provider.
Regardless of what kind of health care provider you have, be it an OBGYN, a midwife, a doula, etc., it is important that you have someone to bombard with all of your pregnancy related questions. But goodness if my mind didn’t go to mush after every ultrasound right when I needed to ask my OBGYN questions regarding the health and wellbeing of my child and myself. So do yourself a favor and write questions down. I kept a running list on my phone and wrote down the important ones in a pregnancy notebook. This was especially important for my husband and me once the COVID-19 restrictions hit and he couldn’t be there to remember questions for me. There are no dumb questions – and if there are, you can always blame pregnancy brain!
- Go visit your health care provider.
Having worked in other countries where prenatal care is not standard, I was amazed at the level of care I received as a pregnant mother. Dying in childbirth is a fact of life in many nations. In the United States, it is an anomaly, especially for those who visit their health care providers regularly during their pregnancy. Because of some of my personal health issues, I made more visits than the typical mother to visit my health care provider to monitor my baby’s development. Each step I took in that office was a blessing that I know is not afforded to every woman in the world. So please don’t take the health care that we do have available here for granted. Sure it isn’t perfect (no country has perfect health care), but it is better than most. Even if doctors aren’t your thing, the midwives and doulas trained to care for you have you and your baby’s best interest at heart. Please visit them to provide your baby and yourself with the best possible health care options.
I hope you got something out of my top 10 pregnancy tips. Are you pregnant or have you been pregnant? Leave a comment to tell others what made (or is making) your pregnancy more enjoyable!