Believe me….it’s TOTALLY worth it!
So in my last post on Pregnancy I took a realistic view at my personal journeys through pregnancy. Now, I want to share what has helped me to cope with the different symptoms one may face during this multi-faceted season of life. In other words, what helps?
- Protein- Sandwich it -My sister calls it “Protein packing”, meaning that you begin and end with eating a high-protein food whenever you’re eating a meal or snack. At the very least end with the protein but when my sickness level is at its highest I have to begin AND end with protein to lessen the stomach upset.
- Frequent eating- Every 2-3 hours -Though I try to do this anyway so I don’t eat like a pig every meal 😉 but sometimes it’s hard to do! During pregnancy this is an absolute must for me if I want to lesson vomiting, faintness and extreme fatigue.
- Small amounts- When in doubt start with half -My stomach is extra sensitive so giving it less to process at a time just makes sense. Also, when my stomach is too full it’s that much closer to being able to leave my stomach;)
- Lots of liquid-Water is best, sugar is not -Honestly, I am a water person. I don’t normally drink milk, juice, nor carbonated/other beverages….However, when I am pregnant even my own saliva makes me gag (yes, I’m a camel, I spit!) so water, I’m thinking from the lack of flavor (?), is very hard to ingest and then keep down. My first couple pregnancies I could do Gatorade, now it seems to have too much sugar. It seems that the happiest medium for me is Coconut water, all-natural, best directly from the coconut (Yay for Mexico!:)
- Low Glycemic Index-Blood sugar rules -Sugar is my nemesis. I like it, don’t get me wrong…too much actually. In the first two trimesters of pregnancy, for me, sugar in any form, even fruits cause more indigestion and vomiting. During my last pregnancy I couldn’t even tolerate things like oatmeal and whole-wheat bread. There are a wealth of sites anymore that will tell you about the sugar levels/glycemic index of foods and for me the lower the better.
- Chlorophyll-Indigestion -Even when you’re being careful you’re bound to have days when you’re stomach just isn’t doing its job. For these times I use a concentrated chlorophyll that has mint extract to calm the acid. I can dilute it to my tolerance level and it’s been more effective than tums or milk of magnesia. I didn’t tolerate it well though in my first trimester.
- Laying on your left side- Aids digestion and blood circulation -Your stomach opening is on the left side and the main nerve and blood vessel that get “messed up” in pregnancy are on your right. So if you’re laying on the side that will aid your stomach and not smash one of your main nerves then it makes sense that it would help.
- No less than 8 hours of sleep- No, I’m not joking -Honestly, I do best with between 10-12 hours of sleep during the first trimester, but less than 8 is a recipe for vomiting. I’m assuming less sleep means more stomach acid, probably will have to look that up;)
- Avoiding “harsh foods” –spices, acidic, oily, chocolate, high-allergen, harder to digest (nuts, red meat, dark greens, refined foods/breads)-Welcome to Blah Land -“Harsh foods” will probably mean different things to different people. Most people would probably say that spicy, oily and acidic foods make sense that they would cause more stomach upset. For me I’ve noticed that it’s those foods plus others. When pregnant my stomach does better if I avoid high-allergy foods (milk, nuts, eggs, seafood, chocolate, etc.) as well as refined foods and red meat. The last couple I have also had a hard time with harder to digest vegetables, mostly the dark green ones.
- Low impact/low stress- Just say “no” -If you’re not good at saying “No” or “Not now”, pregnancy is the perfect time to practice;) This is of course different for everyone due to personality and pre-pregnancy fitness levels but generally speaking high physical activity, at least during the first trimester, makes it harder to balance electrolytes and blood sugar. Also, I’m sure everyone has experienced biological issues to an extent, due to stress. Keep your stresses to a minimum, both physically and mentally/emotionally, doing only the highest priorities and your body (and babyJ) will thank you!
- Sleep, Sleep and more Sleep -This cannot be emphasized enough! Have you ever heard the saying, “Your body HEALS when sleeping”? Well, it’s true in the sense that your body does more regeneration during sleep than any other time. So if you’re growing another HUMAN BEING inside of you, it only makes sense you’ll need some extra sleepJ!
- Exercise -The time and intensity of your exercise will vary according to your pre-pregnancy fitness and how your body reacts to pregnancy. However, even if you’re totally NOT an exerciser I would HIGHLY recommend SOME form of regular exercise. It makes such a HUGE difference, not only in your pregnancy overall health but in the ease of your delivery. For examples, during my first pregnancy I did some light aerobics but mostly speed walking and light weights. My second pregnancy I had a really hard time with my sciatic nerve so I switch to swimming. Third pregnancy was walking. Fourth pregnancy was swimming and walking. This pregnancy I’ve done mostly yoga, a bit of swimming and light aerobics and weights.
- Multi-vitamin -This is where I become a hypocrite. I KNOW by experience that multi-vitamins make a HUGE difference in my energy levels. However, I consistently throw them up if I try to take them before my second trimesterL Thus, I choose tiredness over staring into a porcelain bowl, until I’m between 5-6 months along.
- Blood Sugar Balance -If it’s too low I’m tired, if it’s too high I will be tired in about 10 minutes. Going back to the glycemic index thing, if my blood sugar isn’t staying at a good level I tend to crash. Actually, I can tell I’m getting hungry when I start to fall asleep and I know after I have something sugary I will start to fall asleep in about 20-30 minutes.
- Expect and Accept -Everyone’s body will have different changes during pregnancy but the universal one is a big stomach. Be ready for it. Know that your body will change and accept it. Notice that I did not say you have to EMBRACE it. I really admire the pregnant women that I’ve seen who do truly embrace the changes and see it as a different kind of beauty. I am not one of those women though. But knowing that changes will come and also knowing they’re temporary helps be cope.
- Get Educated -Whether you’re into doing everything from a medical stand-point or prefer a more natural approach to your health, education is the key. This will help you not only know what to expect, if it is “normal”, but also what you can do about it. I love this point because it makes me feel like I’m an agent and can make some improvements/changes, not a victim that just takes whatever comes along.
- Be Gentle -I am not an advocate of sitting on your rear-end and allowing people to wait on you just because you’re pregnant. However, I do think one should set their level of personal expectations a bit lower or modify them at least to be realistic to needs. That means knowing your limits, and here comes the hypocrite in me again, not getting to the point where you break your limit before you relax or take breaks.
- Communicate -This is a hard one for me, as I’ve mentioned in another post. Generally speaking I often ignore my own needs so getting to the point of communicating them to other people….well, let’s just say it’s not one of my strong points 😉 But then, my bad habits have helped me learn a lot about how important it is to communicate clearly what you really need from people! Especially in terms of your spouse and family, let them know what you need and expect. Of course you will first have to know your own needs first and then find/know the best way of communicating them with your closest associates. This is not being a baby, nor should you be manipulative or pull guilt-trips, this is clearly telling people what your limits are and where they can help you. If you do it in a respectful and clear way it will be one of your biggest ways to lesson stress.
- Step Back -Sometimes I’m just irrational. When I’m pregnant I think I’m that way more often. It has really helped me to realize this and when I feel that I’m going to explode in any emotional way I need to get away from people. For one, when I feel out of control emotionally anything I say will probably not be helpful, maybe not even coherent. Secondly, high emotions tend to breed high emotions so if I’m that way I will most likely influence others around me to be highly emotional and that’s just messy. It’s best to take a walk, say a prayer, take a nap, do whatever it takes to calm down a bit (chocolate, anyone?;) Then if I’m still feeling too emotional I journal my feelings so that I can sort them out and see what I need to do about it.
- Keep up your habits (or start new ones) -Keeping up your personal devotion habits are an absolute must during pregnancy. I would even go as far to say as double them up. If you usually do scripture reading in the morning, do it morning AND night. If you usually just pray when you wake up and at bedtime, pray three times a day. You are growing a body with a spirit inside your own body, it is essential to stay as spiritually strong as possible.
- Be Still -Whether you do full-out meditation or just take a daily walk in nature, learning to relax your body and concentrate your mind is very powerful. Sometimes all I seem to find time for are a few deep breaths and a prayer but it is AMAZING the difference one can feel when we stop all the activity and remember that we are spiritual beings.
So that about sums it up! These suggestions are of course taken from my personal experiences, and everyone is different, but I hope you can find something useful:)