There is nothing boring about pregnancy. When you think about the miracle you’re creating, it should give you a big reason to smile. Yet, every pregnant woman has a different experience.
For some, it’s 40 weeks with few ailments. For others, it’s painful, torturous, and full of physical and mental suffering. Regardless of your circumstances, there is an amazing event happening inside of your body, and the process is necessary to hold a beautiful baby in your arms. The “child” part is great, but getting there can be tricky.
There are things you can do to make your 40-week journey more enjoyable. Here are 15 secrets to help you get through 280 days of pregnancy.
15 Buy a Belly Band
You may not need this item until the eighth week of pregnancy, but you will get your money’s worth nonetheless. There’s no need to buy a whole new wardrobe of pants once your belly starts expanding. You can wear your pre-pregnancy clothes a lot longer if you use a belly band.
Also known as a tummy sleeve, a maternity belly band is a wide, stretchy infinity belt that holds up your unbuttoned pants. It also looks like a layered shirt when worn under a top, so it will extend the life of your pre-pregnancy shirts that don’t quite fit over your bump. The belly band will come in handy after delivery, too. It will contain your postpartum loose skin while helping you get back into your old pants.
Buy a wide band with a heavy fabric. Higher quality bands will stay in place, rather than narrow, flimsy bands which tend to roll down your belly or ride up your back. If it feels like your unbuttoned pants are falling down, secure the button with a rubber band before pulling up the belly band. When you consider it will keep you comfortable throughout pregnancy and beyond while saving money on maternity pants, a belly band is a good investment.
14 Practice Your Kegels
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which can result in an easier labor and delivery. You may already know about Kegels, but chances are, you are not doing them correctly. Many women perform Kegels by squeezing the vagina as tight as possible. This method is not entirely correct. Kegels can take a little time to master because the muscles are internal.
To isolate all of the pelvic floor muscles, follow these techniques:
- Squeeze your back passage as if you are trying to stop passing gas, and hold.
- At the same time, pretend you are stopping urination in midstream. Think of the motion used to pull a tissue out of a box. Lift these muscles the same way, upward into the vagina, and hold.
- At the same time, draw the clitoris towards the vagina, and hold.
The muscles you use for these three actions are the pelvic floor muscles. Contract all three muscles for five seconds, and then release. This is the correct way to perform a Kegel exercise.
To train your pelvic floor muscles, repeat this exercise five times in a row, three times a day. Gradually increase the length of the contraction.
13 Combat Heartburn With Leafy Greens
Many women never experience heartburn until pregnancy. For the most part, heartburn is not dangerous, but it can be painful. Also known as acid indigestion, heartburn attacks when stomach acids climb the esophagus to the back of the throat. It feels like a burning liquid, followed by acid-tasting burps. Hormonal changes contribute to heartburn, but your diet can greatly affect the severity.
There are various products on the market guaranteed to soothe heartburn’s scorching fire. Surprisingly, the most effective remedy for heartburn is eating a leafy, green vegetable, such as lettuce. It’s just a matter of science.
To understand why lettuce relieves heartburn, let’s return to chemistry class. Do you remember using litmus paper to test acids and bases? Solutions under 7 on the pH scale are acidic while solutions with a pH of 7 or higher are basic or alkaline. Stomach acid has a pH of 1. Lettuce has a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Technically, it’s an acid on the pH scale, but it is considered a non-acidic food. Eating lettuce, spinach, and broccoli will dramatically neutralize stomach acid. They balance the pH levels of gastric fluids, offering fast, effective relief of acid indigestion.
Consuming foods and drinks that are lower on the pH scale will exacerbate heartburn. They put pressure on the stomach, pushing acids back up to the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. These acid-forming foods include greasy ground beef, deep-fried chicken wings, chocolate, onions, coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, and acidic fruit juices.
Who knew alleviating heartburn was as easy as making a salad? Skip the salad dressing, and relief will be right around the corner.
12 Enjoy a Prenatal Massage
If you’ve ever received a professional massage, you’ll know the wonders this hands-on therapy can do for everyday stress. Expecting mothers often carry tension in their neck, shoulders, and back. Prenatal massage can ease sore spots, and improve mobility and circulation.
Researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that prenatal massage decreased anxiety and relaxed tense muscles. Massage therapy works by stimulating a section of the skin and the muscles below. Endorphins are then released into the bloodstream. These chemicals act as soothing agents, breaking up the pain messages that are transmitted to your brain. This chemical reaction takes a bite out of muscle aches and pains.
Growing a baby can cause all sorts of pain and discomfort. Relieving discomfort can make the grueling sides of pregnancy less of a burden. Find a registered therapist who is trained in prenatal massage techniques. If you can afford it, schedule a prenatal massage every month because it’s a nurturing treatment for all stages of pregnancy.
11 Buy Comfortable Flats
Pregnancy involves major physical transformations. Feet are commonly affected. Pregnant women’s feet tend to flatten, causing them to spread wide and elongate. The result is a permanent change in your shoe size. In fact, many pregnant women go up a full shoe size during pregnancy.
Expecting mothers secrete relaxin, a hormone produced by the ovaries and the placenta. Its function is to loosen the cervix and the ligaments of the pelvic bones to allow the baby to descend the birth canal. Relaxin also softens the ligaments in the feet. As a result, the arch can level out, pushing the foot down to become longer and wider.Water retention can also cause temporary swelling of the feet.
An expanding foot can cause pregnant women to say goodbye to their existing shoe closet. If you’re buying new shoes, choose comfortable flats that allow your feet to breathe. Since tying shoelaces can be difficult when you’re very pregnant, slip on footwear is the best option. Also, consider ready-made orthotics as the arch support in these shoes will provide maximum comfort. Pregnant women, with their limited range of motion, will also appreciate a long-handled shoe horn. It helps feet slide into shoes without bending.
If your budget doesn’t allow a shoe shopping spree, consider having your shoes stretched by an expert in shoe repair. You may not need larger shoes until your last trimester, but be prepared to update your footwear. You’ll need comfortable shoes to support your growing body.
10 Remove Your Rings
If you notice your fingers are swelling, take off your rings for the remainder of your pregnancy. Some moms-to-be have been caught with tight rings late in their pregnancy—so tight, they needed to be cut off. Before your pregnancy-related swelling starts to cut off the circulation in your fingers, take off your rings until after delivery.
9 Buy a New Bra
Most ladies claim to know their bra measurement, yet 85% of women wear the wrong bra size. Undergarments can make or break your outfit. If your bra fails to lift or shape, you’re only attracting negative attention. Before you spend money on expensive outer garments, invest in a foundation garment.
A worn out bra will allow gravity to take its course, whereas a supportive bra will prevent sagging. Also, a good fitting bra will make your chest look perky under clothes, not saggy. Droopy breasts give the impression of fatty tissue, but a bra that pulls you in at the sides and lifts your bosom will make your bust and your waist appear smaller. A comfortable bra will not only make your clothes fit better, but you will improve your shape, posture, and self-confidence.
If you were professionally measured pre-pregnancy, it’s a good idea to have your bra measurements taken again. You’ll be amazed how a proper bra can improve comfort and provide an instant breast lift.
8 Try Water Therapy
Looking for a peaceful way to rid your pregnancy aches and pain? Water will help do that.
A Warm Bath
A warm bath is a tranquilizing, calm place to rest. Yet, the water has several more therapeutic benefits than just warmth. Here are just two advantages:
- A warm bath decreases anxiety, allowing you to secrete endorphins, which diminish pain.
- The water allows you to feel buoyant. This weightless allows you to slide around and change position easily.
Try lying in a bath with your ears submerged in the water. You will hear what your baby hears. This will allow you to instantly connect with your future child and yourself. Remember to drink plenty of fluids once you exit the bathtub because the warm water will cause you to perspire and dehydrate.
Swimming offers more than just fun splash time. This activity is a favorite among pregnant women for a few reasons:
- The buoyancy of the water is easy on the joints. Swimming dramatically lessens the impact on your legs. Floating on cool water will compress tissues in the legs and soothe soreness in the feet.
- Swimming improves circulation. This exercise lowers blood pressure and oxygenates the muscles, taking the edge off aches and pains.
- Aerobic exercise can help relieve sleepless nights.
Whether you’re in a large pool or a small bathtub, dive in to enjoy the soothing benefits of water.
7 Start a Dream Journal
We tend to disregard, doubt, and repress our emotions in everyday life, but while we dream, our guards are down. This is where we can release all of our worries and frustrations. By analyzing dreams, repressed feelings are brought to light.
The visions in a dream can sometimes seem all too real, but bad dreams are not prophecies of doom. They’re merely visual breakdowns of your emotions. When they occur, it means you’re trying to deal with unresolved issues.
Having bizarre dreams during pregnancy is quite normal. This is why a pregnancy dream journal is a fascinating project. By writing down your visions, you can uncover your deepest emotions, and repressed feelings, such as guilt, excitement, or fear. In fact, researchers found that pregnant women who kept dream journals were able to let go of their anxieties.
Start by recording your dream as soon as you awake. Keep a journal and a pen beside your bed, and write down even the smallest detail. Pay attention to people, animals, colors, numbers, and emotions. Examine everything and everyone as a symbol. Dream interpretation not only helps you pinpoint what’s on your mind, but it also helps you work to resolve your fears. Consider it free overnight therapy.
6 Practice Squats
Labor and delivery will challenge your body. You’ll have to use major muscle groups to hold positions. Squats are a workout staple that engages several large muscles of the body including your thighs, hamstrings, abdominals, and lower back muscles. This exercise also improves circulation, posture, and opens the pelvis. It’s not just an exercise to prepare for birth; it’s also a position to give birth.
To perform a squat, spread your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and turn your feet out. Hold your arms out in front or on the back of a chair to maintain balance and posture. Bend your knees as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair. Place the weight on your heels for balance, and do not let your knees extend past your toes. Keep your back straight, chest up, and don’t forget to relax your shoulders. Inhale as you lower your body. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, exhale, lift up, and return to a standing position. Protect your spine by lifting and lowering yourself using your legs, not your back. Do three sets of 10.
5 Bounce on an Exercise Ball
If you are a newcomer to exercise, introduce fitness into your lifestyle by sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair. An exercise ball demands stabilization. Your upper and lower abdomen, side obliques, buttocks, and lower back muscles will constantly be engaged to keep you balanced. In fact, an exercise ball is a great way to challenge all of the major muscles in your body.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, this gadget may help correctly position your baby for delivery.Sitting on an exercise ball should open up your uterus and give your infant rotation space if he’s in a breech position.
Consider replacing your chair with an exercise ball to help align your spine, improve your posture, and enhance your coordination.
4 Soothe Swollen Feet
Puffy feet and swollen ankles are a common affliction in the third trimester of pregnancy. Hormonal changes are a contributing factor. Plus, pregnant women retain more water and carry extra weight. This further places a burden on the veins, which reduces blood flow back to the heart. As a result, the legs, ankles, and feet can balloon.
If only one leg appears bloated, this could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis. If the legs and feet suddenly swell, this could be a symptom of high blood pressure. Both cases require immediate assessment and medical care. When in doubt, check it out to make sure you are not overlooking an urgent condition.
The swelling often disappears after childbirth, but you don’t have to suffer throughout your pregnancy. There are steps you can take to cope with puffy feet.
Elevate Your Legs
Rest your feet on a surface that is higher than your heart. Do this for half an hour morning, noon, and night. This will channel the excess liquid from your feet into your body. The extra fluid will pass through the urine.
Long periods of sitting with your feet on the floor may aggravate your tender tootsies. To alleviate the pressure, simply stand up and walk around. A 10-minute stroll three times a day should keep your feet deflated.
Sleep on Your Left Side
The inferior vena cava is a large vein that transports blood from the lower part of your body back towards your heart. This vein is located along the right column of the spine. Sleeping on your left side will alleviate the pressure on this blood vessel.
Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life. It can also create a heightened level of anxiety. Since your state of mind impacts your body, your pulse and hormones influence the baby. Starting in week 20 of your pregnancy, your hormones are absorbed by the placenta. In fact, there is proof that unborn babies experience the same emotions as their mothers. When the mom-to-be is calm, her baby is calm. When the mom-to-be is tense, her baby feels the same anxiety.
Cortisol is a stress hormone. Studies show that high levels of cortisol discharged over a long time can cause the baby to have a low birth weight or a premature birth.
You can reduce your stress simply by concentrating on your breathing. Also, concentrate on your baby’s movements.Your baby’s heart rate will calm down when you calm down. A smooth and steady pulse will let your baby know you are safe.
Pregnancy can be a challenging transition in your life, and feeling nervous about childbirth is natural. Meditation can help you relax by focusing your mind into a positive space. Set aside some time every day to relax with little sound and plenty of stillness.
2 Sleep as Often as Possible
The physical transformation of pregnancy affects every part of the body.Exhaustion can hit you like a ton of bricks. But as your baby grows, getting some shut-eye becomes increasingly difficult. Pregnant sleeplessness is caused for many reasons:
Frequent urination: The increasing weight of the baby can feel like a bowling ball resting on your bladder. Also, your kidneys are busy filtering more blood.This extra flow to the kidneys fills your bladder faster. When nature calls, sleep deprivation is an unfortunate side effect.
Heartburn: As the baby gets bigger, the abdominal cavity becomes crowded and organs get squished. As a consequence, stomach acids flow back into the esophagus. Heartburn’s scorching sensation and bitter taste can be too uncomfortable to sleep.
Leg Cramps: Also known as Charley horses, these painful spasms flare up in the calf muscle. It usually happens at night when you’re lying down. Medical experts are still not certain why leg cramps occur at all. Theories include vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the diet, and fatigue from carrying extra weight.
Anxiety: It’s natural for your mind to be on overdrive during this time. Life altering changes are occurring. Hormonal changes and the anticipation of a new baby can cause sleepless nights.
To assist uninterrupted sleep:
- Limit your fluids hours before bedtime. Also, lean forward while peeing to completely empty your bladder. This will reduce visits to the bathroom.
- Extinguish heartburn by drinking water between meals. Avoid citrus fruits, fried and spicy foods, and caffeinated drinks. Also, eat less in one sitting, but more often throughout the day.
- Stretch your calf muscles before bed. Drink plenty of water, and elevate your feet whenever possible.
- Go to bed early. Make sure the room is quiet and dark.
You need your strength and a good night’s sleep to help you recover from pregnancy fatigue. Make it your mission to get more rest.
1 Watch What You Eat
For some women, pregnancy is a time when they are more thoughtful about food. Other women aren’t worried about putting on weight because this is a time when food is guilt-free.After all, weight gain during pregnancy is expected.But, 280 days of gluttony will add up if you’re not careful.
Eating for two is a myth. 300 extra calories are all you need. This increase of calories should come from healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. These foods will give you the protein, vitamins, and minerals required to grow a healthy baby. If you frequently indulge in processed, prepackaged fast food, you are denying your baby of vital nutrients. You’re also slowly packing on the pounds.
Excessive weight gain can lead to physical pain. Back pain, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins are painful symptoms of too much weight. If that isn’t reason enough, think about the extra weight that produces a bigger baby. Exiting the birth canal may increase the risk of complications.Plus, the more you gain, the harder it is to shed after delivery.
Eating when you feel hungry, and putting down the fork when you are satisfied is an important part of healthy eating. Don’t beat yourself up for indulging in an occasional craving, but don’t think you have a free pass for 40 weeks. You’ll be glad you didn’t go overboard after delivery.