Pregnancy is always portrayed as a lovely time of joy and happiness. Life is being created and mom-to-be is supposed to feel great. The media portrays pregnancy as lots of gorgeous women dressed stylishly with a tidy little bump and looking deliriously happy. And while expectant moms might want it to be that way, is it really? Not so much. Particularly for pregnant moms who still have to go to work.
Not only is mom creating a new life, putting herself under unusual stress in order to make a lovely new baby, but she is also trying to hold down a job. Whatever job she has, this means that she is splitting her concentration in two, trying to still complete her career duties to the best of her ability whilst also coping with the strains of being pregnant.
Add to this the heat and busyness of summer and she might be in line for a meltdown. What if she has older children who are out of school for summer vacation? Moms then have to juggle pregnancy, children and pregnancy and possibly all in the heat. How are moms supposed to do all this and stay sane and composed?
Try these 20 tips to help moms organise themselves whilst feeling good about being pregnant.
20 Maternity Wear
Being comfortable when pregnant is difficult at the best of times, without trying to squeeze into clothes that just don’t fit properly. For the first four months, it is possible to adjust your normal wardrobe to fit your expanding hips and bump, particularly if you have leggings and loose fitting clothes to start with.
However, after this, you may need to invest in some adjustable maternity trousers, jeans, or skirts. Consider what to buy carefully as maternity clothes are certainly not cheap, and if you can get by with a capsule wardrobe that can suit your work and home life then you will have more to spend on chocolate!
19 Where Did You Get Those Shoes?
You may not automatically think that pregnancy will result in any change to your footwear at all, and maybe you are right. However, if you are used to wearing your best 3” Louboutins, you may find that with a growing bump your sense of balance is impaired and wearing high heels can actually become quite risky.
You may also find as you grow that you experience swollen ankles and feet, and your normal footwear becomes tight and uncomfortable. So go for flat or low, comfortable shoes that allow for your foot to swell and shrink during the day. And remember - practical and comfortable doesn’t mean ugly! You can still be stylish when pregnant, even if you want to hang out in your trainers.
18 Prenatal Vitamins
Your baby will take all of its nourishment from you and even if you are eating a varied diet including all the food groups, it is hard to get all the nutrients that you and your baby will need. So taking a multivitamin can be beneficial to all pregnant ladies, and particularly those with other health issues or dietary restrictions.
Folic acid and iron are almost always included in prenatal vitamins because it is hard to get enough from your diet alone. Folic acid can reduce your baby's risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, by up to 70%. Folic acid may also reduce the risk of other defects, such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain heart defects. A lack of iron can lead to anaemia during pregnancy. Other vitamins found in your typical prenatal vitamin include vitamin D and calcium. If unsure of what you need always consult a medical expert.
French obstetrician Ferdinand Lamaze developed this technique in the ‘50’s to help women cope with childbirth through using controlled breathing techniques. Since then the vision has expanded and according to Lamaze International the aim of classes is to "increase women's confidence in their ability to give birth."
Classes aim to give women a toolbox of techniques to enable them to relax and enjoy labour, rather than just coping with the pain. Classes are hugely popular in the States and around the world, with many women attending with partners to learn just how to work with their body to deliver their baby.
So, definitely consider antenatal classes of some variety to help you prepare for this life-changing moment.
16 Pregnancy Eating
Eating well is vital to maintaining good health for both you and your baby. Whilst you may feel hungrier than usual, there is no need to consciously ‘eat for two’, as this may result on gaining extra unwanted weight. Instead, eat a varied diet and use the major food groups to fill you up healthily.
Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will provide vitamins, minerals and fibre, which helps digestion and can help prevent constipation. Starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, cereal, rice and pasta, are an important source of energy and will fill you up without piling on calories.
Protein-rich foods like beans, pulses, fish and eggs are also vital, but to make them even healthier choose lean meat, remove poultry skin and do not cook in fat or oil. Diary foods will provide vital calcium, so try to drink milk or soya drinks.
There are not many ‘banned foods’ but you should avoid raw or partially cooked eggs, or some types of fish, such as shark.
15 Mini Meals
As you enter the third trimester you may it physically difficult to eat a large meal. There just isn’t any space! So try to stock up on regular mini meals instead. Instead of taking a large packed lunch to work, take a number of smaller snack boxes in your handbag, which you can eat anywhere, whether you get a snack attack on the bus, in the office or at your friend’s house!
Tempting as it is, do not resort to eating sugary snacks such as cakes and biscuits but be organised and pack some healthy snacks. Things such as pitta bread and salad, carrot, celery or cucumber sticks, yoghurt, malt loaf, fruit bread or fresh fruit are just a few of many quick and easy healthy snacks that will help you and your baby make it through the day.
Health experts currently recommend that an adult should drink at least 2 litres of water every day and when you consider that adult females are around 55% water, this is not surprising. However, very few of us actually achieve this. When you are pregnant it is particularly important to stay hydrated. Water is used in the formation of amniotic fluid, the building of new tissue and the production of the extra blood needed to create a new life. It also eases indigestion and flushes out waste and toxins from you and your baby.
Water can not only give you softer skin and reduce eczema but also ease constipation and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant ladies should aim for 2.3 litres every day, more if it’s hot or you’ve done some exercise.
But remember that hydration doesn’t just mean water. You could also include milk, juice, soup and decaf tea in your hydration list, whilst even fruit and veg adds to the fluid servings. By remaining hydrated you will feel better and be healthier, so just do it!
13 Pregnancy Yoga
Many ladies may use pregnancy as an excuse to eat, sit around and generally be pampered for 9 months. However, this approach to pregnancy will not help you. Staying active will keep you healthy, which in turn will give you a quicker and easier labour and will not leave you with excess baby weight after the birth.
One great option for pregnancy exercise is yoga. Yoga is well known for its mental and physical benefits, so doing it during pregnancy can improve muscle tone and flexibility, improve your circulation and ease muscle tension and soreness. It will also teach you breathing and meditation techniques which will help you not only through labour, but the years beyond too.
If you have never tried yoga before, this is a great time to start.
12 Maternity Leave
As soon as you find out the happy news that you are expecting, familiarise yourself with your employer’s maternity leave policy. This varies hugely between companies and across countries, so have a look at your contract and if in doubt, ask your Human Resources department. If you are self-employed there may also be financial assistance available from your government, so have a look online to find out.
Make sure you take your allowance - you may love your career and will think you will want to return as soon as possible, but once your bundle of joy arrives you may change your mind! Also don’t forget to have a look at paternity leave laws, which are rapidly changing in many countries to keep up with the more flexible requirements that many families now have.
11 Flexible Working
Flexible working is an increasingly popular route to finding a better work-life balance. With email, internet and cloud storage taking over many jobs, a lot of employees find that they can be partially or totally home based. The days of the traditional 9-5 are gone, with office hours being flexible, particularly in international companies where timezones differ across offices.
When you are pregnant flexible working can be particularly beneficial, with the ability to work at home, come in late or leave early on days where you don’t feel so great.
Again, policies are widely different between workplaces and countries, so check what your contract or company policies say. A face to face chat with your boss can often be a good tactic, and if you don’t ask, you definitely don’t get.
10 Pregnancy Pillows
You ache, your muscles feel like they are being tormented and the enormous bump prevents you from sleeping on your tummy like you have for the past 25 years. You try to sit on the sofa but your back is killing and you need the toilet every 5 minutes. In short, being comfortable is a distant memory.
What you need are pillows. And many of them. Or one amazing one perhaps. There is a surprising range of pillows specially designed for pregnant ladies to help you rest effectively. These pillows are designed to help with a number of sleep issues, from aches to overheating. Most designs aim to help key areas such as your back, stomach, legs and neck, with some targeting specific areas whilst others are more general. Sleeping on your left maximises blood flow to the placenta, so many pillows are designed to help you sleep in this position.
Although not cheap, these pillows can be used after birth too for comfort and nursing, and are great for general aches and pains for all the family.
9 Holiday Allowance
If you are committed to your career it can be tempting to work as much as possible in the lead up to your maternity leave. The feeling that you must get all the jobs done before you leave shouldn’t hold you to office ransom. What you should really be doing is relaxing and winding down. Work will go on without you, so take advantage of your holiday allowance when pregnant.
Taking a break is vital to your mental health, giving you time to relax, meditate and get your thoughts in order in advance of the arrival of your child. It is also an opportunity to spend time with your partner before life changes forever, or to give some quality mum time to your other children before a lot of your attention is taken by a new baby.
8 Pregnancy Journal
When your child is a teenager you will look back on your pregnancy, hopefully with fond memories. Your children may even ask you about your pregnancy, maybe when you daughter is pregnant herself. But how much will you actually remember? What will you be able to tell them?
Why not keep a pregnancy journal? You could write about key events such as the first time you felt the baby move, the first time he kicked and cravings you had. You could collate antenatal information such as scan pictures and dates of hospital appointments, making it a complete record of your pregnancy.
If you are finding pregnancy difficult, the journal could be a great place to vent your feelings and emotions and help to relieve your anxieties by writing down and working through your difficulties.
7 Home Help
I don’t personally know many people that enjoy doing housework. Washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning, hoovering, cooking and gardening are all things that must be done endlessly day on day. If you don’t really enjoy these things when you are in peak normal condition, then it is unlikely that you will find them any easier or more exciting when pregnant.
If you can, hire in some help. Even having a cleaner once a fortnight will take a big chunk of work away from you, allowing you to rest and nurture your growing baby instead. If you have older children, take this opportunity to give them chores. Teenagers are perfectly capable of cooking simple meals, loading a dishwasher or hoovering, whilst younger children can help tidy up and sort the laundry.
Towards the end of your pregnancy you may get a sudden instinct to tidy and clean, known as ‘nesting’, but don’t worry, it stops pretty quickly after the birth.
6 Morning Sickness
Dr Marjorie Greenfield, author or ‘The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book’, states that approximately 70% of women experience nausea early in pregnancy and 50% experience vomiting. Whilst it’s very common, it’s also incredibly varied, with some ladies experiencing morning sickness all day, some in the morning and others in the evening. It can start as early as 6 weeks but normally fades by the second trimester.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help if you suffer from this. Your doctor can prescribe you specialist medication to ease nausea, and you can also help yourself by eating ginger, smelling lemons or something fresh and avoiding other trigger smells, such as your neighbour’s BBQ. Try and work out if anything, in particular, triggers your sickness and work around it.
5 Ask For Help
Being pregnant isn’t always the blooming pleasure that you see in the media. Some days you will be too tired to move, too sick to get up or too wide to fit into any clothes. And that is perfectly normal. All you need to do is ask for help when this happens. The school run is a great example of this. Make friends with the school mums and try to have a couple on hand who can take or pick up your older child on days when you just can’t.
Similarly, do you have neighbours who could pick up some milk and bread for you, instead of you having to get to the shop yourself? Having a great network is a huge advantage at times like this, and they will not mind you asking for help.
4 Take It Easy
Do you have a super hectic life? Maybe you work full time and already have children to ferry around? Maybe you’re a stay at home mum running a household and expecting another baby? Maybe you’re expecting your first? Whichever scenario fits you, you need to remember to relax and find time to chill out.
Sitting around reading a book, watching a bit of TV or laying in a hammock is not laziness when you are pregnant. Traffic jams, mobile phones, work deadlines, social media and housework are just a few of the stresses that bombard us daily and add that to the stress of being pregnant and you could easily damage your baby’s development.
The physical aspects of pregnancy - increased heart rate, increased blood volume, increased weight causing ligament stress - is enough to cause concern on their own. Different types of stress can increase the risk of low birth rate and premature labour, so it is really important to find time to meditate or just be quiet by yourself.
3 Keep Moving
Exercising regularly when pregnant is really important, and even if you weren’t very active before, you should probably start now. Exercise can improve your posture and decrease backache, and general fatigue. It can also relieve stress and leave you feeling more relaxed and build stamina. Stamina is vital for getting through the labour process and can make your delivery smoother and faster. There is also evidence that physical activity may prevent gestational diabetes.
Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk, using stairs rather than a lift or getting off the bus a stop early. Why not go swimming or try a special exercise class for pregnant ladies? You might even make some new friends.
2 Stay Safe
There are a number of factors that can affect your pregnant body and damage your baby that ordinarily wouldn’t be too much of a concern. Firstly, there is the balance factor. With a large bump on board, your balance is compromised and you can become unstable. Therefore climbing ladders, wearing high shoes and tightrope walking probably aren’t wise activities for you to carry out. Think carefully how stable you are going to be as falling could hurt you and your baby.
More serious issues include Toxoplasmosis, a parasite found in most birds and mammals, and common in cat litter. This can cause flu-like symptoms, so best give the cat litter changing duties to someone else. Similarly, check labels on cleaning products for toxic ingredients and always use in a well-aired environment.
Although exercise is great for you, avoid sports that could cause your baby damage, such as boxing, horse riding or anything involving jumping.
And finally, avoid drugs, alcohol and smoking. Although advice changes from year to year, by far the safest thing to do is to avoid all of these totally during the pregnancy.
1 Manage Your Baby Brain
Baby brain is real. Suddenly you fall into a strange kind of fog in which you forget everything, are suddenly unable to focus on tasks which were previously simple and are overly sensitive to everything. 50-80% of women report confusion, verbal inability and even reading difficulties during pregnancy.
So how do we conquer this ‘momnesia’? Firstly, write everything down. Have a diary and live by it, recording all appointments and things to do. Secondly, check with your partner. Is there anything you have missed from your diary? Thirdly, keep your brain active by completing puzzles such as crosswords or Sudoku. Don’t let your brain succumb to the fog, keep it working.