Wednesday, July 15, 2015

9 Tips for 9 Months

     I was recently inspired bythe American Recall Center's new project called "9 Tips for 9 Months" and decided to join in. The goal is to provide future expecting mothers with tried and true suggestions for managing common pregnancy ailments, hopefully resulting in happier, healthier mamas and babies. :)  
     Unfortunately, I've been struggling to come up with 9 things that I have tried and have worked, mostly because I have a tendency to just put up with things rather than put effort into doing things about them. Or I don't think to try things until it is too late, and there isn't anything that can be done about them until next time. Which actually works out well, because there are a few things that will be on my list that I am definitely doing next time!
*Disclaimer:  I am not a licensed medical professional; these suggestions are not meant to take the place of medical advice.*

1. Morning Sickness:  While I have experienced it with all three of my pregnancies, I do need to admit that it hasn't been bad enough to require medication. Which I am thankful for, after reading that Zofran, a popular medication for morning sickness, hasn't been approved by the FDA for pregnant women and even has been known to cause birth defects! My pregnancy nausea is usually the result of an empty stomach, or waiting too long to eat, which snowballs into not knowing what to eat because nothing is appealing at all, and then I end up moping and wallowing on the couch in a pity party. What I have found, though, with each successive pregnancy, the nausea is more manageable when I A. Just pick a thing and eat it (much easier to do when caring for a child who also needs to eat) and B. Keep moving (also pretty easy to do when chasing after a toddler). 

2. Exercise:  This definitely would have helped a lot with the nausea I had with #1, had I actually done it. #2 was my most active pregnancy, in so far as I walked a lot of places to get out of the apartment and to keep Jose entertained. I should have been better at exercising this time around, and am really kicking myself for not. My suggestion here, and one I am definitely going to do ASAP post-partum, is Focus on strengthening your core and pelvic floor. Find a program or gym or trainer that you trust and work with them. I recommend checking out Jessie Mundell and her Core and Floor Restore program. I personally haven't tried it yet, but if I'm super lucky I might get it as a "push present" (though I already have 2 workout programs I've begged for and then not used... kinda guilty about that). I think the most important thing when looking for a prenatal or post-partum workout is to find something that works to help heal your body, instead of inadvertently making it worse (did you know that crunches and sit ups could be making your tummy pouch worse?). I also love the Girls Gone Strong community for workout advice in general. 

3. Food:  Food is your friend, even when it seems the thought of it will make you sick. That being said, Don't stress about it. With  my first two, I was on the measuring small, not eating enough side, and the pressure to eat more caused unnecessary stress. Listen to your body, don't ignore it when it is hungry, but if eating that thing will just cause you to get sick, don't worry about it. Focus on nutrition, but don't freak out about the occasional junk food cravings or binges. Another thing I love about Jessie's posts (I follow on Instagram, and get her email updates) is how much she emphasizes that It's just food, and moderation is key. Focus on good protein, healthy fats, and veggies, and everything else will fall into place. 

4. Water:  Drink lots of it, from the very beginning! I shoot for at least a gallon a day, though often times I can tell I need more. Start early on, so as to develop the habit by the time the third trimester comes around, and your insides feel like they are too squished to hold both food and drink. Now that I'm in that stage, I find it helpful to have at least one protein shake a day to help with the "Should I eat or drink right now? I only have room for one" dilemma. Nutrition and energy while hydrating is a win-win situation in my book. Staying hydrated is also supposed to help lessen swelling and varicose veins, though I haven't noticed much difference in either of them; but I'm also not going to stop drinking to see how bad they would be otherwise, either. 

5. Swelling and Varicosities:  As mentioned above, water is supposed to help with both of these conditions, but I'm not going elaborate on my experience in regards to water a second time. Many people know that varicose veins in the legs occur often in pregnancy, but in 10% of women they can occur in a more sensitive area. Pregnancy support belts are your friends. I have a V2 Support Belt for those 10% veins I have, and a Baby Belly Band with support for that area as well that I use. The belly band is also supposed to help with leg varicosities by helping to relieve the pressure the uterus is putting on the veins. Putting your legs up above your heart also helps with both the veins and the swelling, but make sure your head is also higher than your heart lest too much blood flows to it. 

6. See a Chiropractor:  I'm pretty sure I have symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD), and seeing the chiropractor has definitely helped with that. I wasn't too sure until my most recent appointment, because my pelvis bothers me, especially at night even with seeing the chiro, though it pops more on it's own than it did with #2. I had been going every other week for a bit, and last week my pain was really bad. Rolling over in bed and getting up in the morning were really bordering on excruciating. There were even a couple of days that I couldn't even hobble the 10 or so feet to the bathroom without assistance, it hurt so much. After my appointment yesterday, though, I was able to roll mostly pain free, and getting up this morning I hardly felt a thing! There are exercises I probably should be doing, but my 10% veins have left me a little wary of anything that stretches like a squat does. 

7. Prenatal Depression is a Real Thing:  Don't be afraid to ask for help if you think something is wrong. There is a certain amount of ebb and flow emotionally that seems to come with being pregnant, but if you or someone close to you feels that what you are feeling is not normal, don't be afraid to ask your care provider about it. You are not alone, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Hormone imbalances can do awful things to people, and it is not your fault that you are feeling and acting this way. My midwife recommended an amino regimen from the book The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross, some of which helped, though I'm still narrowing it down to exactly what. I have also found that working to center myself spiritually is also helping. The human psyche is so complex that it may be a multitude of things causing the imbalance. But you can't get better if you don't acknowledge something is wrong.
On a related note, this article says acupuncture may be more effective than antidepressants for prenatal depression.

8. Constipation:  I have found Magnesium to be extremely helpful in this area. Plus, it is helpful for muscle cramps and general relaxation as well. I've read that it is best absorbed through the skin in some sort of lotion, but haven't gotten around to making my own magnesium lotion, or buying one someone else made. However, I have been taking Natural Vitality's Natural Calm as often as I can remember, and it seems to work well. I use the original flavor, and put it in my pregnancy tea. I usually make a quart of tea and drink it throughout the day. 

9. Have an Open Mind and Trust yourself. You really are the best judge for what is best for you, your baby, and your family. Growing up, I always thought babies were born in hospitals, and that was it. My husband's family, however, used midwives, and he suggested we check some out when we were expecting #1. I said ok, why not, and decided to go with an out of hospital birth. While we did end up in the hospital (story for a different day), I was pleased enough with our midwifery experience to continue choosing them for subsequent pregnancies. As for breastfeeding, that was my husband's suggestion as well. While it took a bit for #1 and I to get the hang of it, I'm really glad I kept it up, as it was the best fit for us. There is a lot of information out there, and sorting through it all can be extremely difficult and stressful. Don't let fear paralyze you. Try to keep things in perspective. There are a lot of scary stories out there, like how it is possible to get listeria from cold cuts, or that GBS contracted by a baby is more often than not fatal, it is also true that most accidents occur within 5 miles of home but we don't let that stop us from going about our business. Use your judgment, and try to find the middle ground. You are strong, you can do this. 

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