Ladies, I have done this pregnancy thing a few times now and while I was never an unhealthy pregnant person per se, this pregnancy has been my healthiest yet. I want to share a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way.
Live in a City
Just kidding, I know we can’t ALL live in a big city! But seriously, I have gained half the weight that I usually gain at this point, and I am convinced it is because of the city dwelling. The reason: walking. We literally walk everywhere. I barely ever see the inside of our car (minus the 30-day road trip we just completed for our summer vacation-yes, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere).
During the school year, we average about four miles of walking a day between drop-offs and pick-ups and errand running. When we went to the states for Christmas to visit family, I was reminded of just how much sitting happens outside of the city: sitting in the car on the way to the grocery store; walking 12 steps into the store and then more sitting on the drive home to walk five steps from the car to the house.
Clearly, it is not possible to be unanimously city folk where is it more hassle to drive than walk. The point, we don’t need to burden ourselves with worrying about crazy amounts of extraneous exercise if we are just getting out there and moving more than the average Joe. Talk a daily walk; make time for it. The workout doesn’t have to hurt, it just has to be good for your heart. Walking is the answer!
That said, I do love to exercise, so maintaining light weights and other types of cardio is totally cool, too!
Just Live Abroad (HA!)
Those super conveniences that we have in the States, like fast food or ready-made meals, do not really exist in the countries that we have lived in. Almost all of our meals are homemade. It can be tiring at times but making a plan and sticking to it because you already purchased the groceries is liberating. You can’t crave something that doesn’t really exist!
But really, the way to your healthiest pregnancy is saying no to junk and yes to a plan. It is all in the PLAN. There are so many resources out there nowadays. You basically just have to post on Facebook asking for everyone’s favorite recipes, and you will have a two-week meal plan within an hour.
The best way to stay full and feel great is to whip up a batch of hummus (or buy it) and cut up a bunch of veggies. Same with fruits. If you are anything like me, you could put peanut or almond butter on anything, including fruits and veggies! I also love having a bag of almonds and raisins on hand. Grab your snacks and munch! It is healthy and helps keep the heartburn at bay. Don’t forget to treat yourself once in a while, as long as it is actually a treat and not a habit.
Numb yourself to Numbers
Of course, you are probably thinking, “Sure Emily, you just said eat healthily.” That is my point! If you are eating healthy and walking or doing light exercise, just numb yourself to numbers. If the doctor/midwife is concerned about how much or how little you are gaining, they will tell you. Do not worry.
The most important thing is that you are fueling your body with the right stuff and feeling good about it. We are too stressed and obsessive about these things. Being healthy is not determined completely by numbers.
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!
Why has this taken me so long to take seriously?! Avoid all that sciatic nerve pain, hip pain, sacral pain etc. with regular stretching. Frankly, it is not a cure-all and you will still experience some of the normal discomforts. However, there is a world of difference between the sleep I can achieve without stretching (i.e. multiple wake-ups with hip pain) and with stretching (only waking up to pee but still feeling OK).
It does not have to be a huge chunk of time, 15 minutes or less. It just has to be consistent. When I got out of the habit of stretching during our road trip, combined with the copious amounts of sitting in the car, I was miserable at night. I could barely lie on my side for more than five minutes. We are back home and have returned to a tiny semblance of a routine and that includes stretching. All is right with the world again! It honestly makes the next seven weeks seem like they will breeze by (I say that now…). You can find excellent pregnancy stretches on YouTube. Your life will be better, I promise.
For some reason, we are way too stressed out in the States. There are so many rules and suggestions on food intake, where you can and cannot travel to, and how everything you do might hurt the baby.
It is easier said than done but just relax. We, as people from the USA, are more apt to feel anxious about it all, which probably increases our blood pressure and leads to stress eating. At least, stress eating can be a thing for me. I know relaxing about those rules have helped me to be way more laid back this time around.
With all that being said, just enjoy yourself as much as you can! We will see if that is how I feel at week 38, but I will try to remind myself. Pregnancy is an incredible miracle and no matter how it feels, it is temporary. I am thankful to be experiencing my healthiest pregnancy yet and I know you will too!