During my first pregnancy, I encountered a few unexpected issues that I later learned were completely preventable and could have been managed easily had I known then what I know now. Fast forward to my second pregnancy, I was determined to have THE “perfect” pregnancy. I started reading books, articles and pregnancy forums online, and what I discovered was shocking. I could have the pregnancy I wanted just by making a few simple lifestyle changes, and by committing myself to the things I felt were right for ME and my family.
What problems did I experience with my first pregnancy?
* Very invasive prenatal care- this is exactly what some women are looking for when they choose a care provider, but this is not what I would have sought out for myself had I known all of my options.
*High blood pressure- the jury is still out on this one, at around 39 weeks my doctor told me I pre-eclampsia and needed to be induced. At the time, I didn’t know enough about high blood pressure, the pros, and cons of induction and what other options could have been discussed to make an informed decision. My doctor was very aggressive and I ended up agreeing to the induction. When my medical records were reviewed by two separate care providers during my second pregnancy neither one believed I had ever had pre-e, it simply looked like a routine, full term “convenience” induction.
*Weight gain- I really committed to the whole “eating for two” thing in my first pregnancy, and as a result, I ended up gaining a bit more than I probably should have.
*Pain-I had terrible back and pelvic pain from about 20 weeks on. The pain started when I got out of bed in the morning and continued throughout the day with little relief, regardless of sitting, standing, or laying on my side.
How can you avoid these things, or, if you’re already dealing with some of them, how can you improve them NOW?
- Don’t eat for two.
Whoever started this saying is completely wrong. You should be eating for one adult and one steadily growing little tadpole. Discuss exact calorie recommendations with your care provider, but you definitely should not be eating double what you did before you were pregnant.
- Increase protein.
In my first pregnancy I went carb crazy, they were gluten-free carbs, but your waistline really doesn’t care what your donuts and pancakes are made of, Rice flour and wheat flour look the same deep fried and covered in sugar. During my second pregnancy, I ate a lot of grilled and pan seared chicken and eggs. I felt fuller, longer so my snacking and cravings were limited, I had a lot more energy, and in general, I just felt so much better.
- Step away from the table salt.
My wonderful midwife clued me in on the secret of table salt- its bad. You can do your own research on this, there’s a lot to learn, but long story short, switch to sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. These are healthier options because they contain minerals that your body can absorb and use, and you won’t notice a taste difference. During my second pregnancy I threw away my standard table salt and made the switch, amazingly, I experienced very little swelling, as opposed to my first pregnancy when I swelled so badly that I had to go up 3 shoe sizes. I really can’t explain all of the science behind it, but I CAN tell you that I personally noticed a huge difference.
- Be active.
One of the biggest differences between my first and second pregnancies was that during my second pregnancy I had a very active toddler to keep up with. She kept me active and on my feet, and surprisingly, even though it was exhausting at the time, I have a feeling her activity level was a huge factor in my healthy pregnancy. Now, I’m not saying you need to be running miles every day, or even hitting the gym and breaking a sweat. Staying active by walking in the evenings, an hour of yoga in the morning, doing errands throughout the day, or taking your little ones to the playground. All of these things will keep you from falling bottom first onto your sofa, and into the pregnancy rut.
- Choose wisely.
This is the most important tip I can give you. Choose your care provider wisely. Having a doctor, nurse practitioner or midwife in your corner who is supportive of your choices, beliefs, and feelings is SO huge. Don’t just choose the most popular practice in your area, or the office closest to your house, really think about WHAT you want and WHO can provide that. I suggest making a list of what is most important to you during your pregnancy, during your delivery, and during your postpartum care. Once you have that list set up a few appointments with different types of providers in your area, take your list and discuss it at these appointments, if the provider is hesitant or argumentative about any of your points, move on to the next one. During one of the biggest, most impactful moments of your life- childbirth, you don’t want to argue or feel manipulated or judged, you want to be supported, you want honest communication and gentle guidance.What did you love about your pregnancy, what would you change next time, or for those moms on their TTC journeys, what are you looking forward to the most?