If you’re trying to conceive, taking care of your health and well-being during pregnancy can start before your pregnancy even begins. Many big changes will be happening to your body and lifestyle, and it’s important to focus on wellness and prioritize your health at this time.
Coping With Pregnancy Symptoms
There are many joys that accompany your pregnancy, but there are a fair bit of no-fun symptoms you’ll have to contend with, too. As pregnancy symptoms begin to set in, you may find yourself in search of ways to cope with some of these less pleasant feelings that will still be healthy for baby. Some symptoms can start as soon as a few days after you’ve ovulated, before your fertilized egg has even implanted — this is how quickly your body realizes that changes are amiss!
Wondering how to cope with pregnancy symptoms?
- Nausea. Pregnancy nausea and vomiting are often called ‘morning sickness’, though they can happen all day long. Science doesn’t know the exact reason why, but research suggests this nausea is linked to hormonal changes and isn’t helped by the increased sense of smell pregnant women often experience. Small, frequent meals can be helpful, as hunger often makes the condition works. Soothing natural remedies like ginger chews and mints may also tamp down sick feelings. Avoid foods that have triggered episodes, and those which have strong smells that may be unpleasant. Finally, be sure to take prenatal vitamins with a meal, as having them on an empty stomach may bring them right back around.
- Mood swings. All the hormonal changes in your body may have you swinging from mad to sad to perfectly fine within a matter of minutes; while this is normal, it can make moms who are experiencing it feel like prisoners trapped by their swinging moods. Though it can be easier said than done, try to rest as much as you need, and take breaks when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Don’t skip meals, which can mess with your blood sugar and make you cranky, and prioritize self-care while minimizing external stress triggers. Take alone time when it’s needed, but be sure to have a little social time with those who recharge your emotional batteries, too.
- Exhaustion: That growing baby of yours may seem to be sapping every ounce of your energy at the best of times, which can be tough to cope with if you’re a naturally high-energy person. Sleeping and napping as much as you can is advisable, but since you can’t spend all nine months in bed, getting up and moving around is a great way to wake yourself up(even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing). Eating a healthy, energy-boosting snack like a handful of almonds or a citrus fruit can also lift sleepy eyelids, as can having a verbal chat with someone. Finally, bright, aromatherapeutic scents like citrus oils and eucalyptus can help you feel more alert.
- Aches and pains: Throughout your pregnancy, but especially toward the end, you’re likely to feel aches and pains in your lower back. Not terribly shocking, considering your body has shifted to accommodate the size of your little one! Moving around regularly and exercising with your doctor’s go-ahead is an important part of relieving these pains, as is choosing shoes with great arch support; go ahead and leave the heels and no-support flats in the closet, as they’ll only make it worse. A hot water bottle or heating pad on low setting may offer relief, as may warm baths, which are also a great way to de-stress. Sleeping with a body pillow that can rest between your legs can also offer relief, but if you’d rather not spend the money, a regular pillow folded in half can offer similar comfort.
Pregnancy Skin Care
Your skin is your largest organ, and like the rest of your body, it can be profoundly effected by your pregnancy. That’s not all bad — your body produces approximately 50% more blood during pregnancy, resulting in more circulation to your body and face. This can result in the bright skin appearance that many refer to as the “pregnancy glow”, leaving you feeling dewy and youthful.
Of course, it’s not all good, either. You may wonder if those remarking on your glow are mistakenly referring to a greasy face, as you’re likely to be overproducing skin oils during this time as well; you may feel just like your teen self again! Here are a few handy tips for coping with skin changes during pregnancy:
- Oily skin: We know, it’s not the best time to ask you to switch face washes, but the benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid found in many popular picks are contraindicated during pregnancy. If you’re not already using one, try switching to a more gentle face wash that has some oil control properties.
- Stretch marks: Though some find them undesirable, stretch marks are perfectly natural and are, frankly, hard to avoid while pregnant. Regular exercise may help, as may lotions with alpha-hydroxy and vitamin E which have the potential to help prevent their appearance. There’s no medically proven remedy for stretch marks, but their dramatic initial appearance will fade, so don’t fret.
- Mask of pregnancy/melasma/cholasma: This refers to the appearance of patches of skin on your face that are darker than your usual skin tone, and is caused by an increase in skin pigmentation due to hormonal changes. Melasma happens to about half of all pregnant women, and almost always fades after pregnancy. Wearing a sunscreen above SPF 15 and a wide-brimmed hat can help to reduce its appearance, as sun exposure can worsen the condition’s appearance.
- Linea nigra: Often seen in late pregnancy belly pictures, this refers to the dark line which can run from the pubic bone to the navel, but may extend further toward the ribcage. It’s caused by the same pigmentation increase as melasma, and there’s no need to treat it. It’s not an indication of pregnancy health, and will likely fade completely post-pregnancy.
Prenatal Vitamins and Why They Matter
Getting the right set of nutrients is never more essential than it is during pregnancy. A good prenatal vitamin helps your baby to get started on the right track. They’re important because they deliver folic acid that can prevent fetal brain and spinal cord abnormalities, and because they deliver iron that’s necessary for placental and fetal development. Ideally, it’s best to begin taking these approximately three months before you become pregnant for maximum effect.
When it comes to choosing the best prenatal vitamins, if your doctor doesn’t make a suggestion, it’s up to you to choose a brand that you trust. Beyond folic acid and iron, make sure the prenatal vitamin you choose includes the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- B vitamins
- Omega-3 fatty acids
It may seem like a fairly minor aspect of your health and wellness during pregnancy, but it’s what you’ll be staying comfortable in for the duration, so picking some new wardrobe pieces that work for you is legitimately important. You may still be able to use some of your old pieces, but it’s nearly impossible to go through all nine months without buying at least SOME maternity wear! Here are some key pieces you may want to consider updating or investing in:
- Pants: As your body grows, it’s likely that your pants will be one of the first wardrobe items in need of replacing. Comfortable, stretchy panels that accommodate your growing belly are great, and you may want to avoid anything with zippers or buttons that can get cumbersome to fasten as you get bigger. Looser-fitting pants that are easy to pull up and down will be a godsend, especially with frequent bathroom trips.
- Swimsuit: If the end of your pregnancy happens to line up with the height of summer, you’re probably not going to feel comfortable in your pre-pregnancy suit. Add to that the increased voluptuousness of certain assets, and you may find yourself in need of a maternity swimsuit that can offer you both comfort and discretion.
- Maternity belt/Belly band: Made of a long strip of elastic fabric that’s sewn together and can slip on easily, a maternity belt or belly band is great at covering pre-pregnancy pants into a maternity wardrobe. More structured picks may be able to offer some back pain relief, and these devices are sometimes recommended post-pregnancy to help the reconstruction of stomach muscles.