Healthy Pregnancy Tips

I have taken a long hiatus from posting during my pregnancy (though I have stayed active on Instagram – check out @vibrant_veg) but as I’m due very soon (this Friday!) with a baby boy, I thought I would share some things/ tips that have helped me through my first pregnancy.  I am grateful that to date I have been blessed with a relatively easy pregnancy – no first trimester nausea / vomiting, no heartburn, no major foot / ankle swelling, still sleeping 8+ hours, etc.  I believe this is likely partly due to genetics (both my sisters had relatively easy pregnancies too), and partly due to maintaining a very healthy vegetarian diet and staying very active (walking 4-5 miles a day and doing bar method / prenatal yoga a few times a week).   Now I doubt any
pregnancy is totally aches and pains free, and I have definitely been experiencing baby kicking my ribs over the past few weeks and did have a scare of what felt like pre-term labor at 26 weeks (in hindsight believe it was dehydration), but overall have thankfully been feeling very well and am sharing some things that have helped me.
Every woman’s body is so unique and different, and every pregnancy
experience will of course be unique, but I am hoping that some of these may help.
Prenatal yoga – cannot recommend this enough for the combination of gentle stretching, relaxation & breathing tips, and the wealth of knowledge and support that is shared by the community.   Most prenatal teachers are also doulas and some pregnant women who come are already moms, and both the teachers and students have shared helpful tips.   In fact when late in my second trimester I started getting some cramps in my calf during the night, a fellow student mentioned to try magnesium lotion and it worked like a miracle (never got the calf cramps again after applying).  I did prenatal yoga both in the Bay Area and LA and my favorite studios / teachers
are:
  • Oakland: Barefoot studio – This was just a few blocks from my work in downtown Oakland and offered daily prenatal yoga classes, which is very rare (most studios offer prenatal 1-2x / week if they offer it at all).  And not only do they offer daily classes but they are the most affordable too with unlimited prenatal for ~$65/ month and a first time student special of $40/ month if you are new to the studio.
  • Los Angeles: Any classes with Keya Nikoni – she teaches at YogaWorks Playa Vista, Moving Joint in Mar Vista and Red Diamond Yoga in Culver City.  Her energy is so grounding and nurturing and you get a great stretch too.  She also offers partner workshops and is a doula.  I also enjoyed Bridgette’s Monday / Wed. mid-day class at YogaWorks Montana in Santa Monica, which has a nice gentle pace.
o  At home online prenatal yoga videos on your own schedule: I subscribe for $15/ month to yogisanonymous.com and they have quite a few prenatal offerings ranging from short meditations to full classes.  My favorite class is a 30 min. shoulder, neck and heart opening sequence by Kate Cariati, which was very helpful for me as I tend to hold tension in my shoulders and neck and always felt better after this class.  If you do choose to do prenatal at home it is worth investing in blocks, a bolster and a strap if you don’t have these already as props are pretty essential for prenatal practice.
·
Sleeping:
o  Pregnancy pillow – This was the very first thing I got and it has been perhaps the single most helpful thing throughout my
pregnancy (okay probably second to prenatal vitamins & iron pills, but this is really high on the list and I am pretty obsessed with it).  My sister, who like me is petite, gifted this to me and mentioned that it is apparently especially great for petite women, and I have absolutely loved it.  Sometimes after I get up my husband will crawl into it and he loves it too.  I love it so much that I bought a second one to keep at my parent’s house for when I visit, and I even recommended this to a non-pregnant friend
who was having sleeping issues and she loves it too.  I started using this towards the end of my first trimester, probably before I needed to, and plan to continue to use it for a while after baby arrives.
o  I also slept on both my left side (most recommended position esp. post 20 weeks), but continued to sleep on my back too
propped up by 1-2 pillows.  Some doctors/ websites/ yoga teachers don’t recommend back sleeping but I am hearing more
and more that the science is coming around to suggest that it can be okay for some women, and since I feel very in touch with my body and baby (he moves a ton and lets me know when he is unhappy for example I cannot sleep on my right side), I think this has been fine for me and my doctor has been okay with it.
·    Preventing backache:  Being petite (I’m 5”2) and slim, the pregnancy weight gain as a % of total body weight can definitely take a toll on
the lower back.  Since my pre-pregnancy weight was 105 lbs and I gained 25 lbs throughout my pregnancy, I gained nearly 25% of my original body weight, which is in a good and healthy range and thankfully baby is measuring well, but I did intermittently feel like I needed
a little extra support for my back. Based on Amazon reviews, I tried this Azmed belly belt and it worked very well for me.  I did not need to use it daily and would only use it when I felt I needed it, which was more towards my third trimester, esp. during work days when I was sitting more often.
·     Staying cool:
Especially toward the end of my third trimester, I have been finding that I am feeling extra hot / flushed, esp. at night.  This is caused by hormones and exacerbated by the California heat waves we had been experiencing, and this little handheld fan has been surprisingly effective to cool me down and I plan to pack this in my hospital bag too for labor.
·     Pregnancy / nursing bras:  I only ordered these when I was 37 weeks and so wish I had gotten them sooner as they are so comfy (and I gained a full cup size in my first trimester so definitely could have gotten them sooner – extenders are a good, affordable interim solution too).  The quality for the price is quite literally unbelievable (they are basically $6 each!) and I have recommended these to all my pregnant friends.

·     Books:  My dear friend Nadine who is also having a baby boy recommended this birth partner book for my husband (who will be my acting doula / labor support as I decided not to go w/ a doula), and we actually both read it and found it very helpful to supplement the childbirth prep classes we took.

Iron Pills: If you are vegan or vegetarian, it is really important to get enough iron during pregnancy.  Given that blood volume increases during pregnancy, iron is so critical and while it is pretty common from what I learned to have slight anemia during pregnancy, this is likely more common among vegetarians even if you are vigilant about eating high iron foods like spinach, nuts & legumes, dried apricots/ figs, etc. I found out that I was slightly anemic early in my second trimester after some blood tests and started taking iron pills with orange juice (vitamin C helps absorption); in hindsight, I would have started taking these in my first trimester.

Well for whenever I do my next post, I will likely be a mama so wish me luck on my labor and birthing journey.  My intention is to try my best to relax, breathe through and surrender to contractions (one of my favorite affirmations is ‘I can do anything for 1 minute’ and another is the simple ‘I am fine; my baby is fine’), and be patient and open to my birth experience as it unfolds (trying not to get attached to any specific vision of how & when my birthing experience will unfold).

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