With pregnancy comes many different emotions, challenges and sometimes fears. But with such a positive outcome (the birth of your baby!) you have lots to look forward to as an expecting parent.
To get you through those nine months of uncertainty, here are 20 top tips to make life a little easier.
1. Get enough sleep
With approximately 8 out of 10 women suffering from insomnia while pregnant, for those of you lucky enough to drift off at your leisure, be sure to make the most of this luxury. You need as much energy as possible while carrying your child and sleep is the easiest way to get it, so aim for eight hours per night, with naps if you can afford them.
2. Keep hydrated
Dehydration can cause tiredness, headaches and dizziness so be sure to keep your water intake topped up while you’re pregnant. Many of the smaller ailments that come with pregnancy can be prevented or eased by drinking enough water, but keep your caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day and avoid alcoholic drinks.
3. Cope with nausea and sickness
Eating small frequent meals, drinking plenty of fluids and resting should prevent that nauseous feeling in the early stages of pregnancy. Morning sickness in particular is thought to be heightened by hunger, so try to eat a small snack before bed to hopefully ward off this queasy feeling when you wake.
4. Prevent stretch marks
Stretch marks on the breasts and stomach as they enlarge are indeed one of the downsides of pregnancy, but prevention is better than cure, so start applying skincare oil before your bump starts to show as this will strengthen the skin to hopefully prevent permanent scarring.
5. Talk things through
The worries and anxieties that are naturally on your mind while pregnant will increase your stress levels if not addressed. Speak with a doctor, your partner or close friend to share your concerns and hopefully reduce the worrying and find some reassurance, as stress is not good for you or your baby. You’ll be surprised how something so simple can help you feel so much better.
6. Attend antenatal classes
Antenatal classes are the best way to receive all the important information you need while expecting. Everything will be answered which means you have no room for your mind to wander and worry about the ‘what ifs’. Being in the company of other expecting parents will also provide you with the support you need.
7. Alleviate sore breasts
As hormones surge through your body and your breasts enlarge it is quite common for them to throb or tingle. Wear a well-fitting and supportive bra (preferably non-underwired) and a cotton sleep bra during the night. Many high street stores now sell vest tops, t-shirts and nightwear with built in support which can make things a lot simpler and more comfortable. Gentle massage may also ease the aching.
8. Put your feet up
As your baby grows inside you the weight exerted on the rest of your body increases, so naturally your poor feet and legs will suffer. Be sure to routinely take the weight off your feet by propping them up on the sofa or a foot stool, which will also hopefully prevent varicose veins. A refreshing foot cream, preferably rubbed in by a partner, can also provide a boost by encouraging circulation and helping you to relax.
9. Improve your circulation
Swollen ankles, feet and fingers are a downside of pregnancy, but try some gentle exercises to stimulate blood flow and reduce water retention. Bend and stretch your feet and hands up and down while pointing your toes and fingers, then rotate your feet and hands eight times to the left, then the right in circular motions.
10. Keep calm and de-stressed
Being stress-free is better for your baby as high blood pressure can wreak all sorts of havoc on your baby’s development. Having relaxing warm (not hot) baths, getting your partner to rub your feet and even something as small as enjoying a cup of tea with your favourite magazine will all contribute to a relaxed pregnancy state.
11. Do things for you
With so much preparation for the baby, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself and indulge –after all, you’re doing all the hard work so you deserve a treat. Book in for a blow dry or manicure, enjoy watching a film or meet up with a friend. Treating yourself to the odd purchase while shopping for the essential baby items will also lift your spirits.
12. Coping with pregnancy cravings
It is unknown why women crave certain things during pregnancy, but it is most likely down to hormonal changes (isn’t everything?!). It is indeed satisfying to ‘give in’ to the foods you crave, but eating a varied diet full of different colours, textures and tastes should help if you want to manage the cravings that aren’t so healthy.
13. Enjoy exercise
Gentle exercise will play its part in controlling low moods, which can be common due to your change in hormones, as well as weight gain during pregnancy. Swimming, yoga and even low intensity aerobics will give you a healthy dose of endorphins and will support your body during the strains of pregnancy and labour. Just don’t overdo it – if you take a class, make sure you let the instructor know you are pregnant and be aware of the precautions.
14. Coping with the ‘un-pleasantries’
Haemorrhoids, vaginal discharge and constipation are just some of the less pleasant bodily functions that crop up during pregnancy. While there are remedies available to alleviate these discomforts, try to accept them as being par for the course. Wear comfortable clothing and enjoy frequent showers or bubble baths. You may or may not want to discuss these with your partner – it may just be a little too much information to go into detail but make sure you make a note and let your health visitor or midwife know so they have a full history of your pregnancy.
15. Reducing backache
As the hollow of your back becomes more distinct and your joints become strained, backache can be very common during pregnancy. Wear flat shoes to evenly distribute your weight, sit with your back straight and use a support pillow. You could also treat yourself to a massage, try some yoga, or invest in a microwavable oat bag or hot water bottle.
16. Enjoy your sex life
In most circumstances, sex with your partner during pregnancy can be perfectly safe, but it can bring with it challenges. During sex, the rush of blood to your breasts may make them tender, or you may feel uncomfortable if your partner’s penis penetrates too deeply. Find comfortable positions such as lying on your sides, or finding other ways to be affectionate.
17. Be organised
Nine months may seem like a long time, but boy does it fly by! The last thing you want as an expectant mum is last minute panic, stress or the feeling of having too much to do. Organisation is key during pregnancy; from basic necessities such as housework, to planning your hospital bag and nursery. Get out your diary and rope in friends to support your plans.
18. Voice your needs
Keeping quiet and suffering in silence will not get you anywhere, and will only lead to increased stress levels (a big no no for mums to be!). Delegating and asking for favours is a must while pregnant as your body is going through too much to cope with the everyday alone. If you can’t be bossy when you’re carrying a child then when can you be?
19. Coping with dizziness
Hot flushes and dizziness are a common side effect of pregnancy and often indicate that the brain is not receiving enough blood and oxygen. Take your time with everything you do during pregnancy – rushing is against the rules here mums! While you may be used to running around, ticking boxes, while pregnant you should think of yourself as being in slow motion to avoid head rushes, dizzy spells and even fainting.
20. Controlling your bladder
During pregnancy as the baby’s head presses against your bladder, you may feel the urge to urinate more frequently. To cope with this new urge, avoid drinking late at night to prevent the mid-slumber bathroom trip. Also, try gently rocking back and forth while on the toilet to help fully empty the bladder, meaning you won’t need to empty it again so soon.