Pregnancy Lessons Learned So Far…

I promise I’m not going to turn this blog into a #pregnancy/#momlife/#lifewithkids blog but I personally feel like it’s important to share what I’ve learned about my pregnancy journey as it’s often a topic that many females may be wondering about as they are thinking about getting pregnant but it’s never a topic readily discussed over coffee and/or at get togethers.

From what I’ve experienced, friends who have become mothers generally don’t think that “mom topics” and/or discussions about kids are relevant because non-moms and/or non-parents would find this boring. I’ve never found discussions about “mom things” boring and/or discussions about kid friendly products boring; perhaps it is because I am also currently surrounded with a mini baby boom with many friends who do have children so I find it helpful to be somewhat in the loop. Another factor why I may not find these discussions boring is because as part of my work, I do counsel young families who may have a picky eater and/or a child who is underweight and/or a child who is experiencing failure to thrive. Sometimes, when a child is struggling with his/her eating habits, it requires me to look beyond what type of food is being offered and to look into the environment and other factors that may affect the child’s behaviour.

At 30 weeks and 4 days, here is what I have learned about pregnancy so far:

  1. Initial Feelings of When I Found Out When I’m Pregnant…

When I was pregnant the first time, I was very excited but also naive to think that this pregnancy was going to be a “for sure deal”. I know that most individuals recommend waiting until the first 3 months of pregnancy have passed before announcing to individuals. With the first pregnancy, it was really hard to contain my excitement so I could only hold it in for so long before I couldn’t help myself but break the news to a handful of individuals.

With the second pregnancy, I decided to proceed with more caution knowing that it really isn’t a “for sure deal”.  You never know what could happen within the first 3 months (and even beyond). As for timing, I found out right before I was leaving for Washington for a pre-wedding celebration. Due to the nature of the trip, I had to tell one individual to explain why I wasn’t drinking alcohol and/or have one person at least help fend off other individuals who would continue to offer drinks (I also do recognize that some family doctors have started to recommend that it is okay to have a little bit of alcohol during pregnancy particularly during the 3rd trimester. I have made the personal choice to abstain during the whole pregnancy).

I continued to reveal to individuals on an “as needed basis”. The next time I revealed the good news to someone was when we went up to a friend’s cottage. It was my husband and I along with the couple who own the cottage. Because my friend knows I like rose, she made rose punch. I initially requested to have water to start but when I finished the water and continued to refuse the rose punch, she caught on to what was happening.

I was fully prepared to eat sashimi as my husband and I had made plans with another couple at a Japanese-Peruvian fusion Restaurant. On this day, it was also my first appointment with OB/GYN. It’s like the OB/GYN read my mind because before I could say anything, she said “It’s not worth eating raw fish”. By this point, my OB/GYN knows that I am a Registered Dietitian; therefore, I proceed to respond with “But the newest guidelines say you can have raw fish as long as it is from a reputable place”. The OB/GYN then proceeded to say “It still isn’t worth the risk because you never know if you become one of the lucky ones who end up with a piece of bad fish. It’s been quite the journey to get yourself to where you are today so let’s just take all the necessary precautions”.

Because the couple who we made plans to eat at the Japanese- Peruvian restaurant knows that I love sashimi, seeing me not eat sashimi tipped them off that something is off. Since finding out I am pregnant, I have not touched a piece of sashimi but I do miss it dearly.

How did my husband react? His reactions mirrored my reaction to pregnancy. The first time we were expecting a child, my husband was very excited and also naive in the sense that we both thought nothing bad could happen now. When we found out the second time, my husband didn’t show as much excitement not because he wasn’t excited but because he was also being cautious knowing that making it through the first 3 months safely is a journey in itself.

2. Morning Sickness/ Pregnancy Symptoms

I consider myself very lucky/fortunate to not have experienced any adverse symptoms of pregnancy. I have to say that pregnancy agrees with my body be it the first time or the second time. The only symptoms I felt during the first trimester was that I would prefer to be on the couch between 4-7 PM but as soon as I peeled myself off the couch and started moving, I would be fine.

I always thought that pregnancy would cause me to develop a ravenous appetite. I was surprised to find out that during the first trimester, my appetite had decreased to half its normal size. I jokingly tell people all the time that my stomach has shrunk in half. I didn’t have any aversions to smells as well so I really was okay to eat and/or drink anything but after eating a half portion, I would naturally stop because my stomach would feel so full.

Although I personally did not experience nausea and/or vomiting, I really can see how it can be crippling for the mother to be. Life is really put on hold as you constantly just don’t  feel well. Hats off to all mothers who had to go through morning sickness.

I have been very pleasantly surprised to see that I didn’t experience any bloating and/or swelling of fingers. I also have not experienced any heartburn. Water retention and/or feeling puffy has always been a fear of mine but so far, that hasn’t seemed to be a problem for me.

Stretch marks is also a daunting fear of mine but I have been proactive in using belly jelly. Some friends tell me that these stretch marks will appear suddenly overnight but I am doing my best to try to keep the skin around the belly area well moisturized. So far what I do see is the pregnancy line darkening. It’s a line that goes straight down the middle of your belly and it darkens as your pregnancy goes on. If I end up with a few stretch marks, so be it. The body has certainly gone through a lot of changes over the last little bit.

3. Stay Active

I definitely experienced fear of what physical activity is appropriate during the first trimester. Having found out in mid July, I was torn. I wanted to continue to run but I also feared that running would be a little too strenuous for the early stage of pregnancy (although I know that the recommendations say that as long as you are used to that type of activity, it should be okay). I was still getting a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity per day as our mini golden doodle needs to get her fix of physical activity.

I reached a point where I said enough was enough so I would do short 5 KM jogs at a leisurely pace. Aside from the fear of the run being too strenuous, I was also conscious of the fact that I needed to go to the bathroom more often so I didn’t want to do more than 5 KM at a time.

As soon as I passed the first trimester, I have been actively participating in prenatal pilates, prenatal yoga classes and regular barre classes at 889 Community. I love the vibe of the studio and because the studio is friendly to both pregnant and non-pregnant individuals, I felt very safe in attending these classes because the instructor would modify any exercises to something I could do. I aim to go to 4 classes a week but due to something called life, I often can only go to 3 classes a week. As the saying goes “Do what you can”.

Like many females, I’ve had extreme fear of becoming a beluga whale during pregnancy. I know each person carries the weight differently but I do believe that being active before, during and after is very important. Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to lay on the couch as a couch potato. It’s really easy to do so (I’ve used that excuse a few times but I know that this excuse would do me no good). Peel yourself off the couch and start moving!

4. Seek Out a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

Where did I hear about pelvic floor health first? I attended a group fitness class and as a guest speaker, a pelvic floor physiotherapist came in to do a talk. Although some individuals may think that pelvic floor physiotherapists are more relevant for individuals who are currently pregnant and/or individuals who have delivered children, pelvic floor muscle health is very important for the pre-pregnant female as well.

As more and more friends have become mothers, pelvic floor health has been a more frequent topic. At the end of my first trimester, I decided to book my initial assessment. I was not surprised when I found out that I have very weak kegel muscles. Since the end of September 2019, I have been diligently working on kegel muscles and/or other exercises suggested by the physiotherapist but also following up every 2 weeks for accountability. The physiotherapist has also suggested I purchase kegel weights which I do have to use on a daily basis.

I am pleased to say that I have seen progress. Pre-pregnancy, I am an individual who would need to go to the washroom on the hour every hour. During the first little bit of pregnancy, there were times where I would need to go to the bathroom every half an hour. As I continue to work on strengthening my pelvic floor muscles, I don’t need to go to the bathroom as often.

Physiotherapy can also help with correcting back pain. Pre-pregnancy, I would say that I have experienced very little back pain. At my current stage of pregnancy, I still have to say I don’t experience back pain (*knock on wood). I find that I don’t like using the Snoogle (the body pillow) but I also don’t like having pillows in between my legs.

5.  Eating Habits- how have they changed? Any Cravings?

I am sad to report that I have not experienced any cravings to do. I, personally, was looking forward to experiencing cravings as I would like to see how weird could the combinations of food get?

As I mentioned earlier, I thought my appetite would increase exponentially during pregnancy but it has not. Perhaps the reason why it has not is because I’ve become more mindful of my eating habits. I eat more intuitively. I don’t restrict myself but I eat when I am hungry. I eat my 3 meals a day and really only have one or two additional snacks throughout the day. This is the recommendation (i.e. pregnant individuals should continue how they normally eat and add an additional 300 calories per day which is equivalent to two small snacks throughout the day). It’s not to say I won’t have a treat here and there; I do have a treat every now and then but I have no feeling of guilt whatsoever. Having said that, I am eating a little bit more cheese than I normally do as I’m trying to get enough calcium per day. 😉

Are there any of foods I miss? Absolutely!!!! There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about sashimi, raw oysters and a perfectly poached egg. I’ve never been a huge fan of deli meats so this category of food doesn’t mean much to me but because I love bagels, a lox and bagel would be something I would have from time to time. I’ve stayed away from smoked salmon for the duration of my pregnancy. Individuals are quite surprised that I would opt to eat soft cheeses but I find as long as the soft cheese it is pasteurized, I’m fine with eating it (I know some individuals will not eat soft cheese even if it is pasteurized).

What is the hardest thing you have had to adapt and/or change during pregnancy? Due to the social aspect of having a coffee and tea with individuals, I’ve found it hard to limit my caffeine intake per day. I’m generally not a person who consumes an excessive amount of caffeine per day but it’s now knowing there is an actual limit per day. I have been adhering to generally having one cup of tea in the morning. When the occasion calls for it, I will have a latte in a social setting but generally, I will only have one cup of tea and/or coffee during the morning to account for other items that may contain caffeine (e.g. chocolate 😉 ).

I’m not a huge consumer of alcohol but I absolutely do miss the freedom of having a choice of whether or not to enjoy a glass of wine. Being pregnant over the holidays is difficult as a glass of bubbles is often enjoyed throughout a few occasions. Attending weddings and/or other celebrations is also difficult because you want to have a glass of bubbles but you are handed a cocktail instead where you know it’s all sugar but you want to be included. 😉

Because of my profession (i.e. Registered Dietitian), acquiring the desired amount of fibre per day is something I’ve always done even pre-pregnancy. Constipation has not affected me during pregnancy.  I often hear individuals may have constipation during pregnancy but this is also a reason why seeking advice from a Registered Dietitian during your pregnancy may be something you want to consider. Not only are your eating habits important during pregnancy but your nutritional needs will need to be considered during post-pregnancy and breastfeeding stage as well.

Food For Thought: Each pregnancy is different. I wanted to provide insight to what a positive pregnancy experience could look like as many individuals may only hear of negative pregnancy experiences. Stay active, seek the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist and consider seeking the advice of a Registered Dietitian to make sure that every bite you take during pregnancy is nutrient dense to ensure you and your baby’s health is optimal.

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