Whether it’s a planned dream come true, an unexpected surprise or a long but worthy journey; that positive test result for us all, means one thing — you’re pregnant, hooray!
With this being one of the biggest milestones of your life, I’m sure you’re brimming with a mixture of excitement and fear — that’s totally normal. You’re about to be responsible for another human being’s life which is a big deal; and like most new parents, the goal is to do the best you can!
As an experienced pregger (three times makes me experienced, right?), I’m often asked by new moms, what to expect when expecting? My answer is simple — expect the unexpected; expect it to be different from all the movies you’ve seen, all the stories’ you’ve been told and different from your previous pregnancy; but most importantly, expect it to be specially yours!
The truth is; while there might be a few similarities (like being exhausted and emotional), no two pregnancies are exactly alike. We don’t all get morning sickness, stretch marks or swollen ankles; just like some of us will give birth naturally, others will deliver via C-section or surrogate.
Although pregnancies may differ, we can all agree that we’re a group of bad ass, warrior women and there are precautions we can take to ensure a healthy and happy pregnancy despite our unique journeys.
Food and Fitness:
During pregnancy, it is important to get the appropriate daily nutrients and physical activity needed to keep you and your baby healthy. From choosing your vitamins, eating the right food and learning to power through tiredness from the first 12 weeks.
1. Prenatal Vitamins: Please follow your doctor’s advice regarding your use and dosage of supplements. The most important ingredients to look for when choosing your Prenatal Vitamins are folic acid, iron, omega 3/ DHA, zinc, iodine, calcium, vitamin B, C and D.
2. Probiotic: Probiotics are good yeast or bacteria that can be found in yogurt, kefir, miso, pickles and supplements; that when taken at a reasonable dosage can have digestion and vaginal health benefits during pregnancy. Probiotics are known to help reduce your chances of getting a yeast infection or urinary tract bacterial infections.
3. Food: Just because you take Prenatal Vitamins does not mean you shouldn’t maintain a healthy diet, packed with nutritious food that are also delicious.
Am I eating for two? Yes, the food you put in your body can benefit or harm your baby. However, as far as portion size; you do not need to eat for more than one. It is important to eat the right number of calories during pregnancy, so say bye-bye to fad or low-calorie diets and hello to 1500 to 2000 kcal of the good stuff each day!
What’s safe to eat?
Food & Beverages to avoid-
– Raw meat
– Deli meat
– Fish with mercury
– Smoked seafood
– Raw shellfish
– Raw eggs, chicken, meat
– Unpasteurized cheese and milk
– Unwashed fruits and vegetables
Food to eat more of-
– Dairy Products
– Dark Leafy Greens
– Whole grains
– Cooked Lean Meat
– Sweet Potato
– Cooked Seafood (low in mercury)
– Cooked Chicken or Turkey
Energy boosting Food-
– Unprocessed food
– Chia Seeds
– Whole grains
– Peanut butter
See my favorite pregnancy recipes here-
4. Fitness: Please consult with your doctor before you get started on any physical activity. For most women, staying active is just as important when you’re pregnant as at any other time of your life.
Walking, swimming, prenatal Yoga and Pilates are usually considered safe and beneficial regardless of your previous fitness level. For those who were active before getting pregnant, jogging and moderate weight training are usually considered safe.
See my safe and easy pregnancy workouts here.
Morning Sickness & Remedies:
This is possibly the most common thing women experience and sometimes the first sign that you’re pregnant. Morning sickness, despite the name can occur at any time of the day and the severity varies among women, ranging from mild nausea to vomiting.
An increase in hormone levels and reduced blood sugar are said to be the most common causes. Although we can’t prevent Morning Sickness from happening, we can reduce the symptoms with my favorite natural remedies:
See my favorite ways to use these natural remedies here
Most women experience some form of gassiness during pregnancy. The build up of progesterone which relaxes the muscles of the intestine will sometimes cause bloating, burping or passing some smelly ones.
Maternity Wear Essentials:
For most women, maternity wear isn’t thought of until later on in the pregnancy. This usually happens when your go-to pair of jeans start to feel uncomfortable or you cannot find a dress that fits for date night.
The problem is, that moment can happen at any time (for me, it happened in both my first and second trimester) and it’s better to be prepared, stylish and comfy when that day come — because it will come!
When purchasing maternity wear, I prefer to choose pieces that will last throughout my entire pregnancy, post pregnancy/nursing and beyond. I like to get my money’s worth!
WHAT IS A GENDER REVEAL?
It is exactly as the name says, a Gender Reveal is a celebration where the expecting parents reveal the gender of their baby to family and friends.
IS IT NECESSARY?
This is definitely not necessary, as some parents prefer to wait until after the birth to know their baby’s gender. However, it is a fun and exciting way to find out and share the news for those us who cannot wait.
WHO HOSTS THE PARTY?
The party is usually held during the earlier months of the pregnancy (12 – 22 weeks) and hosted by the expecting parents. It is not uncommon for a close friend or family member to co-host in the announcement, especially if the parents intend to be surprised as well. Gifts are not expected at a Gender Reveal and this might be worth mentioning on the invite as most people are usually unsure.
WHAT TO WEAR?
It’s your celebration, so you can wear whatever you feel most beautiful in! Since the baby’s gender is unknown, I would recommend neutral colors such as white, off white, cream, nude, tan or something that has both pink and blue. I’ve also seen expecting parents wear the color representing what gender they predict and some have asked their guests to dress in “team boy or team girl” colors.
For many women, pregnancy brings glowing skin. Others, however, can experience changes in skin pigmentation and overall appearance of skin due to an increase in hormone levels. Some of these changes can include acne, dark spots, dark nipples, linea nigra and stretch marks.
Acne- Causes & Treatment
This is not uncommon during pregnancy and is said to be caused by “an increase in hormones called androgens which make the glands in your skin grow and produce more sebum — an oily, waxy substance. This oil can clog pores and lead to bacteria, inflammation, and breakouts”. A lot of women also develop unhealthy cravings, resulting in an elevated consumption of sugar and unsaturated fats which can also cause acne.
As always please consult with your doctor about the products you take orally or apply to your skin, because some can be very harmful for your baby. Here’s a list of some of the known products and ingredients that have been proven to be harmful or safe during pregnancy. I’ve also included my tried and tested acne treatment which gave great results.
Skin Products to avoid:
– Accutane (generically called isotretinoin)
– Hormonal therapies (flutamide, spironolactone)
– Topical retinoid (retin-a, renova, adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin)
– Oral tetracycline (doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline)
OVER THE COUNTER
– Salicylic acids (generally called beta-hydroxy acid)
– Benzoyl peroxide
– Hydroquinone (and all other chemical skin lighteners)
– Essential Oils
– Chemical Sunscreens
Skin Products that are safe:
– Lactic acid
– Glycolic acid
– Azeliac Acid
– Vitamin C
– Vitamin E
– Witch Hazel
My Acne Routine During Pregnancy:
– Drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day
– Wash face with cleanser and cold in the morning and before bed
– Use witch hazel or natural astringent as toner
– Apply oil-free moisturizer in the day
– Use safe acne gel at night
– Mask once a week
– Exfoliate once a week
– Change face towel daily
– Change pillow case often
My favorite Acne Products During Pregnancy:
Stretch Mark Prevention
Although this does not affect everyone, Stretch Marks are very common during and post pregnancy and affects approximately 80% of women. They usually appear on the stomach, sides, inner and outer thighs or bust area because of the tearing and stretching of the skin due to rapid growth and weight changes.
Knowing from my teenage years that I’m prone to getting Stretch Marks, I took preventative measures to reduce my chances of getting them when I found out I was pregnant. The tips I will share below definitely made a difference for me and here’s why:
Baby 1: I followed these tips during my first pregnancy and it worked, I didn’t get any stretch marks.
Baby 2: I was extremely exhausted and I always forgot to follow the tips during my second pregnancy; which resulted in me getting my first set of adult stretch marks around my belly button area and on my sides.
Baby 3: I was determined not to get any more stretch marks so I followed the tips and I didn’t get any new ones. In fact, the appearance of my previous ones were reduced because I was doing the steps more often than what’s required.
– Do not scratch!
– Stay hydrated- drink a lot of water
– Apply oils AND creams to your stomach, sides, inner and outer thighs or bust area at least twice a day (creams in the morning, oil at night)
– Stay active.
My Favorite Stretch Mark Products:
1. OTC- Bio Oil and Palmer’s Stretch Mark (add organic coconut oil)
2. Homemade: organic Shea butter, organic Cocoa butter, vitamin E and organic coconut oil
See my full list of stretch mark products here.
Pregnancy can cause your gums to become more sensitive to flossing and brushing, resulting in mild bleeding. Rinsing with salt water and switching to a softer toothbrush can decrease irritation.
Leg cramps: Leg cramps are common as pregnancy progresses and can be very painful, often striking at night. To prevent them, stretch your calf muscles before bed, stay physically active, and drink plenty of fluids. If a leg cramp strikes, stretch the calf muscle on the affected side and gently message in a hot shower, warm bath or with an ice pack.
Little flutters and kicks:
This is one of my favorite thing about being pregnant and definitely what I miss most after delivering my baby — feeling his little flutters and kicks! You should start to feel your baby’s first movements between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby move until closer to 25 weeks. By the second or third pregnancy, some women start to feel movements as early as 13 weeks.
Newborn-Infant 1st Year Checklist:
Shopping for your new baby is equally, if not more exciting than shopping for yourself! As fun as it is, it can also become very expensive and you can sometimes end up with things you’ll never use. I’ve made 2 separate lists for this stage to help you to make purchases in stages rather than buying everything right away – this is more cost effective and helps with organization.
– See my 0-6 months Checklist here
– See my 6 months + Checklist here
Who doesn’t love a good excuse to get dolled up and take photos? Especially with the added bonus of capturing such a beautiful moment in your life. I personally love the idea of doing a shoot towards the end of the 2nd trimester because you know never when baby might come, you’re not too tired and you haven’t gained a lot of weight – yet.
Maternity shoots are super fun and doesn’t have to be super expensive… unless you want it to be! Here are some tips and ideas for planning your shoot:
– Find a few ‘inspo’ online of what you want
– Cast (just you or your partner and other children?)
– Location (outdoors or in a studio?)
– Looks (outfits for everyone participating and props)
– Photographer (professional or DIY)
Birth Plan: A birth plan is a document that lets your medical team know your labor and delivery preferences in regards to things like pain management, postpartum care and newborn procedures. A birth plan encourages you to consider all your birthing options and communicate your preferences to your healthcare team.
Things to include in your birth plan. Keep it simple and clear.
1. Introduce yourself
2. Who is your primary support person?
3. Who do you want in the delivery room?
4. Pain Relief
5. Labor and Delivery Preferences
6. Newborn Procedures
Download my birth plan template here.
Nesting: Preparing your baby’s nursery. While it’s nice to get everything ready for when your baby arrives, do not stress if you’re unable to – because most baby’s use or don’t sleep in their nursery until around 6- 12 months old.
Hospital Bag: Preparing your hospital bag months before your due date is very important. Your baby might arrive earlier than expected, so it’s worth having your bag organized and packed – just in case.
This checklist will help you prepare everything you’ll need for yourself, your new baby and your partner. Once all the bags are packed, keep them handy, either in the car or near the door, so you’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Download my Hospital Bag checklist here.
Birth: This is the most exciting part of your journey, the day you get to meet the newest love of your life! As mentioned earlier in this post, all births are different but this experience will be specially yours.
I’ve been fortunate to have this experience three times and the only things my deliveries had in common; they were all natural (vaginal delivery), all three came 1 day after their due date, all three were born in June and they’re all baby boys!
My advice is to be mentally prepared for anything. Your mind is the most powerful muscle of the body, so train it to be positive and strong! Know that your body and your baby are both counting on you to get through this and you will — it will be great!
Managing post-natal expectations:
Social media, TV and magazines have us all thinking our bodies will “snap back” into shape immediately after giving birth or that we’ll be happy every day once your baby arrives and that’s not always true!
Your body has done an amazing job of growing and carrying a human being for many months — however, it will need time to heal and recover.
Mental preparation: – Understand that you might look 6 months pregnant for the first few months post pregnancy – Breastfeeding is difficult and painful the first week but it gets better. – Broken sleep: Newborns are usually fed every 1-2 hours. Other factors like colic may also cause sleepless nights. – No sex for the first 6 weeks but there are other ways to be intimate and it’s normal to not want to be intimate at all. – You might have Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominal muscle).
Things you can do: – Buy a few outfits (causal and occasion wear) prior to giving birth that fit your new body and only get dressed from that rack. This eliminates the frustration and disappointment of your pre-pregnancy clothes not fitting. – See a lactation consultant or midwife for assistance if you are having difficulty latching or experiencing unbearable pain while breastfeeding.
– Buy full underwear and a soft compression waist trainer
– Ask for help or hire someone.
– Create routine/shifts for you and your partner
“The days are long but the years are short” – enjoy every moment of motherhood.
See some of my favorite pregnancy products here.
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