I’m 30 weeks pregnant and I’ve loved it so far. While I’m not naive enough to think that everybody’s experience is the same, I wanted to share some of my pregnancy tips with you on what I would (and wouldn’t) do again.
It’s hard to say if these things have made my experience easier – but they have certainly helped me so perhaps they’ll help you as well.
Please feel free to comment below with things that helped you and hopefully this post will become helpful for women looking to try out a range of different activities during their pregnancies.
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I started pregnancy yoga virtually (because of lockdown) at 14 weeks pregnant. 14 weeks is the earliest most yoga instructors will allow you to start. If you’re local to Chelmsford, I’ve been doing Yoga With Vikki. Vikki has been a yoga practitioner for over a decade and you can really tell. She also does other classes at Hummingbird Pilates (including a post-natal and post c-section course).
I felt the benefits almost immediately. The breathing techniques are something I use everyday and I still can’t get through the relaxation at the end without falling asleep.
If you’re feeling anxious about giving birth, learning these techniques will feel extremely beneficial. I’ve been going to yoga for ten years now and I credit it as the number one thing that has helped completely remove any anxious feelings I have about anything in life.
Picking the right teacher
Contorting your pregnant body should only be done under the advise of professionals, so ask for recommendations or seek out the best yoga teachers for this.
The same goes for any classes you do. If they’re not specifically for pregnant people then make sure that you let them know you’re pregnant so they can adjust the movements to suit you.
I picked my yoga teacher because I trust Hummingbird Pilates to only work with trusted and experienced people. So, if you’re not sure where to go to I’d say the first port of call should be to a yoga studio to see if they can recommend anybody.
The benefits of pregnancy yoga
Aside from a few upper back pains because of working (which I’ve now managed to get rid of by working on a birthing ball), I haven’t had any long-lasting aches and pains so far. It’s hard to say if this is because of pregnancy yoga, but I like to think it has had something to do with it.
It keeps you flexible, it teaches you how you should sit (UFO) to ensure your baby remains in the optimal position and it’s scientifically proven to reduce signs of stress and depression during pregnancy.
It’s also nice to be part of a community of people who are all having babies at similar times to you. I know COVID-19 has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works with regards to actually meeting these people, but still, we have a little chat before the session starts each week and you quickly learn your concerns and niggles aren’t so random after all.
Drinking plenty of water
Drinking loads of water is something we should all do in everyday life anyway, but I’ve found it so helpful during pregnancy.
This is one of those things that I know has helped. The more pregnant you get, the harder digestion becomes. On the days I don’t drink enough water I go to sleep with indigestion because the food hasn’t had enough time to digest through my squashed intestines.
Mild cases of dehydration in pregnancy can lead to constipation, headaches, anxiety, fatigue and dull skin. Sure, these might sound like relatively minor things but needing to sleep all day when you’ve got to work is such a pain if it can be fixed by simply drinking more water. I know this isn’t always the case (I’ve had days where I can’t lift my head from the sofa cushion) but if you are feeling tired everyday it’s worth a go.
I didn’t get bad morning sickness and I recently read that drinking water little and often can really help with sickness. I didn’t know at the time (and also panicked a bit because everyone tells you that morning sickness is a sign of a healthy baby) but maybe (a big maybe, I know) drinking all that water helped fight it off.
How to up your water intake
- Carry a water bottle everywhere with you.
- Swap your morning tea/coffee for hot water and lemon. I also tried to have hot water and lemon after meals because it helped with my digestion. I’ve actually stopped doing that at the moment because I got too hot during the heatwave. I need to re-add that to my daily routine!
- Avoid sugary, caffeinated and fizzy drinks and just stick to good old plain water instead. You can always make it a bit more interesting by adding some fruit.
I’m one of those people who needs to know everything about what I’m going to undertake. I got over my fear of flying by learning every single noise and every movement on a plane.
I decided to do The Positive Birth Company online course which is so great and full of information. Side note on that: I did find Siobhan a little bit too opinionated on her preferred birth methods at times. She’s quite anti hospital births for low-risk women but if you can look past that you’ll learn so much.
As a supplement to this, I’d really recommend The Modern Midwife’s courses. I read her book Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond, and I’m now half-way through her pregnancy and birth series. I’ve learnt so much, this woman really is a font of all knowledge and teaches you in a very non-judgemental way. I’m going to do her postnatal series next.
Hypnobirthing allows you to learn about what your body is doing when it gives birth. It helps you to understand why you’re feeling like you’re feeling and gives you very real advice on how to cope.
I don’t know anybody who has described their birth as “negative” after doing hypnobirthing, even if they did have to have interventions or a c-section.
You don’t just rock up to a marathon and expect to run 26.2 miles, and I’ve decided to see birth in much the same way. I’d rather be as prepared as I possibly can be. Even if it all goes out the window when I’m in labour, at least the techniques have kept me feeling 100% calm in the lead up.
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It’s really hard to say whether this has worked or not. I wish I’d only done half of my body for a true comparison.
I started using stretch mark cream pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I also use exfoliator three times a week before the moisturiser. So far I haven’t had any stretch marks appear and I am well and truly stretched at this point.
I think it’s important for me to say that I really hate this countries pre-occupation with stretch marks and scars. In Mexico they’re called love lines and I think we all need to treat our bodies with a bit more love. I don’t think anybody could read this article and think stretch marks aren’t beautiful. That being said, whenever I have felt my skin stretching I’ve found it really uncomfortable and itchy. Using moisturiser has really helped that feeling go away.
My favourite stretch mark creams
*Gifted for work, not for my blog.
I’ve been using all three of these on rotation and they’re absolutely perfect. I don’t think you have to spend a fortune on these things, but just getting into a habit of doing it can be quite a nice act of self-care, too.
This has made such a huge difference to me physically and mentally – particularly during lockdown.
Granted, it makes it a lot easier for me to get out for a walk everyday when we’ve got an energetic Labrador who needs to be walked. I was told I wouldn’t be able to do things like tie my shoelaces by now, but I do feel still quite able/flexible, which I assume must have something to do with walking.
The NHS recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day during pregnancy, but walking – particularly in the third trimester – is considered a very good way to reach that 30 minute goal.
Here’s what I did in each trimester to give you an idea. If I ever felt rubbish on certain weeks, I just didn’t do anything. In fact, one week I ate nothing but potato waffles exclusively so no judgement here.
This was at the height of lockdown so I did the Joe Wicks PE lesson 4 times per week during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. I didn’t do any of the stomach exercises but replaced these with pregnancy-safe exercises from Carly Rowena’s pregnancy workout cards.
I also walked every day for around 45 minutes – 1 hour, because there wasn’t anything else to do.
Before I knew I was pregnant I was still doing spin and HIIT classes at the gym (I even went skiing), so don’t worry too much about that. The NHS says you can keep up your usual routine but just be mindful of the type of exercises you do – skiing, unsurprisingly, is not recommended.
I stopped doing HIIT workouts after 12 weeks. I just found they were making me too tired. Some people do carry these on throughout but I think you’ve just got to listen to your body.
This is when I started doing pregnancy yoga once per week and then I just walked everyday. I probably cycled once a week for the five weeks at the beginning of the second trimester, too. Then I started to feel like it was a mass effort so I stopped.
I also did the Joe Wicks’ 15 minute pregnancy workout once or twice per week.
I can’t do much now, to be honest. I know people who have kept doing HIIT workouts until they were ready to pop but I just can’t. I get really tired and out of breath and it just doesn’t feel that worth it for me.
Instead, I’ve upped how often I’m doing pregnancy yoga to two-three times per week. As my lessons are recorded, I can go back and pick the ones I like and do them again throughout the week which has been so helpful.
I’m still walking everyday although I’m much slower than I was. It’s an effort, but I’m determined to keep it up.
I won’t be adding anything else into the mix now, but I am looking forward to postnatal workouts and cycling again without feeling like I’m going to topple over.
The things I wouldn’t do next time…
Buy maternity clothes too early/at all
I felt so bloated in my first trimester and my clothes felt tight. I decided to spend quite a lot of money on fancy maternity clothes (because all the other ones were hideous) but I’ve barely worn them. Instead, next time I would just buy bigger sizes in my usual clothes.
There are two few things I’ve worn loads and would recommend:
- H&M MAMA leggings, £17.99
- Marks & Spencer seam-free crop tops, £14 (thank you Alison for your recommendation, these are a godsend)
But that’s it. Everything else I’ve just bought in a bigger size.
So far, I think that’s the only thing to add into the “wouldn’t do” category, but I might well add to this in the final weeks.