Becoming a mom for the first time? Overwhelmed? Confused? Worried? Feeling sick and tired already? Welcome to the mamas club! Whether you want it or not you officially became a mother with the moment you saw those two red lines on your pregnancy test. After all, your whole world is about to turn upside down!
However, it doesn’t have to be all so scary if you know what to expect. In this article I will give some useful pregnancy tips for first time moms on how to grow a healthy baby but without forgetting the need to lead your life in as normal way as possible.
Even if you find yourself sick of the whole 9-month drama, you will soon realise this baby is one of the best things that ever happened in your life:)
First things first: your diet
I know you must be fed up with all the information you hear and read everywhere about how anything you eat affects your baby. And although most of it is true, let’s not go mad about things.
Obviously alcohol and cigarettes are an absolute no-no, but caffeine is fine as long as you don’t overdo it (one cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine). Raw sushi is on the forbidden list due to potential bacteria but you can have sushi with any cooked fish rolled inside.
Fish such as salmon is recommended as it has a lot of omega 3 necessary for your baby’s brain development but you can’t be possibly eating this more than twice a week unless you have a lot of money to spend! (If you don’t know, salmon is not cheap at all). Plus, eating too much of a fish is also not the healthiest option as it contains traces of mercury.
So if you have a craving for a burger now and then (I know I had) then go for it! Just be careful not to become a loyal customer of McDonalds any time soon. Too much Ice cream can make you fat but it also contains calcium which helps to develop your baby’s strong bones and if you add some strawberries into them, then they become (almost) healthy. Well, at least that’s what I kept repeating myself every time I was reaching to my freezer (roughly every second day- but didn’t feel guilty at all).
So, the guidelines are basically the same as on a normal, healthy balanced diet. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, and don’t forget about proteins and diary. More on good foods during pregnancy in here.
Be on the move
Sorry ladies, for those who hate working out: it’s been proved that regular exercise help you get through pregnancy, reduce the time of labor and get to your old shape after giving birth much quicker than if you just sit on your couch watching Netflix. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should be on the move!
You don’t have to be a sports woman and exercise every day to keep it healthy. With our busy lives it’s sometimes hard to schedule an hour for a training.
The most important thing during your pregnancy is just to keep moving for roughly 30 min a day and, honestly, everything counts- a walk (even if you get off one bus stop earlier and walk 10-15min to your house), dancing (must look graceful especially in 3rd trimester) and hoovering (although your partner should be doing that).
Also, if you have a desk job, you don’t want to be sitting for a couple of hours without stretching your legs, so make sure you walk around every hour or so (it will also prevent swelling legs).
I personally tried to exercise twice a week for about 45 min, using videos from YouTube where you can find plenty of short trainings specifically designed for pregnant women, from core and cardio workouts to Pilates and yoga. I must say it helped me with the fatigue, if I didn’t do them now and then I’d be taking 2-hour ‘naps’ all the time (but then again, don’t feel guilty if that’s your thing- spoiler alert- after all, these are the last months you get to sleep peacefully).
Also, listen to your body while doing any kind of work out as for some pregnant women 30 min is already too much. And remember, it’s very important to stay hydrated while exercising.
Make sure you avoid any sports that are considered dangerous in terms of falling- skiing, skating, excessive jumping or horse-riding; also restrain from doing excercises on your back when you begin your second trimester.
Above all, don’t forget about those Kegel exercise everyone is talking about (pelvic floor excercises). It will not only ease up your labour but also spice up your sexual life (if you still have any).
Vitamins are important
Prenatal vitamins should become your best friend for these 9 months as some vitamins from food are hard to get even from a well-balanced diet.
As you probably heard folic acid is one of them; it’s essential to take 400 micro-grams of folic acid tablets daily, until at least 12 weeks of your pregnancy. Because during that time your baby’s spine is developing, taking this supplement will help to prevent birth defects.
Doctors don’t really seem to know much about supplements, (did you know they are trained on the importance of nutrition and vitamin supplementation for only about 20 hours during their 4-year medical course?! ) so I did my own research and here’s what I concluded:
1.Vitamin D is essential not only during pregnancy but in general. In countries where people don’t get enough sun exposure, such as UK, it is particularly important to get higher doses of that vitamin. It’s responsible for the absorption of calcium and promotes bone growth of the baby. Additionally, it helps to improve your mood, the same way sun makes you feel more happy (though nothing can replace an actual sunshine).
Most prenatal vitamins contain only small portion of vit D, however the correct dosage is very individual. In fact, people should get tested first on the level of vit D deficiency and then look for an accurate pill suiting their needs. (I was taking separate pill of 2,000 IU plus the amount from a prenatal multivitamin so about 2,800 IU of vit D daily).
2. Vitamin C should also become on your list of daily intakes, however I would not overdo it as it’s easy to find it in fruits that we consume every day. What I started to do during pregnancy (and continued after) is drinking a glass of warm water mixed with squeezed half lemon, every single morning before breakfast. It takes away all the generated acids from your body and makes your immune system stronger.
Personally, I haven’t been sick even once since I got into habit of having that lemon water on a daily basis and it replaced other vit C supplements.
3. Iron– take it after you reach 20 weeks of your pregnancy; naturally our iron levels tend to drop as the baby grows inside of us. It can also help reduce the painful leg cramps that you get during the night (but nothing guaranteed, sorry).
4. Calcium– although you can find it in things you eat every day, such as milk, cheese, eggs and yogurt, pregnant women have much higher need of calcium:1,200 to 1,400 milligrams a day; from your diet you can get roughly half of that a day so you need that extra pill to get you going. Calcium, as mentioned earlier, helps your baby to grow strong bones, teeth, but also a heart, nerves and muscles.
5. Omega 3- DHA– it’s important as it’s supporting your babies’ normal brain and eye development.
Mind you, there’s no need for you to take all these tablets separately. They are available as prenatal vitamins in a single box; you can get them on Amazon (cheaper than on the high street).
Don’t look at the weight
To be more specific: look but not too often (otherwise you go crazy, trust me). The thing is, you should not put more than 16 kg during your pregnancy, unless you were underweight or overweight before.
You will start gaining the most in your second trimester, after 20 weeks. Your extra weight comes from your baby, the placenta and amniotic fluid but in a big part from changes in your body that occur during the pregnancy such as blood volume increase, some extra fluids, bigger breasts as well as your growing uterus and stored fat.
Now this may seem like a natural thing every woman goes through while growing a baby- yes. But you will only realise how much 14-16 kg is when you actually start gaining it! Nothing fits from your old clothes, you feel unattractive and simply fat (even though everyone tells you otherwise).
The trick here is not only to invest in a pair of good maternity trousers but also stop obsessing if you have gained quarter of pound every second day. It is recommended that from second trimester you should be gaining 0.5 kg weekly. But this doesn’t mean if you gain 0.8 or 0.4 kg one of the weeks there’s something wrong with you. Remember each pregnancy is different, and we cannot generalise every single woman out there.
So hop on that weight, most preferably in the mornings but limit yourself to once a week (I know it’s tempting to do it more often). And if you find yourself gaining more than 1 kg every week, well then it’s no reason to panic; just slow down with that cookies or fries that you crave so much!
Balance it out
All in all, from my own experience I can tell how difficult it is to follow all the guidelines out there, especially when so many are contradictory! Your mum tells you one thing, your friends who had babies another and then you read something in the book published in 2010 that does not seem right comparing to the information you just found online.
I would say, listen to your midwife of course, but also to your gut and do your own research before you start freaking out about anything. I listened to different advice of people who I considered wiser than me but rejected anything I heard or read from an uncertain source. After all, it is your pregnancy and your baby, and you know what’s best for the both of you.
Can you share any valuable tips for the first-time mums?
Let me know in the comments!
Take care now,