Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Second Trimester Pregnancy Advice

I'm 26 weeks pregnant (approximately three months to go, for the vast majority of the world that doesn't count pregnancy in weeks!), which means I am nearing the end of the second trimester. I thought I would take a minute to sit down and reflect on the things that are helping me have a positive pregnancy, since I have a terrible memory and usually forget the things I don't write down!
  • Making Space in My Life for Pregnancy: This one has definitely been the hardest--and yet I think it's done the most to help me have a positive experience. I treat my pregnancy like it's a major commitment in my life. In the same way I would set aside time to work on projects for my career and attend to them with seriousness and dedication, I set aside time to "work on" my pregnancy. I set aside approximately two hours every day to nap and walk. Now that I've actually written it down (two hours!), I'm realizing what a feat that is. If you would have asked me before I was pregnant if I could carve out two hours a day to nap and exercise, I would have laughed out loud. But here I am doing it! It took me a lot to get to this place. I had to back out of two significant commitments in my life (being the editor of my neighborhood newsletter and co-authoring a neighborhood blog). On a daily basis, I have to keep myself from committing to new things. I also have to be very efficient with my time. I have to maximize my spare time, avoid wasted time at work, and multitask. But it's worth it. I feel like I have a really good balance among my job, my blogs, my e-course, my pregnancy, and my friends/family.
  • Eating Smaller Meals Throughout the Day: All my organs have been getting smooshed around and moved to different places throughout the second trimester, It helps to eat small meals throughout the day rather than fewer, larger meals. Also, I think that eating frequently throughout the day (I eat breakfast, then a smoothie, then a snack, then a small lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner) has helped me avoid heart burn and keep my blood sugar even, which means I can do a much better job at eating healthy things when it is time to eat. (If I let myself get really hungry in between meals, I'm much more likely to eat the first thing I come across, regardless of whether or not it's healthy.)
  • Exercising Frequently: Pre-baby, I used to try and jog for about 35 minutes 3-4 times a week. As soon as I conceived, jogging no longer felt comfortable (I think because I was bloated). As soon as my pregnancy was confirmed, my midwife recommended that I start walking rather than running. She said that I should walk for at least 47 or 48 minutes at a time (I can't remember the exact number she said). I'm usually able to walk for about an hour, six days a week. This time does so much to help me relieve stress, feel like I'm maintaining my endurance for labor, and keep my pregnancy weight gain within a healthy range.
  • Taking Naps: Can you tell I love naps? I think they do so much to help me release the stress of my job, prevent swelling, and make quiet time in my day for me to think about the baby and check in with my body (in those few minutes before I am completely asleep!).
  • Keep My Stress Level Down: I think one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our babies during pregnancy is to keep our stress levels down. This one is hard for me. I've had to identify which strategies work best for me (exercise, naps, deep breathing, and preventing myself from getting over-committed).
  • Sitting Instead of Standing, Laying Down Instead of Sitting: I read in some book that whenever possible, you should sit instead of stand, and lay down instead of sitting. I try to implement this strategy throughout the day. It's hard to do because my body doesn't always feel like it needs to sit down, but if I can sit down, I do.
  • Staying Hydrated: Although my doula recently told me that I drink too much water (she says that my daily intake of approximately 120 ounces will be difficult to maintain during birth and I shouldn't get my body accustomed to needing that much water to stay hydrated), I still try to drink at least 80 ounces of water a day.
  • Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Midwives have been recommending red raspberry leaf tea for a long time to help strengthen the uterus and prepare it for birth.
  • Learning as Much as I Can About How to Handle an Infant: I really believe that we can reduce some of the potential anxiety associated with becoming a new mother by learning as much as we can about newborn issues. Of course you can't learn everything from a book and a lot will depend on your baby, but there are still basic things that we can learn in advance, which can help ease our minds about the impending transition.
  • Adding to Our Registry: Figuring out what kind of products we think we'll need for our baby has been a long process. Luckily, I started early because we received the book Baby Bargains as a gift. I started an Amazon registry early on and have been adding to it for the past couple months. The process has involved lots of research and conversations with other mothers.
  • Anticipating Home Organizing Projects and Getting a Head Start: Apparently the "nesting" instinct kicks in later in the pregnancy, but I didn't want to save everything until the end. I created a schedule for myself that challenges me to focus on one room a month. I have to confess that I haven't stuck to this schedule, but at least I won't be in a major rush at the end to get everything done.
  • Avoiding Refined Sugar: My midwife recommends that I read all food packaging carefully and not consume more than 3-6 grams of refined sugar. This means I don't drink orange juice or eat flavored yogurt. I have to be super-conscious about what cereal I eat, and I have to buy unsweetened almond milk. I steer clear of all baked goods, as well as delicious treats like ice-cream. Although it's not easy to navigate through my daily life without eating refined sugar (there always seem to be cupcakes in the teachers' lounge!), I think it's helped me to have a healthier pregnancy.
  • Using Food to Fuel My Body and Our Baby's Growth: All the pregnancy books say that "eating for two" is a myth, and that you don't actually need to eat very many extra calories at all during pregnancy (only about 300 a day). Instead, we should look at "eating for two" as a reminder that what we put in our bodies is being used to nourish our babies, and we should eat accordingly. I'm not suggesting that pregnant women need to take this to the extreme and develop severe guilt complexes if they put something unhealthy in their mouths, but we should be mindful about what we're eating, why we're eating it, and the potential benefits/drawbacks of our choices.
  • Continuing to Take Prenatal Vitamins Religiously: These vitamins can help ensure that our bodies are getting everything our babies need.
  • Sign Up for Prenatal Yoga: I love my weekly prenatal yoga class! It helps me learn strategies for focusing, centering myself, and relaxing. It also keeps my body more flexible, comfortable, and strong. Finally, it has helped me build a support network of other pregnant people.
  • Anticipate the Challenges and Planning Support Accordingly: Life with a newborn brings a whole host of challenges. I personally believe that the more we can anticipate and prepare for these challenges, the better off we'll be. For example, I imagine that I will need to heal and rest the first two weeks after the birth, so I have asked my mom and then Matt's mom to come and take care of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and dog duties, while we are learning to take care of the baby.
  • Taking Full Advantage of My Freedom While I Still Have It: I'm trying my best to savor each stage of my life! I try not to take my freedom for granted. I will never be this free again. Even when our child leaves home, I will always carry concern for him and his well-being. Right now, Matt and I are free to use our time however we please. It's a luxury!
  • Remember that We Can Control the Inputs, not the Outputs: All of these strategies are focused on creating the best outcomes possible for our baby and our family, but we have to remember that we can't control what happens. Pregnancy, birth, parenting, and life--in general--are unpredictable and do not bend to our will. We can do our best to nurture positive outcomes, but we can't ensure them.

That's all I can think of for now! I will continue to add to this list as I think of more stuff. In the meantime, please add your own thoughts in the comments!

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Britt said...

26 weeks = 6.5 months! Maybe you meant to say 3 months to go? :)

I'm not pregnant but I love reading about all the things you've discovered. I'm bookmarking for the future!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sara,

Just curious about whether you eat fruit on a daily basis? You've mentioned here (and in previous posts) that your midwife suggests reducing your sugar intake. I understand that fruit isn't "refined" sugar, but it does contain a lot of sugar depending on the fruit. Does fruit factor into this at all, or do you still regularly eat fruit?

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Britt: Thank you for catching that mistake! I've updated it...

@ Anonymous: Yes, I still eat fruit approximately four times a day for the vitamins and the fiber. My midwife advises me to watch my consumption of super-sugary fruit (like grapes and pineapple) and she doesn't want me eating dried fruit at all. I also don't drink any fruit juices. Let me know if you have more questions!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sara!

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