Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Welcome to 9 months of joy, fear, excitement, anxiety, hormones, body changes and life alterations. There are many things that you will be advised to do during your pregnancy, lots of things to learn and countless decisions to make. It may feel like a lifetime before your baby is going to arrive but time flies and before you know it your 40 weeks are up and you are holding your little bundle of joy.
With so much to do, it is hard to know what should take priority. Maybe not all of these will, but here is a list of 7 things that every woman should do at least once in her pregnancy…
Treat yourself to a pregnancy massage
We all know that a massage can make you feel good at any time, so why not do it during pregnancy? There are a range of great practitioners who are qualified specifically in pregnancy massage. For most, pregnancy is an enjoyable experience, however, even during the most straight forward pregnancies it can be a stressful time when considering not just the physical changes but also the emotional challenge of becoming a parent.
There are 3 hormones released in times of stress which can have a significant impact on your pregnancy. Cortisol, adrenaline and corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and the higher the level of stress, the more of these hormones are released. It is Important however, to remember that each individual will react to stress differently and what is perceived as an overwhelming situation by one person may be easily managed by another. Some of the benefits of massage during pregnancy include, reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased ability to sleep. It also helps with common pregnancy aches and pains, reduces inflammation of the tissues which can reduce the risk of various veins and blood clots and creates a natural pain relief through the release of endorphins and serotonin. So, whether you are feeling particularly stressed out or just need a bit of TLC during your pregnancy, treat yourself to a pregnancy massage.
Enjoy some along time
You are aware that having a baby is going to change your life. You have heard the stories a million times. Sleepless nights, constant breastfeeding and changing dirty nappies 10 times a day. However, it’s not until you are home with your new baby that the reality really hits. Suddenly, you can’t even find the time to get dressed. Pregnancy is a time to take care of yourself and your baby and this includes enjoying some alone time. Read that book you have been meaning to read. Take a ridiculously long bath. Go for a walk somewhere beautiful. Paint a picture. Sleep. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing on your own, now is the time to do it.
Go on a midnight food run (or get your partner to go for you)
As a midwife I completely advocate for healthy eating in pregnancy, however, 9 months can seem like a lifetime and if you find that you can’t shake that hankering for a tub of ice cream, or a mouthful of gherkins in the early hours of the morning, this is the one time that you can take advantage and play the ‘Pregnancy Card’.
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby take some time during your pregnancy to really look into it. You will hear many stories, both good and bad, but your experience with breastfeeding will be completely unique to you. Yes, your midwife will aid you in latching your baby on after birth but to optimise your chances of breastfeeding successfully, you want to really understand the importance of positioning, attachment and how to do it effectively. It is much easier to start getting your head around this during pregnancy than when you already have a hungry baby in your arms. Look at websites such as best beginnings and global health media for great videos on positioning and attachment as well as hand expressing, this will help you understand how to latch your baby on successfully when the time comes.
Throw a tantrum
Your pregnancy hormones are rampaging around your body. You are happy one minute and have the temperament of a raging bull the next. Suddenly you can no longer stand the crunching sound of your partner eating a bag of crisps. Or the rustling sound he makes turning the pages of the newspaper. You can’t help it, you have to let it out. This is the time for you to own throwing a tantrum and get away with it. Make the most of it and enjoy it.
Find some local antenatal classes.
Antenatal classes are the ideal way to learn about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and life with a newborn. Classes are taught by trained professionals and give you the opportunity to meet other parents to-be in an optimal setting. Antenatal classes run at various times and locations to suit and can be found through hospitals and primary care trusts across the country for free, or privately in your local area. For those of you who aren’t fond of group settings many private practitioners offer one to one classes which can be tailored to suit your individual needs. There are also classes based solely around breastfeeding and refresher classes for those who already have children.
So, there you have it. 7 things to do whilst you are pregnant. Whether you do all, or none of these, what I want you to remember is that whatever happens during your pregnancy, it should be a time of joy and relaxation not one of stress and anxiety. Enjoy your ever-changing body, embrace your hormonal mood swings and relax by spending time with your partner or with family and friends. But above all, in whichever way you choose, take time for you!
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