You may have noticed that since becoming pregnant, your body seems to have become public property. Strangers reach out to grab your bump, your boss now thinks it's ok to ask personal questions, and even your mother is dishing out unwanted advice.
You may also be aware that there are a huge number of things you shouldn't be doing, and an equally impressive list of things you should be doing, now that you're pregnant. With the fatigue, the dreaded curse of pregnancy brain, and your ever-growing to do list, you may find it hard to keep track of these apparent rules of pregnancy.
To help you out, because we know only too well how debilitating pregnancy brain can be, here's a list of 10 pregnancy blunders to avoid.
Pregnancy Blunder #1: Eating For Two
It's always nice to have a socially acceptable excuse to eat that extra biscuit, but you shouldn't really be eating for two. Your mother in law might be bringing round cakes and pastries in an attempt to fatten up that gorgeous grandchild-to-be, but experts say there is no need to eat for two. In fact, you only need to increase your calorie intake during the third trimester, when you should eat an extra 200 calories each day. This equates to a banana and glass of milk, or two slices of wholemeal toast with a little butter (try coconut oil which is so much better for you). Unhealthy weight gain caused by eating for two can lead to health problems for your developing baby. Especially if you were overweight before pregnancy, you are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which may result in (sometimes unfair) restrictions on your plans for birth.
Pregnancy Blunder #2: Overdoing It
At times, you may feel like a ticking time bomb during pregnancy. You have work commitments, a nursery to paint, all your baby related shopping to do, and a hypnobirthing class to attend, and a very real deadline in sight. Pregnancy can be a stressful time, but you should be careful not to over do it. Of course you want to tie up all of your loose ends at work, have the house ready for the baby, and feel totally prepared for the birth, but none of this is more important than your health. Stress can have an effect on your baby in the womb, so try to avoid it. Of course, some stress is almost inevitable during pregnancy, but there are steps you can take to reduce the stress in your life. Take time to relax, exercise, eat healthy and set yourself realistic goals each week. You can read 10 great tips on reducing pregnancy stress here.
Pregnancy Blunder #3: Giving Up Exercise
Some women worry that exercising during pregnancy could have a negative impact on their developing baby. In fact, research has found that it is completely safe to exercise during pregnancy. Exercise can reduce stress, help you get a good night's sleep, help you to maintain a healthy weight, and allow you to stay fit and healthy in preparation for the birth. If you had an exercise routine in place before the pregnancy, you should be able to continue this throughout. There are exceptions to this rule, for example horseriding and waterskiing are considered too dangerous for pregnant women, so speak to your healthcare provider about your individual exercise plan. If you were a coach potato before you fell pregnant, now is the perfect time to get fit. While you shouldn't go from 0 to 60 during pregnancy, experts recommend that you take up light exercise, such as swimming, walking or yoga, a few times each week.
Pregnancy Blunder #4: Lying To The Midwife / Doctor
It's not a you vs them situation. If you are a smoker, rather than being ashamed and lying about it, you should be honest. Your healthcare provider will be able to offer advice and support to help you quit. All of your carer's questions are asked for a reason, and you should give honest answers to each, this will help to ensure that you and your baby both receive the best care possible. If you are taking medication for a pre-existing condition and would like to stop, make sure you discuss this with your doctor first. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise you on whether the medication is safe to take during pregnancy, and of any alternative medications that may be available to you.
Pregnancy Blunder #5: Not Wearing A Seat Belt
Some women stop wearing seat belts during pregnancy, believing that this will be safer for their developing baby in the event of a crash. In reality, the baby is safer when you are properly strapped in. The belt should sit under your bump, and between your breasts. Make sure that the belt is flat, not twisted, and that you are safely fastened in before setting off on each journey. For more information about seatbelt advice and laws, check out the VicRoads website.
Pregnancy Blunder #6: Not Having Sex
Some couples are so worried about sex during pregnancy, that they avoid it altogether. Of course, if you're experiencing a diminished libido, you may not be in the mood for sex anyway, and that's fine. Some couples, however, want to have sex very much but are simply too cautious. Rest assured, normal sex will not harm your baby. Your developing baby will not be poked, prodded or in the least bit upset by your sex life. Having sex is a great way to relieve stress, connect with your partner, and enjoy some of the benefits of feel good hormones such as the endorphins released during sex.
Pregnancy Blunder #7: Not Communicating
Most, if not all, women experience some worries during pregnancy. Whether you are concerned about the birth itself, impending parenthood, or the family finances, you are likely to waste at least some of your pregnancy worrying. Try not to worry too much, and don't let your worries escalate to stress if you can help it. Communication is key here, talk to your partner about all of your worries and concerns. Chances are, he feels the same, and will be able to offer some comforting words or practical help. If friends and family could help you out, let them know, they'll probably be happy to help you out.
Pregnancy Blunder #8: Forgetting The Ever After
Some women are so worried about the birth itself, that they forget about what comes afterwards. While it is wise to be prepared for the birth, you must also be mentally ready to be a mother. As well as painting the nursery and picking out baby clothes, you should spend some time thinking about becoming a parent. Do you know how to change nappies, or soothe a crying baby? Are you ready to welcome a baby into your home? Make sure you are ready for the birth and all that follows.
Pregnancy Blunder #9: Not Listening To Your Body
Mother nature is very clever, and she's given your body a few tricks for communicating with you. Feeling tired? You probably need to get some rest. Feeling dizzy? Sit down for a while. Unable to sleep? Try talking about your concerns and worries as a way of combatting stress. Make sure you are getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water. Listen to your body, and don't be afraid to take things easy if you feel you need to.
Pregnancy Blunder #10: Not Trusting Your Body
Childbirth is one of the great unknowns, and this sends many pregnant women into a panic. It is impossible to predict what your labour will be like, or how you'll cope, even if you've given birth before. All women, and all births, are different. Push the horror stories out of your head, and focus instead on trusting your body. Trust that your body is designed for giving birth and even if birth doesn’t go as planned, it doesn’t mean your body is broken.
You can give yourself the best chance at the best possible birth by attending independent birth education classes, hiring a doula and reading some great books (you can find our MUST read birth books list here). But don’t beat yourself up worrying about what childbirth might be like – focus on getting educated, because with information comes power and confidence. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy, and when its time, know that you will do the best you can with the resources that you have inside you.