How do you decide which pregnancy tips to follow when there’s so much advice out there?
There seems to be so much to do when you’re a pregnant woman.
Eat well, sleep well, exercise, book appointments, research birth options, read baby sleep books … the list is never-ending.
On top of that, every person you know (and plenty you don’t) has a vital piece of information about what you must and mustn’t do when you’re pregnant.
Pregnancy tips – 9 pregnancy tips for women
How do you know which things need to be a priority?
Is it knowing about the latest baby gear or reading through baby sleep books?
Getting everything done before baby arrives can feel like an impossible task.
To help you feel really prepared for parenthood, here are BellyBelly’s top 9 pregnancy tips.
#1: Maternity care matters
Of all the tips you get to help you have a healthy pregnancy, this one can’t be stressed enough.
The maternity care provider and the setting you choose have a huge impact on the birth.
When you are all of 6 weeks pregnant, it’s hard to believe that the health care professional needs to be booked already.
Too many pregnant women get to the end of their pregnancy and wish they’d taken more time to choose their maternity care.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Do some research into your local options and find out what’s available.
Then match these options with your ideal birth scenario.
Your choice of maternity care provider will affect how you feel about your pregnant body, how you prepare for birth, and how your birth will unfold.
This is especially important if you’re giving birth for the first time.
Not all providers will take the time to learn about your preferences, encourage you in all the areas of your pregnancy, and prepare you for parenthood.
We face epidemic levels of c-section births, birth interventions, and traumatic birth experiences.
Although every birth unfolds in its own way, it turns out provider choice has a massive impact on birth outcomes.
How do you choose a maternity care provider and birth location?
These articles might help:
Private Practice, Hospital Clinic, Birth Center, Or Home? Choosing Where To Give Birth In The US
Who Cares In The US? Choosing A Maternity Care Provider
Who Cares? Maternity Care Options For Australian Women
Birth Options In Australia: Public, Private, Birth Centre, or Home?
#2: Learn about optimal nutrition for a healthy pregnancy
Everyone likes to tell pregnant women what they shouldn’t eat to maintain a healthy weight.
But few bother to tell you the importance of pregnancy nutrition and what you should eat as part of a healthy diet.
Even if the mother’s diet isn’t ideal, she can still give birth to a healthy baby. If you live in a developed country and have a well-rounded diet, your body will have nutrition stores.
This is particularly helpful during the first trimester when many mothers deal with morning sickness.
Later into your pregnancy, however, if you aren’t consuming adequate nutrients, your baby will soon use up your stores.
This can make you feel unwell and even lead to problems, such as anemia. In some cases, even your unborn child might be affected by poor nutrition.
What do you need to know about healthy eating and healthy foods in pregnancy?
A diet high in processed sugars and processed carbohydrates can increase the risk of not having a healthy body weight, developing gestational diabetes, and might even affect your baby’s future health.
Including adequate protein, iron, healthy fats, and folate or folic acid is very important during pregnancy. Adequate iron reduces the risk of anemia for you and your baby.
Your health care provider will screen for anemia midway through the pregnancy, as stores tend to drop by then.
A well-rounded diet is an important aspect of increasing your chances of a healthier pregnancy, birth, and recovery period.
Try to develop healthy habits. Be sure to limit your caffeine consumption and keep away from certain foods you know will make you gain weight, if this applies to you.
Always check with the pharmacist or your health care professional before taking any over-the-counter medications and supplements.
To learn more, be sure to read Pregnancy Nutrition – The Most Important Things You Need To Know and 5 Yummy, Healthy Foods Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Eat.
#3: Practise self-care
You can find plenty of pregnancy tips that recommend you take a relaxing spa trip, eat healthy foods, avoid excessive weight gain, don’t drink alcohol, have prenatal massages, avoid soft cheeses, and get plenty of extra rest during pregnancy.
They are all wonderful suggestions and can be a part of practicing self-care. Self-care helps you build resilience so you can cope with the demands of pregnancy and motherhood.
Real self-care also involves proper nutrition, listening to your body, resting as needed, and taking moderate exercise, as needed. It’s about making choices for a future you can appreciate.
Learning now how important it is to prioritize your own well-being is a great way to reduce pregnancy complications and to prepare to practice self-care when your baby arrives.
Certainly, we all need to meet our babies’ needs. To do that, however, we also need to meet our own needs. That’s the reason we’re always told to put our oxygen masks on before helping others, in the event of an inflight emergency.
Resilience isn’t found by continually pushing yourself beyond exhaustion. Resilience is found in meeting your needs and not ending up with postnatal depletion.
For more pregnancy health tips about self-care, be sure to read 6 Small Acts Of Self-Care To Avoid Self Destruction and What Is The Secret To Resilient Mamas?
#4: Hire a birth and postnatal doula
In past generations, as young girls grew up they saw their female relatives giving birth with support from other experienced women.
In today’s culture, very few of us have access to an experienced birth support person who can pass on pregnancy health tips, or someone who is knowledgeable about normal physiological birth.
Trying to navigate the maternity system, with all its policies and rules, is daunting, especially when you’re in labor.
This is the time when hiring a birth doula can be the best pregnancy tip you’ll get.
A doula can provide education, physical and emotional support, and even practical help. They don’t provide medical advice.
Basically, a birth doula is an amazing Sherpa who knows the land of birth very well.
She can’t take the journey for you, but she can help you find a positive experience along the way, regardless of how your birth unfolds.
You can read 5 Things To Know Before Hiring A Doula to learn more about doulas.
In the past, women were sent to bed after giving birth. This also happens in some traditional cultures today.
It was known as a ‘babymoon’. For a full month, a new mother would rest, and bond with her baby.
Other female relatives would help care for the home, provide meals, and help with any other children.
Today, soon after giving birth, many of us are obliged to play host to multitudes of visitors. We also have to deal with other children and the responsibilities of domestic life.
A postnatal doula is a way to bring the babymoon into your life. She can help with breastfeeding education and support.
She can help you adjust to life with a new baby and figure out how to get adequate sleep. She’ll help you make informed parenting decisions. Basically, she offers an extra set of hands and her immense knowledge, to ease the transition from pregnancy to parenthood.
Read Postnatal Doulas – 8 Reasons Why You Should Hire One for more information about postnatal support.
#5: Take an independent birth education class
There are many options when you are considering childbirth classes. Most pregnant women opt to take the class offered by their hospital because they’re not aware of other alternatives.
Hospital based classes, however, are less likely to encourage informed decision making, offer non-medicinal comfort techniques, and cover parenting topics.
A Western Sydney University study found women who took an independent childbirth class experienced a 65% lower epidural rate and a 44% lower c-section rate compared with women who hadn’t taken an independent class.
Comprehensive childbirth classes will often cover tips for pregnancy and birth. They will provide information about breastfeeding, nutrition and exercise, hormones, baby wearing, infant sleep, coping with parenthood, and more.
Being fully educated about normal birth helps you to achieve one. Birth education also prepares you to make informed decisions if things change.
Early parenting topics and breastfeeding knowledge give you confidence to enter parenthood, and to know when to reach out for support.
Be sure to read 9 Ways Independent Birth Classes Can Help You Get Better Results to learn more about the importance of independent education.
#6: Make exercise a part of your daily routine
Pregnant women are often tired, nauseous, aching, big-bellied, or a combination of all four.
This can make exercise quite difficult. Although exercise isn’t a guarantee of a healthy pregnancy, birth, or recovery period, there is plenty of evidence to show it has many benefits during pregnancy.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing gestational diabetes. It can promote a healthy weight gain during pregnancy and help you have an easier postnatal recovery.
Even if you can’t hit the gym with loads of energy, try taking a walk, or swimming. Even the simple practice of using the stairs instead of the elevator can help.
Exercise can have a positive impact on birth, too. Research suggests women who exercise during pregnancy can have shorter labors and an easier recovery following birth.
You can read Exercise And Pregnancy – Can I Exercise In Pregnancy? for more pregnancy tips.
#7: Get adequate vitamin D
Although vitamin D can be consumed via supplements and fortified products, our bodies naturally absorb this vitamin from sun exposure.
Not all providers check vitamin D levels, but some maternity care providers will routinely screen a pregnant woman for vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for pregnant women and low levels have been linked to poor immune system function and even to an increased risk of depression.
Vitamin D also helps protect your growing baby’s bones. If your levels are low it is recommended you take it as a prenatal vitamin.
Vitamin D as a prenatal vitamin can help you to get pregnant. If you have decreased fertility and you are trying to conceive, make sure you seek preconception counseling from a fertility specialist.
For more pregnancy tips be sure to read Vitamin D During Pregnancy – 5 FAQs Answered.
#8: Plan ahead for the postnatal period
For more than nine months you will be growing a new human being that you must give birth to.
After spending all that energy making and birthing your baby, you now have to care for this completely dependent little being twenty-four hours a day.
And that includes nourishing the baby from your body.
You also have to keep up with the housework, consider getting ready to go back to work, get back to exercising and manage all your postnatal hormone shifts.
As it turns out, our modern westernized culture has very unrealistic and unhealthy postnatal norms. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 US mothers return to work or school less than two weeks after giving birth.
It’s not surprising we also have epidemic levels of postnatal depression and anxiety. As many as 10-20% of women suffer these conditions, and there are possibly more who aren’t diagnosed.
The unhealthy demands on women to get back to ‘normal’ life as soon as they give birth leaves many new mamas burned out and overwhelmed before they even reach their six-week postnatal exam.
As a pregnant mama, what can you do?
A good start is to plan your postnatal period.
Think about what support and resources you have available
Consider saving money to hire help or extend your time off work
Plan ahead with frozen meals
Ask for help with school runs, if you have other children
Set up a nesting spot (complete with diapers, wipes, onesies, a snack for mama, extra blankets, etc.) by your bed or in the living area you like to relax in.
Be sure to read 4 Reasons Why You Should Hibernate After Birth and Why You Should Have A Post-Natal Month After The Birth to learn more.
#9: Prepare for breastfeeding
A 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey showed 90% of mothers initiated breastfeeding after birth. However, at 5 months, only 15.4% of babies were exclusively breastfed.
The difference between the number of women who want to breastfeed compared with those who maintain it beyond 3-5 months is quite drastic.
Breastfeeding can have its challenges. For many women who don’t meet their personal breastfeeding goals, lack of support and poor information are often among the reasons.
Many comprehensive childbirth classes provide basic breastfeeding information. Some IBCLC lactation consultant practices offer prenatal education.
You can also find plenty of evidence-based breastfeeding information written by BellyBelly’s IBCLC lactation consultant.