Having recently entered the amazing (and at times exhausting) world of parenthood, I find that I have a new appreciation for time. Even though the joys of being a first time parent are worth every diaper blow out and midnight feed, the constant demands of a new baby complete with active days and sleep deprived nights can make you wonder what you did with all your time before... it’s crazy how fast your perspective can change. With an energetic almost six month old, a 4-hour stretch of sleep now feels refreshing and even 15-minutes of personal time to pray, meditate, or do a few yoga poses feels like a day at the spa!
Aside from questions around how I make the momtrepreneur thing work (more on that later), as a new Mom, there are 2 additional questions I get over and over again from mama’s and non-mama’s alike: How was the pregnancy? and How was the labour?
When I share that the labour was tough and even harder than I anticipated, people nod with compassion. Everyone knows that it's called labour for a reason and involves hard physical work. Yet when I tell people that my pregnancy was awesome, people look at me like I’m from another planet. So when a close friend shared her exciting news with me and asked for pregnancy tips, I was inspired to write about what I felt helped contribute to a smooth and enjoyable 9-month ride. By sharing some of my personal insights below, hopefully I can provide some value to her and other pregnant ladies looking for a bit of guidance. So in no particular order, here were my 10 pregnancy musts:
1. Walking: Get outside and walk daily
My goal was to walk at least 2.5 miles or 4 kilometres a day. It felt so good to be out in nature while moving my body. On really cold days, I would opt for the treadmill and on days when I didn't want to do it, I would settle for even a 5-minute walk. I did this right up until my little one arrived. Yes it turns in to a bit of a waddle in the end. Just go with it.
2. Meal Prep: Freeze as many meals as you can
The thing that I felt most proud of during my second trimester, was the amount of frozen meals I prepared. Somewhere around week 20, I started cooking an extra meal or 2 each week until I couldn't fit anymore in our freezer. I figured I would want enough prepared meals to get us through at least the first 6-8 weeks post-baby. Since I knew that it was impossible to predict exactly what those initial weeks would look like, this small investment yielded a big return: peace of mind knowing that our kitchen was prepped in advance along with healthy meals for everyone to enjoy after our little one arrived. I didn't need to think about groceries, cooking or meal planning while I was adjusting to motherhood and the whole momtrepreneur thing. By the way, if I could go back in time, I would have prepared double! When the food ran out, we resorted to take-out until our schedules adjusted to our new routine.
3. Meditation, Prayer, & Visualization: Be still
Since I've always been a believer in the enormous power of meditation, prayer, and visualization, it only made sense for me to kick it up a notch in this area while I prepared for a new chapter in my life. Aside from my regular prayer time, I googled pre-natal guided meditations and did my best to do one every day, even if it was only 5 minutes. Although I could have done more in this area (couldn't we all?) I still did enough to have me going into labour feeling centered, peaceful, grounded, and ready... mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
4. Water: Consume 3-4 litres daily
I won't go into the endless benefits of drinking water because a quick internet search can help you with that. I've learned that the simplest things in life are often the most important... yet when something is so simple, it's easy to forget. I was diligent with my water intake throughout my pregnancy and really feel that it was one of the reasons I could ward off dizzy spells. I made sure I always had a water bottle with me and aimed for my first 2 litres before noon each day. This one gets tougher as you get closer and closer to your due date.
5. Stretching & Yoga: Think movement
I found some pre-natal yoga classes in our neighbourhood that were truly amazing. There is something about being in a room with a bunch of other pregnant ladies at multiple stages of their pregnancy all coming together to practice a little self-care and self-love. If you can't get out to a yoga class, a quick evening stretch routine can also work wonders.
6. Sleeeeeeep: Really listen to your body
Listen to your body and sleep when it wants to. I never felt more gratitude for owning my own business then I did when I was pregnant. I loved that I could listen to my body and rest when needed. I think this was the number one reason that my pregnancy was smooth (no cravings, mood swings, or morning sickness). I realize that not everyone has the freedom to schedule naps between meetings and calls etc. For my 9-5 working mama's: figure out a plan that allows you to get some much needed down time.
7. Talk, Talk, Talk: Yes he or she is listening
My husband and I started reading to our little one when he was still in the womb. In addition to reading, I found myself speaking out loud to our son daily; I would talk about our day, how much he was already loved, and how excited we were for his arrival. I continued this after he was born and really feel that all that talking deepened our relationship and continues to contribute to his pleasant and engaged demeanour.
8. Supplement: Only the good stuff
I learned long before I was pregnant that many of the pregnancy woes people talk about were not normal (just common) and often the result of nutritional deficiencies. Throughout the years I had helped many pregnant ladies have stress-free and craving-free pregnancies. Now it was my turn. Having a good supplement protocol that I followed every morning and every night helped me build a strong foundation for a healthy pregnancy. I included a great multi, fish oils, vitamin D3, probiotics, and magnesium… I also took greens and fiber in a green smoothie almost every day. Make sure you clear everything with your doctor before starting any supplement protocol.
9. Nutrition: Snacks and then some...
I believe that nutrition is so much more than food. Who can deny the psychological components of food, hunger, hormones, and appetite, etc. This is an area that I choose not to focus on directly. Instead, by listening to my body and giving it what it needed when it needed it, my nutrition took care of itself and I ate pretty well. My personal experience tells me that if I don't listen to what my body needs, it starts wanting things that aren't good for it. In my case, by following everything else on my list, this one became the easiest. Even so, I was careful to have water and healthy snacks with me at all times.
10. Exercise: Less is often more
I have always talked about the importance of exercise and strength training so I knew that I needed to make it an important part of my 9 month journey yet I gave myself permission to take as much time as I wanted or needed to recover and rest. I also didn't force any strength training workouts. This meant that some days I was squatting and doing dead lifts and other days I would only do 1 set of push-ups, and others days (many days) I was not in the gym. I adopted the wise and well-known advice that less is more.
Disclaimer: Although this post is for any pregnant mama, I’ve written it from the perspective of a first-time Mom. I recognize that my guidelines might be a tall order for a second, third, or even fourth time mama with little one’s running around. Even so, I challenge you to listen to your body and find a way to show yourself lots of love throughout your pregnancy. Also know that you could do everything I listed above during your pregnancy and have an entirely different experience than I did. Every pregnancy (and every woman) is different… explaining that would be far beyond the scope of this post. The important take away? Figure out your 5-10 "musts" that work for you. Lastly, this is not medical advice. Please check with your doctor for advice that is specifically for you.
Helen Marie Fox is a coach who has helped hundreds of individuals and groups perform at their best. Her strategic approach to goal achievement leaves people armed with the knowledge, skills and essential mindset required to create change. Read more.