From speaking with other mamas, it seems that pregnancy is a polarizing, love it or hate it experience. For me, it was love all the way.
Being pregnant made me feel like a comic book heroine; the Incredible Life-Growing Super Woman! Sure, there were bizarro food cravings (wonton soup was my first trimester must-have and by third trimester I couldn’t go a day without chocolate almond milk), acne that surpassed anything I experienced in adolescence, and nights I spent more time peeing than sleeping, but I savored every moment of it.
I was fascinated with the changes in my body (women are seriously incredible creatures) and I cherished the intimate time I had to get to know my baby in utero, when I was the only one privy to his nonstop kicks and idiosyncrasies, such as his tendency to get the hiccups every time I drank something hot. Pregnancy was a magical calm before the blissfully chaotic storm of new parenthood.
Admittedly, my love of pregnancy is due in no small part to the fact that I was fortunate to have a relatively easy time of it. I responded to the question of how I was feeling with “can’t complain,” so many times that it became my unofficial mantra. Outside of some first trimester exhaustion and typical late-pregnancy aches and pains, I felt good and stayed active until the very end; in fact, I walked three miles the day before I went into labor (see picture below) just running around San Francisco to get my hair cut, visit the doctor, and meet my hubby at the movies. In case you’re wondering, we saw Pitch Perfect 2 – and it was the last movie we’ve seen and likely will see in theaters for some time.
There are a million things you can try to make pregnancy easier – and I tried most of them – but here are the things that I can say actually made my pregnancy oh so much more enjoyable. Hopefully they’ll be helpful to you!
Check out my 5 pregnancy wellness essentials below…
1. Camellia Oil
I was underwhelmed with the pregnancy standby of cocoa butter. It just sat on the surface of the my skin; camellia oil, however, absorbed into my skin, giving it added hydration, elasticity, and promoting collagen production – key in helping stave off stretch marks. I slathered Elemis Japanese Camellia Oil Blend all over my torso every morning and night while pregnant, and I continued to use it regularly the fist month postpartum. Plus, I read that Posh Spice swore by it during her pregnancies, and if it’s good enough for Mrs. Beckham, it’s certainly good enough for me.
2. Prenatal Yoga
Nothing alleviated my back pain and contributed to my overall wellness like prenatal yoga. The stretches are great for pregnancy aches and pains, the movements is good exercise, and if you find a birth-focused class, you’ll gain invaluable tools for labor. Britt Forman’s prenatal yoga class at The Mindful Body in San Francisco doubled as a birth prep class for me, and I drew on all the birthing techniques she taught us in class during my 26-hour natural labor. While prenatal yoga is great any time during pregnancy, I found it was most potent from mid-late second trimester on, when my belly was big enough for me to appreciate the pregnancy modifications and labor tips.
3. Suzanne Bowen’s Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout
I was very fit going into pregnancy, and it was important to me for both my mental and physical wellbeing that I stay active throughout. I attended a more challenging fitness class, like spinning, ballet barre, or Burn SF (which is exceptionally good with providing pregnancy-friendly modifications) on the weekend, but I didn’t have the energy to head back out to the gym after getting home from the office on weekdays. When I didn’t workout during the week at all, however, I found that I was actually more tired and achy than if I pushed myself to get a little movement in – so, I began experimenting with home workout DVDs. I tried half a dozen prenatal workout DVDs and Suzanne Bowen’s Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout was the only one that actually made me sweat. It’s challenging in all the right ways while being mindful of pregnancy no-no movements and providing modifications for when you want to step up or down the intensity. Best of all, each segment is only 20 minutes long, so I was able to easily squeeze in a quick and energizing workout session before heading to work in the morning.
4. Healthy Nut Snack Bars
Full of protein and brain-boosting omega 3s baby need and only 200 healthy and delicious calories, I turned to KIND bars and Clif Organic Trail Mix Bars to satisfy hunger cravings. In the first trimester, the high protein content was great for staving off nausea (and I never left home without one in my purse just in case pregnancy “hanger” or nausea hit unexpectedly) and later in pregnancy they were a nutritious snack I could chow down on to get the extra calories baby needed. Chris and I even brought a couple to the hospital with us to keep our energy up during labor.
5. Prenatal Massage, Acupuncture, & Chiropractic Work
Normally, spending money on multiple wellness treatments feels indulgent, but during pregnancy I splurged. I began regular acupuncture sessions before I conceived, and I continued with occasional visits throughout my pregnancy. Acupuncture not only tapped into important bodily functions, it also provide a restorative meditation period. Prenatal chiropractic work was a back-saver from the second-trimester on, and weekly prenatal massage kept me loose and relaxed. If you have a generous friend or family member who wants to know what they can gift you, suggest they buy or contribute to a multi-visit package, which are usually much cheaper than buying individually and will allow you to get the multiple wellness treatments needed for great results. My mom treated me to a gift certificate for 10 prenatal massages at the Mindful Body, and having the expense already taken care of took the hassle out of getting a massage.
Have something to add? Please share your pregnancy wellness tips in the comments!