Congrats! You're preggers. You're growing another being, and all your energy is going towards harvesting another person's vital organs, eyelashes and fingernails. How bizzare, right?!
Pregnancy is not a one size fits all experience. Some women wear pregnancy like a glove, glow the whole 40 weeks and have a three hour labour. Others might have horrible morning sickness, suffer daily back pain and have a 20+ hour labour. We cannot pigeon hole what experiences may or may not come your way.
Having said that, there are some things I feel we can touch on because a fair few us have had to deal with pregnancy cravings.
My OB is renowned in Melbourne and an absolute legend. I can't recommend him highly enough, and just quietly, I'm totally devo that we don't live in Melbourne anymore because we always said we wanted him to deliver all of our kids! You can listen to this 2 minute snippet with Dr Jo and Rebecca Judd on the MamaMia Podcast where he shares one of his incredibly sweet birthing rituals. (It brought me to tears listening to it because we did it for my daughter's birth and I had a beautiful flashback).
Around my 33+ week I remember having a chat with Dr Jo and he explained that we only need about 200 extra calories a day toward the end of the pregnancy. 200! That's about 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, NOT a pint size container of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
But I get it. We're pregnant, uncomfortable and can have an insatiable appetite, especially if you are on steroids like I was (the worse side effect EVER)! We feel like it's our time to celebrate and indulge (it is), but we also want make educated decisions that will be good for us and for our bub.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I've implemented during my pregnancies:
1. Listen to your body
I've always been an intuitive eater, and I think it's good to be honest and forthcoming with what your body is trying to tell you. If you're pregnant and want to lick dirty potatoes, you're body is probably needing some essential vitamins and minerals! I'm not a huge red meat consumer, but I craved it fiercely with my first pregnancy. Turns out I was in the single digits for my iron levels = I was severely iron deficient (like really, really bad).
2. Make healthy swaps
Here are a few healthy swaps worth trying :: If you're craving this, try ________________ .
Snickers bar vs. RAW SNICKERS
Store bought, or boxed brownie mix vs. AVOCADO BROWNIES
Chocolate mouse vs. OVERNIGHT CHOCOLATE CHIA SEED PUDDING
Grab and go store bought granola bar vs. SWEET AND SALTY TRAIL MIX BARS
Greasy burger out vs. homemade SALMON BURGERS WITH SLAW
A mountain of cafe pancakes vs. HOMEMADE PANCAKES FOR 1
3. Be flexible
If you deny yourself time and time again without giving yourself a solid WHY.... you'll most likely binge and end up feeling really guilty. If I really want something, and can't stop thinking about it for a few days, I'll ask my husband to get it for me and throughly enjoy it. Leanne Ward, the Fitness Dietitian, shared a wonderful blog post about how to prevent binge eating and combat sugar cravings... have a read!
4. Make it from scratch
"Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you make it from scratch." This is Michale Pollan's #45th rule from his book, Food Rules. I love this rule so much! Eat whatever junk you want as long as you make it.... it's so completely and utterly brilliant. Why? Because if you have to make an apple pie from scratch, you'll either,
A. Rethink making it all together (most likely).
B. Spend an hour plus making and baking it and really appreciate it bite by bite.
C. You'll most likely have consumed a healthier version compared to a store bought apple pie.
HOT TIP: Speaking of sweets! If you're looking to really indulge, I highly recommend these two desserts. This vegan chocolate pie is healthy, and these peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake bars, not so much healthy- but bloody delish.
I eat five times a day without fail. This means I always have morning tea and afternoon snack, at least! I'm an intuitive eater and eat when my body us hungry- plain and simple.
Here are a few of my favourite snacks which have a nice blend of sweet and savory:
- Organic apple with crunchy peanut butter
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Shared mini cheese board (pregnancy safe), with dried fruit (ex: apricots, prunes, pineapple), fresh fruit (ex: apple, mandarin, crispy pear), walnuts, and pickles. This makes a great dessert or netflix platter in our house.
- Cookie Dough Energy Bites (family FAV)
- Lemon Coconut chia energy balls
- Pumpkin bread
- This healthy banana bread
Hope that helped guys.
Wishing you all the best on your pregnancy journey!
I decided to make a little list of things that I do, or have tried, (or think are worth trying), in the event that there are other Mamas out there feeling the same way.
Don't be too hard on yourself
Mum guilt is a thing. Don't berate yourself too much. Each pregnancy is unique in the same way that each and every child is unique. Whether this is your first pregnancy, or your fifth, we can't expect to feel the same way, have our bodies morph into the same shape, crave the same foods, etc. Sometimes these things take time, other times you might feel an inexplicable bond the moment you see the little blue lines on the pregnancy stick.
For me personally, getting pregnant with my daughter was a HUGE milestone; watching our 7 week video of our ultrasound and getting confirmation that the baby was alive makes me cry to this day. THIS pregnancy was less stressful in some ways and more stressful in others. I felt the same overwhelming excitement at the 7 and 12 week scans, but as I talked about in this post, I was in a rough headspace the first few months.
I was also relieved when I had my morphology scan and found out about about my very low placenta. Because my placenta was so low, the baby was punching and kicking my placenta instead of my belly wall. When the baby got bigger and stronger I'd be able to feel it move, and boy oh boy this kid is ACTIVE!
I used to teach meditation when I lived in Melbourne, and I found that I preferred to teach it rather than practice it! Meditation is something that I struggle with, and that's not easy to confess as a yoga instructor!
I think the best type of meditation practice is on your own, in silence. But if you need, or prefer, guidance I've tried Headspace and YogaGlo. According to Women's Health Magazine, these were the six best mediation apps of 2018.
Do prenatal yoga
This is a great way to slow down, connect to your breath and be present. Good prenatal teachers will not just take you through asanas, they will, (and should), bring it back to your pregnancy, your experience, your bub.
Talk to your baby
Might seem weird, but have you ever talked out-loud to yourself?
I do all the time because I've spent a lot of time on my own over the years! In the same way that we mumble and chat away to ourselves in our apartment or wandering through the grocery aisle, you can chat to your bub too. Maybe ask them how they are in the morning, what they feel like eating before lunch or say goodnight to them after your evening wind down.
Find out the Gender
If you're feeling a bit disconnected from the baby, consider finding out the gender with the Harmony test (week 10-12) or at the 20 week morphology scan. This might help you to visualise your life together after the birth, make picking a name more personal and could possibly expedite the bonding process.
Start Nesting Early
Start to prepare for bub's arrival by doing all the fun things:
Ask your friends for positive stories
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Listening to positive experiences and practicing visualisation is a great way to set yourself up for success. I've been asking my friends with two kids what I need to know and how I can prepare for success. We both laugh and they say the first three months are all about survival, which I get 100%. Everyone tells me it's the hardest thing ever, but that the time goes more quickly and the tender moments are even sweeter. I got a glimpse as to what this might be like when I watched my daughter hold a seven week old baby the other day. My daughter thought she was holding her new sibling, and was besotted. She demanded more cuddles and stroked the baby's face and didn't want to share the cuddle time. I had to explain that this wasn't our baby, but seeing her hold the wee one nearly brought me to joyful tears. I will no doubt reflect on that memory when I am in struggle-town during labour.
Wishing you all the best and a healthy, happy pregnancy.
If you (or someone you know) is struggling with anxiety and depression while pregnant, or after the birth, don't hesitate to reach out to people like PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and speak to a professional.
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