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Would you believe me if I told you you that you could actually feel great while you were pregnant?
Would you call me crazy?
Well, you might be right. But it’s not for this reason.
There’s this preconceived notion out there that you’re going to feel terrible during pregnancy. Okay, okay you might not feel GREAT all the time but you don’t have to feel terrible!
I actually loved being pregnant (most of the time). And before you think “yeah, that might only true for fit, healthy, skinny women”, just realize that I don’t fit that category.
I’m a plus sized girl, so I thought for sure I was going to have a hard time. This just goes to show you that anyone can have a healthy pregnancy, regardless of where you started when before you were pregnant! Here’s my top tips on how I stayed healthy and happy during my first pregnancy.
GET A GREAT PRENATAL VITAMIN
Most doctors actually recommend you start taking a prenatal before you get pregnant. If you’re trying to get pregnant, I definitely suggest you start one. Obviously, not everyone knows they are going to get pregnant so don’t worry if you are late to the game.
But if you’re pregnant and haven’t started one, I would definitely get one ASAP! Your doctor can probably subscribe you one but there’s plenty of over-the-counter options as well.
When you’re looking for a prenatal, I would keep and eye out for DHA and Folate. These are two very important ingredients that you’ll definitely want! Don’t be surprised if you see Folic Acid on most labels instead of Folate. This is a pretty common occurrence. Folic acid is the synthetic version and folate is the natural substance. If you’re a more natural gal, you’ll definitely want to check labels to find one that contains the natural version.
Biotin is another great ingredient in most prenatals that is great for you hair, skin, and nails! This is great to help support your natural pregnancy glow! This one is a bonus and it’s not included in all vitamins, but I recommend using one that includes it.
UGH, MORNING SICKNESS
I’ve heard a lot of women have problems taking pre-natals because they can make you nauseous. I actually used the Nature Made Prenatal + DHA during my first pregnancy. It was just one pill to take and I never personally got sick after taking them. I was pretty lucky to not have major morning sickness during my pregnancy so keep that in mind.
If morning sickness has been a problem for you, try taking your prenatal with food and a lot of water or at night before you go to bed. There are a lot of prenatals that come in gummies that are supposed to be a bit easier to manage instead of pills or softgels.
I’ve recently found these ones from Pink Stork that are supposed to HELP with morning sickness. AMEN! (FYI: I personally have not used these but will be testing them out with pregnancy #2). They also have a separate Folate supplement if you feel like your current prenatal isn’t giving you enough of the good stuff.
EXFOLIATE. MOISTURIZE. REPEAT.
Stretch marks. We all dread them.
Before you rush out to get every cream on the shelf at Target, there might not actually be anything you can do to avoid them anyway!
There’s been a few studies that suggest that stretch marks might be linked to genetics and might not be preventable. Check out these articles from WebMD and Parents.com on stretch marks. I found them to be pretty informative.
Here’s the deal. Even if you can’t avoid them, you can certainly do this to make them more comfortable, less itchy, and maybe less noticeable.
Exfoliating is a great way to scrub off dry, dead skin. This is going to be super helpful as your belly, boobs, and bum are growing.
The key here is to use gentle exfoliating. You don’t need to be scrubbing yourself ragged right now!
I used my scrub every other day but would recommend using it more if you lived in a more humid area. I tend to have dry skin and exfoliating really helps lotion soak in.
LATHER UP BUTTERCUP
USE A LOT OF LOTION. As you grow, your skin might be itchy and tight. This is fairly normal as your skin is trying to expand and stretch! Of course, this is typically where stretch marks come in.
Use lotions, creams, or oils to moisturize. This should help with the itching and dry skin! It also might help your skin bounce back after baby, even if it doesn’t prevent those pesky stretch marks.
There’s plenty of options for belly butter’s out there. Test out a few and find the ones you like! I would opt for simple, natural options since everything you put on your skin will be absorbed into your body!
I love using coconut oil as a natural alternative to lotion for just about any part of my body. I have super dry and sensitive skin, so simple, hydrating ingredients are key for me. Generally, I add a touch of essential oils too (lavender or orange are my favs).
If you’re using essential oils, make sure you find high quality oils and not generic brands. The generics usually use synthetic ingredients or fillers. I personally use doTerra but there’s some other good options out there.
My favorite oil based belly butter is this one from Glow Organics. I still have some of this left over and will definitely still use it. The smell is great, even though there’s no added fragrance.
Since this one is oil based though, it does give your hands and body a bit of an oily sheen so keep that in mind. I definitely suggest this one if you have dry skin like me. I’ll be using this again because I have plenty left!
When I first found out I was pregnant, I went to Motherhood to look around. They had a huge display for these creams from Body Boost and decided to try one. If you prefer lotions over oils, I would definitely suggest this one. I don’t think it kept me quite as moisturized as my oils, but I could definitely reapply this one several times a day. The smell is soooo great.
You’re tired, I get it. You’re building a whole person, it’s hard work.
I totally understand if you just want to sit on the couch. I was there. I am there.
JUST WALK, MAMA
You don’t have to run a marathon or even jog down the street. Just getting up and walking can be all it takes!
You’ll actually feel better if you are more active. Of course, listen to your body (and your doctor).
But if you’re feeling tired and achey, get up and walk around the block. Or around the office. Getting your blood moving will help you be more focused and wake you up!
Blood flow is important for circulation and will help reduce swelling!
You want to avoid the dreaded third trimester cankles, don’t you?
I personally love yoga. I mean, I love the idea of yoga.
I’m not flexible. My flab and rolls get in the way in some positions, you get the picture. But, I love the meditation and the reflection and you know, generally trying to be active.
Despite all that, yoga is the single activity I genuinely continued to do while pregnant and post pregnancy!
Prenatal yoga is amazing for achey joints and tight muscles. You can opt for a more gentle yoga on those especially hard days or you can simply do meditation yoga and stretching. Either way, your tired joints will thank you.
During my first pregnancy, I opted to watch YouTube videos at home that had specific pregnancy safe positions. But most cities have a lot of options for prenatal yoga nowadays.
MindBody is great app/website for finding yoga classes in your area too!
SATISFY THOSE CRAVINGS, THE HEALTHY WAY
Did you know the average woman only needs 300-500 extra calories per day while pregnant?
The whole eating for two thing is actually misleading and leads many woman to gain more weight than recommended during their pregnancy.
Typically, the recommendation is to gain around 25-30 lbs for most women. This obviously depends on your size so I would talk to your doctor about what is a safe and healthy for you.
If you’re plus sized like me, the recommendation is closer to 10-15 lbs. But this also has to do with your general health. Even though I’m bigger, I’m generally in very good health so my doctor wasn’t too worried about my weight gain. I wanted to try to avoid as much weight as possible. So I tried especially hard to not binge and give in to those cravings all the time!
When it was all said and done I gained right around 25 lbs and I’m so glad I didn’t gain more. I think this was an important part of why I felt pretty good for most of my pregnancy! Also, I lost almost all my baby weight within the first 2 weeks for giving birth!
FIND HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES
Pickles. Chips. Ice cream. The struggle is real.
I’m no stranger to snacking and cravings. So I get it. You’re probably just going to have those cravings now and then.
I’m not advocating for never giving in. Because sometimes, nothing else will do the trick. But here’s some recommendations to trick yourself into a healthier version if you can!
If you’re craving something salty, try a handful of lightly salted nuts. Nuts are very healthy in moderate amounts and they contain healthy fats! They an fill you up and a small amount of salt should curb your craving.
If you just HAVE to have some potato chips, try the baked ones. Or put a small amount of ship in a bowl and put away the rest instead of eating directly from the bag. When you portion out the snacks you’re must less likely to eat the whole bag! I practice this one in my daily life and it’s had a major impact on the amount of snacks I eat!
I have a major sweet tooth, especially while I was pregnant. So this was a struggle for me. My goal for my second pregnancy is to opt for natural, healthier sweeteners like stevia, honey, or maple syrup vs. sugar cane or artificial sugars. For example, I started eating the Halo Top ice cream instead of regular ice cream and it’s so good! They have so many flavors and I couldn’t even tell the difference.
There are so many great substitutions that are sugar free but are still satisfying. After trying out the Keto diet for awhile, I found some wonderful options from Thrive Market. If you use my referral link you’ll get 25% off your first Thrive Market order!
Here’s some of my favorite healthy options from Thrive.
These candies are so so so good. I’ve tried all kinds of them but my favorite are the Sweet Fish. I actually thought they were going to taste like Swedish Fish…they don’t. I think I like them better! They are a bit expensive for what you get, but for me it was worth it to not feel so guilty after eating an entire bag.
Lily’s Sweets brand has quite a few different types of chocolates that are sweetened with Stevia and most of them are great. They have everything from chocolate chips to chocolate bars to these yummy peanut butter cups. You better believe I’ll be stocking up on these for pregnancy #2.
Easier said than done.
Work, cooking, cleaning, maybe other kids. Just life in general. Most of us are always worrying, stressing, planning about one or all of those things.
Now add preparing for baby and the list of to-do’s gets a billion times longer. Even if this isn’t your first, you’re probably spending a large amount of time worrying about adding another baby into the mix.
Stress is really hard on your body. Actually, sleep is one of the first things that gets affected by stress. You need all the energy you can get right now so you’ll really want to be sleeping well while you can!
Take some time for you to reduce stress. Get a prenatal massage. Take a yoga class. Have a girls night (mocktails, of course). Eat some ice cream instead of doing the dishes. Let things go! Find what stresses you out and try to remove it!
Your body will be changing so much you don’t need your mind weighing you down too!
Enjoy your pregnancy. Enjoy planning for baby. Enjoy the idea that you are building a person! A real person!
You’re creating life. Right now. Isn’t that amazing? For just a minute, think about how much of a badass you are.
I hoped this helped! I’m always trying to find new tips and tricks so let me know what you are doing to help you stay healthy!