Every pregnancy is unique, from the growth of your bump, energy levels, sleep, sickness and so much more. This is why it’s important to absorb information you have access to but apply it within your own scope. Ensure you try and tune in to what is best and works for you. Often this can take some trial and error.
I am currently 23 weeks pregnant, and well and truly have a bump. At week 16, I wasn’t showing at all but I did start to feel movement. The moment I left for honeymoon at 18 weeks, it felt as if I woke up one day and just popped, I finally had the beginnings of a little bump.
The second trimester is treating me well so far but I do have a fair few unwanted symptoms, pulsatile tinnitus, a baby who kicks around every 45 minutes, an achy lower back and difficulty sleeping, not forgetting the least favourable, an inability to eat and enjoy food like I used too. It seems I am really stretching, lots, to the point where I am in physical pain and it’s so hard to get comfy, I have started to use oil morning and night for stretch marks and I will let you know how I get on with it.
Here’s some useful tips, tricks and appointments to help you on your journey but please remember to always run everything by your health professional.
From the older generations sometimes telling you not to move a muscle to overwhelming voices in the media saying nothing should really change, this can be a minefield. In the first trimester movement is really dictated by your energy levels and sickness, sometimes it’s best to take it easy, especially if you're unable to get enough food, having any extra energy to hit the gym should really be conserved. On the flip side to this, a walk and fresh air can often help reduce symptoms of morning (all day) sickness and act as a good energiser, experiment with what works for you.
The key point to remember is not to suddenly try anything new! Not only are there enormous changes happening to your body including the introduction of a hormone called relaxin, ( relaxin loosens the muscles and ligaments in the body, so pregnant women may be more prone to spraining or overstretching muscles during physical activity and their joints may be in danger ) but you want to work on preserving what you already have. Try and keep moving, do whatever it takes to get you out and about a bit more. I know it can be tough, I often need to nap and can’t, but research suggests exercise during pregnancy is beneficial for the mum and baby (new blog coming soon). Now there are some obvious no no’s, HIIT workouts are not ideal, I have had to cut out my F45 classes and occasionally do a weight session. Focus on getting your form correct and listen to your body. As I am now in the second trimester, I really have begun to notice pains around my tummy where my body is stretching, the extra weight of my little boy with every step and losing my breath a little bit more. So do what works for you.
2. Workout Classes
Ten Pilates - Based around London, I have been going to the Fitzrovia site as it is around the corner from Harley Street. I have had a prenatal assessment to teach me all of the adaptations in classes and am safe to attend beginner and pre natal classes. Pilates is highly recommended as it works in a safe manner on different muscle groups, core strength, stability and posture.
Define London - A New York style barre workout led by Ashley Verma, who happens to be pregnant herself, which is always reassuring. They offer special Sunday classes for pregnant women, and I have enjoyed the matt classes!
PT sessions - If you can invest in a good trainer who knows you and pre and post natal workouts, this could be a great option. I have been working out with Johnny at Mortimer House once a week and it reminds me that I can still move in more ways than I thought. I do get tired quickly and out of breath now but I always leave in a good frame of mind.
Paola's Body Barre - SW London studios, I nip down to Fulham when I can to attend these workouts, Paola is extremely experienced and has trained several celebrities through pregnancy. They offer pre- and post-natal classes with the baby and I honestly enjoy the challenge of her classes so much!
Yoga - This is something I want to do a lot more, I have friends who swore by yoga throughout their pregnancy. It’s also a great way of tapping into that diaphragm breathing (the old singer in me), having some headspace and mobility work. I have tried home yoga, which was just incredible and would recommend Yoga Team.
Spinning - This is great for those of you who, like me, want to be in a dark room and just move a little bit. I started going to Ride Republic in Fulham and was really welcomed, advised to go at my own speed and taken off the score board. I always leave their classes feeling like I have achieved something and with a lifted mood.
3. Women's Health
If you are able to book an appointment I would highly recommend a one-off physio session, check your alignment and get working on any niggles before you are carrying around a very large extra weight in your belly. I have been working with, Millie Linsey on a hip flexor injury I have had for a while, but also the new aches and pains I have experienced in my pelvis and lower back area since developing a little one. I’ve also seen a women’s specialist physio to do an internal examination of my pelvic floor, Helen Keeble. This was fabulous, I went with my friend Alice and discovered I can engage it but I am not very good at relaxing it (surprise, surprise), it turns out a lot of women do not know how to correctly engage those muscles and this can lead to problems later on in pregnancy and post-baby (we have a blog on pelvic floor for you to read here). I have also been kindly gifted the Elvie trainer app to try, and highly recommend it as a fun way of ensuring you work on that particular muscle!
I will have to keep this short and sweet, most women will need to sleep more, we are growing a baby, ladies it is tough work! If you can get into bed earlier then this is likely to help, nap if you’re lucky enough to be able to and listen to your body. I need around 11 hours a day at the moment, not really realistic with my schedule but I feel worse when I haven’t had enough sleep and it often triggers my nausea. As I write this I am 23 weeks pregnant and already finding it uncomfortable sleeping. I ordered a BBHugme pillow, which has helped and a pregnancy pillow off amazon that enables me to lie on my side with support between my legs.
5. Talk To Anyone Who'll Listen
There is nothing worse than feeling alone and isolated, at times I didn't have the energy to speak out about it. But try and surround yourself with your close network, you will be needing them, they will understand if you need to cancel an event or you can’t make a birthday bash. You have to put your baby and body first and sharing how you feel can be such a useful tool. Equally, distraction can be helpful, I have found the line tricky between work and rest, but when I am busy I don’t have as much time to dwell on how exhausted I am feeling, this is another tightrope you have to walk to find which approach works best for you.
6. Where To Eat
Pregnancy is so tough, if like me you have food aversions and a loss of enjoyment around food I really feel for you, and equally you may be experiencing fullness quickly, extreme hunger pangs that can be painful or bizarre cravings. Pretty much anything goes in the first 3-4 months. You need to eat what you can, go easy on yourself, in the first trimester it’s not dangerous for your baby to have a more beige dominant diet, this shouldn't be encouraged throughout but you have to do what you can to get energy in the system. Carbs provide energy and if they are ones that are high in fibre this will be an added bonus, as this is what your body needs. Digestion slows down quite a bit owed to an increase of hormones in pregnancy, you will also want to try and get as much roughage as possible. Ensure you are taking your pregnancy multivitamin for folic acid and missed micronutrients that you may be currently struggling to get.
Some thrive off little and often, others stick to meal times, experiment but never be caught out. Always have an emergency snack in your handbag, often the dry oatcakes that were ginger worked well for travelling and sickness.
In the second trimester, I am finding I can manage more variety, veggies are back on but still in smaller quantities. Often I find myself getting full very quickly and find it best to always start with a good breakfast and eat little and often, avoiding large meals where possible as I really feel pain afterwards. Remember, your entire body is moving and everything is starting to become a bit squished inside you.
Key nutrients to look out for; throughout pregnancy you need to get 400mg of folic acid a day, keep an eye on your calcium, which has now increased from 700mg a day to 1000mg a day and vitamin D and Iodine. Taking your pregnancy multivitamin after the first 12 weeks is often a good idea for many women to support their diets, and ensuring a healthy balanced diet to support your babies development.
I am first to hold my hands up and say from week 8 onwards I have possibly consumed more sugar than a lifetime, items I would never normally want; Haribo, marshmallows, chocolate (although I have it once and then go off it the next day). No one is perfect, when you get a good day, make a conscious effort to get those veggies in. I am unable to offer bespoke advice on my blog but I do work with my 1-1 clients in the Rhitrition clinic, do email info@Rhitrition.com.
You need more fluids than ever before, with more blood and two hearts beating, you really want to ensure you stay hydrated. It will suddenly hit me on the tube to work or at the end of the day when I haven’t drunk enough and this can also impact our already strained digestion.
This is a subject I feel very passionately about, we are SO fortunate in the UK to have access to these for free when you're pregnant, I have had the flu jab and the whooping cough. I did experience a sore arm after the whooping cough but that only lasted 3 days. Remember you cannot vaccinate your newborn and you pass your immunity to your baby in those crucial first few weeks. I recorded an episode with Dr David Robert Grimes on Food For Thought S5E2, which you can tune into and learn more about here.
9. You Know Yourself Better
Listen to your intuition. When I went away on honeymoon and showed that I was working out, I was shocked at some of the remarks and comments I received. I also received messages from anti vaxers and people terrified about Zika virus, unintentionally raising my anxiety levels almost every day. It can be so easy to let little voices get in to your head no matter how smart and clued up you are, it’s only natural. I encourage you to pick your support network, vent, share and cry because sometimes it really helps. I had a bit of an emotional panic day on our return from honeymoon when I got lost in Dubai airport, experienced awful turbulence on the plane, our flat sale was falling through and I watched Dumbo… (yes the saddest film ever). It happens, know you’re not alone and it’s ok to not be ok all the time.
I will be writing another update for you about my third trimester which will include hypnobirthing, antenatal classes, baby first aid, shopping trips, all my experiences and some really useful items. We also have an excellent Food For Thought podcast episode on Pregnancy with Professor Lucilla Poston which can be found here.
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