Let me start this off by saying that I am by no means an expert, but what I do have is experience of going through pregnancy with my son (Little Bear), and another 20 weeks with my current pregnancy. As a result, I am excited to share my top 10 pregnancy tips with you.
I have found whilst scrawling through the internet looking for tips and advice along the way that it is all very helpful but all follows the same lines such as eat well, exercise etc. Whilst this is written with good intentions, I have found that sometimes mums need a little more than that. I don’t feel that enough honesty is given to women who are going through pregnancy, and I don’t feel like there is enough space for them to be honest about how they are feeling (hence my mission behind Personal Development Time). Not every pregnancy is amazing, not every woman feels like they are glowing and are full of excitement for the new chapter of their life that awaits them. But, there is a huge opportunity to support each other in this and start to normalise every feeling that we may encounter along this crazy roller coaster, wouldn’t you agree?
So as always, I promise to keep it real and to share the things that I wish I would have known, or could have taken some comfort in knowing. So no, these won’t be your typical top 10 pregnancy tips, but hopefully you will find them extremely useful no matter whether this is your first, second, or fifth baby, each pregnancy is different right! So here we go…
1. The Bond
Let me begin by saying that it is completely OK if you do not feel the bond that everybody talks about with your unborn baby whilst you are going through pregnancy. Not only is this a crazy time to watch and feel your body being taken over, you also have a crazy amount of hormones raging through your body, along with lots of likely stress from trying to prepare for the safe arrival of your baby. And although 9 months seems a long time, whilst you are dealing with everything else in everyday life, it sure does/can fly by.
Honestly, I can’t say that I felt that bond in my first pregnancy that everybody talks about, or the midwife used to ask me about at my prenatal check ups, and it is something that played on my mind massively during pregnancy and once he was here as well. But what I can tell you is I look back on the memories now and feel hugely grateful for that time and feel a connection to the person that was going through all of that, so maybe there was in fact that bond there but just in a different way to what others experience or I expected. I can also tell you that I love that little boy more than life itself, and he will always feel that as I know he already does. So whilst reflecting on this I very quickly realised that the only person I am actually harming in worrying about this is myself! Silly really when you put it like that right?
One thing that I have adopted with this pregnancy is to ensure that I give myself time to sit down and connect with my baby. So whenever I feel the baby move and I am able to, I try to stop and think about the baby, we are also talking to Little Bear about the baby and he is connecting with it. I think taking the time to do this helps to slow the pace of life down a little where possible, but also gives the opportunity to stop and think about the miracle growing inside of me.
2. Listen To Your Intuition
The thing that you will find, or may already find happens when you are pregnant is that everybody has an opinion. Either about how you should raise your child, or what pain relief you should opt for when giving birth, or on how big your bump is! Whilst it is all good intentioned advice, the best thing you can apply to any of it is your own intuition. I felt really overwhelmed with my first pregnancy and everybody’s opinions, so the approach that we took was to listen to what others had to say, show gratitude that they were taking the time to connect with us about it and then together as parents we could sift through that advice and take out the bits that resonated with us, felt right in our core and that we connected with. Keeping this in mind throughout has been an absolute life saviour to our sanity.
3. Find Acceptance
This has been one that has been most applicable to my second pregnancy so far than to my first. We always knew that if we could we wanted to have more than one child, so going through my first pregnancy I didn’t have the approach of “what if I never do this again?” and was all full of excitement for getting ready for bringing a child in to our lives. We also did an NCT course and I studied Hypnobirthing extensively so there was lots of preparation (check out my blog on how we got ourselves prepared).
However, this pregnancy is very different: We have been through it before (just a year ago) so the preparation is very different. We already have most things we need so there’s no exciting research to be done or shopping to go and do and I am spending all of my time chasing around and looking after a very energetic 14 month old, so the tiredness is like no other and my time and energy is on him, I am experiencing discomfort such as SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) presumably from everything being that little bit weaker second time around, and we have had lockdown to contend with during half of the pregnancy so far. So I think it would be fair to say that it’s no wonder things have felt different this time. But I have found myself applying pressure that I should be making the most of this time in case I don’t get to experience pregnancy again, or that I should be doing more exercise or eating better because that is what I did with Little Bear, or worrying about the effects feeling more stressed may have on the baby. Well we all know too well that all of those thoughts are not helpful ones whatsoever, and whilst speaking to a Doula that I am doing some work with (more on this to come very soon), she very eloquently said “Maybe this pregnancy isn’t about that, maybe this pregnancy is to teach you different ways of dealing with things. Don’t want for this to be any different than it is, it is what it is for a reason, embrace that” I mean Woah!! That’s a game changer right!
4. Don’t Compare
This kind of links in with the last point as if you can find acceptance in your own journey you are much likely to be content with it. But the reality is that with the likes of social media etc it is so easy to compare your pregnancy and everything that you are experiencing to other mums, or even to your own previous pregnancies. I don’t have much to say about this other than …. DON’T!! It will rob any elements of joy from you. Check out my blog on Stopping comparing yourself to others for some great tips to help with this.
I would highly recommend stopping doing anything that does not make you feel good, so if you are following those people on social media and find each time they post something you are feeling guilty, or not worthy enough, or any type of negative feelings on yourself click the unfollow button immediately. Instead, engage with people who you can keep it real with.
5. Support Network
This is something that I actually took from my best friends who had babies before me and I am so glad that I did as it has been a game changer. You may or may not have family locally (in our case they are all an hours drive away), so creating a support network local to us was absolutely key, but we felt very strongly about creating connections with other people that are going through the same thing as us at the same time. Whilst my friends are amazing, they went through everything a good 2 years or so before me, and it is so easy to forgot everything. Also, those middle of the night chats during feeding are what really keep you going! We created this network during our first pregnancy by joining an NCT course prior to expecting. I also joined an app called Peanut in which I have made a couple of really good mummy friends from, and have made some friends since Little Bear’s arrival from baby classes that we attended. So check out what’s local to you and get those connections made early.
OK so I know that we are only half-way through and this is a much longer blog than I normally post but stay with me, I hope you have picked up some great tips already!
I think there’s definitely a misconception around hypnobirthing that you have to be some holistic, hippie type person in to all of that sort of stuff to benefit but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite simply, I found hypnobirthing about giving you the feeling that you are in control of the situation (not necessarily the outcome as we can’t always control these things hey!), but it puts you in the driving seat and leaves you feeling a lot more relaxed and mentally ready, not only prior to giving birth but during labour too. I couldn’t recommend it enough, and honestly credit hypnobirthing to being the thing that got me through the 29-hour labour with Little bear, along with Adam and the midwives of course who were all out of this world.
This is something that I did a lot with Little Bear and was determined to do again with this pregnancy. Anything that happened that was relevant I made sure I either kept or wrote down and am I thankful that I did that. With Little Bear I wrote it all on the computer during pregnancy and then started using notes on my phone whilst in hospital and have continued to do that ever since. With this pregnancy (Little Squish), I have a journal that I am documenting everything down in. I know from having Little Bear that time flies by in a flash and there is so much you forget, so this isn’t only nice for them to have when they are older but it is also great for me to re-read and congratulate myself on how far we have come, or reminisce and remember all the amazing but easy to forget everyday moments. Congratulating ourselves in something that we don’t tend to be great at as mums!
You will be hugely grateful when your baby arrives if you can take the time to do this beforehand. Obviously the nesting comes in towards the end, so expect to want to get on those hands and knees and scrub skirting boards and the nooks and crannies of the doors etc, I know that’s what it did to me! But some of the things that you may find handy to prepare are:
- Your bedroom: You will be spending a lot of time in here when the baby first arrives, so make it a beautiful tranquil place that you feel you want to spend time in. Have plenty of cushions to prop you up, set up a little changing station for the baby in the middle of the night and perhaps even add a plant or two.
- Meals: The last thing you will want to be doing is preparing meals when you are working on very little sleep. But you may find that you appreciate good home cooked meals to help with those energy levels and recovery. Having a few different options stored away in the freezer can make the world of difference We actually also used Gousto for a few meals each week which got Adam in to the kitchen, they were super simple to cook and really tasty. We also arranged for some food shopping to be delivered in those early days.
- Nappy Changing box: Having a little box downstairs for the nappy changes, and also with a few spare clothes in and (a lot) of bibs and muslins made life so much easier as we didn’t need to worry about running up and down the stairs all the time in those early days.
This has to be one of the hardest things, and something I don’t think I did enough of in my first pregnancy. However, being in lockdown for majority of this one has made me realise just how much it would benefit me from slowing down. I don’t know about you, but I am a people pleaser (probably something I should work on really for my own sanity), and I spent those last couple of months trying to arrange fitting in seeing everybody before the baby arrived, as well as trying to get to everything sorted around the house and mentally. This ended up leaving me feeling pretty exhausted by the end of it, and rather stressed at times. One thing we did do which I was thrilled about was to say no to any visitors other than parents in the first 2 weeks of baby being born. This really helped us to adapt to our new way of life as a little family, and actually to enjoy the bubble that came with that and having time for just us. We will certainly be doing this for our next ones arrival.
10. Ask Away
This is so huge and something that I am only just now starting to work on getting better at, but asking for help is most definitely not a sign of weakness. If anything I think it can be seen more as a sign of strength: Recognition that you need extra support and being vulnerable and honest enough to ask for it. If something asks if they can do anything to help, often it is them extended out their hand, without trying to step on toes, so make sure you take them up on it. Ask them to stick the kettle on, or bring a cooked meal with them for that nights dinner. And this isn’t just for when the baby is here, it is OK to ask for this help during your pregnancy too.
So There You Have It
So there you have it, my (very different, but hopefully hugely practical) top 10 pregnancy tips. I would love to share this journey with you so please let me know any of the tips above that you will take on board, or share ones that you have put in place that you have found helpful.
Wishing you a safe and healthy pregnancy, and all the very best for your new bundle of joy that is awaiting to enter this crazy world that we find ourselves in.