Most expectant mothers, especially first time pregnancies, start to experience aches and pains and discomfort from around 16 weeks. It's natural to worry about these new twinges, especially when we want smooth-sailing, healthy and full term pregnancies.
However let's cover why these aches are occurring, why so many of them are 'normal', and ways to ease them.
Firstly, the growth and weight gain of your uterus is a new experience for your body, and consequently strains and pains will start to be experienced . The internal attachments (ligaments) start to stretch and pull. This discomfort is often experienced most around the pubis (pubic tubercles) and groin (inguinal canals). As the pregnancy progresses aches and severe pains can be felt in 6 different places (some women get no pain at all, others get discomfort in up to all 6 areas):
1. Pubic area
3. Lower back - the two dimples at the lowest part of your back (sacroiliac joints)
4. The base/tip of your spine (sacrum)
5. Hip, Leg, Back (sciatica)
6. Under the ribcage
If you're lacking in strong core stomach muscles (and this can be caused from previous pregnancies), you are more likely to experience these 'twinges' during the second half of your pregnancy.
Some women find they also get 'tension headaches' from the pressure on their back and stomach, and struggle with this daily pain.
There are several ways you can deal with (or help treat) such discomforts:
- Emma Jane Maternity Support Belt $27 from ASOS - shop here.
- Ergonomic Maternity Support Brace $49.95 from MamaWay Maternity - shop here.
If you are still concerned about any aches or pains, and struggling to get through each day, please talk to your doctor.
Good luck Ladies, and here's to healthy pregnancies.
Almost every cafe, restaurant and food court these days seems to offer the famous 'Green Smoothie'. Have you jumped on board this Kermit-coloured train yet? Before you roll your eyes and throw it in the 'it's only a quick trend' pile, please reconsider. Smoothies are not a new thing by no means, but they've definitely become more glorified over the past few years due to everyone realising just how amazingly easy, delicious and healthy they really are.
I'll put my hand up - I'm an addict. Since late last year, making and consuming a daily smoothie has become a ritual of sorts. And I feel really out of whack, if I don't have my glass of mushed up goodness at some stage during my day.
Whether you're pregnant or not, a smoothie is a fantastic way to 'eat' a massive range of nutritious foods, in the one hit. They are super easy to make (all you need is a blender) and depending on their contents they can fuel & maintain you just as much as a 'whole meal' can.
Feel free to add anything and everything to your smoothie recipes, there are no rules. However, if you're pregnant, be even more mindful of using washed and fresh ingredients and being aware of unsafe foods during pregnancy and/or your allergies. The fibre from the fruit is a great way to combat constipation, yet you can also add iron and protein through nuts, seeds, oils and even avocado. The options are endless.
Here are two Green Smoothie recipes that are perfect for expectant women:
Simply blend all the ingredients together and ENJOY! This recipe contains Folate, Omega 3, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Iron & Calcium.
Berry-licious with a Hint of Green:
Simply blend all ingredients and ENJOY! The avocado in this recipe is a nutritious way to add some good fats into your diet. Along with the protein from the Almond Milk and all the antioxidants and folate in the berries, you're feeding yourself and your growing baby very well!
Smoothies are a great breakfast or snack. For a FREE eBook full of healthy smoothie and juice recipes - head here.
I always sneak some avocado, cucumber, coconut oil or spinach into mine (and my children's) smoothies as you can't taste these extras, but they are filling and super nutritious.
Happy Blending Ladies :)
We're often told that we need to include a sufficient amount of Folate (Folic Acid) in our diets, especially in the months prior to conception as well as the first trimester of pregnancy.
However, what is Folate / Folic Acid and how do we get it? Let's break it down.
What is Folate?
Folate (or Folic Acid - the synthetic form used for adding to food or as a supplement) is a B Vitamin. This vitamin plays a huge role in fetal growth, especially in the development of the neural tube. Folate can prevent neural tube defects such as; spina bifida. According to this post, you can reduce your chance of neural tube defects by up to 70% by simply ensuring you're getting enough folate.
How Much Folate Do I Need?
Research shows that many women don't get enough folate in their diets. The recommended daily intake is 400 (mcg) micrograms - this can be a little tricky to track and measure though, as B Vitamins are altered by the ways foods are cooked, stored or consumed. This is why a well balanced, wholesome diet before and during pregnancy is vital, as is taking prenatal supplements.
What Foods Contain Folate / Folic Acid?
A lot of Australian breads and cereals have added folic acid (just read their packaging) and promote that they are targeting women's health. However, you can also get a lot of natural folate from these healthy fresh options:
It is important for all humans (not just pregnant women) to get enough folate (or folic acid) in their diets; as it promotes overall health and wellbeing. Some studies speculate that a lack of folate can also contribute to mental illness within adults.
Be mindful and intentional about your nutrition Ladies. We all want to feel and look glowing don't we? Not to mention the health and development of the gorgeous little miracle babies we're growing, sustaining and providing for. Eat your (and their) way to good health.
Stretch marks are red-purple streaks/lines that occur in overstretched skin. A lot of people first get these 'skin tears' during adolescence or puberty as their body grows and changes dramatically or in bursts. Statistics show that approximately 90% of women get noticeable stretch marks towards the end of their pregnancy due to the rapid growth of their belly, and the subsequent weight gain. (Study by the American Academy of Dermatology)
Unfortunately, genetics can play a huge role in who are more prone to these scars. If you're mother gained stretch marks during her pregnancy/ies, there's a good chance you're more susceptible to them too.
There are no promises or miracle treatments/cues for these pesky skin tears, yet there are several options in lowering the severity, darkness and quantity of Stretch Marks gained during pregnancy.
* Prevention & Consistency is Key to Results:
Personally, I became riddled with stretch marks on my hips and breasts as a teenager. I knew nothing about them at that age, and didn't apply any skin creams or lotions to my body during those years. For quite a while they were a dark, deep red and became more noticeable as I lost some weight around the age of 18. These zig-zagged lines down my sides and on my chest created many insecurities within me, and had massive affect on the types of clothing and swimwear I wore, compared to my friends. Now, in my mid 30's, those scars are very pale and faded (a silvery skin coloured shade), yet...they're still there.
When I fell pregnant with my first child I was convinced I was going to gain A LOT of stretch marks:
1. Due to my adolescence experience and
2. My Mother got some on her thighs during pregnancy
So I immediately began treating and conditioning my skin to increase it's elasticity in preparation for the changes coming. I was given some pregnancy-safe Cocoa Butter Lotion by a friend as a gift, but the scent (which I normally love) was not sitting well with me during that morning sickness period. After a lot of reading and a few Google searches, I decided to make my own oil (with very little scent) that I lathered & massaged into my tummy twice a day (usually after showers) for my whole pregnancy. And guess what? I gained 30kg during that pregnancy and delivered an almost 9 pound baby, and did not gain one single stretch mark. Maybe I was lucky....or maybe my consistent oil application helped significantly.
What Oil Did I Use?
I simply mixed together in a travel 'Shampoo' bottle (like these ones):
* Virgin Olive Oil
* Almond Oil
* Avocado Oil
All bought from my local grocery store.
Whatever oils/lotions/creams/moisturisers you use, just ensure they're pregnancy safe (most are if not ingested) and known for their ability to nourish the skin in prevention of stretch marks.
During my second pregnancy I alternated between my homemade oil mix and Bio Oil ( the Bio Oil was a good option when travelling). Again, I put on over 30kg and delivered a 10 pound baby - with only one small stomach stretch mark to show for it.
Consistency is the key. Simply make it part of your daily routine.
Ensuring your skin is moisturised will also assist in common dryness and itchiness that many women experience.
* Nourish From the Inside:
The food you eat during pregnancy plays a huge role in your skin's condition too. Your prenatal vitamins/supplements will be providing you with some of the skin-nourishing vitamins you need, but plenty of wholesome food is a must. That old saying "you are what you eat" has a lot of truth in it. Foods high in Vitamin C can have positive results on your skin tone and appearance. Vitamin A (carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables) is known for it's ability to contribute to your skin's smoothness, and Vitamin E (some oils, seeds, nuts) provides your skin with sufficient moisture content.
Good hydration is super important for your inner-health, but also for your skin.
* Nothing Lasts Forever:
Both good and bad, nothing lasts forever. Your stretch marks will eventually fade, but never completely vanish. You can however speed up the time it takes for them to become less obvious. Massaging Coconut Oil into them daily is a natural way to help the tissue repair and reduce in colour. There are many commercial products in Chemists, grocery stores and beauty salons these days that claim to reduce the severity and appearance of stretch marks. Some are:
* Bio Oil $12.95
* Palmer's Stretch Mark Lotion $12.99
* Innoxa SOS Skin Tissue Oil $15.95
* Plunkett's Vita E Pure Oil $14.95
See your stretch marks as 'battle scars' - evidence that you grew, sustained and created life. That is pretty amazing ladies!!! However, if your stretch marks are really causing you major concern or insecurity, there are also laser and cosmetic options. Talk to a Skin Specialist, Dermatologist or Surgeon about these options.
Sleeping well during pregnancy is not a simple science - although we wish it was.
I had trouble sleeping during the first trimester due to my all day morning sickness and then huge troubles sleeping during the third trimester due to allover discomfort, hunger and the sheer size of my growing belly (amongst every other body part that seemed to be growing too!)
Getting enough good quality sleep is so important to a woman's overall health and wellbeing whether pregnant or not. However, during pregnancy our body is under a lot more stress and change, and this can take it's toll on us.
Here are a few tips and ideas on how you can get a better night's sleep during pregnancy:
1. Get Comfortable:
I'm usually a tummy sleeper - so once my body started to change and my stomach started to pop, I had to teach myself to sleep on my side. I didn't find this particularly comfortable, and then during the final trimester a pain in my hips and back started to cause a lot of sleeping issues. The best way I treated (and prevented) this was with a pregnancy pillow. At first sight you may think they are quite expensive and unnecessary, but I truly found mine a god-send. They allowed me to sleep comfortably and safely.
Here's a few options worth checking out:
If you can not afford the cost of a specific maternity pillow, use the blankets/cushions/pillows you already to have to re-create a belly and back support that gives you comfort and a more weight-less sleep.
2. Breathe Freely:
Many women start snoring (or snore louder) during pregnancy as the back of their tongue and larynx becomes in contact during the relaxation process of sleep, as well as the increased soft tissue swelling. This causes intermittent brief periods of stopped breathing, creating hypoxia, loud snoring, and daytime somnolence. Once again this can be helped with good neck support (refer to effective pillow support in point one) to keep your airways open and clear throughout the night.
3. There's An App For That:
With technology now a huge part of our everyday life, you can be sure there's an app of some sort to assist you in everyday issues or challenges. This applies to insomnia too. Here are just a few Apps that may help you have a calmer, longer and more solid night's sleep (they may also be useful for settling your new bub into a sleep routine too):
4. Food & Drink Plays A Role:
Be careful not to indulge in really heavy (or spicy) meals right before bedtime. This may cause some major discomfort, digestion pains and/or heartburn, which will rob you of more sleep. Also be mindful of caffeinated drinks and snacks that will ultimately energise you. This is the last thing you need when you're already feeling sleep-deprived and bedtime is looming. You need your body (and stomach) to feel calm and ready for a good night's sleep ahead.
Sounds simple doesn't it - if only! If sleeping is becoming an issue during your pregnancy, you should employ some habits that will relax you before bedtime. You need to clear you mind and calm your energy levels to ensure you have a restful night. Try some simple (pregnancy-safe) yoga or meditation in the early evening. Burn some lavender oil in a burner or diffuser. Read from a book or a magazine - not a Smart Phone or Tablet (the blue light in these technologies can stimulate your brain, not relax it), breathe is some fresh air outside before bed or enjoy a warm shower.
Your Doctor can also provide you with some ideas, assistance and resources for pregnancy insomnia and/or discomfort.
Wishing you some restful nights ahead; in preparation for the arrival of your little one.