How to have an easier pregnancy is no mystery if you have a toolbox of knowledge at your disposal. Now that I have been pregnant four times, I have accumulated a number of good suggestion on how to have an easier pregnancy. As a matter of fact, my fourth pregnancy despite being older (officially of advanced maternal age), taking care of three other children, and giving birth during a pandemic was the easiest one! So today I’m here to share the lessons I’ve learned along the way on having an easy pregnancy.
Why you’re here:
During your first pregnancy, you take things as they come. Unless you grew up in a large family or have lots of friends with babies, there are a lot of surprising things along the way. Now that I’ve been through four pregnancies I can see that there are definitely some tips and tricks for making your pregnancy easier then you may have thought.
I’m gonna go through my lessons learned and the things that I have picked up along the way, and why my fourth pregnancy was actually my easiest even though I was taking care of three other children.
Some of these will be based on research, and I will link to that research wherever possible. Other aspects are just my personal experience, so your mileage may vary. (Although I do stand by all of this advice, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it with you.)
First Trimester: Preventing Nausea and Morning Sickness
I did a good amount of research before this pregnancy about nausea and morning sickness because I have a good friend that suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum. While there is no conclusive cost or treatment for hyperemesis, I came about many ways to treat morning sickness and I’m happy to say that a combination of these things worked fairly well for me.
Eat Small Meals Throughout the Day
The idea is to keep a little bit of food in your belly because being hungry definitely makes the nausea worse. It was actually best when we were traveling and eating out and someone else was cooking!
The thought of actually preparing food was very hard at this stage, so anything store-bought or made by somebody else was a huge help. I can also say that my morning sickness was actually usually evening sickness, and it was definitely exacerbated by being hungry and being turned off by the thought of making dinner.
I am a huge fan of transdermal magnesium. By that I mean magnesium oil or lotion that can be put on your body.
What’s great about it is that your body will only absorb as much as it needs! Most of us are very deficient in magnesium because it is used in a lot of processes in the body and it is hard to get solely from food sources.
Generally speaking I spray my feet with magnesium every evening and it helps me fall sleep within 15 to 20 minutes. However, one of the things I noticed was that when I was using magnesium directly on my stomach it was really helping the nausea.
As an alternative, you can take a bath with epsom salts (a form of magnesium).
Protein, Protein, and More Protein
During my first two pregnancies I did the typical thing where nothing sounded good so I just ate a lot of bread and crackers and dried foods. Those food caused a cycle of sugar highs and lows, causing hunger which brings us back really to my first point. Ultimately, though, I realize that those foods were not really nourishing my body the way it needed to be nourished in order to grow a new life.
I started focusing on whole foods, particularly sources of proteins during pregnancy. By my third pregnancy, I was eating a whole foods diet and really focusing on getting plenty of nutrients throughout the day. That meant ditching the simple carbs and focusing on meats and fruits and vegetables and nuts and fish.
During my fourth pregnancy I had already been through the GAPS diet. I realized that the Weston A Price pregnancy diet that really focuses on nutrient dense foods such as liver and raw egg yolks was actually the best diet to be eating during pregnancy. Does that mean I always followed it to a T? No absolutely not; I do the best I can. But what I can say, however, is that when I was eating these super foods regularly I felt much much better.
In my research about hyperemesis gravidarum, I came across the theory that part of it was caused by an overgrowth of H Pylori. I won’t get into the medical research, but I absolutely accept that gut dysbiosis (an imbalance in gut bacteria) can play a role in the morning sickness.
Therefore, I made it a point to eat a good amount of fermented foods throughout the pregnancy. What do I mean by fermented foods? I mean things that have live probiotics, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles etc.
If you have a GAPS background, then this seems very obvious. However, by this point I had fallen off the GAPS bandwagon, and so when I wasn’t able to have homemade fermented foods I supplemented with those that were store-bought or even a commercial probiotic.
My midwives also suggested that taking a probiotic with the Lactobacillus rhamnosus as possibly helpful in preventing Group B Strep. If you’re wondering, Bio-Kult is the probiotic which I generally buy.
Tips for the Second Trimester
Preventing stretch marks
The literature suggests that whether you get stretch marks is a matter of genetics. I can say that in my teen years, I got stretch marks but in pregnancy I made a conscious effort to avoid them.
One easy to do thing I did was diligently apply lotion or cream, to make sure that the skin always stays soft and moisturized from the outside. Go for the most natural cream you can get, straight shea butter works great. Coconut oil is also an option, just make sure to rub it in, so that it doesn’t get your clothes oily.
However, the more important aspect of this is staying hydrated from the inside which means drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Another thing you could consider adding to your diet is a gelatin or collagen supplement which may help keep our skin soft and supple. Of course if you do this please make sure you are using gelatin from grass fed animals or marine collagen, so that you get the highest nutritional value.
If there is one thing that fermented foods are really, really good at, that it is preventing reflux. If you have sauerkraut at the beginning of the meal, the kraut will raise the acidity in your stomach and help you digest the rest of the foods that you are eating. This is a classic GAPS principle and it absolutely works, because this last pregnancy was the only one where I really did not suffer from reflux at all.
Previously I had been avoiding tomatoes, and onions, and garlic, and all these good things. Now I know that I just needed to make sure my digestive system was working well, not eat too much in one go, and I was basically guaranteed to be fine. Literally the only time I had a tiny bit of reflux was when I would have a very spicy salsa or an orange right before I went to bed and then was lying down.
Physical Activity and Prenatal Yoga
It is very, very important to be physically active throughout your pregnancy in order to keep your body healthy and strong and in order to prepare yourself for labor. One of the best ways to do that is taking a prenatal yoga class or even just following some YouTube videos in your own home. It is great to do stretching and have a dedicated time to focus on your baby.
Let me be perfectly honest, by the time I was in my fourth pregnancy I did not have time to take a dedicated prenatal yoga class or even do much stretching at home. What I did focus on was making sure I went for at least one nice long walk every single day. Making sure I was active in my daily life and moving and spending time upright and not slouched back has been very important to feeling well.
One website I always recommend for pregnancy is the spinning babies website. There you can see activities and stretches that you can do at home to prepare your body for labor.
I first became aware of this website when I was preparing for a VBAC with my second son. At the time we had hired a doula and she recommended to make sure you were sitting up correctly and keeping your belly warm so that the baby would not be posterior and make labor more difficult.
I ended up revisiting this website in my fourth pregnancy when our baby boy was still breech at 31 weeks. (He did end up spinning at 35 weeks)!
Support your emotional well-being
I believe it is of upmost importance to be calm and happy during your pregnancy. Now life is not a picnic that we can always plan and things come up and there’s always lots going on but I think it is important to be intentional with focusing on ourselves I will being things that make us happy and will ultimately be transferred to this new life.
The second trimester tends to be the easy trimester, so focus on doing things that make you happy. I really like the end of the second trimester as a great time to take a baby moon. It can be great to have a nice vacation before you start feeling more uncomfortable.
Gestational diabetes test
One thing that comes up and that I was certainly concerned about in my first pregnancy was the gestational diabetes test. Typically this is taken at about 28 weeks.
It was only something that I had to be concerned about because I was having all those carbs at the beginning of pregnancy. So what can I say, is if you would like to prevent developing gestational diabetes I highly suggest eating a diet that is relatively low G.I. (glycemic index).
What does that mean? It means that that your meals are a good combination of protein and fiber and fat, and of course carbohydrates.
As soon as you combine the fat with the carbs it will slow down the digestion of sugars and will help you maintain an even keeled blood sugar. It goes without saying that I am not referring to fast food or anything processed, but high-quality fats such as avocado or butter, or nut butters that you can add to your meals.
Comfort in the Third Trimester
The fact of the matter is that in the third trimester you are big and it will become uncomfortable to some extent no matter what you do. So what can you do about it?
Other than continuing to eat well and to exercise regularly and to take care of your emotional well-being there are a couple other small tricks that I can share.
Wearing a support belt
One thing that I was able to do with all of my pregnancies and found very helpful was wearing a support belt.
I did not feel the need to wear them all the time. However, when I was going on longer walks, I absolutely found that it helped to take some of the pressure off of my back and generally left me feeling much better. I don’t believe it is something you need to do all the time, but it’s just one of those things that’s good to know about and have in your toolbox.
Get an Exercise Ball
Another good tool to have is an exercise ball or a yoga ball. I find it very comfortable to sit forward on the ball.
It’s good for reminding you to sit forward, so that baby is well positioned. Sitting on an exercise ball relieves a lot of pressure off of your lower back.
Consider Visiting a Chiropractor
Another option is to visit a chiropractor. I did not do this until I was pregnant with a baby that was still breech at about 34 weeks and went to a provider that was certified in the Webster technique.
I really wish I had known about this earlier! I never really considered going to a chiropractor before hand and didn’t really know what they did. They were helpful with opening up some ligaments to help baby turn.
Then, as soon as my sciatica started bothering me, the nerve and lower back was hurting quite a lot, I was able to get an adjustment. It was truly my least painful third trimester.
Use Pillow for Comfort
Use as many pillows as you need to get comfortable in the bed and try to prepare yourself for a slower pace. Some people swear by a body pillow. Go for it if you need it.
I have found that having a bunch of regular pillows works just fine. Put one between your knees, another slightly under your belly.
It goes without saying that throughout your pregnancy you need to have adequate rest. If you have the opportunity, lift your feet up a couple times a day, or at least at the very end of the day. That will help with pressure and swelling.
In the third trimester it is especially important just to take your time. Do things a little more slowly and remember that you are carrying around quite a heavy load.
Having a newborn is intense, but it also makes you slow down because you are waking up at night, and you are nursing, and you just can’t run around anymore. Try to get into the mindset where that is OK and prioritize your rest.
Do you have any other suggestions on ways to have an easier pregnancy?
*The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.