Following on from the success of my most popular post – 11 tips for surviving summer pregnancy, it only seems natural to follow up with an ultimate guide for surviving pregnancy. As well as all the essential tips to plan and organise for a new baby.
Pregnancy can be a bumpy ride, with no two pregnancies the same.
Even the differences between subsequent pregnancies can be surprising, when you think you know what you’re in for but suddenly there are whole new symptoms and experiences to leave you pregnant, confused and uncomfortable.
Having just finished my second pregnancy, I was surprised how different my pregnancies were. I was convinced I was having a boy the second time, but nope… both girls, so the difference in pregnancies couldn’t be attributed to gender. Just the luck of the draw!
The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Pregnancy
Not everyone is plagued by morning sickness, however some women are unlucky enough to have all day morning sickness. For most, it eases up around the end of the first trimester but for others, morning sickness lasts throughout pregnancy.
Morning sickness is caused by the pregnancy hormone HCG. In really severe cases, morning sickness may be a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which needs medical attention.
Preventing Morning Sickness
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day – hunger can worsen morning sickness symptoms
- Avoid overtiredness and get lots of sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid strong, adverse smells
- Try ginger tablets
- Wear an acupressure band such as those used for seasickness
- Drink peppermint tea
- Seek medical assistance
For my first pregnancy, my morning sickness subsided around 16 weeks and was sporadic. With my second pregnancy, I was in a constant state of nausea, so my GP prescribed medication to manage my morning sickness nausea. It did the job!
HEARTBURN & INDIGESTION
Heartburn and indigestion are common pregnancy symptoms, with heartburn causing a burning sensation in the throat and chest, and indigestion causing severe bloating and possible nausea.
Teamed with morning sickness, they are an unpleasant and uncomfortable combination. Both are caused by the relaxing of muscles in the body during pregnancy, as the result of pregnancy hormones.
Preventing Heartburn and Indigestion
- Small meals, several times a day
- Avoid foods that seem to worsen your symptoms
- Avoid caffeine, rich, spicy or acidic foods
- Eat slowly
- Ensure comfortable, upright position after meals
- Wear loose clothing
- Take over the counter antacid tablets, with doctor approval
- Eat at last three hours before bed to avoid lying down too soon
- Try drinking milk
Until my second pregnancy, I had no idea what indigestion or heartburn felt like, however my first trimester revealed how horrible this is. I had agonising bloating, stomach pains and a burning sensation in my throat that tasted like I had been licking an ashtray. It was revolting and extremely unpleasant. Antacid tablets were very helpful.
This one is pretty self-explanatory in terms of unpleasantness, but constipation during pregnancy is common. Thank those hormonal changes again for this inconvenient and at times painful pregnancy ailment and post birth too, due to your body using up so much extra water.
Preventing Constipation in Pregnancy
- Drink lots of water
- Eat high fibre foods
- Add prunes and dried figs to meals or eat on their own
- Consult doctor or pharmacist if considering laxative or similar medical assistance
Carrying all that extra weight around while growing a small person can cause havoc on the body and back pain during pregnancy is common. The loosening ligaments and relaxed muscles also contribute to back pain and can sometimes require specialised intervention to support your back during pregnancy.
Preventing Back Pain During Pregnancy
- Avoiding standing or walking for excessive periods
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Focus on maintaining correct posture
- Have a pregnancy massage by a qualified professional
- See a physiotherapist
- Wear pregnancy support garments
- Move slowly when turning in bed or getting out of chairs
Pregnancy can be a little like flying a long haul flight as fluid retention in pregnancy is common. Worse during summer pregnancy, you may be prone to swollen ankles especially, as a result of the increase in fluid in the body during pregnancy.
Fluid retention can also be a sign of high blood pressure, so persistent fluid retention is worth getting checked out.
Preventing Fluid Retention
- Don’t stand or walk for excessive periods
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
- Avoid salty foods
- Incorporate diuretic foods into your diet – celery, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, beetroot etc
- Cut out caffeine
- Recline with feet up (aim to be on your left side during pregnancy)
Not sleeping during pregnancy is a frustrating experience. There are plenty of reasons it happens. None of them make us any happier. It’s pretty awful timing too since everyone warns you about the no sleep with a newborn stage that is coming, telling you to sleep while you still can.
While some things may help you sleep during pregnancy, this can be one of the toughest ones to remedy.
Improving Sleep During Pregnancy
- Make yourself comfortable
- Get a body pillow or pregnancy pillow
- Have down time before bed
- Do something relaxing – read a book, have a shower or bath, massage
- Loose clothing
- No caffeine or sugary foods before bed
- Don’t eat just before going to bed
- No exercise before bed
Restless legs was one of the worst things that plagued me during pregnancy. It’s horrendous because you feel like you need to keep moving, which makes sleep impossible.
I found doing some leg stretches and a light walk before bed could help – which goes against the tips for improved sleep, however in my case restless legs was the main reason for not sleeping, rather than insomnia. Just one of the good, bad or ugly parts of pregnancy.
Another one that can’t be avoided and there isn’t much you can do about it, but you will definitely know the feeling of frequent urination during pregnancy, pretty much immediately. It’s often one of the first signs of pregnancy for many.
There are certain times during pregnancy that are worse for frequent urination, especially near the start as a result of the HCG hormone, then again towards the end when there is a heavy baby sitting on your bladder. So fun… not!
Managing Frequent Urination in Pregnancy
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy toilet access
- Always use the toilet before heading out
- Don’t limit your water intake to reduce your urination – you need that fluid
- Tilt forward once you finishing urination – it can help empty that last part of your bladder
OTHER TIPS FOR SURVIVING PREGNANCY
- Make yourself as comfortable as possible
- Invest in some maternity clothes essentials
- Rest often
- Do some light, pregnancy-safe exercise such as squats and pregnancy yoga
- Consider a low maintenance hair cut
- Ask for help when you need a break
- Eat well
- Talk to people about your fears and anxiety for birth and motherhood
- Go to bed as early as you like and take naps if you need to
- Snack often
- Take a babymoon
- Eat lots of leafy greens (folate is important for baby development)
- Get fresh air
- Take a pregnancy prenatal vitamin daily
- Keep up with your required medical appointments
- Don’t change kitty litter – Cat poo carries a bacteria that is harmful for unborn babies
- Eat a banana a day to help prevent leg cramps
- Do your pelvic floor exercises
- Go swimming as it’s great low impact exercise
- Plan ahead to reduce stress
- Talk to your partner so you are on the same page
- ENJOY IT!
PLANNING FOR YOUR BABY
Best Pregnancy Books:
Saving Money and Getting Organised:
- Have a baby without going broke – thrifty ideas for preparing for baby
- Prepare toddler for new baby – ways to introduce the new arrival before they arrive
- Winter baby essentials – everything you need for a winter baby
- Must have baby items – all my favourite must have baby products
- Ways to make life easier with a newborn – ideas to simplify with a new baby
- Best gifts for new mothers – You may want to put in your wish list now
- Tips for surviving summer pregnancy – Surviving the heat during pregnancy
Pregnancy is an amazing time of life simply due to the reward at the end. Babies make all those awful symptoms totally worth it, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t do anything to help make your pregnancy more comfortable.