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A Mindful Pregnancy

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There’s no better time to practice mindfulness than when you are creating another life. I am finding that I am more mindful than ever since I am experiencing so many things for the very first time now that I am pregnant. Pregnancy is truly a remarkable experience and forces you to be in tune with your body. Things are changing drastically, my stomach is growing bigger every day, I’m learning so many new things and I’m starting to prepare for the unknown world of motherhood.

I believe that pregnancy so far has totally made me practice mindful eating on a greater level. I am not only eating to fuel my body, but also another life. I have loved cooking homemade meals even more during pregnancy knowing that there is nothing more nutritious than food made from scratch. Plus, it allows me to truly bond with my husband and have this special meal time together as two. I am also mindful of my cravings and when to indulge. I have never counted calories and eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I plan ahead for special occasions and never give anything up. I don’t worry about the way my body is changing or the weight I am gaining because I truly believe that the human body will do what it needs to do in order to create a life. It’s important to let your body do its thing and not worry about what everyone thinks or says.

The First Trimester

Before I was able to really announce my pregnancy, I felt like I was starting to “show” and have a little pooch in my belly around 9 weeks. It was exciting, and I thought to myself, wow this is really happening. I started to google “when do you start showing in pregnancy” to find out how long I could actually go without telling people. First mistake: google. I was shocked to read that most women don’t start showing until 16-20 weeks. What?! That meant I had 7-10 more weeks to go before I should really starting “showing?”  At my first Doctor’s appointment around 9 weeks I asked my doctor that question I had so desperately been trying to find out. “When am I supposed to start showing?” (I wanted him to confirm that my little pooch was okay since I had never gone through this experience before). He told me that typically most first-time pregnancies don’t start showing until 20 weeks. Again, I was shocked. I said, “so you’re telling me that you aren’t supposed to start gaining weight until week 20?” He said, oh no dear, showing and weight gain are two separate things.” Now, I was confused.

Around week 12 I officially had a “pooch” and I couldn’t hide it anymore. I started to slowly tell close family and friends who would respond, I thought you looked different in the belly. Do I say thank you?

By week 14, I officially announced to the world that I was pregnant on social media. When friends or family would see me soon after my announcement they would immediately greet me with “woah, look at your belly!” It was never, “wow, you look great, or how exciting that you are pregnant!” I blame it on the hormones, but I started to feel more sensitive than normal. Was I not supposed to have this belly? All of this was so new to me and I wanted to make sure I was doing things everything “right.”

After my 17- week doctor’s appointment, my Doctor confirmed that everything was right on track and that the baby had a healthy heart beat, and everything was progressing smoothly. After hearing the strong heart beat for myself, seeing our baby in the ultrasound and meeting with my Doctor, I decided that the only thing that mattered from this point forward was that my baby was healthy, I was feeling good, and Sean and I are were making the most of this experience together. Comments from friends, family, and strangers, and advice from google, didn’t truly matter. While some people gave me reactions I was not prepared for, I knew deep down that everything came from a place of love. I focused on only surrounding myself with the people who truly supported me and gave off good energy.

Slowly but surely, after talking to real life Mom’s I learned that everyone’s body is different, and it depends on how and where you carry more of your baby weight. I knew I wasn’t doing anything out of the normal, I was still eating really healthy and working out every day—sometimes adding a nightly prenatal yoga class to my routine. I wasn’t drinking alcohol and very little coffee and was eating better than ever. I felt great, no morning sickness, and my energy was through the roof.

When I would receive the “woah, look at your belly” comment I would say, “thank you, I am really loving this experience and enjoying how my body is changing. It truly is a magical process that should be cherished every step of the way.”

While the above chart is just a guide, keep in mind that your body will do what it needs to do in order to grow another human.  I’ve found that a more accurate tool for weight gain during pregnancy is: which takes into account your pre-pregnancy weight, height, and due date and gives you a range of what this weight gain can look like.

Keep in mind that although your baby may only actually weigh a few ounces in the first and second trimester, your weight will come from an increase in tissue mass (breasts, thighs, belly), greater blood volume, fluid, and fat stores needed for insulating the baby and preparing for child birth. Most women gain more weight during the second trimester compared to the third trimester since weeks 13-26 are when most of the development happens. But again, it all depends on what baby wants for you. Babies have a plan for us whether we know it or not.

Second Trimester: The Honeymoon Phase

The second trimester of pregnancy was my favorite. I understand why it is called the honeymoon stage. You are over the first stage of pregnancy (pains), getting back into a normal routine, and energy is at its highest. I also found it to be a great time for both Sean and I as we are connecting on an even more intimate level—emotionally, mentally, and physically.  First and foremost, we believe that the most important part of having a baby is raising him or her to be a healthy, happy and kind human being. What is truly better than that?

One thing that you may need to be aware of during this phase, is accommodating your growing belly. You may find that your normal sleeping positions aren’t comfortable anymore and it may be time to invest in a pregnancy pillow. I have always been a belly sleeper, and around the 17-week mark, it wasn’t comfortable anymore. Although sleeping on your stomach is perfectly safe for the baby during the second trimester, it’s all about what’s comfortable to you. You are not going to smoosh the baby, there is plenty of padding and fluid to protect them. I found side sleeping to be difficult but started to get used to it by putting a pillow between my legs. While it is still safe to sleep on your back until week 20, I didn’t find that to be very comfortable either unless I used a pregnancy body pillow which looks like I giant C shape to wrap around all the places you need a little more comfort.

Starting in week 20, doctors recommend you avoid sleeping on your back for long periods of time as the uterus can put pressure on major blood vessels which can limit blood supply to the baby. You may even find it may be harder to breathe in this position and in that case, your body will wake yourself up before things get serious.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the best position to sleep in is on your left side. This will help your heart pump more blood and nutrients to your placenta and your baby. Sleeping on your left side, also keeps the uterus off the liver, which is located on your abdomens right side. It’s suggested that when you sleep on your side, to keep your knees and legs bent to keep your heart from working overtime and relive pressure from your low back.

Also keep in mind that nearly 1/3 of pregnant women suffer from restless less syndrome which can be described as an itchy, jittery feeling in the legs that gives you an overwhelming urge to move and stretch. This feeling usually happens in the nighttime hours. There is no one thing that can explain this issue, but it could be due from a lack of nutrients or rising estrogen levels during pregnancy. I’ve found that the best remedy for this is to do some form of light movement especially before bed. I recommend a short walk, legs up the wall, standing yoga poses, light leg stretches, or a gentle massage. Drinking mineral water or coconut water high in electrolytes after dinner also helps to prevent restless legs during the night due prevent cramping from dehydration. Homeopathic restless leg syndrome remedies may also help as well; however, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before taking.