Tip 11. Since we’re talking about food, let’s discuss fish. Eating fish gives you lots of great nutrients like omega-3s, but there are some varieties you should avoid. The FDA advised pregnant women not to eat swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish due to their high mercury content.
In fact, most fish contain trace amounts of mercury, so limit your fish meals to about two per week or about 12 ounces. As far as shellfish goes, it’s fine as long as it is thoroughly cooked.
Tip 12. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll want to think about your birth plan. Some women decide to “go with the flow,” but if you have specific desires in mind for your baby’s birth, it’s a good idea to write them down. Some things to consider are any pain management you do or do not want, who will be in the room with you, procedures you want to avoid, and special music you want to be played.
Many women who have gone through with natural birth said that having it written down in their birth plan helped them stick to it when things got painful. It’s important to remember that birth can be unpredictable, and the most important thing is for you and your baby to be healthy and safe.
Tip 13. Keeping a dream journal is a fun way to look back at the crazy and vivid dreams that you tend to have during pregnancy. Insomnia and anxiety can spur these wild dreams. If your dreams are bad, don’t let them get to you. It’s normal to have occasional worries and fears about labor and motherhood, and your dreams tend to enhance those concerns. Talk about them with someone when you wake up, and then let them go.
Tip 14. Get friendly with Kegels. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re an exercise you can do at any time to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. Not only can they help make delivery easier, but they’ll also help prevent postpartum bladder control issues.
They are easy to do, and no one will even know you’re doing them. Use the same squeezing motion you use to stop your urine flow. Hold it for three seconds, relax for three seconds, and repeat ten times. You don’t want to be afraid every time you sneeze after your baby is born, so start doing Kegels right away.
Tip 15. Pregnancy gives you a completely valid reason to get out of certain household chores. There are certain things to avoid for your baby’s safety and your own safety. Some of them are obvious like avoiding harsh chemicals and not lifting anything too heavy. You should also pass on litterbox cleaning duties to avoid toxoplasmosis. Stay off of step stools and ladders. Since your center of gravity is a bit off, you might find yourself clumsier than normal.
Tip 16. Did you know eating for two doesn’t mean you get to double your calorie intake? How much weight you should gain during pregnancy depends on how much your starting weight was. Underweight women need to gain between 28 to 40 pounds. Normal weight gain is 25 to 35 pounds. Overweight women should gain 15 to 25 pounds.
You typically only need about 300 extra calories per day while you’re pregnant, and those calories should come from foods that are high in protein and low in fat and sugar. Look for food that has plenty of calcium, iron, and folic acid.
Your doctor will weigh you at all of your appointments to make sure you’re on track for healthy weight gain, but it doesn’t hurt to keep track at home between appointments, too. Too much extra weight gained during pregnancy can be hard to lose later, and too little can put babies at risk for a low birth weight.
Tip 17. Sleep can become more and more difficult as your belly grows. If your sleep issues are due to insomnia, try natural remedies like meditation or hot milk before bed. Stretching before bed can help with calming your mind and relaxing your body, too.
Pillows will become your best friend at night. You can try the pillows specifically made for pregnancy that is c-shaped to go between your legs and under your belly. Or, just grab extra pillows you have on hand. Try one between your legs, one under your belly, and one behind your back, or any combination that works best for you. It’s amazing how a strategically-placed pillow can improve your sleep.
Tip 18. Caffeine is technically ok during pregnancy, but only in limited quantities. If you rely on your morning cup of coffee to get started, or your afternoon cup to keep you going, try fruit instead. The natural sugars in fruits can lift your energy levels, as well as give you some added nutrients that coffee doesn’t.
Tip 19. You often hear about women having a “pregnancy glow,” but you might be struggling with the less-desirable pregnancy mask. Pregnancy makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you’ll want to be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Those dark, blotchy spots on your face are caused by chloasma, or “the mask of pregnancy.” While there’s not much you can do about it during pregnancy, it is temporary and will go away either after delivery or when you’re done breastfeeding.
Tip 20. Edema is the swelling of hands and feet during pregnancy. 75% of pregnant women experience edema caused by excess fluid in your system. While it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to deal with edema is to drink plenty of water in order to flush everything through your system. Support stockings will help with some of your ankle swellings.
You may have to ditch your rings during pregnancy if you get too swollen. It’s also a good opportunity to do a little shoe shopping to get something to fit your feet more comfortable.