You might have already asked the question I’m pregnant, what now?, but it shouldn’t just be a matter of having a checklist you occasionally refer to. If you are going to get the most out of your pregnancy – healthwise, possibly career-wise and as prepartion for entering into a whole new chapter of your life (whether you already have children or not) – then some of the responsibilities of pregnancy are best treated as new regimes rather than chores or duties.
Kicking bad habits
If you were trying for a baby for a while, you may have already approached the issues of diet and nutrition.
It’s important to understand why alcohol should be limited in pregnancy. Many women feel unwell or get heartburn when they drink during pregnancy, which is a good incentive to cut it out, or at least cut it back. You can check out tips for cutting out booze but also think about when you tend to drink. If it’s when you see friends in the pub, try to meet them elsewhere, or suggest cinema trips for a while rather than wine bar meets, so you get used to not being around drink (which can be a bore when you’re on orange juice anyway!). But also, if the odd drink is part of your lifestyle, don’t be too hard on yourself. The odd glass is fine and better than letting alcohol become an obsession because you are banning yourself from having any.
Smoking is slightly more cut and dried: lots of research details the effects of smoking on conception, the dangers to the health of the unborn baby, and the long-term health risks to the child. Smoking can also increase the risk in the early months of your baby’s life, of ‘cot death’. It’s important to get the people who live with you to understand that too. if your partner smokes, try to make giving up a joint project, or at least discuss the idea that he smokes before he comes home and leaves his packet of fags at the door.
As most women know, changing your diet is a lifelong challenge whether you’re pregnant or not! It’s best to make changes gradually and incorporate them into your life. Take another route in your lunchbreak if the sushi bar is calling you (raw fish is unwise), and get into the habit of keeping energy-boosting, delicious snacks in your bag. Grazing is a good habit to get into and one that will stand you in good stead when you’re a busy mum!
From the basics of vitamins and supplements, to choosing a pregnant-friendly restaurant, to info on pregnancy cravings, you’ll find lots of useful articles attached to our diet and nutrition page.
Enjoying this new era
Now you’re pregnant there’ll be appointments with your antenatal care team of midwives, doctors and specialists. If you’re not the sort of person who usually keeps a diary, start now. You can make a virtue of it, by buying yourself the most gorgeous notebook you can find, so that lists and appointment dates are all kept in one place.
Try to look on the impending schedule of check-ups, blood tests, scans and antenatal classes as part of an amazing project, or a series of pit stops in your Baby Grand Prix!
Hopefully, the news of your pregnancy is greeted by you and those around you as a joyful thing. Make the most of people fussing and line them up for help you might need in later months. At first, you may just feel tired, or nauseous but apart from that, the first half of pregnancy is mostly about eating well and looking after yourself. As you get bigger, calling in favours like a lift to the hospital for a scan etc might come in more handy, and certainly after the birth you might want someone else to do your cleaning for you!!!
You might not wish to make your pregnancy an ‘excuse’ for everything, but do allow yourself some me-time. Even if you don’t suffer from extreme fatigue, your body is changing rapidly and you need to find your own way to relax. Maybe incorporate a new walk into your lunchbreak, or treat yourself to a really great energy-giving, alcohol-free cocktail every time you visit your health club, or treat yourself to some new aromatic candles. Whatever it is that makes you kick-back in a pregnant-friendly way, do it! You’ll find that, even after your baby is born, learning how to mark out your own space for relaxing will be a great gift to yourself.