A great aspect to pregnancy is that no two women have the same experience. Some feel wonderful and others want to rip their hair out as their pregnancy progresses. For me, at 24 weeks, I really don't have many complaints... and I’m usually not shy when it comes to complaining. Being a healthcare practitioner may have played a big role. But it’s not just because I started off at an advantage with nutrition and fitness expertise. I took it upon myself to really understand what my body was experiencing and nurtured its changes as best possible.
One of the best ways to take care of yourself during your pregnancy is maintain a low stress level. I loved this quote from a recent HuffPost article: "Labor is one of the most physical things you’ll ever do,” prenatal instructor Angela Gallagher told Yoga Journal. "You would not run a marathon without preparation. Why would you go into labor without preparing for it?"
For those of you who are looking to get pregnant or are currently pregnant, here’s a few tips to prepare you no matter where you are in your pregnancy.
If you are considering getting pregnant, I’d suggest incorporating yoga into your fitness routine even for as little as 20 to 30 minutes once per week. According to a 2012 study, yoga during pregnancy has been noted to lower stress levels, decrease leg and back pain and decrease depression/anxiety-related emotions (among many others!). Depending on how advanced you are, modifications could come as you see fit. I started modifying my yoga practice at 20 weeks, but until then I was able to perform a proper Vinyasa flow format. I felt a sense of calm after each class and always found myself sleeping well on those nights. Studios like Pure Yoga offer a variety of flows as well as prenatal yoga classes.
According to Jillian Fitzgerald, an NYC-based licensed acupuncturist, herbal teas could help pregnant women manage their symptoms (i.e. morning sickness and general nausea) and stay hydrated. A 2005 study demonstrated the effectiveness of ginger in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. As a bonus, some teas provide important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and iron. Brands like Traditional Medicinals offer a variety of safe herbal combinations hand selected by an in-house herbalist to provide relief to common early trimester symptoms such as nausea, morning sickness, headaches, gas and general discomfort. My two favorites include the Organic Pregnancy Tea, a combination of raspberry and nettle leaf, and other smaller herbs such as spearmint leaf and the Organic Ginger Aid, which primarily includes ginger rhizome.
Massage therapy -- even prior to pregnancy -- is a drug-free way to feel good, and people don’t take advantage of it primarily due to time and budget constraints. Many spas provide discounts on massage packages and work with their clientele to ensure regular attendance. You just have to ask! In a 2008 study, massage therapy during pregnancy resulted in decreased self-reported leg pain, back pain, depression and anxiety. Bonus: partners who massaged the pregnant women reported a decrease in depression and anxiety as well. Although there aren’t many places exclusively dedicated to pregnancy, some like Edamame Spa in NYC, offer different therapies based on preference. Noelle Masini, manager of of the spa, noted that many women book a massage in their last few weeks and most wished they had visited sooner.
Pregnancy is a precious time and you deserve “me” pampering so take advantage and make your health a priority!