Pregnancy Update 🀰🏻: Tips & Recommendations πŸ‘

My pregnancy journey began since that chilly night in February when we found out about her existence. Since then, I have encountered many changes that required simple acceptance of and adapting to. The past ten months have been such an incredible experience. Despite not feeling physically well on many days, I enjoyed the pregnancy and am immensely thankful for the opportunity to be a mother πŸ™πŸΌ.


Read on for tips and recommendations I sorted through to share on this blog.

exercise

I would categorize myself as living a sedentary lifestyle. Other than circling the classroom and chasing kids at work as a teacher, I don't have other forms of physical activity incorporated into my life. Since falling pregnant, I pushed myself to persist in increasing my activity level. I wanted the best health outcomes possible for me and baby during and after labour.

Exercising was undoubtedly tough in the first trimester due to frequent dizziness and nausea. However, simple things like walking the longer route to fill up a water bottle, or trek the stairs a few more times during a lunch supervision helped clear up my foggy brain at work. The number of daily steps recorded on the Fitbit kept me motivated. 

When my burst of energy returned around the 15th week, I upped my exercise goal to four to five 30 minutes ~ 1 hour sessions per week. I had to experiment to find activities that I enjoyed enough to persist, and rotated them throughout the week. The following were engaging for me:
  • Fast paced walks in nature trails -- choice of trails and length varied by weather and physical condition; family, friends and colleagues kept me company. 
  • Prenatal workout videos - great for indoor days when it was too hot in the summer. I loved how encouraging and upbeat Amy is in her video.
  • Swimming - an excellent activity that is easy on the joins, made me feel free and light thanks to the buoyancy.
  • Just Dance in Sweat Mode - entertaining for self or a group of friends! I followed choreography to the best of my abilities, but took frequent breaks. I followed Youtube videos of the dances when I didn't have my game console nearby.
Increasing the level of physical activity has done a number of great things for my body: controlling weight gain, enhancing sleep quality, decreasing gas pains and bloating, as well as maintaining regular bowel movements. 

Sleep

Sleep and naps are super important as the body is working around the clock to grow another being inside. I had to utilized the 'unfinished work can wait and nothing catastrophic will happen' philosophy even during the most hectic times. I was lucky that summer break was a few months away and I was not returning to teach in September. As a back sleeper, developing habits of side-sleeping early on was important before the second trimester. My obstetrician said that sleeping on both sides is OK, and sleeping with hips tilted on an axis is fine too. I owned various soft and firm pillows in queen and king sizes I stuffed them behind my back for support.

In the third trimester, several new discomforts emerged. The enlargement of the uterus riding near the diaphragm brought on ripping rib muscle pains; the stomach was further restricted, leading to reflux; and Braxton-hicks contractions, when the belly becomes rock hard, accompanied by increased resistance when breathing. I found that propping up my upper body with pillows and taking deep breaths really helped in relieving such discomforts.

FOOD & Supplements

I never really developed a specific craving, but rather had preferred foods from week to week. Some times I really wanted strawberries, and some times I wanted meat. I would recommend taking in plenty of good sources of proteins, calcium, complex carbohydrates, and frequently add dark green leafy vegetables and orange/red vegetables to your meals. Try to avoid consuming too much refined sugars (i.e. desserts) even if everyone tells you that it's OK and "you are eating for two". You aren't. Find out your caloric needs throughout the three trimesters and plan accordingly. When cravings hit, try to replace them with healthier alternatives like fruits and yogurt (although I did have way too many πŸ•and dark πŸ«...). Anything under-cooked, like raw fish sushi, raw sprouts in salads and sunny-side-up eggs were taken out of my diet. I did not restrict myself in terms of spices though; Korean pork bone soup and Japanese curry πŸ› were my favourite dishes.

In terms of supplements, I would advise taking prenatal vitamins and purified DHA oil. I was also put on iron supplement as well for my anemia.

wardrobe

Through experimentation I found that oversized sweaters and boxy tops don't suit me. I struggled piecing together outfits from my wardrobe for as long as I could, but had to buy a pair of maternity pants early on for comfort at work. Luckily summer sale was on when work ended in late June, so I was able to buy some quality dresses that will keep me comfortable and also work for after the baby. I also received a few lovely pieces from friends so I'm super grateful for that.

Mid / long length dresses with stretch: these feel the most comfortable and look the most flattering.

Wilfred Free Bruni dress: compared to solid colours, the heathered options visually eliminated the look of the Reposa fabric pilling. Excellent stretch and shows off the bump nicely! I can STILL wear it at week 38 without my skin showing through stretched fabric! It can also be thrown in the dryer without shrinking!

Wilfred Free Bruni Dress - Canada Place, Vancouver

Wilfred Free Yumi dress:
ribbed, hits mid-thigh, has great stretch and is thicker in material. I chose the mid-tone grey as the light pink and white showed layers of fat and underwear marks more than I preferred. Hang/lay flat to dry to avoid shrinkage.


Wilfred Assonance Dress: pretty empire waist dress with a flattering long drape, perfect for more formal occasions with a short cardigan. Comfortable and lots of colour options. Need to hang/leave flat to dry to avoid too many wrinkles on the skirt portion.


Thyme cotton blend maternity dress: because these have the elastics on the side, I only purchased one to wear. It likes to ride up on my thigh but it was summer break so I didn't ind pulling it down once in a while. Probably not amazing for work because it's thinner and shows what you wear underneath.
Thyme cotton blend maternity dress - Yale Town, Vancouver
I also bought a couple of super practical jersey maxi dresses for cheap from a road shop called Couturist when I was visiting in Vancouver.

Maternity leggings (Thyme): In both capri and full lengths and half waistbands that are foldable, they proved to be my go-to bottoms through pregnancy and fitted well despite my increasing thigh girth. The two maternity pants I bought on the other hand, became very tight just in the crotch area and were left collecting dust after the 4th month.

Nursing Bras (Thyme Seamless Bralettes): With some experimentation I found that sport-like nursing bra without underwires and with (removable) padding were the best investment. Get them on sale!

Bath and body products

I used the following products for stretch mark prevention:

Pigeon Moisture Body Care Cream - a moisturizer that is quickly absorbed, claiming to provide 24 hours of hydration designed especially for pregnant women. It is light and fragrance-free. I've enjoyed using it in the morning and before bed. Now I use it on baby after her bath.

Marcel Stretch Mark Cream - Fragrance free and claims to prevent stretch marks. It feels slightly heavier than the Pigeon cream, but I like how fast it absorbs as well! Thyme usually has the buy 2 get 1 free deal.

Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil - For massaging the belly and thigh to help with cellulite and stretch marks. It has a strong scent and transfers to clothing if not massaged in. Currently just trying to finish the bottle.


I didn't end up getting stretch marks but unsure whether it's my good genes from mom, or my religious application of the above products. I only used one product at a time though.

APPs & MiSC goodies

Ovia Pregnancy App: I found this app to be super useful in terms of recording symptoms, appointments, showing progress and looking up built-in references. There is also an Ovia Parenting App for use post-partum.

Screenshot of the home page (now post partum) and Settings Page. The Contraction Timer and Food Safety Lookup were especially useful tools!
Sign up for samples and freebies (formulas came handy as I had trouble breastfeeding initially):

# Thyme maternity store

# Nestle, Enfamil, Similac: sign up to receive free samples of liquid formula, disposable nipples for liquid formula, coupons and useful information.

Goodies that came in the mail, plus items I traded in coupons for at Shopper's and Walmart
# Babybox  :learn about safe sleeping through an online course (super quick!), pick up a babybox with mattress and a few baby goodies inside. I got socks, pacifiers, baby wash and diaper samples. The box is in the living room now to act as a bassinet.

The Baby Box is quite sturdy!


Before I head back to the nursery/bedroom, I must share one of my favourite maternity photo by our good friend Jay Li taken at Knox College, U of T back in September.


Like I said at the beginning of the post, the pregnancy was a very special period of time in my life, and I am forever grateful for all the love and support received from family, friends, colleagues and students πŸ˜˜. 


as always,
xo, mary

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