Being pregnant has been the most eye-opening experience, forcing me to listen to, and learn about, my body as much as the mini miracle growing inside it. At first frustrated about all the ‘can’t dos’ pregnancy suddenly presents, I then discovered some amazing new routines and rituals that make the hormonal turmoil much more bearable. Here are some gems I’d personally recommend to all expectant mums:
Body conditioning and hypnobirthing
Switch cardio for barre class
I decided to cutback on cardio and instead turn to barre class – a good way to exercise inspired by ballet. Great for pregnancy, it is a low impact way to get your heart rate up and strengthen muscles. The mum who teaches my class built in modifications for the abs sections, which meant that while the rest of the class do traditional planks and push-ups, I do them at the barre.
Yoga & breathing
In addition, pregnancy yoga has been so much more than a way to relax and practice the obligatory pelvic floors. My regular classes have been invaluable for pregnancy and labour preparation, not only through learning postures that can help to prevent common ailments (sciatica, pelvic girdle pain etc) and encourage the baby to get into the right position for a natural birth, but I’ve also learnt breathing techniques and stamina exercises to mentally prepare for, and manage, contractions come the big day.
My hubby and I also took an amazing hypnobirthing course. It’s a practical guide to having a (hopefully) calm birth and shortened labour, with take-away techniques for releasing your body’s natural anesthetic hormones. Even if it all goes out of the window at the last minute, it has made me fear-free of the impending situation.
The skin situation
Thanks to hormone surges, my skin went haywire from about week seven of pregnancy. As a Beauty Editor, I know on paper how to deal with acne outbreaks (Don’t. Touch. Ever.) but, as a regular person who’s had dry-ish, clear skin all her life, I freaked out and fiddled. It took a facialist to tell me my spots had become acne clusters and that even professional extraction wasn’t an option.
Thankfully, she had some soothing solutions for me. First, adding facial steaming with lime juice into my routine. All I had to do was squeeze a lime into hot water and then steam my face. Next up, I switched my skincare to really gentle products, without essential oils. Finally, I started using naturally antibacterial coconut oil to remove makeup and cleanse my skin. These simple additions helped everything settle come my third trimester.
I was, and still am, a big superfoodie, but have tweaked how I use them during pregnancy. Top of my list are prenatal multi-vitamins (like Neal’s Yard Remedies Super Nutrient Pregnancy Supplement) and omega 3s – good for healthy brain and eye development.
However, on top of this, I’ve also been supplementing with powders. I add a little spirulina to green juices and breakfast smoothies for added iron, which pregnant women can notoriously lack. I’ve also been making raw cacao brownies supercharged with Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Greens Complex to satisfy my sweet cravings and help boost my immune system.
My limited caffeine count is usually met with a matcha latte, which gives off a cleaner hit than coffee or black tea and is bursting with antioxidants.
Smooth stretch marks
While I’ll wear any stretch marks as a proud badge of bearing my baby, I’m keeping my tummy skin nourished with Neal’s Yard Remedies Mothers Balm. This lovely balm is packed with natural ingredients to improve the appearance of stretch marks.
A bonding moment
The daily ritual of rubbing Mother’s Balm into my bump is the perfect bonding moment, which establishes a connection with my baby. He or she gets a mini massage, as do I, twice a day – what’s not to love?
Take time for a treat
For me, pregnancy massage has been an amazing way to counter prenatal aches and pains (lower, upper and middle backache, leg cramps and water retention). I’ve treated myself a few times to specialist treatments and have also tried an at-home spa service. They somehow made side-to-side and upright massage work so well melting muscle tension yet stimulating circulation. A little bit of pregnancy pampering doesn’t need to break the bank though, after all, the only thing you really need is an evening to spoil yourself – and someone at home to massage your toes!
Acupuncture & reflexology
While many alternative therapies are deemed no-gos during pregnancy, acupuncture and reflexology (when performed by a specialist) are safe and can have many benefits. For me the experience has always been deeply relaxing and powerfully benefitted me both physically and emotionally.
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns you can always talk to your healthcare practitioner.
Cosmopolitan.co.uk Beauty Editor