Everyone says that pregnancy is difficult. Of course, I believed them, but you don’t really understand the extent of the difficulty unless you’ve gone through it. At least that was the case for me. Here are my hardest challenges with pregnancy and my solutions for them.
This was my first greatest pregnancy challenge. In the first trimester, it is normal to get nausea. You are likely to get nausea from around week 6 to week 12, so I’ve read. I got mine right on the dot at week 6. I am not someone who gets motion sickness or nauseous very easily, so this was a struggle for me. On top of
The worst part of the nausea was that there was no warning. I’ll be fine one minute then I found myself running to the bathroom and heaving over the toilet the next. My sense of smell was also heightened. Even the slightest smell of foods, body odor, and perfumes had me running for the bathroom.
It got so bad that I had to call in sick for 3 weeks. I had to say goodbye to my saved up sick and vacation time. I’ve heard that some women can get nausea throughout their entire pregnancy. Others end up in the hospital due to dehydration from the vomiting. I actually lost 3 kg (about 6 lbs) from the vomiting during my first trimester. Some weight loss I’ve heard is normal, but if you’re losing weight rapidly, I would consult your doctor/midwife.
I can believe some women end up in the hospital for dehydration. I felt it was hard to drink even water! Water had this metallic taste which triggered my nausea. So, I often avoided drinking water. I wasn’t to that extreme, but the nausea is something I will be dreading in my next pregnancy.
One solution for nausea that I found helpful was ginger ale, small sips during meals helped to settle my stomach. Some people say that it’s the fizziness, others the ginger. Whatever it was it helped.
Sour candy was another one, it had the same effect as the ginger ale. Settled my upset stomach and really dissipated nausea.
However, the ginger ale and sour candy stopped working after a while. The sugar in both was something I wanted to avoid also, so my mother-in-law suggested lemon water.
Freshly squeezed lemons in cool water (no sugar or other sweeteners added). It wasn’t tart but having a hint of lemon in my water made a world of difference. I made and religiously drank lemon water until I was able to kick that 1st-trimester nausea.
Something else I’ve heard is helpful are saltine crackers or plain crackers. I’ve personally not tried this but apparently, it’s a common solution.
2. The changes to my body
This is likely a pregnancy challenge for most women. Weight has and still is something I’ve struggled with. I am not overweight, but I’ve always been insecure about my self-image. In the last 10 years, I fluctuated in weight, I peaked at 132 lbs throughout my late 20’s. As much as I tried, I just couldn’t get that scale to get read any lower than 125 lbs. When I got pregnant, I was worried about weight gain because according to my weight history, I can easily gain, but it was impossible for me to lose.
The first thing I noticed was much larger breasts. I wasn’t too disappointed with these. haha, as an Asian it’s a dream to have some boob and to fill-out that cup you’ve been wearing all your adult life.
When my belly started filling out it wasn’t too noticeable. It looked like a food-belly plus in the winter season scarves and long sweaters and cardigans were my best friends.
The changes really started to hit home when I noticed my waist start to disappear. No more curves and that 6-pack I was slowly working on, went from a 2 pack to one large bump. At the end of my second trimester, I seriously couldn’t tell where my ass stopped and my back started. It was all the same width, just a large fleshy wall. My self-esteem took a hit at this time.
Another change I was concerned with was stretch marks. I looked up many blog posts about stretch marks. I looked for creams, oils and homemade concoctions that claimed to be the “miracle solution for stretch marks” but everything had mixed reviews. Other posts encouraged women to embrace the stretch marks. It claimed that there are no creams, oils or other solutions that could prevent them. Advocating that stretch marks are something that should be worn proudly. It is a part of the story of what your body went through that brought about the miracle that is your child.
While I agree that your body goes through a tremendous amount of change during pregnancy, I really struggled with the fact that I didn’t have full control of this body that had been mine for 30 years. I was sharing it with this little thing, and she was calling (almost) all the shots.
My husband would remind me that she will be worth it. While I completely agreed, to be fair his body wasn’t going through the changes. While stretch marks could happen it doesn’t always happen. So, if there was something I could do to help minimize stretch marks I wanted to be doing it. I wanted to be able to look at my body postpartum and still see a glimpse of myself. My desire was to add the title of mother to who I am, not lose myself in just being a mom.
I didn’t gain much weight from the beginning of my pregnancy to the end of my 2nd trimester. A total of 8 lbs but I was definitely a lot bigger than I’ve ever been. By the end of my pregnancy, I had gained about 25 lbs. The normal range is between 25-35lbs.
However, it was hard to like the way I looked when I saw myself in the mirror. It didn’t feel good when I sat down my breasts would just sit on top of my enlarged belly. Accepting the changes and knowing they are temporary was something I struggled to come to terms with.
If these are similar concerns that you have as a pregnant mom-to-be, here are some things that really helped me.
A. Being active
My first trimester was hard, I was always so tired. I am not someone who would normally take naps but during those first 3 months, I slept huge chunks of the day. In the midst of this, I did the best I could to be active.
Before I had found out that I was pregnant I played volleyball once a week which was awesome. Doing something I enjoyed with people I enjoyed being with. As I got larger and volleyball was not a safe option, I turned to walking.
I would set my step goal to 10,000 steps per day on my Fitbit. Setting this goal helped. Sometimes I did more but most days I did less. However, it was something that motivated and reminded me to walk more. The walking helped with the back pain that came with a larger front load and from sitting; plus it helped me maintain a smaller weight gain with the pregnancy.
B. Eating in moderation
The 2nd trimester is when the baby starts to grow, and your appetite comes back. I was literally craving everything. I would smell chili and want it. While I was eating the chili, I would see an ad for pho and want that. It was literally anything I saw and smelled I wanted, this made eating in moderation tough.
For me, a great motivator was that if I ate too much, I would become incredibly uncomfortable. In your 2nd trimester, your organs are pushed up and your stomach doesn’t have a lot of space to expand as it did. So when I overate, I felt like body and my skin was at war with each other. There was literally not enough space for my expanding stomach and the baby and my skin was not giving way at all to accommodate.
Not only did I feel an immense amount of pressure inside; but the tight feeling on my skin just left me unable to get comfortable. It didn’t matter if I was standing, sitting, or lying down. You name the position it was not comfortable. If this isn’t an issue for you, and it won’t be for every woman, I would prepare food or buy food in smaller portions. Honestly, you can’t eat that much while you’re pregnant; so save money and your waistline by ordering smaller portions and portioning smaller amounts on your plate.
C. Don’t forget to workout
There are a lot of full-body, simple and safe workouts that you can do during pregnancy right in your home. I initially followed along with Kayla Itsines’ pregnancy workouts. She and I were pregnant at the same time only 2 weeks apart, but she was and is a lot more fit than me. So… it was hard to follow along exactly what she was going. If you’re a beginner to working out check my post, Beginners Guide to Mom Fitness.
I modified the workouts for a non-fitness guru with an amazing pre-pregnancy bod (thank goodness I have a kinesiology background). In my 3rd trimester, I started doing prenatal yoga. It really helped with my back pain and joint issues (your joints loosen to prepare for delivery). I have a background in health fitness and kinesiology so I just watched a YouTube video and did 10 minutes every other day. However, if you’re new to yoga or fitness I would recommend classes in your local area. Always check with your health care provider before you start any new exercise.
D. Sharing your insecurities.
Speak out about the changes your body is going through. It is going through a lot. Share with someone that you trust about how you’re feeling and how these changes are affecting you. It should be affecting you, you’re growing a tiny human! To say you’re doing something amazing is an understatement.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time going through it or your 3rd or 4th time. I shared my insecurities with my husband. He was an amazing support through the changes my body was going through and the challenges of accepting my body as I was struggling with how large I was getting. As I’ve mentioned my self-esteem took a major hit.
Having someone to remind you that you are more than what your body looks like, and how beautiful you look during the changes on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, however much you need it, is so important. My husband would often rub my belly, kiss it and say “hello, my beautiful baby girl. I can’t wait to meet you.”
During our long walks, he would remind me how beautiful I was in that moment and that with the growing belly, it just meant that our baby girl would be here soon. We would even plan out a workout schedule so that we could
E. Moisturize your stretching skin
There were a lot of mixed reviews about what creams, oils, and other things would help prevent or minimize stretch marks but the best thing to do is moisturize your skin every day and as often as you feel you need in a day.
My friend suggested Saje’s Mother’s Wellness body oil. She is prone to stretch marks and with her first pregnancy, she said that she used it daily and ended up to zero marks. I also opted for Mother’s Wellness, I was stretch mark free until my last 2 weeks of pregnancy. I ended up with a few on my side.
My husband would rub me down with a generous amount each night, all the areas that are known to get stretch marks, my back, waist, breasts, thighs (inner and outer), and of course my stomach. It was a nice wind-down time for us. Near the tail end of my 2nd trimester, I applied it twice; quickly in the morning before work, and then I would get the royal treatment in the evening before bed.
No matter what you use, use something, and do it daily. Avoid hot baths and scratching your skin when it gets itchy (and it will with all that stretching). Hot baths will dry out your skin and will make it even itchier!
I opted for a more natural moisturizer since it was going on my belly and moisturized twice daily until our daughter was born.
3. The discomfort and sleeping
People kept telling me to enjoy your sleep now while you can because when the baby comes you won’t be sleeping much! Well, a rude awakening is that I didn’t sleep much during my pregnancy either, I always found myself tired every morning. The discomfort from being so large was my final pregnancy challenge.
As a belly-sleeper, I had to stop sleeping this way quite early on in my pregnancy. I slept on my back at the end of the first trimester and well into my 2nd but around 25 weeks I just couldn’t sleep on my back anymore. I would feel short of breath when I laid on my back for too long.
So, I resorted to sleeping on my side. A lot of the books I’ve read as well as my medical professionals told me to sleep on my left side as the baby has better circulation when I sleep on my left side. Honestly, I was uncomfortable on either side and the baby didn’t seem to like it much either as she would move so much when I laid on my side. She would literally move for a good hour before settling down. Well into my third trimester, my belly was so large that when I slept on my side it pulled on my skin causing pain and discomfort.
Also, in my third trimester, she started sitting very low on which resulted in a lot of discomfort for me. I couldn’t bend forward and on some days I couldn’t wear my maternity pants because it pushed on my lower belly so much that it caused me pain.
Apparently, it all comes with the pregnancy… some things that helped a little (to be honest here I don’t think you will be very comfortable or sleep very well in the third trimester) are pillows. There were a lot of pillows on our bed. I had a flatter pillow supporting my belly (a folded towel also helps), another pillow between my legs, and a long body pillow supporting my back. During the day when she sat super low, I had a belly band that helped support my stomach and decreased the pressure and the weight it was causing. The belly band also helps with lower back pain. There are some great pregnancy pillows and I recommend this one.
In my last 2 months, I went to a Chiropractor and RMT almost on a weekly basis. It helped me a lot. The chiro helped realign my pelvis and created more space which helped decrease pain from when the baby sat so low as well as the lower back pain. The RMT was just a nice relaxing way to help with my hip pain and swelling in my legs as well as the neck pain I was feeling. If you have extended health and it covers 100%, 80%, or even 50% I would highly recommend seeing a Chiropractor and RMT with pregnancy specialty as it really helps with the discomfort.
Pregnancy is different for every woman and therefore the difficulties I had might be different from what you had or will have. It can also change from your first to your second pregnancy. However, for my first pregnancy, these were the most difficult for me and some ways I alleviated them. Nausea seems to happen for most moms I know regardless of if the pregnancy was their first or second. The changes to your body, I feel this is a challenge for all women as self-image is an ever-changing quality. Finally, the discomfort is not something that you can do much about as it comes with pregnancy but there are ways to help these difficulties and I hope that you found some of my solutions useful.