I usually hate coming off as an 'expert' unless I'm sure of my sources and experiences. Now that it's my first pregnancy I was hesitant to post about some hacks that I've used to make my experience more pleasant and of course, healthier.
As this is my first pregnancy and I absolutely love reading anything about health and wellness, I think I've pretty much gone through hundreds of searches looking up anything from natural remedies for abdominal pain to nausea savers.
Here's what I learned:
Castor Oil + Vitamin E
If you were previously pregnant or going through it now, you've probably heard that stretch marks are going to start appearing! (Yikes). This is because your stomach stretches so wide to accommodate the baby, that your skin becomes a little too flexible and results in thin white lines across the body, also known as stretch marks.
I feel lucky that I've found these mostly on my hips. This is thanks to my skincare regimen which basically consists of rubbing Vitamin E and Castor oil mixed together all over my stomach, hips, thighs, and breasts.
As your body goes through the physical changes, you'll have to make sure and address every part so that you try to prevent stretch marks as much as possible.
Bottom line: No matter how tired you are (and you get pretty tired), try and rub these oils every evening before going to bed for maximum absorption.
Prenatal Massage (Only after 20 weeks)
I am a HUGE fan of massages, especially during pregnancy. I got my first prenatal massage only yesterday, but it provided so much stress relief and pain management for my back that I was just so thankful.
I was actually being educated throughout the massage which I was so grateful for since I learned that we retain a lot of water mostly in our back, our ankles, our underarms, and for some, all over.
Because of this water retention, my prenatal specialist implemented lymphatic drainage to ensure that I don't keep all of that water (causing more pain) and that the fluid is being balanced all over the body.
Note that the lymph system is part of the boy's immune system and actually helps fight infection. The lymph itself is a clear, slightly yellowish fluid and transports nutrients and oxygen to cells- collecting toxins on the way and flushing them out through the lymph nodes.
Bottom line: Please make it a priority to get a prenatal massage at least once a month from a certified prenatal massage therapist and only after 20 weeks.
Sweet Almond Oil During Early Stage of Labor
When I was talking to a friend about her birth story, she said she wished she knew the almond oil secret. Of course, I was intrigued and found that almond oil can actually help expand the skin right before labor.
This can help prevent 'tearing' during the final stages of labor. Note that most doctors may need to cut a bit of skin during labor given the baby is slightly larger than the dilation. The only way you can help prevent this is by rubbing almond oil in the relevant area a few weeks before labor and even during labor.
In your birth plan, make sure to ask your doctor if he applies any holistic alternatives to 'cutting' or tearing during labor. Some doctors (the amazing ones) actually do apply oils instead!
Probiotics + Prenatals
Aside from being skeptical of all medication in general, I can be even more skeptical of supplements. While I embrace the idea that supplements can help prevent any deficiencies, they can also be counterintuitive.
My trial and error with supplements helped me understand that not all of them are actually beneficial and some of them can even be harmful given they're taken too often or not the right way.
During my pregnancy, I've been having a LOT of digestion, gas, and bloating. I knew the best way to handle this was, of course, to stay away from foods that made you gassy but also to start feeding my gut the right things.
Our gut is made up of something called the microbiome- where good and bad bacteria is stored. In order to help balance the good and bad bacteria (80% should be good and 20% bad), it's crucial to feed your gut healthy bacteria.
Unfortunately, not all foods contribute to a better microbiome. The best way for this to be done is by taking probiotics and eating gut-promoting foods-- anything fermented. Such examples include yogurt (Chobani brand), sauerkraut, kombucha, and sprouted nuts.
I like to have natural Chobai Yogurt in the morning mixed with some fruits and a bit of granola. In order to promote better digestion, I also make energy balls with flax seeds, peanut butter, oats, and chopped cashews for some fiber.
Knowing how to use your diet to promote healthier digestion aside from just taking probiotics is just as important.
Prenatals have also been an important part of pregnancy in order to make sure that I'm not missing any crucial vitamins like folic acid, iron, and zinc. Taking the right high-end prenatal like Rainbow Light Prenatal One can ensure that you're absorbing most of the nutrients and that they're not laced with other unnecessary ingredients!
If you're already pregnant, you'll notice you may be more tired than usual-- totally normal. While this is the case with most women, it's important to continue staying active and getting creative about it.
I'm personally not about the gym, but I do love talking walks around nature so I make it a priority to walk at least 15-30 minutes a day during my lunch break at work. Sometimes, I'll take the elevator and go one floor lower than my apartment and take the stairs the rest of the way.
Whatever creative ideas you can come up with, do them! The more you stay active the better you'll feel. Exercise can help regulate your circulation, boost your mood, and even strengthen your body for labor!
Last but not least, I'm not a pro at yoga, but I love doing daily prenatal stretches to help prepare my body for the pushin'! This means butterfly pose, downward dog, and all that good stuff :)
I hope this helps!