STEP EIGHT on how to Prepare Mentally for Having your First Baby: Don’t Underestimate How Your Body is Affected
The focus in all my blogs is mental preparation, because people don’t talk about it. Even though physical preparation is as equally important, I wish there was more of a balance. I believe there is too much emphasis on the physical side, especially with the first baby. In fact, if women prepared as much mentally as many do physically, they would be a lot better off!
Saying that, to prepare for the physical ordeal, which will probably be the biggest of your body’s life, cannot be underestimated. For example, I swear by Pregnancy Yoga. Even though the practice hardly got a look-in second time round, yogic breathing helped me successfully get through both my labours, drug-free.
Women do all sorts of things to prepare physically, but how much to they think about how pregnancy and birth is going to physically affect them? Once people know you are pregnant, for example, they always encourage you to eat more, “Go on, have some more cake, you are eating for two!” Eating and how it will affect you (people only seem to talk about how it is going to affect your baby), is one thing that I wish was discussed more.
First of all, you do not need to ‘eat for two’. It is a fallacy that you need to double your food intake when you are pregnant. Change your diet so it more healthy and toxin free, yes; increase certain foods high in particular vitamins and mineral relative to the development of your baby, yes; increase your healthy carbohydrate intake, yes; eat little and often, yes; but increase the volume, no! Think about how nutritionally valuable every bite is. If it’s not good for you, it won’t be good for the baby either. However, its negative calorific affect will be particularly bad for you.
The stress women encounter when they put on a lot of weight during pregnancy and then can’t get rid of it, is real and heavy. People try to make you feel better and say, “Don’t worry it’ll fall off when you breast feed”. I don’t know who this happens for, but it certainly didn’t happen for me. I put on weight when I breast fed, both times.
At the same time, pregnancy does create cravings and awful nausea, which can often only be stopped by eating. And as we know, when you need to eat, you really need to eat! Often the snacks available when these pangs hit are not the healthiest, and I also know how nothing deals with hunger better than a good old bit of stodge!
So what is a girl to do? First of all, decide if this is a problem for you or not. It may not be. Then look at your diet and how healthy it is. Whether you care about the extra pounds or not, your baby’s development relies on what you put in your mouth. If you decide that your diet is not as healthy as it could be and that you are someone who cares about those extra wobbly bits, here are a few suggestions:
- Try cutting out as much refined sugar as you can. It has only one benefit: a short energy spurt. You are then left with an energy dip and the calories on your hips! Sometimes, a piece of chocolate is the only fix, and little and often is fine, but after every meal, or as your regular snack throughout the day, is not. If it is chocolate that you need, then try the 70% cocoa ones instead of a Cadbury’s bar. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, even though it has caffeine in it, has anti-oxidants in it too and is a relatively healthy alternative.
- Try and cut out the really fatty foods. All processed and ready-prepared foods are a no-no. Convenience foods are the worst – apart from a piece of fruit! Buy healthy snacks and always have them in your bag. You know what works for you: healthy crackers, vegetable sticks, fruit or health food bars.
- If you are one of these people who is good at controlling what you eat, one thing which is worth trying is a wheat free diet. What, no bread or pasta?! No cakes or buns?! If you think of most of the naughty things you eat, nearly all of them contain wheat. These days, as long as you are not egg intolerant, there are many, much more healthy alternatives for nearly everything naughty and sweet. They use natural ingredients as sweeteners, and rice or quinoa, or some other substitute, instead of wheat. They are a bit more expensive but taste much nicer and are much better for you, full of nuts and natural ingredients which taste nice and are really good for your growing baby. Some people believe that if you are on a wheat free diet while you are pregnant, your baby is likely to be smaller. I have no idea how they can prove this accurately, and whether this is a good thing, but it may have been a contributing factor as to why I had small babies (6lb 2oz and 6lb 7oz). I am a bit sceptical. I have had a wheat intolerance for years and so my wheat free diet had nothing to do with being pregnant. In fact, I probably waivered a bit more while being pregnant, because every now and again, I just ‘fancied’ something! All I know is that a small baby means a small head, which is definitely beneficial during childbirth!
You may be one of those people who just loves to eat and does not care about the odd extra pound. The point is, as long as you are giving your baby all the nutrients he needs, if you put on weight as well, that’s your choice.
The message I’m trying to get across is that it may not be as easy as everyone would have you believe to loose the weight. It usually takes a year before you feel anything close to your previous self. If you ever get completely back. What do you mean ‘if’ you ever get back. Well, pregnancy brings all kinds of delights which people don’t like to talk about, in the form of stretch marks and excess skin around your stomach, not to mention the drooping boobs after feeding stops. I encourage any mothers reading this who have stories, to please share them. It’s so important women know what to expect. With all the hormonal rubbish going on, we don’t need any other nasty surprises!
There is no doubt that the more weight you put on during pregnancy, especially if you are a slightly older first time mum, the more of an impact it will have on you physically. Nature intended for us to start pro-creating when we reached puberty. Nowadays we are leaving it so late that many new mothers are closer to menopause. We all feel the affects of age once we hit our 30s and so to ask our bodies to perform it’s most arduous and staining of tasks at this age or older, is a big deal, not to be underestimated. Also remember that our skin is not as elastic, and with age come other health complications. So if you are an older mum-to-be, take all of this into consideration, look after yourself more than ever and give yourself a break when you need it. There is nothing the body can’t do, as long as you look after it and don’t take it for granted. I love being an older mum. I’m nearly 40 and so I am not searching for my own journey like I was 10 years ago. Instead, I can give myself much more to my children and I feel I have a lot more I can teach and show them. There are definite pluses for having kids later on, as long as we look after ourselves physically, and keeping our weight down will really help with that.
 I took Zita West pregnancy supplements throughout my pregnancy, because they change each trimester, relative to the development of your baby. Also, make sure you have plenty of Omega 3 Supplements, rich in DHA which is vital for brain development. Zita West do a very good one, specific for pregnancy. www.zitawest.com
 Think about the fact that your baby is growing continuously, and so to eat little and often is the best way forward if you can. When I was pregnant I was told to aim for 6 small, nutritious daily snacks and light meals.