How to Survive Pregnancy

“I know I have an easier pregnancy than some people,” I said to my OBGYN as we discussed my various woes, to which she said, “Yes, but every pregnancy is hard.”

True dat.

While you may experience symptoms beyond the reach of this post, hopefully, something here will help you as you move through your pregnancy in preparation for the bumpiest, most beautiful ride of a lifetime – motherhood. I put a lot of info here, so feel free to scroll to the sections that are relevant to you!

I’ve written this post with the intent to help, but I am not a medical doctor or physical therapist or anything like that. Any tip that you choose to follow is at your own risk (but, hopefully just your own benefit!).

Morning Sickness

For the first trimester, or three months or so, of your pregnancy (or longer, bleh), you may experience morning sickness. The fact that they call it “morning” sickness is the realy sick part about this whole thing because many people struggle with it all day long. Oh, the days of saltines. Oh, the days of the weak stomach. There are some things you can do to endure morning sickness better…

  • Keep a stash of granola bars or crackers right by your bed. Eat a little BEFORE getting out of bed or moving around a lot to give your body a chance to regulate its blood sugar levels. Morning sickness comes when your blood sugar is low, so eat small amounts frequently to avoid it – hunger might make you throw up more (in my experience!). Hooray to the death of the “no snacking” rule! 
  • Buy WHATEVER sounds appealing because even if it is more spendy or maybe less healthy than your normal food. It is sometimes worth it to get you and your baby those calories!
  • Take a ginger pill (found in the vitamin aisle at the grocery store or by clicking on that link!) each morning or as needed to help with morning sickness. For me, it helped to put water in my mouth before putting the pill in to help with the pregnancy/nauseous gag reflex. You can also go for ginger ale, but be sure it actually has ginger in it since that’s what will help. (In my experience, I would go for the pills over that, though, because it’s way better than guzzling tons of sugar, but whatever works!)
  • Smoothies are a great way to get the good stuff down if you really feel gross. If you don’t feel like eating very dense or flavorful things, do water, frozen berries/fruit, and a banana or a touch of sugar. If you can handle it, add some spinach, any type of milk, chia seeds, flax seeds, nut butters, or even dried oatmeal to get some additional calories and good stuff in. My go-to smoothie with my second pregnancy was a banana, milk, ice, peanut butter, cocoa powder smoothie. That just always did the trick for me and helped me get in some calories and to stave off my morning sickness. 
  • Try a gum you like, such as peppermint. Peppermint can often help with upset stomachs, so even peppermint candies or peppermint essential oils may help you pull out of a yucky spot!
  • Diffuse some sensational essential oils such as anything citrusy (lemon, orange) or even peppermint. Play around with what appeals to you!
  • Try sea bands! I haven’t tried them myself, but I have had a few friends who have sworn by them. All I’ve got to say is IT’S WORTH A SHOT!
  • When all else fails, talk with your doctor or midwife – they may be able to offer you a prescription. To my friends who shy away from medicine, just remember it may be worth it so that you can get the calories to your baby! Do your research and do what feels right to you!

Fatigue

This. Is my least favorite of all. Not only are you tired, but you’re like super duper tired! And, on top of it all, because you’re a caring human, you may get to the point where you feel bad about being so tired and subsequently not as helpful as usual, and you may even start feeling like a lazy couch potato.

You. Are. Not. A. Lazy. Couch. Potato.

You are, in fact, partnering with God to create a beautiful masterpiece. Masterpieces take time. And energy. You are consecrating your body to creating a child – is there anything more important than that? Answer: NO! Sister, you are doing some amazing work. Still, there may be a few things to keep in mind as you weather your fatigue during pregnancy… and, let’s be honest, afterwards!

  • First off, remember that YOUR FATIGUE IS LEGITIMATE! You are not lazy and you are not making it up! (I question these things when I am laying around helpless all day. That is truly psychological warfare, I tell you!) Your body is working SO hard, especially when you don’t feel you are working at all! Let some things (or all the things!) fall by the wayside. I promise, as one who’s on the other side of the road four times over, you’ll find motivation for them again eventually.
  • If you’re questioning your character with how little you have been able to accomplish, it may even help to shamelessly ask your loved ones if you’ve always been this helpless, to which (let them read this article beforehand) they need to respond, “Oh, you’ve always been so helpful and wonderful and you’re doing great. I love you so much. Here’s a (insert favorite craving here).” That’s. Right.
  • This probably goes without saying, but GO TO BED! Let your family (hubby…) know that you will be going to bed at a certain time (or else!). Seriously, the most loving thing you can do for not just yourself, but for everyone you interact with, could just be getting a good night sleep.
  • If you are struggling with sleep, get every pillow in your house, and figure out what works for you. My favorite configuration was a pillow under my belly, one on my back, one (or two) between my knees, and one under my head. (That’s a lot of pillows.) You can also try something like this (but, beware! You’ll have to find somewhere to store it!).

Joint & Back issues

Some women blissfully avoid any joint or back issues, but that was never the case for me. Those pregnancy hormones that prepare your body for opening up to have a baby make all of your joints loosey goosey.

So, listen to the Doc and just let someone ELSE lift it. Yes, yes, I know, I know, you’re nesting. You have so much energy to conquer the world before the baby comes… Get some help! If you insist on lifting things yourself, master the art of squatting. You may also find yourself seeing what else you can do when you’re “down there” since it’ll be hard to come back again! Oh, and if you have little ones, play the super fun game called, “can you bring it to Mommy?” They’ll love it!

And – even if it sounds like a good idea – if you have back or joint issues, you may want to avoid any “fun” places that require a lot of walking, like… say, Disneyland, or the Zoo. (Although, who am I to talk, been there done that.) The Zoo ended with me crawling on the floor of my apartment afterward unable to walk, and I couldn’t even finish the Small World line at Disneyland because I was in such severe pain.) Still, memories last longer than back pain, so do what you can!

If you do find yourself in pain, of course, you can talk with your doctor or midwife. Landing in the ER once upon a pregnancy and dealing with all of my other pregnancy back issues taught me a few tricks about dealing with back and joint pain.

  • If you are in severe pain, you can alternate Acetamenophin and Ibuprofin. Calculate how much you can have within a 24 hour period, and then space the two out accordingly. Keep track of when you had your last dose on a paper or even on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker so that you stay on top of your pain management. I always try to get off these as fast as I can, but sometimes you just need the extra help taking the edge off. It’s not worth it to suffer.
  • Next up- rice bag or a heating pad. I made my own rice bag, but you can also buy one. I also have that electric heating pad which is the bomb for back pain. You can alternate heat and cold on your sore spots. Just be careful to avoid your belly area, since the extra heat isn’t good for your baby. I personally also avoided hot baths, but if you do your research, and you might find a way to do so safely with your baby.
  • GO GET SOME lidocaine. I’ll say it again LIDOCAINE. Go get some roll-on lidocaine or lidocaine patches. You can find this stuff almost anywhere that as a pharmacy! The lidocaine numbs the hurting area and is a LIFE-saver when you’re dealing with severe pain! You can also get some icy hot to alternate with the lidocaine since you need to be mindful of the correct dosage on those as well.
  • Have you ever done yoga? Now’s a great time to start. Whatever pain you’re dealing with, do a Youtube search to find stretches to help stretch out those specific muscles. From what I understand, what happens is your muscles are supposed to contract and relax and sometimes they get stuck in the contraction. Don’t ever force your body beyond what is comfortable, but regular movement can help your body ease back into the relation zone.
  • The source of many of my issues was due to poor posture. Work on your posture and it may help with some of your pain as well! (But, as my physical therapist said when I was pregnant, it’s really hard to improve your posture when you’re pregnant!)
  • While it’s good to get help with the big stuff, think twice before having someone do everything for you (unless you’re on bed rest, of course). A limited amount of movement may lead to a faster joint/back recovery than being stationary, depending on what you’re dealing with.
  • Invest in some good shoes (I get my Skechers from Ross for cheap!). The shoes can support your feet which support your back
  • Consider a pregnancy belt. This can help your back to bear your belly weight better. I borrowed one for my cousin, so the link isn’t the same, but you can find one that will work for you!

Heartburn

“Burn, baby, burn!” (ha. ha. ha…) Hopefully, you don’t have to deal with this, but if you do, imho just get the prescription from the doc, it’s not worth it to suffer. You can give these other tips a shot, but, I learned to not even bother with my pregnancies. I usually ended up using a couple different interventions because it was so bad. So, without further ado, here are my very best heartburn tips for you!

  • You can also try hitting the heartburn with your diet by eating GERD friendly meals. Basically, avoid acidic, spicy, and fatty foods.  
  • Even with the best GERD diet, water alone could give you acid reflux and keep you up at night. If you can’t sleep because of it, it’s time for an intervention because acid reflux can damage your esophagus. Just sayin’ – don’t mess!
  • Tum Tum Tum Tum TUM! Get the assorted berry Tums. Get the name brand. Just do it. Trust me. (And don’t mess with the “tropical” off brands. Again. Trust. Me.)
  • You can also try over the counter heartburn medicine. Work with your doctor or midwife to figure out what’s best for you.

The Pregnant Crazies

Ah, the pregnant crazies. We allll get them, don’t we? And many of us experience a version of them once a month (am I right?!). Before you start questioning your character again, remember that THIS IS NOT WHO YOU REALLY ARE! Also, check out this post for more comfort if you’re feeling like you’re in a pit of despair (I’ve been there too!).

  • I have had so many meltdowns with my husband that eventually resulted in me sobbing and just repeating over and over again, “I’m just so tiiired!!!” My husband and I have a “joke” (because it’s so haha funny…) that he needs to help me remember the “real” (aka non-hormonal or sleep-deprived) me and that sometimes he just needs to listen and say, “Uh-huh,” even if what I am saying is crazy. 
  • Through it all, your family may not be as bad as they seem, and you are definitely not as bad as you think. You are actually a decent person with lovely hormones coursing through your body. The same hormones that make your spouse cute, that make squishy baby feet, and that make the little jumping bean in your belly’s heart go “boom boom.” They are wonderful, but, oh, they can be quite the burden to bear.
  • I have thought a lot about hormones and why women must suffer so, and I believe hormonal fluctuations are one of God’s ways to keep (amazing, wonderful, loving, caring) women humble and willing to call out to Him. Pregnancy is an initiation to motherhood itself which is, like pregnancy, beautiful and oh so challenging. We need our Heavenly Father. And, it is through our weakness that we are ultimately able to receive strength from Him.

So, my dear friend, remember that the struggles you face as a pregnant mama will make you more capable, more compassionate, and even more in love with your little baby. You are pushing a figurative boulder up a mountainside, and while you may not feel any progress, you are getting stronger. Hugs and love to you, my friend! You can do this!

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