NA’s Pregnancy Essentials: Weeks 1-20
This has been a highly requested post and while I feel a little weird writing about pregnancy (something I never thought I’d talk about on this blog), it’s something I’m in the middle of right now - it’s something I’m experiencing hardcore, so if I can help something else now or later on down the road, I’m gonna do it.
I honestly can’t believe I’m almost halfway through this pregnancy - SO WEIRD. As I’m writing this, I’m 18 ½ weeks (and in that pic!), which is sort of terrifying as I type that out as I’ve done *nothing* to prepare for the birth and beyond. That’s pretty standard operating procedures around here though - it’ll work out!
Going back 11 weeks now, as SOON as I found out I was pregnant, I started combing through research in record speed (as it wasn’t planned so I had some catching up to do), figuring out which nutrients I needed most, which foods I should/shouldn’t be eating, and what types of normal, everyday chemicals could harm my baby.
This whole experience has been a huge life transition and there has been a learning curve. There is *a lot* of advice on how to have the healthiest pregnancy - solicited and unsolicited - so I’m not here to tell you what to do or what to buy as I am far from an actual expert, but I’m happy to share what’s worked well for me (with lots of frantic research to back it up!).
To just give a quick update of what my pregnancy has been like so far, I don’t feel like it’s been *too bad* as far as nausea and morning sickness goes, but I’ve been exhausted - like HOLY TIRED - for the last several months. I’ll have days where I can go go go as normal, but most of the time, I crash multiple times a day. And it’s not a normal “crash.” It’s an “I need to just lay down on this concrete and take a nap real quick” kinda crash.
In the first trimester, I had a pretty major aversion to chicken, beef, and eggs (more on protein aversions in a moment) but that’s gone away. It’s true that the majority of your diet in the first trimester is carbs because it’s about all your body will handle. As far as cravings, I definitely crave sweets more than normal but I’m trying to keep that in check because blood sugar control is crazy important during pregnancy.
While I do believe pregnancy cravings are real, I also know that once we start giving into cravings all the time/just in general...we start to crave those foods more and more. Pregnant or not. So while I’m definitely allowing myself plenty of treats, I’m staying conscious. Like, is this a pregnancy-related craving or do I just want ice cream for the 5th night in a row?
My only real, notable, STRONG craving in the first trimester was fast food. And I still think about Arby’s a lot. Like a lot. Luckily the parking situation is a nightmare at my nearest Arby’s, so that’s enough to deter me.
K let’s get into this list. Here are some of the game-changers and life-savers that have gotten me through weeks 1-20, ranging from supplements to self-care to preparing my body for birth.*
Collagen!! Every!! Day!! Pregnant women need 70-100g protein/day and this can be really hard when it doesn’t sound all that great. Getting enough collagen while pregnant is critical because it provides essential proteins that promote optimal health for a growing baby, so if you’re not getting a lot of that through tough cuts of meat, you’ll want to supplement.
And because collagen can help tighten your skin, it reduces stretch marks and smooths cellulite. Sold.
OK so I’ve never been one to love to take the time to go to the grocery store, but now if I have the energy to leave my house…I’m probably going to choose to do just about anything else.
Two weeks ago, when I was so incredibly sick, I avoided going to get IV hydration by using Instacart to deliver all my essentials for “homemade Gatorade” (100% organic juice, coconut water, filtered water, lemon, sea salt!). It was a LIFESAVER. And since I know there will be no grocery when the baby comes, I went ahead and signed up for the yearly membership ($100) so I can get free delivery on every order. It’s SO GOOD. What I also love is that I actually spend less on impulse buys, something that’s very important when you have zero restraint when something sounds good. Anyway, I pretty much just pull out my Spring Meal Plan, glance through the grocery list, add to cart, and DONE.
K, speaking of the Spring Plan - I REALLY try to eat well even when life is crazy and when I feel like crap. If I don’t, I feel worse! I’m NUTS about what I put into my mouth these days. I need to be 10/10 at work every day as I prepare to take the last 3 months of 2019 off and I can’t be screwing that up by eating a burrito at lunch and passing out for 3 hours (omg now I want a burrito). The Spring Meal Plan has been a life-saver so that I don’t have to think about what I’m eating. Tonight, for example, my Instacart order included a rotisserie chicken, shrimp, and the ingredients for the Spring Plans Avocado-Tomato Salad and Broccoli-Pasta Alfredo. I prepped it all in about 30 minutes and it’s going to feed me for the first half the week.
4. All my prenatal supplements
I totally overhauled my supplement situation once I found out I was pregnant. I went PSYCHO seeking out the best of the best prenatal + anything else that pregnant women tend to be deficient in, but are very important for both mama and baby. It’s pretty much impossible to go supplement-less for an optimal pregnancy, in my opinion, but it’s also just as important to not go overboard! I went ahead and updated my Amazon Shop with all my essential pregnancy supplements to make it easy for you.
5. A chiropractor and/or physical therapist certified in prenatal care
I cannot recommend this enough. Yes, it’s an extra expense. No, most insurances don’t cover it (but some do! check!) But keeping your pelvis in alignment and eliminating undue tension on muscles and ligaments is essential for optimal fetal position. If you’re doing a natural birth….this is ESPECIALLY important for a *hopefully* quicker labor (fingers crossed fingers crossed).
Ok. In my first trimester, it’s safe to say the most exciting thing to happen to me all day was this vitamin-rich “mocktail” that I would have for “happy hour” every day. This was a VERY serious ritual that I did not miss. Premama Energy Boost is a watermelon-flavored drink mix that’s full of nutrients and o-m-g it’s so delicious. I’d do one packet of Premama, 1 scoop of Ora Organics Apple-Raspberry Probiotic, lots of filtered water, ½ lemon, and tons of ice. Sometimes drinking water can be tough, but this drink will ALWAYS taste good and give you an extra bump in your energy from all the b-vitamins.
7. P.volve and Walking
Movement has been a SAVIOR and as difficult as it sounds on most days, it almost always gives me a boost of energy and helps with my digestion, which has been consistently shaky. I’m trying to go for a walk every day (20-60 minutes depending on how much time I have - it’s getting hot so it’s tough) as prescribed by my midwife + P.volve 3-4 times/week. P.volve is a low-impact, hip-opening workout and I feel like opening my hips right now can ONLY bring good things. Anything like spin class or hardcore weight lifting honestly just makes me too tired and can knock me out for a day or two, so I avoid it for the most part. Plus, if I’m gonna have a giant belly and hips that have doubled in size, I at least wanna keep my ass right and tight, ya know?
8. A serious nighttime routine
Baths, magnesium bath flakes (this is really the same as taking a magnesium supplement!), candles, lavender essential oils - all the self-care things. We’re talking a serious spa retreat almost every night. It’s such a nice way to wind down, get super sleepy (I swear I sleep more soundly after a bath night), relax my muscles and my brain, and read something that isn’t on Instagram. Then, I rub coconut oil all over my body and do all my facial oils and serums and lotions (products I use on my face are all here). My phone goes on airplane mode before I even get into bed.
9. Small, frequent meals
This is odd for me, and it’s not the way I recommend MOST people eat! I’m all about meals that last 4-6 hours with a small snack, if needed, for optimal blood sugar control. But larger meals leave me sleepy and groggy smaller meals it is. I’d say I’m having 5-6 small meals/day. I’ve also upped my carbohydrate intake, probably about 25%. I’m eating a lot more fruit and grains than I’m used to, but baby loves glucose, and increasing carbs is really important. I’m sure that’s why pregnant women crave so many carbs! Not gonna lie, I’m enjoying having a sandwich almost every day.
10. Tracking my food intake
I know...I know...this is SO not me, but I started tracking my food intake a couple of days a week a while ago to make sure I’m hitting my protein goals, not overdoing carbs, and getting at least 25g fiber since my digestion is so shoddy. It would be so easy to just eat bread all day and skip protein so I need to be really conscious of these things. I just use MyFitnessPal to check in every once in a while (like, yesterday I had 15g of fiber so I had to remind myself to add acacia fiber to more things and up my veggies!).
11. Maternity clothes
OK, can we talk about this? What’s the deal with everyone hating on maternity clothes? I hear so many people say they “refuse” to buy maternity pants and are just wearing larger yoga pants everywhere. F*ck that. Have you ever worn a pair of maternity pants? HOLY COMFORT. I’ll be wearing these every time I go out for Italian for the rest of my life. I’ve loved the pants, dresses, and tanks I’ve gotten from H&M, Target, and on Amazon. These tanks make your bump look adorable, these jeans are everything, these leggings are worn every single day, and I’ll be wearing this dress on my next hot date.
12. More helpful resources
Here are some books, websites, etc that I’ve been loving.
Real Food Pregnancy (Bible) by Lily Nichols
Spinningbabies.com for exercises to keep baby in a good position
Chris Kresser Healthy Baby Code
*All of this being said, I always recommend speaking with your doctor regarding your specific health needs while pregnant and nursing. Everyone is so different. Every pregnancy is so different. Having a close relationship with your provider is important!
**Some of the links on this page contain affiliate links, which means I get paid a lil bit of money if you purchase something I recommend. I would never, ever recommend a product I wouldn’t purchase myself (that’s so gross).