Pregnancy Taking Care of Yourself
At Hopeful Beginnings, we talk a lot with mothers and families about taking care of themselves during pregnancy and after baby is born. As a social service agency that provides counseling, generally we are referring to taking care of the parent’s emotions and well-being. However, it is also important for new mothers to know how to take care of their physical bodies.
As a mom of three, I can assure you that all three of my pregnancies were very different. I gained different amounts of weight with each pregnancy and experienced different symptoms while pregnant. The most important advice I received was:
1. Stay hydrated! Water/liquid intake is important for health of mom and baby during pregnancy but it is also important post pregnancy. Drinking enough water is essential for making breast milk (if mom decides to breastfeed) and also helps with digestion and stretch marks.
2. Don’t rush it! Babies change the entire landscape of the body internally and externally; organs are pushed out of the way to make room for baby. A new mom should never feel like she should “return to normal” weeks after baby has been born.
3. During pregnancy: if you don’t like it, don’t eat it! A lot of pressure is put on women to eat healthy diets during pregnancy. Eating healthy is wonderful if you can do it but digestive issues such as nausea, heartburn, food aversions are very real. Always consult your doctor if you feel you truly are unable to eat a balanced diet.
4. Rest when your body tells you to rest. During pregnancy and postpartum, many people in your life may give you advice about how much to sleep and when. The best advice is to tune into your bodies cues about how much rest it requires. Too much sleep of course is one of the many signs of potential depression but pregnancy and the postpartum period can be very exhausting and every body reacts differently.
5. Buy the lotion! Taking care of skin, especially around the belly area is very important during pregnancy and postpartum. It is important to keep skin moisturized and well taken care of through application of creams or oil.
6. Breastfeeding is a personal decision. I loved breastfeeding, I knew that it was something I wanted to do with all 3 of my boys. There are many benefits for both mom and baby. However, breastfeeding is not for everyone. You have a right to ask questions and be informed without pressure. Lactation consultants are wonderful resources for both encouraging breastfeeding, weening or even how to “dry up” your supply safely.
7. Consider a Doula. Clients of Hopeful Beginnings have access to Doulas and Doulas are becoming more prevalent throughout Chicagoland. A doula is your personal cheerleader throughout the birthing process and can help you make birth a positive experience.
8. Take care of your back postpartum. Baby equipment is heavy! Take other up on their offers to carry items. Pregnancy effects our core muscles (the abdomen) the most and a weak core can lead to back pain.
9. It’s okay to take the pain killers postpartum. If you have concerns about taking medication, consult your doctor. Enduring pain does not make you stronger or a better mother.
10. Enjoy it. When I was pregnant, especially with my last child, I felt like it would last forever. I felt pretty awful – he was 9 pounds after all! – but I do wish that someone would have reminded me to enjoy it more. It isn’t easy but it is a fleeting experience that deserves to be remembered.
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