I remember having pregnancy discomforts with the first pregnancy, but I’m sure they happened much later and towards the tail end of the pregnancy. This time around, the symptoms have been steadily getting worse.
For instance, the back pain a few nights ago was so bad I had to brace myself every time I wanted to turn in bed. I often wake up finding myself in the exact same position I went to sleep. Throw in a nursing toddler who is still performing acrobatics in his sleep and making all manner of requests in the middle of the night and it spells extreme discomfort for Mummy.
Finally deciding that the symptoms were sufficiently bad enough for me to take corrective action, I have implemented the following to help ease my ails:
1. The Benefits of Exercise
I started working out using the Pregalates DVDs that I bought online and discovered the following positive effects:
- Back Pain – I have to admit I was surprised by the effect of what one session of Pilates could do to alleviate my back pain. Although the pain hasn’t completely disappeared, it is so much more bearable now. Come to think of it, I haven’t noticed any posterior pelvic pain since starting the exercises.
- Groin Pain – the other improvement I have noticed is a decrease in groin discomfort. During pregnancy, due to the hormones, weight gain and stretching of the ligaments, groin pain (or rather groin discomfort in my case as the pain is not particularly excess – quite unlike the back pain) is a common symptom. Although my initial purpose for doing Pilates was to alleviate the back pain, the additional side benefit has been a reduction in groin discomfort.
- Gestational Diabetes – no news from the doctor is good news. Nevertheless, exercise is part of the prescription for managing gestational diabetes. If the benefits are so good, then surely it has got to be just as beneficial for any pregnant mother.
- Labour Fitness – okay, I admit, I just threw this one in and my eleventh hour efforts to exercise might actually be a case of too little too late. As labour approaches, I have been feeling rather apprehensive of whether I would be physically up for the task. I still recall the exhaustion from Gavin’s labour and it scares me to think that Gareth will be an even larger baby. Given the fact that I was actually fitter with Gavin, I thought I had better start doing something that might help facilitate the delivery. Will it help? I really don’t know, but at least it sets my mind at ease that I have tried to do something – even if I should have started a lot earlier.
2. Changes in the Diet
From the moment the pregnancy began, I noticed that it had a profound effect on my ability to consume healthy foods. I find this a real irony because isn’t pregnancy the time when you need to consume more healthy food? Instead, with the nausea from morning sickness and the changes in taste preferences, I found myself gravitating unconsciously towards unhealthy junk food.
During first trimester, the nausea was sufficiently bad enough for me to be put off eating fruits and vegetables. Prior to the pregnancy, I had been blending fruit juice using the Vitamix that hubby bought for me and consuming two to four cups of fruit and yoghurt blends a day. In the morning I would blend fruit with yoghurt and in the evening I would blend a fruit cocktail. The moment I got pregnant, I found myself unable to stomach anything so I stopped.
Recently, I’ve noticed that I find the fruit blends palatable again and have started blending fruit juice on an almost daily basis with the following benefits:
- Bowel movement – although I was not really constipated during the pregnancy, the weight of the baby and the pressure the uterus places on the bowels during the act of defecating made it difficult to “go”. That is because the uterus compresses the bowels and blocks the exit of fecal matter. My apologies for the graphic description but that is essentially what happens. As a result, one can end up feeling constipated even if the stools are not particularly hard. Having started taking in more fiber on a daily basis through my fruit blends, my stools are sufficiently softened that actual “pushing” isn’t really necessary so there is less blockage of the bowels during defecation. In other words, the extra fiber has been critical to facilitate my bowel movements.
- Reduced unhealthy cravings – I have also noticed that since I started drinking the fruit blends, it has helped to decrease my cravings for unhealthy junk food. I still eat some, but at least the intensity of the cravings have reduced considerably to the point of being “controllable”.
- Improved diet – I think it is needless to mention that my diet has improved remarkable simply by adding a glass or two of blended fruit juice. My usual mix is a banana, some grapes, an apple, an orange, and some ice and water.
The other change to my diet has been the introduction of oatmeal in the morning. I’ve discovered some interesting oatmeal flavours from Quaker at the supermarkets which has made the dietary change much more fun. I’m sure there are others who might question the “fun” of eating oatmeal, but I have always enjoyed it since I was a child.
These have been small changes, but I was quite surprised by the positive effects they have had on the discomforts I have been experiencing during the pregnancy. If only I had started them earlier…