Pregnancy can be a complete blur. Between morning sickness, a rapidly changing body, preparing your home for a baby, and of course tending to all of your standard responsibilities, wellness can be lost in the shuffle.
During my first pregnancy, it felt like I was in survival mode. I asked friends for advice, read the typical pregnancy books, and was just trying to make it through the 40 weeks without becoming overly anxious or stressed. I’m now halfway through my second pregnancy, and it’s a much different experience than my first. Aside from the fact I spend most of my day chasing around a toddler, I’ve also changed my own wellness approach to pregnancy.
While my first pregnancy was about simply getting through it, this time around I’ve been working on wellness habits. My goal is to feel like I’m trending more towards thriving during pregnancy as opposed to just surviving.
Wellness practices and routines don’t need to be a crazy overhaul of your lifestyle. Instead, I’ve made small adjustments that have a big pay off in how I feel. Physically, I feel better, but also mentally, I know I’m putting effort into my health. As a mom to a 17-month old, I certainly don’t have the time for extensive wellness practices like I did pre-kids. Even so, I know taking care of myself is important, both for my own health as well as that of my future baby and my current toddler.
Here are seven simple ways I’m working wellness routines into my second pregnancy.
1. Working out when my energy level is the highest
Pregnancy is really exhausting, and the exhaustion hits everyone in different ways and at different times. I quickly realized I was most energized in the morning, but by the afternoon (and definitely by the evening), I was totally spent. Not only are my energy levels low, but it’s also as if my belly doubles in size in the later hours of the day. So, I changed my former afternoon workout slot to the early mornings.
It hasn’t necessarily been easy to get myself out of bed before my toddler wakes up, but I’ve found that it’s the only way I will actually work out, and it boosts my energy throughout the day.
If you’re struggling to work out during pregnancy, know it’s very normal. Take note of your energy levels throughout the day and pencil in your workouts for when you expect to feel your best.
2. Eating a balanced breakfast
Eating habits can and should change during pregnancy. One of the big changes I’ve made is eating a balanced and filling breakfast. I include high-quality protein and have switched from low-fat to full-fat dairy. According to Lily Nichols, RDN in a guest post on The Real Food RDs, “When you purchase full-fat, you get the benefit of fat-soluble vitamins, which ensures you absorb all those minerals.”
I’ve been loving full-fat cottage cheese, and to make it even more power-packed, I serve it with raw walnuts (which contain Omega-3 fatty acids) and fresh berries (which are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and folate—all great during pregnancy). Major bonus points for this one because my toddler also loves it, making it an easy breakfast we can share.
3. Changing my (belly) skincare habits
During my first pregnancy, I was told by many that stretch marks are genetic, so you can’t do anything to prevent them. Whether that’s true or not, taking care of your skin as your stomach expands is incredibly important. And I’m not just talking from an aesthetic perspective, I’m talking about comfort. During the third trimester as my stomach became bigger than I thought possible, my skin became so stretched, itchy, and generally just very uncomfortable.
This time around, I’ve added a more in-depth belly skincare routine, including belly oil and a belly mask (which honestly is just kind of fun to use!). Who knows if it will help with stretch marks, but I do hope by starting early, I can prevent some of the discomfort before it starts.
4. Improving my vitamin and supplement routine
In my adult life, I’ve tried to be on top of my vitamin intake. But every now and then, I’d fall off the wagon and realize I hadn’t taken my vitamins in weeks. When it comes to pregnancy, taking a prenatal is incredibly important, and I make sure to never miss a day.
In the past, I’ve maybe grabbed whatever vitamin is on sale, but with pregnancy, I’ve been pickier in my selection. Not all prenatal vitamins are created equal and before making a decision I took a closer look at the ingredient list to ensure my needs were covered. If this is a little perplexing (which it totally is), it’s worth discussing with your doctor.
In addition, I’ve added a probiotic to my routine for increased gut health, as well as have started taking a nightly magnesium drink. With all the changes happening in your body, your stomach may be impacted. It’s not glamorous, but constipation is a common issue during pregnancy, and I’ll happily do what I can to keep my gut and digestion in working order.
5. Focusing extra hard on dental health
Oral health is an area that I certainly overlooked during pregnancy. There’s actually a very common occurrence called “pregnancy gingivitis.” West Hollywood-based Dentist Dr. Jennifer Haddad shared, “Hormones during pregnancy could take you for quite a ride. Due to increased progesterone levels and morning sickness, pregnant moms are at higher risk of bleeding gums, halitosis, plaque build-up, tooth sensitivity, and cavities.”
In addition to attending regular dental appointments, I’ve added extra steps to my morning and evening routine, including flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, brushing with a sensitivity relief toothpaste, and using a tongue scraper. With this pregnancy and my first one, I’ve noticed increased gum sensitivity and bleeding, but maintaining good dental habits has helped this from getting worse. Plus, I know this will impact my future dental health, so it’s important to stay on top of this area during pregnancy.
6. Going non-toxic where possible
I started reading about all the toxic products we encounter in our daily lives. And honestly, it was overwhelming and stressful. Toxicity seemed to be everywhere. And in some cases, it seems unavoidable. I’ve tried to not go overboard, but am focused on making small changes to remove toxins from our home. I definitely got an eye roll from my husband when I insisted we should toss all plastic Tupperware and should throw out all our pans (but after a few years of marriage, he’s come to expect this type of behavior from me).
You don’t need to do a complete overhaul of your home—even though part of me wanted to do that as I learned every new piece of information. But I acted in a more financially responsible way and have been slowly replacing potentially toxic items with non-toxic ones. As I run out of beauty items, I replace them with clean ones, and I also replaced old non-stick (and scratched) pans with pans from Caraway, which are free of PTFE and other toxic materials. Aside from the health benefits, these look pretty cute in our kitchen.
7. Staying hydrated
I’m well aware that pretty much every health and wellness list includes an item on hydration. And there’s a good reason—hydration is super important! It’s even more important during pregnancy. One of the easiest routines I’ve added to my day is drinking enough water.
I start with a large glass right upon waking up then make sure to track my water intake throughout the day. It can be easy to go hours without a sip or to forget how much you’ve had. It’s not necessary to track every ounce you drink, but I find it helpful to set a goal and keep track as I work towards it. Personally, I aim for 100 ounces a day and track it on my refrigerator with magnets. I have six magnets on the left side of the fridge. Every time I fill my 18oz bottle, I move one magnet to the right side of the fridge. When all magnets are on the right, I’ve hit my goal. And it might seem silly, but finding a water bottle you love really does make a difference.
Pregnancy is a busy, hectic, and at times stressful experience. Wellness doesn’t need to be some huge aspirational goal. Think about making small changes to your daily life that make you feel as best as you can during pregnancy. Not everyone’s wellness routines will look the same—and they shouldn’t! Take a look at your own daily routines and make the changes that will positively impact your lifestyle and how you feel.