Expectant mothers feel so many emotions all at once — everything from anxiety about the novelty of motherhood to unbridled joy at the prospect of embracing this new stage of their lives.
It’s a time of love, excitement, nervousness, and maybe even a little sadness.
And it’s okay for this experience to be all these things. That is why it’s so important to take care of our minds and bodies during pregnancy to not only support the growth of our babies but to also have the best possible postpartum experience.
As we prepare for the arrival of our little one, we must not forget to neglect our own needs — our own recovery and wellness.
Because when we nurture our happiness and prioritize our mental and physical well-being, the whole family benefits.
Let’s talk about some of the ways we can stay healthy in pregnancy.
Pelvic Floor Therapy
You may have heard of the term, “Pelvic Floor” before, especially during pregnancy. But what exactly is the Pelvic floor?
The Pelvic Floor is composed of the muscles that span the bottom of the pelvis and support the pelvic organs, which include the bladder, bowels, and uterus. When these muscles are contracted, sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus, and urethra. However, when you relax these muscles, this makes it easier to pass urine or feces.
Pregnancy can cause a weakening of the pelvic floor as these muscles are used to support the growing weight of the baby.
Pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen and recondition muscle tone so that we can alleviate some of the symptoms of a weakening pelvic floor, such as loss of bladder control whenever we laugh or cough.
So what are the benefits of participating in pelvic floor therapy?
- Knowledge. Women who see a Pelvic Floor therapist often walk away with information and best practices on how to stay active in pregnancy with exercises and movements, keeping their health and condition top-of-mind.
- Safety. Activities are given to improve the pelvic floor muscles correctly, reducing the risk of injury. While expectant mothers can practice exercises on their own, some of these activities may potentially worsen the symptoms of a weakening pelvic floor. A pelvic floor therapist can help assess a woman’s condition and provide tailored recommendations.
- Pain Management. With this type of therapy, pregnant women can learn strategies that help manage and treat the aches and pains they feel, including lower back or hip pain.
- Preparation for Birth. Often Pelvic Floor therapists can advise on best birthing positions, breathing techniques, and pelvic floor relaxation methods.
If you’re not sure where to search for pelvic floor therapy, we’re here to support you. Here’s our list of highly-vetted pelvic floor therapists!
Kegel exercises are a form of pelvic floor strengthening that are more accessible and relatively easy to do at home if therapy isn’t a good match for you right now.
If you’re ready and looking to get started with some form of pelvic floor exercise, you can do Kegels anywhere and for only a few minutes each day - perfect for the busy mama.
The key to performing effective Kegels is finding the right technique and the variation that works best for you. Here is just one example:
- Make sure that your bladder is empty before doing your Kegel exercise.
- Identify the right muscles you want to strengthen. You can identify this by locating the muscles used to stop urine flow. (You can consult your OB GYN or Gynecologist for extra support in finding these muscles).
- Pull up the pelvic muscles and squeeze for about 6 seconds, then relax for another 6 seconds.
- Repeat the process. Listen to your body. Try not to do too many upon your first attempt. Work up to at least a set of 10.
- Try to do this at least once per day.
Please keep in mind, however, that if your symptoms worsen or you experience pain during these exercises, please consult with your doctor.
Nutrition in Pregnancy
Pregnancy can take a significant toll on a woman’s body, so it’s vital that we are intentional with our nutritional choices.
Your diet can be an essential part of your wellness journey that starts in pregnancy and continues throughout postpartum. With the right nutritional choices, you can help reduce cravings, feel fuller, be more satisfied with the food you eat and have more energy. In postpartum, your body will have the fuel it needs that is critical for recovery after childbirth.
According to research conducted by the National of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), having a diet that supports the growth of essential gut bacteria combats the development of anxiety, depression, and potentially other mood disorders.
Serotonin — a neurotransmitter that sends messages between cells — plays a major role in emotions, digestion, and mood. And that’s because 95% of Serotonin is produced in the gut.
A healthy, nutritious diet not only benefits your body but your mind too.
Depending on your particular circumstances, your diet may vary. However, incorporate these types of foods on your plate to ensure that you’re receiving plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals:
- Veggies such as sweet potato, butternut squash, or carrots,
- Protein such as eggs, beans, lentils, or other lean meats
- Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, or bread
- Healthy fats such as avocados, oils, cheese, or nuts
Newmom.me has a wide variety of postpartum food providers, who deliver wholesome, delicious food and Lactation cookies to your doorsteps.
Mothers often find themselves saying, “I wish I had known about this when I was pregnant.”
And it’s for this reason that we at Newmom.me strive to connect mothers and families with the resources they need to thrive during parenthood.
There are a variety of options dedicated to prenatal and postnatal wellness that can provide an extra layer of support when you need it most. Here are just some of the specialties available at Newmom.me:
- Birth/Postpartum Doula
- Lactation consultant
- Car seat Installation and Baby Proofing
- Childbirth Educator
- Exercise trainer
- Infant feeding specialist
- Massage for Moms and Babies
- New Parent Educator
- Newborn Care Specialist
- Pediatric Sleep Consultant
- Placenta Services
- Sexual Health & Wellness
And so much more…
This is specific, tailored help meant to provide guidance, enabling you to approach motherhood with the knowledge you need to feel more confident than you did before.
While pregnancy can be one of the most joyous times in a woman’s life, it can also be the most fragile.
Therapy is also a form of preventative care — a way of taking care of ourselves proactively before a major life transition. This is especially true as we enter motherhood.
It can truly be a powerful tool for processing our emotions and feeling better about our pregnancy and postpartum. Through this process, you gain insight and the ability to learn how to cope with stressors in healthy and constructive ways.
Here are some important topics you’ll be able to address:
- Talking through how to love and appreciate your changing body, especially if you’re struggling
- Discussing external sources of stress that may be affecting your mental health such as the impact of the pandemic
- Learning how to communicate with your partner effectively
- Understanding why you may be nervous about childbirth or becoming a parent
- Developing coping mechanisms for past traumas so that you can process your past and begin the slow, delicate process of recovery
- Preparing for postpartum mentally and emotionally so that you’re not taken off guard
Therapy is not initially the first thing we think of when we’re pregnant. In fact, there is still much stigma that we as a society must work through to change how we view mental health in motherhood. Just know this resource is available to you, and there is no shame in taking it.
Therapy is a way to protect your heart and your mind so you’re able to show up in motherhood from a healthy and positive place.
We hope that this list guides you in finding the support you need in pregnancy to ensure that you have the best possible outcomes in postpartum. This journey isn’t easy, but we’re here to help. Your health and wellness are everything. Taking care of you means taking care of your whole family.
Check us out, and while this is not intended as medical advice, and you should check with your physician before starting any programs related to your health, this is your first big step in getting the support you need. Together, let’s make a positive impact on your well-being.