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Top tips for swollen feet

Swollen legs and feet are an uncomfortable and common pregnancy symptom. Have you experienced unfortunate ‘fat’ feet? I certainly have, as have many of my patients. There are a number of simple measures you can take, however, that will make a world of difference. I’ve written a post all about this over at Mouths of Mums today.

Click here to find out how to manage swollen feet, naturally.

swollen feet

 

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Pregnancy diary: tales from the second trimester

So, now that I’ve crossed over into my third trimester, I thought it would be a good time to review the second. In particular, how I managed my health naturopathically. I’d love to hear about your second trimester experiences too.

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Happily, most of the symptoms I experienced during the early stages of pregnancy (nausea, fatigue, sluggish digestion) did not travel with me into the second trimester. Instead, as the weeks rolled by, I started to feel like myself again… but even better… the magic of hormones! I’m sure I annoyed a lot of people by regularly commenting on how amazing I was feeling and how awesome pregnancy is*. Hey, cut me some slack… I’d been feeling pretty rotten up until that point! I told our midwife how excellent I felt and she smiled, saying that she would like to bottle that second trimester vibe.

For most women, the second trimester generally is a pretty lovely time, as the more severe symptoms subside (or in my case disappear),  you can finally tell everyone you’re pregnant AND you start to actually look the part. Such an exciting time!

As the weeks progressed, my belly swelled to accommodate my rapidly growing baby and I loved seeing it round out; it made me look and feel ‘properly’ pregnant. It’s also normal to start feeling some movement – often described as ‘flutters’ or ‘bubbles’ – around this time… unless, like me, you have an anterior placenta. In this case, when the placenta sits at the front, it acts as a sort of insulator and means you’re not likely to feel movement until quite a bit later. I didn’t feel our baby moving around in there until well after 20 weeks (which stressed me out a little as I wanted to know that everything was ok!) but now that I have, this kid never stops!

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There were many changes in my diet, lifestyle and health during the second trimester, but the two ‘main’ ones were:

Cravings

While my first trimester was typified by aversions, my second was filled with cravings. I was feeling good, I was hungry, and there was a tonne of good food available courtesy of summertime and festive season abundance… I confess to regular fruit mince pie enjoyment – ’twas the season! – I felt I had to sample as many as I could (and was sorry to find that Heston’s did not live up to the hype).

My biggest and most consistent craving was for dairy foods. HEAPS of dairy, especially cheese and yoghurt, which I incorporated into snacks and main meals. Normally that volume of dairy wouldn’t agree with my digestion, but it didn’t cause me a problem this time. It helped that I made good choices, which were slotted it into my otherwise healthy diet. Though, there were also a number of uncharacteristic moments… such as when Jon caught me spooning double cream directly into my mouth one afternoon (!)… or when I baked us a sour cherry cheesecake that I consumed entirely within several days (was delicious).

sour cherry cheesecake

I wanted to eat this. ALL the cheesecake!

natural yoghurt, berries and almonds

… but I often settled for something like this. Much healthier, still delicious AND satisfied cravings.

Cravings often provide clues to our changing nutritional needs during pregnancy and it’s important to honour what your body tells you. BUT it’s also important to recognise that craving something unhealthy (e.g. bowls of ice-cream, fast food, etc) doesn’t mean your body needs that specifically, rather it’s looking for certain ingredients found within those foods.

If you use the example of me and the cheesecake, I certainly didn’t need numerous slices daily (delicious though they were!) but the calcium and fat contained therein. While I see no problem indulging in delicious foods, a regular and /or high consumption certainly isn’t recommended and could compromise the health of you and bub.

Exercise

I will write a longer post on this in the coming week, as I think it’s a topic worth discussing in more depth. Staying active throughout pregnancy is beneficial and highly recommended. However, the level of activity needs to be adapted to you: some people can still keep running half-marathons through until they’re almost full term (I have one gorgeous new mama I know in mind), whereas others are better suited to gentle, low-impact movement.

For me personally, as soon as I felt my energy returning, I started back into regular exercise. I’ve always been someone who enjoys engaging in exercise, as it does excellent things for both my physical and mental health. I like being able to do something high intensity several times a week, balanced by something more gentle (e.g. yoga, swimming, light walk) on the other days. As my belly started to become more and more obvious, however, I needed to adapt my previous practice. I had a trainer go through an adjusted weights program with me at the gym, one that would still maintain strength and get my heart rate up, but not squash my baby. I also continued a regular yoga practice (a mix of at home and classes). I walk everywhere too, including to-from work, which certainly adds up – incidental exercise for the win!

Towards the end of my second trimester, at around 24 weeks, I started feeling tired again and wasn’t enjoying the gym anymore. So I decided to stop going. Absolutely no point doing something that doesn’t feel good! Walking, yoga and occasional swimming were, and continue to be, enough for me now.

Sooooo happy to be preggers!

Sooooo happy to be preggers!

As I write this I’m now 29 weeks and feeling pretty good. My belly – and belly button! – seems to be growing outward at a rate of knots and the regular movements of our baby can often be seen from the outside. Jon and I wonder what she’ll be like on the outside – as busy as in utero? – but know we don’t have long now to find out!

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Also pregnant? What stage are you at? Similar experiences?  What have you found works best for you? 

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* Pregnancy IS awesome by the way, even when you feel sick and/or tired and/or full of baby. It is completely and utterly rad. You’re growing another human inside you! Amazing.

Pregnancy diary: tales from the first trimester

Even though I’m powering towards the end of my second trimester, I’d like to share some of my experiences from the first, in particular how I managed my health naturopathically.

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The first inkling I had that I was pregnant, apart from the late period of course, was a generally bloated and ‘off’ feeling. I remember wondering aloud if I had gastro, or if.. maybe… I was up the duff? No gastro, as it happens. Good sleuthing me!

Once I’d confirmed I was actually pregnant, it didn’t take long for more symptoms to become apparent. For me, these were: nausea (NOT morning sickness, it lasted day and night), very sluggish digestion, fatigue and a constant need to urinate. As I was still working and studying full time over this period, I had to support my health and calm my symptoms as best I could, while powering through my commitments.

Nausea

I’ve written several times before about my top tips for pregnancy nausea and was happy to find my professional advice proving useful for my own (regular) waves of ill-feeling.

I had to steer clear of anything too bitter or sour, as this stimulated my digestion and turned me green. Almost constant grazing – particularly foods rich in fats and / or complex carbohydrates – worked best for me, as it helped to keep my blood sugar stable and settle my stomach. I’m a big tea drinker anyway, and when I was feeling spewy I found herbal teas particularly beneficial, especially any containing ginger, cinnamon or rooibos.

Cuppa tea, my saviour.

Cuppa tea, my saviour.

I occasionally took carminative herbs (extracts that help settle digestion, particularly eruptive symptoms). However, herbal medicine can have a very strong flavour that, even though it never bothered me before, tended to upset my sensitive stomach!

Sloooooow digestion

By which I mean, of course, constipation. There was also a lot of bloating. Part of this was to do with the huge hormonal changes happening in my body – sluggish digestive function is a common side effect of these. Part of it was also to do with the larger-than-usual volume of food I was consuming in order to keep myself from feeling sick. And it didn’t help that I was doing very little exercise due to significant fatigue.

For a while I was going heavy on the bread, it was all I wanted to eat, which is quite unusual for me. However, as I gradually reduced this, in favour of other carbohydrates that were equally satisfying but richer in nutrients and fibre (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, steamed veggies, nuts, etc) I felt much less bloated and much more, well, regular.

Once again, herbal teas were the hero, not only settling my stomach but also keeping me hydrated, and helping to warm and very gently stimulate my digestion. I also put myself on a short course of probiotics to help my gut adjust to the changes.

Seeing as I was moving my body much less than usual, I focused on regular stretching (particularly twists, which are great for digestion) and low-intensity exercise when I had the energy and time.  All of these measures helped considerably.

Fatigue

I could not believe how tired I felt, up until around week 10/11. How bone weary I was some days. Quite a few times I came home and cried, absolutely bawled, for no reason other than fatigue… I just wanted to sleeeeeep. Luckily I have a very nice husband who tried to get home earlier than me so that I could just roll in the door and eat the dinner he’d prepared, before sending myself to bed at around, oh, 8.30 (latest). Sounds boring and it was, but also necessary. Basically, I rested as much as I possibly could (work and study permitting) and ate as well as I possibly could. It was a good plan.

I also developed mild anaemia in the first couple of months, which didn’t help with energy. So, iron supplementation (alongside my prenatal multi) was an important addition.

Needing to pee

Well, it happens when your kidneys are taking an early pregnancy pounding. You’ve just got to urinate. Often. Very often. There’s not much to do about it apart from stay hydrated (herbal teas to the rescue again!) and accept that this is part of the ‘magic’ of pregnancy.

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All of my experiences were pretty standard for first trimester and it was actually really nice to experience them. You know, I’ve been fascinated with conception, pregnancy and birth for the longest time. I’ve also discussed at length, written and read extensively about pregnancy and pregnancy health as part of my job. So, it’s been amazing to experience these first hand. An inside-view, if you will, that has already added another dimension to my practice. Bonus!

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Finally, this is how far I’d *popped* by week 12… not much compared to my belly now, but I certainly felt much larger at the time!

first trimester bump

Retrospectively, a weensy little bump.

Also pregnant? Similar symptoms?  Or perhaps different / better / worse? What have you found works best for you? 

I recently wrote two books that I think many people, particularly women who are pregnant or planning to conceive, will find an excellent resource. The first, Preparing for Parenthood, provides information and advice on how to create the best possible foundations for conception and pregnancy. The second, Natural Pregnancy Care, will take you through some of the best ways to support your health naturally, throughout pregnancy. These will be available for download in the next couple of weeks and I’m really looking forward to sharing them with everyone. Watch this space!

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