Best Tips for Pregnancy Discomfort from Your Doulas

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The more I learn about pregnancy, labor and birth, the more miraculous the whole process becomes. From the time your baby is conceived, your body undergoes many changes to support the growing fetus. Your body is designed to do this!

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However, many of the physical changes your body goes through can cause discomforts.

At Your Utah Doulas, we feel you deserve a VILLAGE OF SUPPORT throughout your journey. Below we share our favorite tips to help you feel more comfortable during your pregnancy.


I’ve worked with a lot of pregnant women who have discomfort while they are sleeping. I also have a hard time sleeping and I’m not even pregnant! These are some of my favorite sleeping tips that have really helped my clients feel more comfortable and get a good night’s rest.

Take a warm bath or shower before bedtimeSleep with pillows under your knees and armsRead a good book, or listen to relaxing music before bedAvoid eating large meals within 2-3 hours before bed

 

I also had a hard time sleeping when I was pregnant. I struggled with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) with all four of my pregnancies. My legs would drive me crazy when trying to fall asleep! It felt like I had the wiggles and my legs just wouldn’t relax or sit still. My husband says my crazy legs would frequently kick him in the night.

Here are some tips for Restless Legs:

  • Be sure you are getting enough Iron. Studies have linked Iron Deficiency to Restless Legs. Make sure you are taking your prenatal vitamin. Additional sources of iron are: lean meats, cashews, spinach, whole grain cereals and breads.

  • I used an Accupressure Sequence before bed and it helped so much. Here is a link: Accupressure for Restless Legs

    • I would press each pressure point and hold it for about 10 seconds, moving from head-to-toe.

  • Use a birth ball/exercise/yoga ball for comfort. I would frequently lean my upper body against a birth ball in the evenings to relieve pressure on my back and hips.

 

A lot of people get leg cramps when they’re pregnant which are a) unexpected if you haven’t experienced them before and b) uncomfortable!

The good news us that usually they’re benign and you can do some really
simple things to help ease those crampy legs.

Calcium: Leg and back cramps can be a sign that you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet to support yourself and your little one. Some calcium rich foods include dairy (if you tolerate it well), almonds, and dark leafy greens.

Exercise & Stretching: Beyond diet, you can ease your cramps with daily exercise and some gentle stretching. This being said, if you are on bed rest, exercise may not be an option but gentle stretching always is.

 

During my third pregnancy, I started to realize that it was so much easier to take some extra steps to prevent the uncomfortable, achy body rather than deal with it later.

Some of my favorite things to make the transition from first trimester to third trimester a little smoother are:

  • Invest in a good belly support band early on! It can help so much to alleviate pressure on your back and hips as baby gets bigger.

  • Prenatal Yoga is so good for loosening up tight joints. It can also make for a smoother labor.. bonus!

  • Compression socks can help with swelling- especially if you have a job that requires you to be on your feet a lot.

  • Find a good Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) that specializes in Prenatal Massage. They will be your best friend!

 

My advice? Move, move, move! Regular physical activity can keep your back strong
and might relieve back pain during pregnancy. With your health care provider’s OK, try
gentle activities — such as walking, water exercise, or yoga.

Lower Back Stretch Idea:

  • Rest on your hands and knees shoulder/hip width apart with your head in line with your back.

  • Pull in your stomach, rounding your back slightly.

  • Hold for several seconds, then relax your stomach and back — keeping your back as flat as possible.

  • If you feel so inclined, it is also beneficial to roll your hips in circles.

  • Keeping your body limber helps to prevent a sore pelvis, muscles and back. As a
    bonus, you will prepare your body for birth!

 

I had terrible Sciatica with my second pregnancy. Around 34 weeks I could barely walk!

My best tips for sciatica are:

  • Get a great belly band

  • Apply heat

  • Stretch Daily or try Prenatal Yoga.

The belly band itself made a HUGE difference for me.

Stretch Idea: Here’s a great stretch that can help. It will relieve some pressure on your sciatic nerve:

  • Stand facing a wall

  • Place hands on wall and lift your right leg behind you to the count of five

  • Switch legs and repeat

  • Do three reps on each side at least once a day

 

My secret weapon in pregnancy has been a Webster Certified Chiropractor. There are so many proven benefits to regular chiropractic care through the duration of a pregnancy! The spine houses the central nervous system, which controls your whole body. From round ligament pain, to sleep issues, long labors, chiropractors do it all. They're also the ONLY chiropractors specially trained and certified to help actually move baby into the best position for an easier birth. Do yourself a favor and find your local Webster Certified chiropractor. You'll notice the difference. Doula's honor!

 

 

3 Reasons to Stick With That Exercise Routine While Pregnant

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Pregnancy is a unique time of life.  Your body is changing rapidly, your hormones are surging faster and stronger than they ever have or ever will in your life; and most notably, you’re growing a person.  There’s one way, however, that pregnancy is just like any other time for some women: you know you should be exercising, but you’re not.  

You could be pulling on many good reasons to forgo the trip to the gym.  You’re really tired, you’ve been beat by morning sickness, your body is different right now.  The most common reason women give isn’t usually about them, though, it’s about their baby.  

Most women feel very unsure of what it is they can and can’t do during pregnancy, for fear of harming their little one.  In a study performed to find out why it is women stop their exercise regime during the nine-month growth spurt, one mother replied: 

“I’ve heard don’t raise your arms up too much because you can get the cord wrapped around the [baby’s] neck. Because I do my own hair and … my boyfriend’s sister is like no you can’t. Like after so many months you can’t do it because the cord will get wrapped around…I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s what she said.’’  

Now, depending on your background, this might sound about right.  If it’s sounding a little foreign, stop and think about what it is you think is taboo during pregnancy.  Lifting things? Sit ups? Squats?  I assure you that there is very little truth behind these restrictions.  Beliefs like this come from a poor understanding of prenatal physiology.  It’s these very beliefs that keep women off the treadmills and “safely” tucked away on couches.  

So why pull out the stroller and insist on a family walk?  There are three big reasons:

  1. Easing Discomfort

Pregnancy is kind of like second puberty in some ways.  You’re having a new realization of hormones, your tastes are changing rapidly, growing new hair, all sorts of things that may leave you feeling out of sorts.  Then there’s the bonus of a growing baby in your belly.  This pregnancy body simply won’t feel the same as it did previously.  A lot of women feel downright uncomfortable, and they can’t seem to find a position that feels good.  This won’t go away completely. However, a good workout can certainly help.  Spending time in your body being conscious of how it feels will help you feel more comfortable with it.  Moving your body daily will build up the muscle around your joints, and support them better.  It also means better blood flow, and a nice dose of endorphins that help you feel just…better.  

  1. Easier Birth

This is a big draw for a lot of women, especially while living in a culture that leads people to believe that birth is nigh impossible.  I assure you that it’s entirely possible, and can be even better than you thought if you keep your body toned during pregnancy.  To borrow from the words of researcher Meredith Nash “you don’t train for a marathon sitting on the couch”.  Birth is a major physical event, and you have to be ready for it.  Getting some cardio every day, in combination with exercises like squats and kegels will help prepare your body for birth.  If you exercise consistently, it means a shorter labor, an easier birth, and less likelihood of complications.  

Bonus benefit: keeping fit during pregnancy also means that it will be easier to be fit after pregnancy.  Birth recoveries are quicker for active moms, which means you’re back on your feet and back in your jeans much sooner than you would be otherwise.  

  1. Lifetime Health for Baby

Perhaps the most enticing reason to get moving is because of the huge benefits it will have for baby.  Infants born to mothers who exercise are born longer with more lean body mass.  They have better respiratory function, heart function, and brain development than their less-active-mother counterparts.  This extends beyond the time of birth, children were shown to retain these benefits five years out and more.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “too late, I’m already pregnant”, I’m here to tell you it’s not too late!  Children can display these healthy outcomes, even when exercise only began during the third trimester.  

Now, there could be some mamas out there thinking “too late, I already have kids.  I didn’t exercise and they turned out fine!”  And that’s true, they probably did, but here’s the thing:  I’m not talking about minimum health, I’m talking about optimum health.  Children turn out beautiful and healthy without exercise every day.  But they won’t have the extra advantage that babies of active moms have.  

Every day application

Some exercise guidelines are rather complicated, with determinants based on internal temperature, max heart rate, etcetera, etcetera.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t take my temperature when I head out for a run.  It just isn’t practical.  

Currently, the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetrics recommends that pregnant women who don’t have any complications engage in leisure-activity exercise 20-30 minutes a day, most days of the week.  Vague, right?  

The thing is, there isn’t a lot of high quality research out there yet on what’s “proper” and what’s not during pregnancy.  For now, we just know that getting out and moving is highly beneficial for both mom and baby.  Wondering how it works?  

What happens to your body during exercise is this:  when you start moving your heart rate rises and blood is redirected from internal organs to the skin and muscles, which is what gives you that rosy glow.  Now, if you’re pregnant, the blood redirection means that there’s an initial drop in blood and oxygen from your uterus, and ergo, your baby.  This sounds scary, right?  I promise it isn’t.  Though there is an initial drop in blood flow, if you’re an active lady, it means that your baby enjoys an overall better flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients during resting periods.  This better flow far outweighs anything they’d be lacking during actual exercise periods.  

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Knowing this, do whatever it is you love to do.  Whether that’s hiking, biking, running or spiking on the volleyball court, there’s very little that you can’t do.  It could be a simple walk around the neighborhood with your partner, or it could mean being at CrossFit with your crew.  Just be conscious of your body.  As long as you’re feeling sublime, you’re probably doing sublimely.  

There are some splendid examples in the world of women who make exercise part of motherhood.  Paula Radcliffe is a world-renowned runner who doesn’t let pregnancy stop her from pursuing her passions.  Paula runs and races, pregnant or not.  

Or take Emily Baer, who finished 8th out of 500 men and women in the 2007 Hardrock 100 (which is, yes, a 100 mile race) while stopping at every station to breastfeed her infant.  Pretty tough lady, eh?  

For perhaps a more local taste, there’s Laura at marathonmomma.com.  She’s a strong mother and marathon runner! Check out her blog to learn more about thoughts on fitness and pregnancy.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  

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These women carry full-term, and have beautiful babies.  Don’t let pregnancy myths keep you from the real-life evidence.  Being active will help you and your baby to be healthier, happier people.  If you’re ever feeling wary, be sure to check in with valid sources such as acog.org, or asking your doctor or midwife.  Keep in mind that some doctors feel unsure about informing their patients on exercise guidelines.  Be an active participant in your healthcare, ask for the information you need.  

My hope for you is that you find this information both comforting and inspiring.  Being pregnant should never mean being afraid to use your body for all the wonderful things it was designed to do.  Be cautious of those who try to instill you with fear over exercise, and tell them to check their facts, like you do!

Best of luck,

Lizette

 

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is a birth, sibling, and nesting doula serving Davis & Salt Lake Counties. Learn More.