We all know women who are pregnant, but yet each woman’s pregnancy feels uniquely her own. Your hormones make you feel vulnerable and emotional, your body feels out of your control. But if you can concentrate on nourishing yourself and your baby, keep moving and keep giving your body all the rest and relaxation possible, you’ll come through it with much less pain. NBCX size of a pencil eraser! Aim to eat for 1.1 or 1.25, not 2.
Avoid lower back massage. A common complaint among pregnant women is lower back pain. But that area is also rich with nerve and blood supply to the ovaries and uterus and, as such, a do-not-touch area until the end of pregnancy. Instead of focusing directly on the area, have your partner or massage therapist work your gluteus muscles (in your buttocks) to release tension in your hips, which will give you low back pain relief. Also, be sure to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to take any extra pressure off of your lower back.
Do a figure of eight with almond oil. Even if you don’t have a genetic predisposition to stretch marks, pretend you do—slather yourself in sweet almond oil at every opportunity. In the morning, do your dry brushing and shower off, then apply copious amounts of sweet almond oil to your belly, thighs, and breasts. Apply the oil in an infinity symbol or figure of eight pattern around your breasts to help stimulate lymphatic drainage and relieve any chest ache or discomfort.
Get reflexology on your feet—but don’t go near your ankles. We’re often cautioned not to get massage on our feet or legs during pregnancy—but a treatment from a highly skilled and certified reflexologist can help ground you and be a godsend to your aching feet. Any skilled reflexologist will know not to go near your ankles—as several pressure points there connect to the uterus and can trigger contractions—but the bottoms of your feet need just as much love as the rest of you.
The closer you get to the birth, the more time you should spend on all fours. While not the most dignified of positions, spending time on your hands and knees can help a third-trimester mom in many ways. First of all, the baby’s weight is not pressing down on your pelvis, but hanging forward in the belly—much less pressure and easier to sustain during exercise. Secondly, if you’re sitting a lot, you’re squeezing your tummy and your diaphragm will lock up. Yoga poses such as chakravakasana (cat/cow stretch) take strain away from your diaphragm and stretch the back.
…and spend the rest of your time in the water. Live in the pool or the sea! The pressure against your belly equalizes and you feel weightless, which also calms the baby. Also, to be honest, the crowd that hangs out at the pool tend to be so kind and sweet when you’re pregnant. Lots of maternal old ladies will cluck over your belly—a much less aggressive or judgmental energy than at the gym.
Stress and pregnancy do not mix, at any stage. Stress makes every part of pregnancy more difficult: You’ll have a harder time getting pregnant; your pregnancy will be unpleasant and exhausting; and your birth will be more difficult than it needs to be. Meditate, take baths, get lots of naps in. In the first trimester, do not fight the fatigue—sleep it off, even 12 to 14 hours a day, if you can! Listen to soothing music or affirmations. Spend time with people who calm and support you. Get acupuncture or cranial sacral treatments. Try to manage your work for maximum relaxation time off the clock. Surround yourself with uplifting essential oils, such as neroli, lemon, and bergamot. Avoid lavender until the final week of pregnancy, as herbalists use it to stimulate contractions. Above all, try not to stress out, about anything, period. Which brings me to the most important point….
Let go of perfect. Most of all, do not spend time trying to have the “perfect” pregnancy or spending a lot of time determining the birth plan. I’ve seen it time and time again—the mothers who are most anxious and neurotic are the ones who have the most difficult births. Yes, it’s important to have a general sense of what you’d like in your delivery, such as whether or not you’d prefer an epidural. But once your labor begins, just let go—release the need to control the process because, believe me, you are not in control. Mother Nature knows just what your body needs to do—and she will do it with or without your approval. Trust your body to fulfill its primal biological destiny, and trust that your OB or midwife knows how to help. Don’t get so hung up on the particulars of the process–natural lighting! water birth! Gregorian chants!–that you stop appreciating the absolute miracle that’s about to happen.
Your body is more powerful than you can even imagine—just let nature take her course and, soon enough, you’ll be a mama, with an adorable little babe in your arms.