The do’s and don’ts of pregnancy are everywhere you look these days. Google will hand you a whole heap of contradictory information. Your friends will tell you what their doctors told them. Your family will educate you on the ‘right ways to do things’. Your partner may even throw in a tidbit or fact that he found somewhere that is not an expectation. So, to help set some things straight, I’ve compiled the best of my pregnancy “Sh*t I wish someone told me”, to set the facts straight.
Caffeine is a no-no.
For those of you who love your java – I have good news – you don’t have to break up with coffee! However, if you’re obsessed with your daily brew, this may be the time you want to start cutting back… a bit. Health Canada advises that pregnant women shouldn’t consume more than 300mg of coffee a day which is about two 8oz cups. To find out how much caffeine your favourite beverages are packing, click here.
No over-the-counter medication for relief.
If you have a headache, feel nauseated, plagued with allergies or have a cold – Mumma you don’t have to suffer through them. Many over-the-counter medications are in fact safe during pregnancy, contrary to popular belief. As always, it’s best to consult with your doctor to be sure that certain medications are ok for you, but many clinicians say that it’s ok to take a number of medications for things like headaches, colds, heartburn, etc. during your pregnancy. Many herbal supplements and teas continue to be debated however, as there is little research on their effects. Generally, in small quantities, there are a variety of herbal teas that are safe, however, it’s always best to check with your doctor first.
So long, salon!
There is no greater crime than to tell a pregnant woman that she can’t get her hair done while pregnant. But good news Mummas! You CAN keep those salon sessions booked because colouring your hair is A-Ok when pregnant! The American Pregnancy Organization reports, ‘Although fairly limited, most research indicates the chemicals found in both semi-permanent and permanent dyes are not highly toxic and are safe to use during pregnancy. Only small amounts of hair dye may be absorbed by the skin, leaving little that would be able to reach the fetus. As such, this small amount is not considered harmful to the fetus.”
It is recommended that you try to avoid hair dye during the first trimester. As an alternative, you can opt for a natural vegetable dye or something semi-permanent and don’t leave the treatment on for longer than necessary. Regardless, make sure that the space is well ventilated, whether at home or at the salon.
You’re not REALLY eating for two, Boo.
Sadly, ladies this is the case. Handle those vicious cravings as you see fit, but know that during your pregnancy, the average woman only needs to add about 300-500 extra calories to their diet during the second and third trimester, which is the equivalent of having 1-2 extra snacks in the day. If your carrying multiples, it’s typically recommended to add 300-500 calories per child in the second and third trimester. This is also dependent on whether or not you are underweight, or overweight before you get pregnant as that can impact your calorie requirements. That being said, if you’re hungry – eat. If you’re not – don’t. Each pregnancy is different and each Mumma is too, so do what works best for you and your body, always. The most important thing is to always ensure that you’re eating the most nutritious food possible. What you eat goes directly to help nourish your baby, so make sure you’re eating enough protein, getting a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, and a sufficient amount of complex carbohydrates.
Say Goodbye to Sleep
If you think you’re going to lose sleep when the baby comes – I have news for you – those sleepless nights hit you as soon as the baby is in your belly. Especially in your first and third trimesters, Mummas will lose out on a lot of zzzzs. Between the non-stop peeing, back pain, tender breasts, heartburn, changing hormones, etc. it can be a challenge to get a good night’s sleep even before the baby comes.
To improve your chances of a good night’s sleep, develop a relaxing bedtime routine and avoid screen time at least one hour before bed. During the day, try to stay hydrated and cut off your beverages early in the evening so that your bathroom breaks aren’t as frequent. Lastly, make your bed and bedroom as comfortable as possible. Turn down the temperature at night and make your room as dark as possible. Investing in a pregnancy pillow is also a worthwhile expense to up your comfort level (trust me). Above all else, rest easy knowing that these sleepless nights only affect you (and maybe your partner who’s disturbed by all your movement throughout the night) and have no impact on the baby!
Cheeses, seafood, and deli meats are off the table.
Are you serious? And the answer is, no. You can eat all of these things when pregnant – you just have to stay clear from some types of them. The main issue with these foods is that you can get Listeria, (food poisoning) which for pregnant women, if contracted, has the potential to be quite harmful for your baby. Sadly, foods like unpasteurized (soft) cheeses, deli meats and uncooked seafood tend to be the big three carriers of Listeria.
You can however still have pasteurized cheeses like cheddar and are able to eat deli meat if you cook it a bit so that it kills any of the potentially bad bacteria. I will add this piece of advice that my doctor told me after an accidental sushi dinner (#mombrain) in my first trimester. “If you want sushi and know that the restaurant is highly reputable and careful with their food, by all means go. Pregnant women in Japan eat raw fish during their pregnancies all the time. If you’re going to indulge, just make sure that you’re smart about it. This has been my philosophy about food while pregnant and has served me well.
Manicures are out
If you’re a well-kept woman and like getting your nails done regularly, fear not – you can continue this self-care practice while pregnant! Mani-pedi maintenance for pregnant women follows much of the same principles as dying your hair. In order to cause harm to the baby, a person would have to have massive and long-term exposure to the products before there was ever an issue. However, to give yourself an extra sense of confidence about the health and wellness of your baby, switch to non-toxic brands that don’t contain dibutyl phthalate, toluene or formaldehyde. Great ones to choose are Butter London, Deborah Lippmann, Pacifica and Essie. Either bring them to your appointments or choose salons that carry them. Like colouring your hair, it’s also best to ensure that you avoid breathing in fumes and choose nail salons that are well ventilated or go at less busy times. Ensuring that the salon sterilizes all their tools is also paramount as your immune system is in constant flux during your pregnancy and you can be more susceptible to infection.
If you’ve noticed that you’re suddenly feeling like a furnace and are always running hot – this is a normal (and beneficial if you’re pregnant in the winter months) part of being pregnant. The reason being that when you’re pregnant, your body produces 50% more blood than normal. This causes your blood vessels to dilate slightly and forces the blood to the surface of your skin which makes you feel hot (it’s also where you get that ‘pregnancy glow’ from). Later in your third trimester, your metabolic rate also increases which may even cause you to sweat a bit more too. However, not to worry – after you’ve given birth – your blood levels return to normal, as does your body temperature.
I know, I know. What pregnant woman in their right mind could possibly want to have sex?! But believe it or not, your pregnancy hormones aren’t just going to make you an emotional basket case – they may even make you a bit of a horny toad! Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone can actually cause you to be more ‘in the mood’ than ever before! Not to mention, your increased cup size is also going to make it harder for your partner to keep their hands off you! Oh, and remember how we mentioned the increased blood flow in your body above? Well that increase in blood flow also goes straight to your sweet spot! This gives you the added benefit of being extra sensitive down there and can make for some amazing sex before the baby comes. (Cause let’s face it – not much sex will be happening for a while after – so get it in while you can!)
At the End of the Day
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my pregnancy, it is that your Mumma instincts kick in from the moment you conceive, so learn to start trusting those quickly – because they will never lead you astray. Ultimately, the truth is that some of the information you hear and read is true, some of it is not, but ultimately, all of it is up to you, Mumma! So, do what feels right, trust yourself and your baby to know what works best for you both, and everything will work out just fine.
With love and nut butter,