While you experience the miracle of life and building a human, you’ll probably be bugged by a few unpleasant issues during pregnancy. To name a few, you may experience nausea, tired legs, itchy skin, heartburn, weird dreams, nasal congestion. I’ve collected my personal tips into this blog post for quick reference. I truly hope they’re useful to others as much as they’ve been helping me. There’s also a concise version of my Pregnancy survival kit for download.
Perhaps you’d like to try and get all nutrients through food because you don’t want synthetic prenatal supplements. If you have access to nutrient-dense produce and planning skills to make sure you’re getting all you need for yourself and your baby, consider yourself lucky. In my experience, the nausea can limit your dietary choices, so I wanted to ensure I have crucial nutrients for my optimal health and the developing baby. I’ve chosen whole food supplements, organic and non-nauseating. There’s a detailed post about these here. I’ve been happy with the 3 prenatal supplements below:
- Garden of Life Raw Prenatal vitamins
- Garden of Life Dr.Formulated Prenatal probiotics
- Garden of Life Prenatal Omega-3 fish oil
I’ve also used DLux Vitamin D oral spray by BetterYou occasionally because people living in Northern hemisphere are usually pretty deficient. It’s a great natural alternative to tablets/capsules and is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. They also make a vitamin D oral spray for infants (suitable from birth).
Movement and exercise
You might be extremely tired on some days and should get plenty of rest, but it’s also very important to stay strong and keep the circulation going. The simplest thing is to walk when you feel better. You can try exercise regularly if possible. When I found out about my pregnancy, I bought pregnancy workout by Tracy Anderson that I can watch on my computer and follow. It’s kept me sane so far and I appreciate how calming it is and full of useful tips and observations.
Tracy Anderson The Pregnancy Project: workouts for each month plus some bonus videos $ 49.95
Working out during pregnancy can help you decrease overall pregnancy weight gain, lower the risk of gestational diabetes, keep muscle tone and strength for delivery. It will help you get back into shape afterwards.
The exercises in this program focus on muscular structure and raise your heart rate a bit, but don’t include traditional cardio. There’s stretching and abs are strengthened indirectly. Many of the moves are done on all fours, so your belly can hang comfortably while the abs are engaging. It’s nice if your partner joins in to keep you motivated. It will be challenging for them too.
Other great forms of exercise include:
- prenatal yoga
Your pregnant nose can detect things from afar that can make you wanna vomit and is one of the first signs of pregnancy. It’s has a protective function. You’ll be able to avoid things that may be harmful to your baby. I’ve certainly had to cover my nose plenty of times because of cigarette smell, spray paint in the distance and even in shops where they’re going crazy with sensory marketing and spray artificial scents in the air.
I’ve used hemp tea to help with nausea and I can truly recommend it. It’s great after delivery too because it can help with lactation. It also supports better sleep. Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you feel shitty, but it can often help you get over the nausea. Having smaller portions can help as well. Avoiding smells that make your new bionic nose go bonkers is crucial. Other tips:
- make sure you’re not hungry, small bites regularly
- have foods you like available
- consider changing your prenatal vitamin, or have it with food
Headache, stiffness, cramping
I’ve had some headaches, mild cramps and tight shoulders and realized I might be magnesium deficient. Did you know babies are born with much more magnesium than calcium? It apparently makes them so flexible and soft. Of course they suck the magnesium out of you. I went for my old fave, transdermal magnesium spray which is known for fast absorption and it’s completely natural.
Magnesium spray helps with cramps, sleep, muscle stiffness, aids calcium absorption (super important for your baby’s bones) and participates in multiple processes in our bodies. When you first start using the spray, you may experience tingling. This reaction will fade as your body’s magnesium levels increase. It’s better to apply after shower for better absorption. If you feel sticky, wash after 30 minutes.
You might be deficient if you have poor sleep, poor concentration, low energy and stress and anxiety, headaches, cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, night-time cramping, joint discomfort.
- magnesium spray
- enough fluids
Skin care, stretch mark prevention and fighting the urge to scratch
Pregnancy stretches your body to its limits, so it’s good to make sure you’re providing enough nutrition as well as moisturizing regularly to maintain elasticity. It’s also a great time to switch to cleaner personal care products. The skin is more sensitive, itchy and prone to breaking during this time and limiting the amount of irritants and hormone disruptors will benefit you and your baby. To read more about natural alternatives to personal care products, click here. Below you’ll find some products that I’ve been using during my pregnancy.
Breast Care oil – Bioaroma
This oil doesn’t have any particular essential oil scent. If you’ve tried food with carob, you’ll recognize it, but it’s not too overwhelming.
Ingredients: olea europaea fruit oil, ceratonia siliqua fruit extract
This cream on the other hand is very aromatic, in a good way. If you want something milder, read on for other options.
Ingredients: Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hypericum Perforatum (St. Johns’ Wort) Flower Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Dictamus Creticus (Dittany) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Boswellia Serrata (Frankincense) Oil, Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh) Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin) Oil, Citrus Aurantium (Bergamot) Flower Oil, Tocopherol*, Cistus Ladaniferus (Labdanum) Leaf/Stem Extract, Eugenol*, Linalool*, Limonene*
Use on your tummy as well as boobs, hips and thighs. It’s completely safe during pregnancy and nursing. It’s rich in omega-3 oils to increase skin elasticity. 3 Tummy Rub Oils should last your entire pregnancy. It’s free from parabens, petrolatum, colourants, xenoestrogens, PEGs and phthalates
cruelty free. This product is also vegan.
Ingredients: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (Organic Sweet Almond), Persea Gratissima Oil (Organic Avocado), Cocos Nucifera Oil (Organic Coconut oil), Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil (Organic Argan oil), Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil (Organic Sacha Inchi), Rosa Canina Fruit Oil (Organic Rosehip fruit oil), Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Parfum, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Citronellol, Evernia Furfuracea Extract (tree moss).
Scent: Gravida – is a blend of 10 pregnancy-safe (mandarin, pettigrain, neroli, orange, lime, lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, ylang-ylang, lavender) pregnancy-specific natural oils. It’s very mild and pleasant.
Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil is also very pleasant and mildly scented with essential oils. Weleda has a long tradition of creating certified natural products for babies and expectant mothers. You can use this oil on your stomach, breasts, thighs and bottom. When your baby is born, you can try their baby line.
Ingredients: Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Fragrance, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Citral, Eugenol, Farnesol
Sensitive skin, preventing dark spots
Fluctuating hormones can cause your skin to become very sensitive, as well as changes in pigmentation, itchiness or acne. The products you have been using for ages can suddenly cause irritations. I recommend choosing the cleanest products or at least trying to go scent free.
For sensitive and itchy skin I highly recommend this cleansing lotion. It’s extremely soothing and can be used even on babies. You can use it on your face and other body parts.
There’s no better time to find a safe and clean sunscreen for yourself and your child. You’ll help save coral reefs at the same time. Chemical sunscreens (basically anything from a regular store or even pharmacy) contain oxybenzone and octinoxate which cause coral reef bleaching. Hawaii is trying to ban them. These chemicals are not great for you either. Luckily, mineral sunscreens have gone a long way and now you can find amazing products that feel good and protect you well without nanoparticles. I’ve tested many brands over the years and I’ve got some new favourites you can try.
Madara Sun 30 for body, hands and face, broad spectrum (UVA+UVB). It contains zinc oxide that has been paired with raspberry seed oil which has probably the highest natural SPF. It is suitable for children. It’s non-greasy, non-nano, feels great on skin and doesn’t leave a white cast. It contains antioxidants from Northern Dragonhead.
Laboratoires de BIARRITZ
They have a great range of products. I’ve tried their SPF 50 for face and was super happy with the texture, non-sticky feel and lasting protection. Now I’ve bought their 50+ for kids which is without scent and hypoallergenic. Their products also offer UVA/UVB protection, as well as antioxidants (Alga-Gorria from red algae) and they are water resistant.
Other brands that I’ve liked are Alphanova Sun and Biosolis.
When choosing a sunscreen, look for mineral, non-nano, certified ECOCERT. Just because something is sold in a pharmacy doesn’t make it clean. I’ve seen many products with disturbing ingredient lists in pharmacies.
You may also want to invest in nice broad-brimmed light hat. There are many options nowadays, ranging from canvas, paper straw and real straw. It’s a good way to prevent overheating and avoid pigmentation caused by hormones and increased levels of melanin.
Tired, aching legs and swollen feet
My legs have been taking the toll of pregnancy a lot, especially during the heat wave. In the beginning, dry brushing and putting my feet up was enough. Later I added Lucky Legs gel and couldn’t been happier. Don’t forget to keep moving as well as resting. Ask for a seat on public transport if needed. It’s safer anyway since your centre of gravity is off. Don’t carry too much stuff around. Some sources also mention compression socks which I haven’t tried yet.
Lucky Legs Cooling Leg Gel has a refreshing minty scent and makes your legs feel lighter again. It’s been the best cooling gel I’ve tried so far.
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, SD Alcohol 40-B, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Propanediol, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Cocos Nucifera Oil, Menthone Glycerin Acetal, Aqua, Mentha Piperita Oil, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil, Citrus Limon Peel Oil, Cupressus, Sempervirens Leaf/Nut/Stem Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Cistus Ladaniferus Oil, Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate/Sebacate, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprylate/Caprate, Mentha Viridis Leaf Oil, Menthol, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Astrocaryum Murumuru Butter, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria Flower Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon Fruit Extract, Zingiber Officinalis Extract, Citrus Reticulata Peel Oil, d-Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Eugenol.
- dry brushing before shower for circulation and lymph flow
- Mama Mio Lucky Legs cooling gel
- putting feet up
- Epsom salt soak
Throat infection, nasal congestion
I had a case of bad throat infection (bacterial) which wasn’t going away. I almost had to get conventional antibiotics, but luckily I tried gargling with propolis drops in water which helped clear the throat in a few days. Propolis is a bee product, a powerful natural antibiotic. Other safe options you can try for colds and flu during pregnancy
- rest, enough fluids
- tea with honey
- gargle with salty water
- gargle with water and drops of propolis (powerful antibiotic)
Stuffy nose is not uncommon in pregnancy. It’s not recommended to use nasal decongestants commonly used for colds. They contain chemicals that may be harmful to your baby. A simple nasal saline spray has done the trick for me and is safe to use during pregnancy. You should be able to find a simple saline nasal spray in pharmacy.
For me, watermelon has been a saviour for both issues. It sooths the GI tract and helps regulate ph levels – it’s alkaline. It reduces inflammation and is full of beneficial nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin (great for eyes). It’s also a good source of potassium and magnesium. It hydrades wonderfully.
You can also try drinking water with lemon juice in the morning to get things going.
- water with lemon juice in the morning
Healthy snacks on the go
It’s important to have quality snacks in case you get stuck somewhere without food. Explore your health food store and find something you can have between meals.
- fruit and veggie slices
- organic chocolate
- nuts and dried fruit mixes
- protein/energy bars
I love Posh Bits by Nakd full of fruits, nuts and cocoa, no added sugar, gluten, wheat and dairy free. My second favourite is maracuja & coconut raw energy bar by Bombus natural energy which is also gluten free, vegan and has no added sugar. There are many options on the market, so find something you enjoy and have it in your handbag when hunger strikes.
I cannot stress the importance of having comfortable underwear. There are a lot of options, but I went for organic cotton with a smooth rubber band from Cubus. They’re good price and super comfy. Having a few nice bras with big enough cups and wider straps also helps you to carry the future milk production plants around. The same goes for shoes and other clothing. I love having a collection of empire waist dresses and don’t wear pretty much anything else. They’re so comfortable and make me feel feminine.
- empire waist pregnancy dresses
- comfortable underwear, non-underwired bras with wide straps
- organic cotton panty liners
- maternity tights, leggins
- sturdy, spacious shoes (flats or very small heel)
Have a nice pillow or two to help you position yourself in bed.
Also, I find it handy to have some organic cotton panty liners (often compostable) as the vaginal discharge increases during pregnancy. If you sense there’s more imbalance down there, try adding probiotics or safe vaginal tablets. Ask your pharmacist. The options below have worked for me.
- Bio-Kult Candéa probiotic capsules with garlic and grapefruit extract
- i say: Vaginal Infection tablets for prevention and treatment
It’s not uncommon to feel tired, but you shouldn’t feel fatigued all the time. I was getting very weak during my second trimester, my legs felt very heavy and then it turned out my hemoglobin levels were low. This can happen even with pregnancy supplements, especially if your reserves weren’t that good before pregnancy, which was my case. I’ve added a few iron supplements to raise my intake to recommended levels and I’m already feeling much better.
- check your hemoglobin levels
- Floradix liquid iron (daily dose contains 15mg)
- Superior Source Just Women instant iron (daily dose 25mg)
- Terra Nova Easy Iron non-constipation (daily dose 20mg)
- Vitamin Code Raw Iron, non-constipating, whole food (daily dose 22mg)
- afternoon nap
- daily movement, exercise
Aches and pains
You can experience many types of pains, some of which are normal and others that require medical attention. Don’t underestimate them and be in contact with your doctor or nurse. When your body is quite big, you can try a maternity belt or a more elastic version (maternity support band) to get more support and relief for your back. Some are suitable for recovery after delivery. I’ve started using a support band in my 6th month during workouts. Here are some other tips you can try:
- massage – choose a place where they’re trained to do prenatal massage
- movement, exercise, stretching
- don’t lift heavy objects
- squat rather that bending down
Sleep becomes challenging as your pregnancy progresses, so it’s important to stay as comfortable as possible. It’s better to sleep on your side, especially after 22 weeks when the pressure on blood vessels and organs is too much. You can use a pillow behind you and between your knees to help position you. I haven’t found a solution for the crazy dreams though.
- sleep on your side, especially the left side
- firm pillows for support
- magnesium spray
- hemp tea
Travelling can be quite exhausting, especially during hot summer. Make sure you stay safe and comfortable. My worst problems were cramps in my legs. Get up as much as possible to stretch and keep the circulation going. And don’t forget your magnesium like I did. Even if the tap water in said area is ok for locals, you might not be used to the bacteria in it. If you want to be completely sure, drink bottled water.
- magnesium spray
- drink enough liquids, bottled (to avoid diarhoea)
- take plenty of breaks
- wide-brimmed hat
- safe sunscreen
- comfortable swimwear (I love For Luna swimwear because of the great tummy support)
Books and information
I didn’t want to go down with paranoia and chose only one book for reference – Expecting 411*. You come across information from various sources anyway and it can be quite overwhelming. I try to focus on listening to my needs and keep calm as much as possible. There are various lists of forbidden foods that can drive one crazy. It’s important to be aware of the dangers, skip that raw steak, sushi and predator fish, but this is not an ideal world and you cannot control everything. You don’t know how thoroughly they washed your salad in a restaurant. So, forgive yourself. Many of us didn’t know about the pregnancy and enjoyed a beer or two, or that delicious espresso. Nothing that can be done about it except stopping when you do know.
Expecting 411* offers comprehensive advice and information on the whole pregnancy, labour and beyond. It covers all trimesters and possible symptoms, various tests, nutrition, environment, lifestyles, parenthood prep, breastfeeding, labour, postpartum, emergencies, complicated pregnancy, infections, preterm labour, multiples. It’s organized well and includes tips for your partner.
There are tons of resources online, so take a pick. One nice blog is on the Mio skincare website: https://www.mioskincare.co.uk/mamamio-blog/
*affiliate link – more info