Since finding out that I’m pregnant, I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to keep myself in good shape, and what I can do to relieve some of the symptoms.

As you might know, for some women the first trimester is the hardest for different reasons, but there aren’t many must-haves or must-dos. Taking folic acid is highly recommended as it can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Some women opt for prenatal vitamins in order to meet the increased demand for micronutrients during pregnancy (they also contain folic acid, so you don’t need to get it separately), but this is optional and you should discuss it with your midwife/obstetrician before taking any supplements.

Another must-do in the first trimester is to do some research on what foods to avoid and what foods are best to eat. As the first trimester can bring a lot of nausea and bloating, you might want to stay on a light diet and drink plenty of water.

I also used the first trimester to mentally prepare for the future symptoms and get used to the thought of having a baby.

The second trimester is typically the easiest – your bump is quite visible by now, but not big enough to make you uncomfortable, a lot of women are full of energy during this time and you will start feeling your little one moving, which is an unforgettable moment. My advice is to take advantage of these months as much as possible!

Maternity bras – they have helped me immensely to support my growing breasts and avoid painful backaches throughout the pregnancy. I have been wearing them all the time, also during sleep. Maternity clothing items are important too, but personally I didn’t overdo it with buying them as they can be quite expensive considering you only need to wear them for a few months. They can be quite old-fashioned too! The main clothing items for me have been maternity tights and leggings, which I tried to match with oversized jumpers or dresses (non-maternity).

A pregnancy pillow is a must too. It helps to keep you comfortable while you sleep and helps align your hips to ensure neutral joint positioning. It is also recommended to sleep on your left side after the first trimester until the end of your pregnancy as it increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.

I have also started using oils and creams for skin stretching when the second trimester started, I still use them and I can proudly say that I have no stretch marks so far! Some people say that this all depends on genes, but I know my mother got stretch marks while she was pregnant with me and I didn’t (yet). I will be using these products for a few weeks after birth too.

Like the first trimester, the third trimester can be as difficult or even more difficult. My advice is to try and relax as much as possible, don’t lift anything from the floor and make sure you have some help from your partner/friend/relative with household activities etc. A pregnancy belt/band is a must-have as the bump will be quite big at this point and difficult to support which can lead to backaches, pelvic area pains and sciatica. I have started suffering from sciatica in these last weeks before birth, and the pain is excruciating – I even had to go to ER to get checked and be given an injection so that I am able to at least stand up. 

Not necessarily a must-have, but a birthing ball can be very helpful. It can strengthen your stomach and back muscles, improve your posture, and prepare your body for delivery. It can also relieve pain and stress during labour – some women actually bring it with them to the hospital.

Only a few weeks left for me, but I am more ready than ever to give birth and welcome our baby to the world!

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