Now that you’ve marked the presence of those two lines on your pregnancy test kit with a happy cheer, a quick text to the hubs and an Instagram post, it’s time to take stock of your pregnancy – and take care of yourself.
When you’re expecting, it is not just your body that goes through changes. Yet, too often, the focus is only on the physical. Besides dealing with aches and pains, as well as the inconvenience of a growing belly, pregnancy can actually push you to your emotional limits.
It’s likely that you will feel more vulnerable than usual, grappling with mood swings (hello, hormones!) and trying to get through one stressful prenatal test after another. As if all these are not enough, it can be tough finding that new balance in your marriage, work and life.
But much of a happy, healthy pregnancy is in the mind. It is possible to savour every moment as your baby bump grows – as long as you take clear, conscious steps to treat yourself well. So, eat well, hydrate more and pop those prenatal vitamins. Then, practice these self-care tips, trimester by trimester.
Before the internet, excited mums-to-be probably read a couple of books to prepare them for pregnancy, labour and baby care. Or, they would ring their mummy friends if they were concerned about nausea or that pulling sensation in the womb. But now, millennial mums-to-be simply Google every symptom under the sun. And that’s not a good thing.
“My gynae explained that the inaccurate and contradictory information may make me needlessly worried, and that only medical professionals are qualified to provide medical advice and prescribe medication,” shares new mother Winnie Ma, 28. “He suggested that I consult him with specific questions instead. That helped me to avoid agonising over every twitch and pull.”
Tune in to your pregnancy
Pregnancy is such a precious experience, and it’ll be over before you know it. So, trust us. You won’t want to look back and only remember how you spent countless hours vomiting your guts out. One way to enjoy your pregnancy is to consciously tune in to your body, and start to bond with the little person inside you.
Make time to document your thoughts and feelings. You can even write weekly letters to your baby (so that he or she can read them when they’re older!), and add new ultrasound photos after every check-up. “I took monthly bump photos in the same outfit,” says Teo Hwee Leng, 30. “It became a fun activity for my husband and I.” Better yet, plan an amazing maternity shoot to show off that beautiful bump!
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Writing letters to our soon to be littlest love. It is one of my most favourite things to do, I make time each week to document the week that was✨ My hope is that one day if any of our children decide to have a family of their own, they can reminisce if they wish on their very own special journey into this world. Life goes by so fast and often the little things are actually the big things. Those special moments are what I want to be able to cherish forever ❤️
Be kind to your mind
Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you should feel happy all the time. In fact, it is normal to experience ups and downs as you transition into motherhood. But adjusting to pregnancy and impending motherhood can be extra challenging for certain women, especially those who are having their first baby, or those who have a prior history of clinical depression.
In Singapore, about one in five pregnant women suffers from prenatal depression. Should you start experiencing feelings of hopelessness, increased irritability, or extreme self-blame and guilt, highlight them to your gynaecologist.
Book that prenatal massage
The second trimester usually brings welcome relief from morning sickness and other first-trimester fatigue. This is also the time when your pregnancy is considered stable… which means that you can finally enjoy that spa massage that you’ve been dreaming of!
Prenatal massage is restorative and can help to alleviate aches and pains associated with pregnancy, while lowering your stress levels. Natalie Chan, 35, shares: “I had a difficult first trimester, which left me feeling exhausted. So, I started going for regular prenatal massages. I tried various spas using online promotions before settling for the one I liked best.”
(See also: 10 Prenatal Massages in Singapore that We Love)
There is no perfect pregnancy, so do not compare yourself with others. There is no need to envy that willowy influencer with 30K followers on Instagram, even if she may appear to have the most beautiful bump, a sponsored maternity shoot, and a babymoon to an exotic locale.
Pregnancy is different for every woman. It is more important to treasure the things that count. Focus on what’s truly meaningful, like dreaming up the perfect name for your little one, or spending intimate date nights with your husband before Baby comes along.
Plan the fun stuff
As you gain more energy, this is the best time to plan the nursery décor or the baby shower. Many mums-to-be truly enjoy this therapeutic process (who doesn’t like shopping?). For Chua Si En, 32, doing so took her mind off the more stressful aspects of pregnancy, like invasive prenatal tests.
“Waiting for results of scheduled blood tests and certain procedures was really stressful, so my husband and I decided to shop for baby essentials after every clinic visit,” she shares. “By focusing on the lighter side of things, such as the kind of crib to buy, we eased the nerve-wrecking tension that accompanied the uncertainties of pregnancy.”
In the last months of pregnancy, you will be at your heaviest and probably aching all over. It will be harder to sleep properly at night, and you will feel so tired that you’re tired of being tired! So don’t be guilty about trashing that to-do list – this is not the time to take on the world. Instead, find pockets of time when you can relax and recharge.
“I was still working during my last trimester, but carved out ‘alone time’ on Saturday afternoons,” says Meredith Koh, 29. “I made sure that I did not use that two-hour block for household chores or errands. I also tried not to think about the impending birth, or worry about things like money. Instead, I took bubble baths, got myself a good pedicure or just Netflix-and-chilled. This really helped me to breathe, calm down and just be in the moment.”
Sure, you may pride yourself on being a strong and independent woman. But pregnancy is tough, and there is no shame (or guilt!) in needing help sometimes. And those around you will be more than willing to help. So, let them do so. Take that MRT seat, and let that young chap help you with those bags of groceries.
For Fiona Lai, 32, it was her colleagues who often came to the rescue. “There are many mummies on my sales team, so they understand what it’s like,” she says. “During my last trimester, they willingly took on more work so that I could leave on-time or pop out for weekly gynae visits. They also bought healthy lunches for me whenever I had to stay in during lunchtime. I’m truly blessed!”
Give yourself credit
Finally, give yourself a pat on the back! Through these months, you have been growing a human being inside you. It’s tough as hell, so acknowledge the good work you’re doing. By now, the whirlwind ride of pregnancy is almost over. Watch what you eat, drink more water, get as much sleep as you can. Soon, you will be holding a healthy and chubby baby in your arms!