I don’t often discuss being pregnant and its effects on this blog or other social media platforms. I guess I have a slight fear of oversharing, and there’s also a little of that irrational superstition about jinxing things. But right now, being in the home stretch, I’m running out of time to note down the things that made this pregnancy more comfortable – before I have a baby to look after, and suddenly these things won’t seem to matter as much anymore!
So – while a 35-week-old baby-to-be merrily kicks me in the ribs – here’s what worked for me.
I was in moderately good physical shape before getting pregnant, which definitely helped once my centre of gravity began shifting. (If you can walk briskly for a couple of kilometres without feeling out of breath, you’re probably reasonably fit too. Don’t let the marathoners and the yoga fanatics make you feel more inadequate than absolutely necessary! ) But my back has had some longstanding issues that made the baby’s weight difficult to manage once she reached the 1kg mark.
After a couple of weeks of feeling pretty wretched, I consciously switched up my gym workouts (which I do with a qualified prenatal trainer) to build more core strength. This meant a lot of work with resistance bands and a fitness ball to strengthen my back and abs. At the same time, prenatal Pilates helped to stretch out my back and build strength in my arms and legs, and it’s also helped me become a lot more aware of my posture and its effects on my ability to bear weight. I’ve been taking classes at Breathe Pilates, which has a great class for pregnant women from the second trimester onwards.
For home workouts, light resistance work with a fitness ball was great, as was sitting on said ball while watching TV. These helped with my posture, and with stretching. (Here’s a YouTube video with some of the workouts I’ve done with the exercise ball.)
2. Upping the comfort level
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a spoilt rotten kitty whose husband encourages me to indulge in massages to keep my aching body happy. Fortunately, living in Singapore means that it’s entirely possible to find body massage options that won’t break the bank. Ashi Reflexology at Holland Village Shopping Centre has a great (but no-frills) prenatal massage for $75 an hour; the therapist I go to is called Joan, and she’s trained in TCM techniques. Visiting her once a fortnight makes my back and hips so much more happy.
Foot reflexology for pregnant women is a slightly controversial subject because of the theory that activating certain pressure points in your feet can trigger premature labour. My take: if you’re iffy about it, just don’t. I found a place with therapists who’re confident of avoiding any sensitive pressure points – Heart Springs Spa at Funan IT Mall – and have been visiting weekly since the start of my 2nd trimester. The sessions have been incredible for easing the tightness and swelling in my ankles and feet.
And to help rest my tired back at night, I bought possibly the least bulky pregnancy pillow in existence.
I’m one of those lucky ones who experienced only a mild kind of morning sickness – a queasiness much like the feeling of being seasick – and only during the first trimester. All the traditional Chinese preserved fruits and their modern variants (plum-flavoured candy, anyone?) didn’t help, and some even made me feel worse. The only things that eased my nausea were Schweppes ginger ale / sparkling water and plain dry crackers – which are apparently also what the Americans swear by. Recently I mentioned to a friend who’s now into her 2nd pregnancy that ginger ale worked well for me, and she’s since found that most carbonated drinks in general are great for her nausea. But I’ve learnt that among some groups in Singapore there’s a taboo against pregnant women consuming cold and/or fizzy drinks, so as before, if it doesn’t sit well with you – just don’t.
One of the first signs that I was pregnant: hormonal acne. I grant you that stress might also have been a contributing factor: I was working long hours, not sleeping enough and overdoing the carbohydrates. All’s said, it didn’t take long before I caved and bought a Clarisonic Mia 2 – hey presto, unclogged pores.
My hair went through a few crazy phases including dryness and increased frizz. It’s had a mind of its own my entire life, so I stuck to a familiar game plan: keep going back to a trusted hairstylist for regular cuts, and use good products. I also discovered some budget-friendly products containing the much-vaunted argan oil – those under the Moroccan Oil brand are mad pricey – such as Babyliss Pro’s Argan Oil Nourishing Treatment. (I bought it for only SGD21.60 including free worldwide shipping. Gotta love beautybay.com!)
One thing I learnt about maternity wear is that I feel a lot more comfortable wearing the same styles of clothing I wore before getting pregnant, namely basic denim bottoms, tunic tops and unfussy dresses. (I bought maternity leggings and tights but nearly never wore them, except for layering in colder weather while we were on vacation in the UK.) So now I have a pair of maternity skinny jeans from Topshop and another from the Gap – both have lasted through the 2nd trimester and most of the third so far. I also splurged on a denim skirt from Seraphine that’s currently gotten too snug, but will be great for after the baby is born because I expect that the “mummy tummy” will take a while to subside.
Possibly my favourite maternity outfit though is a navy blue maxi dress, also from Seraphine, that is both pretty and comfortable. I’m wearing it almost once a week these days. (It doesn’t just fit, it’s reasonably flattering too if the compliments are anything to go by!)
And since we can’t all be Victoria Beckham, tottering to royal weddings in sky-high heels while hugely pregnant, my footwear options have been reduced to a rotation of Birkenstocks and FitFlops sandals. They’re not the prettiest things around, but my fatigued feet have loved them ever since water retention meant bidding a reluctant farewell to my collection of flats from Ferragamo and Tory Burch.