Michelle's wellbeing tips for the second trimester of pregnancy
The second trimester of pregnancy. Often referred to as the "honeymoon" phase due to the easing of early pregnancy symptoms and increased energy levels. It was just at the end of the first trimester, circa 11 weeks that I began to regain my energy levels and felt like moving again. I welcomed back my asana practice and returned to weekly personal training sessions at the gym. I couldn't wait to get back to normal, albeit with a modified practice.
My perception of "normal" was somewhat naive as I was measuring this against how my mind and body felt pre pregnancy. I realised my body and mind were going through massive changes and that my foot needed to come off the gas. I learned that this was a time to prepare my body and mind for birthing my baby. However, slowing down and accepting where I am at hasn't been an easy journey and I am still working on it in my third trimester.
We often talk and read about the physical changes that happen in pregnancy, but, in my opinion the emotions that can be triggered often get missed. Pregnancy is a massive life change, whether this is planned or unplanned. You are responsible for the tiny human you are growing inside of you and he or she will soon depend on you for everything. It is normal to worry whether you will be a good parent or not, about your changing body, the birth and more.
Pregnancy is a time when a lot of us decide to embark on massive home improvements for our precious little one's arrival, or, up sticks and move home. Possibly some of the most stressful things we can do! Change is the only thing that remains constant in life and it is important that we nourish and nurture ourselves while all of this is happening. No matter how busy things are.
As a woman, I feel that society places us under a tremendous amount of pressure in pregnancy. There is pressure to glow, feel positive, joyous, look amazing and feel really connected to our unborn babies all of the time. Connecting with the babies that are growing inside us takes time and it doesn't always happen for some women. As always, media and social media fuel these pressures with images of perfect pregnant models and celebrities, juggling all their other responsibilities fabulously and then showing off their perfect post partum bodies days after baby is born.
The reality is that pregnancy isn't always a bed of roses and that's okay. If you are not feeling wonderful because your head has been down the pan, you have swollen feet or you are crying because your partner forgot to bring you chocolate home, then let me tell you that you are normal. I'd love to share some tips for pregnant women that I have learned through my own experience and hope you find these useful.
1. Slow Down
This isn't easy to do, especially when most of us are working full time, have a mortgage/rent/bills to pay and other kids to look after. Sometimes it can just be slowing down the speed you are carrying out tasks, or moving from one thing to the next. Look at your daily routine. What is essential? Is there anything you can take off of your plate or delegate to somebody else? Can you take a holiday from work just to chill? Do you have a support network?
Slowing down has been a huge challenge for me as it was during the second trimester that I moved home and prepared my flat to go up for sale. I listened to my body and rested when I could. My partner and I carried out this work mindfully and he encouraged me to slow down and be patient.
Watch out for negative self talk or guilt setting in if you decide to slow down. The big one for me was feeling like I was letting other people down or they'd think I was being lazy for taking more rests. If you are feeling guilty for slowing down then think of the reasons why you are choosing to slow down and be confident in the boundaries you are setting for yourself.
Often these thoughts are based on assumptions or scenarios we have created in our minds! Don't be afraid to say "no" to taking on new projects or commitments. Remember that slowing down is benefiting your baby and that this is more important than anything else. Also, If you aren't taking time out to slow down and look after yourself then how can you look after anyone else?
2. Be Gentle With Yourself
Are you pushing through? Are you trying to keep up with your old yoga practice or exercise routine? If so, why? Is this serving you? My personal yoga practice changed in more ways than I ever thought. Postures that I enjoyed or found easy became a challenge and I'd get extremely frustrated. For example, holding warrior 2 or a low lunge for 10 breaths. I became very breathless during the second trimester and have since been diagnosed with anemia.
Pregnancy is a time for letting go. Let go of expectations about what you can and can't do. Don't judge your yoga practice or compare. Not only to anyone else, but to yourself and what you were doing pre pregnancy. Yoga for me has became a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with my unborn son. Before my bump started to show and I felt my baby move, it all felt a bit surreal. Breath work and guided meditation were a great way for me to feel connected to my baby even in the early weeks
Tiredness can continue into the second trimester. Sleep and rest as much as you can. For me this meant taking a rest from work. This isn't an easy thing to do when you are self employed but the benefits of stopping and tightening the purse strings far outweighed pushing through and "getting on with it"
3. It is okay not to enjoy being pregnant
Really. It is. I'm sure some women embrace the experience of being pregnant and breeze through it. I am not trying to be down on pregnancy or speak negatively about it. The reality is that the journey might not always be plain sailing and that we shouldn't feel stigmatised if this is the case. Pregnancy ailments and fluctuating hormones can makes us feel off. I love my baby and can't wait to meet him but there are some days where I feel done with pregnancy!
I have had aches and pains from my baby growing. As someone who keeps fit and well, this has been super frustrating! The summer heatwave triggered my hands and feet to swell towards the end of my second trimester and this hasn't gone down. The swelling has also lead to me having carpal tunnel which has impacted upon my yoga practice. There have also been days where I have felt really hormonal and emotional. I am writing this because I think that we need to be more honest and open and not feel bad if we aren't 100% positive all of the time. This brings me to my next point....
4. Talk about how you are feeling
If you are not feeling great physically or emotionally, even if it's occasional, it's good to talk about it to someone you trust. This might be your partner, midwife, GP or a friend. Pregnancy can also be an anxious time and this might mean different things for different folk. Whether it's about the birth, fears around being a new parent, the health of your baby or something else.
Stressful life events can happen during pregnancy such as a sudden bereavement, moving home, major refurbishment or work related stress. While we can't stop these things from happening, we can do things to try and help us cope in a safe and healthy way. Yoga and gentle exercise such as swimming or walking are great ways to calm relax and de stress too.
5. Maximise your Comfort
As your bump grows it's so important to feel comfy! Certain yoga poses are great for opening the body to create space for baby to move and to maximise your comfort. This becomes more apparent as you transition from the second trimester into the third.
Bursting out of your old clothes and into new maternity clothes can also feel great too. Make sure you have a bra that fits properly. You might need to upsize at least a couple of times! Going up a shoe size in pregnancy is also a thing. Seriously! Birkenstock sandals have also been my saviour during the summer months.
As your bump develops, you might find that you need support in bed. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees or under bump can really help with this. There are also a lot of good pregnancy pillows on the market. They can be a bit pricey, but well worth the cash. A lot of them also double up as feeding pillows for babies. So you can get optimal use from them.
Other wee tips are to just nourish and nurture yourself. Pregnancy Thai Massage, Reflexology, warm baths and a good foot rub from my partner have worked wonders for me. They all feel incredibly soothing and relaxing.
If you are pregnant and are looking for ideas to maximise your comfort we offer pregnancy yoga classes. Lesley Lewis from Heart Plus Hara also rents our therapy space on a Friday and offers pregnancy thai massage
Michelle Lang is co founder of Studio 70 and teaches Vinyasa Flow and Yin at the studio. She has practiced yoga for fifteen years and is in her 5th year of teaching yoga in the Southside of Glasgow. Michelle has a previous background of working in social care and is passionate about empowering others and making yoga accessible to everyone. In her spare time, Michelle likes chilling at home with her cat and partner Mick, who is also a yoga teacher!