Tips for enjoying a Healthy, Holistic Pregnancy in Abu Dhabi
with Simone Burke, Pilates Instructor & Hypnobirthing Educator
Pregnancy is such an amazing and exciting time in our lives, but for some it could be more about battling morning sickness or even the stress of staying positive after a long fertility journey or previous pregnancy loss.
Here are some tips to staying healthy and happy during your pregnancy so Mummy and Baby can both enjoy a relaxing journey!
THE FIRST TRIMESTER
The first trimester can be the hardest. It may be morning sickness, exhaustion or the worry of getting through the first few months safely that plays on your mind. Firstly, for morning sickness try and have some of your favorite crackers beside your bed so when you wake up in the morning you can eat these straight away. I also love ginger tea anytime, but especially when I feel sick or in those early weeks of pregnancy. Take a thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peel, slice and steep in boiled water. You can add lemon and honey to taste, sip on this slowly first thing in the morning, (even before your get out of bed!), to settle your tummy. It’s also great anytime during the day, as we know morning sickness can last all day, (INSERT sad face emoji). Maybe a polite suggestion to baby Daddy… a delivery of freshly made ginger tea each morning please 😉
If you are suffering from high levels of nausea or hyperemesis gravidarum, it would be a great idea after consultation from your OBGYN to see a Nutritionist to get some advice on foods that are nutrient dense to help fuel your body through the first trimester. Suzan Terzian is a Certified Nutritionist at Bodytree and is on hand to help with all your nutritional needs.
Try and rest whenever you can in the early days, maybe you can sneak in a nap in the middle of the day if you are off work or as soon as you get home from work. Even 20-40 minutes of guided meditation will give your mind and body the rest it needs.
For those that are feeling anxious or stressed about getting through that first trimester, do try guided meditations whenever you can. Positive thinking and affirmations will help lower anxiety and stress, which is both good for your body and your baby. Some of my favourite relaxation apps are; Sleep Easily and Take a Break.
Exercise! There really is no ‘one size fits all’ rule for exercise during the first trimester. It is important to stay in consultation with your OBGYN to confirm exactly what is safe for your body and baby. If you are avoiding your regular exercise routine, still try and go for a lovely relaxing walk in the morning or evening. Pre-natal yoga at Bodytree is also safe for early pregnancy but always remember to talk to your instructor about pregnancy before you begin any class. Don’t push yourself, if something doesn’t feel right, stop and rest!
THE SECOND TRIMESTER
Typically, women start to feel more energized and comfortable in the second trimester, anywhere from 12-16 weeks. You may want to start thinking about getting back into a regular exercise routine if you feel up to it and your OBGYN has cleared you for safe, pre-natal exercise. As a former Pre-Natal Pilates instructor, I cannot promote the benefits of exercising during pregnancy enough! Keeping active with safe, pre-natal exercise will not only help support your body through pregnancy but also be hugely beneficial during the birth of your baby. All the pre-natal classes at Bodytree are safe for expectant Mummies and are taught by pre-natal trained instructors, so please be careful to only attend classes at any gym that are specifically pre-natal classes. There is pre-natal yoga, Pilates (mat and reformer) and barre on the schedule every week at Bodytree!
The second trimester might be a good time to start thinking about the type of birth you want for your baby. Some may think this sounds funny and that birth will just happen when it happens, but it is so important to really investigate where and how you would like to birth your baby. I cannot recommend Hypnobirthing enough. For my husband and I it was the most amazing experience doing our Hypnobirthing course as it taught us what birth was all about. As women, we naturally think we know all about our bodies and how they birth, but there is so much more to learn. The more you learn about the birth experience, they more educated you are about the different choices that YOU have. It also takes away the ‘fear’ around birth, the negative stories you may have heard from family or friends that have given you preconceived ideas of how a birth will be, even if you may not be conscious of these ‘fears’. You are in charge of your body and your baby, and you need to make decisions that can really change the course of your baby’s birth to ensure that it is a positive experience. The Hypnobirthing course is also fantastic for Daddies-to-be to get to know their role during the birth and how they can support their Mummy-to-be, (they really do have a busy time supporting Mummy!). I cannot express how important both things are and after doing the Hypnobirthing course you will be much more empowered to make decisions on where you will birth your baby, which can really set your birth experience off on a positive note. I did my Hypnobirthing course quite late in pregnancy, around 35+ weeks, it was still hugely beneficially but if I had my time again I would have done it closer to 20+ weeks as all the information was so helpful in planning for our birth. The guided meditations were bliss and now that our daughter is five I STILL USE the meditations and relaxation that I learnt in Hypnobirthing. It really is a life skill that has helped me through so many tough situations over the last few years. Bodytree runs regular Hypnobirthing courses, so make sure you book in advance for a course that suits you!
THE THIRD TRIMESTER
Now that baby is taking up a lot more room in your tummy, aches and pains may start to settle in. I had never seen a Chiropractor before I was pregnant with our first daughter, but it really did save my life, (and pelvis!), during the third trimester. I cannot recommend Dr Steven Marsland at Canadian Medical Centre enough. Having supported me and 100’s of other Mummies through their pregnancies, a regular Chiropractic treatment can help with those aches and pains and most importantly support your pelvis which is under a huge amount of strain the last trimester. Dr Marsland is also renowned as a bit of a magician when it comes to breech babies. Through gentle Chiropractic treatments, which allow the muscles around Mummy’s pelvis to relax, baby can naturally turn into that ideal head down position ready for birth.
Pre and post-natal Physiotherapy treatments and education. Our pelvic floor goes through a pretty intense work out during the last trimester supporting the weight of your growing baby, as well as during the birth. For those not in touch with their pelvic floor as intimately as they should be, the pelvic floor muscles basically hold everything in as well as control our bladder and bowel functions. Thus, without wanting to traumatize anyone reading this, you really do want your pelvic floor in the best working order, before, during and after birth! Jade Lucas Read is a pre and post-natal specialist physiotherapist at Canadian Medical Centre. Jade is an expert in pre and post-natal care and also runs workshops at Bodytree studio on diastasis, (abdominal separation during pregnancy), as well as free women’s health talks and workshops. I would highly recommend attending her workshops in your last trimester so you really understand how to recover and support your body safely after a natural or caesarian section birth. Getting back into exercise safely and gently at the right time, is the most important thing you can do for your body.
It goes without saying but really do try to enjoy your third trimester, if you are a first time Mum, enjoy your alone time, reading a book or simply just drinking your tea while it is hot! Have a pre-natal massage, get your hair and nails done and just indulge. If you are a second or third time Mummy, really enjoy those Mummy-and-me dates with your mini-me’s, spoil them rotten with your time in those precious last few months together before they become a big sister or brother! Of course, being a Mummy is the most amazing time in our lives but we don’t get to focus on ourselves too much in those first few months of our baby’s life, so enjoy now!
Relax and relax and relax………your Hypnobirthing relaxation and meditations will be your best friend in the third trimester, try and get in at least one a day as well as before bed. Daddy-to-be will also benefit as you can both drift off into a dreamy sleep. I found I didn’t sleep much in my last trimester, not only from 47 trips to the toilet each night, but just general pregnancy insomnia. The relaxation and meditation worked a treat throughout the night to help me fall back to sleep easily.
THE FOURTH TRIMESTER
Yes, there really truly is a fourth trimester! This is the best one though as you get to share it with your precious little baby. Make sure you rest and be kind to yourself in those first few weeks. I spent the first few weeks of my daughter’s life trying to run around Abu Dhabi and have coffee and lunch dates with all my friends ‘showing her off’……..then after six weeks I fell in a big heap, which wasn’t fair on me or my daughter!
Enjoy your Babymoon, the first 40 days are a really important time for bonding with your baby, read more here about the benefits of staying close to home and your baby.
Your body has run a marathon during birth, your only priority in the fourth trimester should be to rest when the baby rests, feed the baby, enjoy those beautiful new born snuggles and fuel your body to promote breast milk production. Get family or friends to help with meal prep or order in if you need to! Again, getting some advice and help to plan a breastfeeding nutrition plan from Suzan Terzian, (Certified Nutritionist at Bodytree), would be hugely beneficial. The right nutrition can be paramount to fueling your breast milk supply. Often women want to think about losing weight right after birth and do that through limiting food intake. This is so detrimental to not only to your recovery but also your baby’s health as well as potentially harming your milk supply. The right meal plan will not only fuels breast milk production but also helps support you through those long nights of feeding.
My top tips would be
- Always have health snacks on hand. I had a fridge full of snacks, (home-made protein balls, dips and vege sticks etc. You can always sneak into Nectar and top up your fridge with their healthy snacks!
- Pre-prepare meals in your third trimester that you can freeze, grab and easily heat up.
- Smoothies full of good fats like avocado, seeds and nuts will really fill you up and are easy to prepare.
- Always have water on hand. Have a water bottle near your feeding chair, beside table and by the TV, (basically anywhere you are feeding the baby). Breast feeding produces the hormone oxytocin which induces thirst, so always keep water handy to rehydrate.
You can start gentle pelvic floor exercise as soon as a few days after birth. Jade Lucas-Read is the best person to advise on this for your specific needs. Her Mummy MOT class will give you a full run down on what is safe after birth. Starting with gentle pelvic floor exercises after birth helps support your body’s recovery so that you can get back into your regular exercise routine when it safe to do so. This will vary from person to person and birth to birth. I cannot recommend enough going to see Jade for an assessment BEFORE you want to start back with exercise even if you have done her Mummy MOT workshop, it would be great to get the all clear from her so you know the type of exercises you are doing are safe for your body.
Simone Burke formerly taught Pre-natal Pilates and Hypnobirthing at Bodytree Studio for six years. Simone returned to Australia 18 months ago where she now works at Food Matters as a Project Manger, while completing her Honours Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.