I was 40 years-old when I got pregnant with my daughter. As many complications as this caused with an already high-risk pregnancy, in a way it was a blessing. I’m not sure if “younger me” would have had the mental tools to survive a pregnancy like mine with blood clot and genetic risks and worry that was off the charts.
I don’t know what you were like when you were younger, but I felt like I’d lived a lot of life and had some wisdom under my belt. *clutching sides laughing at deluded younger me*
The reality is that “older me” is more open to advice than I might have been back in the day. So when nurses and non-wacko moms recommended things that had been helpful to them in their pregnancy and child-rearing, my husband and I listened. Thank God.
Below are seven items that made my pregnancy easier for both of us. They might not work for you – there were four or five recommendations that didn’t work for us – but the things below saved my sanity during a very insane time.
1. Fish Oil
My husband and I had to get permission from the high-risk OB to even try to get pregnant because the risk of death for me was so significant. I need to do a separate post on all the things we were told in that visit – it was GREAT stuff.
During that pre-conception visit, the most stellar recommendation was to begin taking prenatal vitamins, Folic Acid and fish oil. This was my regimen through the 15 months pre-conception, all the way through the time when I breastfed. The current research on this indicates that fish oil during pregnancy can help young babies ward off colds. Breastfeeding helps this too.
I bought my first fish oil from Costco and it made me sick, burping up fishy-ness. Bleck. My husband takes Lovaza, which is a very refined fish oil (prescription only – talk to your OB) and I tried it and did not have another problem with the fishy burp-ups.
My hair, skin and nails stayed healthy in pregnancy and beyond. Baby Girl has gotten one cold ever. I don’t know if these things are tied together, but it sure couldn’t hurt, right? Plus, I felt better taking fish oil. I wish I’d taken more, since there’s also indications that it helps with post-partum depression, which I wrestled with.
2. Heartburn Help
Like most expectant moms, I had heartburn. I don’t know what yours was (is) like, but mine was the wake you up choking at midnight kind. My bouts of heartburn scared the crap out of both my husband and I and they started to get more severe right about 14-15 weeks.
My regular OB would say, just take a Tums and don’t eat within 6 hours of when you go to bed. It’s a wonder more obstetricians aren’t taken out with advice like that. Most pregnant women will wake up wanting to chew their arm off if they don’t eat a snack in the late evening. I wasn’t that hungry but my friends sure were.
More important, at least to me, Tums and Pepsid AC were like pissing on a forest fire in terms of my heartburn relief. When I woke up with these midnight bouts, I’d have to pace around my house for 1-2 hours before my heartburn would subside. Often, I slept sitting up on the couch because I couldn’t lay down without choking on bile.
This wicked heartburn happens because the Relaxin hormone secreted by pregnant women relaxes the muscles that hold the esophagus shut. Normally, there is a positive pressure going down. Pregnancy makes us have a negative pressure going down, which means the acid comes up, giving us wicked heartburn.
My high-risk OB had me try all the other remedies first but in the end, he gave me Protonix which is now on the safe list for pregnant women once their placenta is working. I wanted to kiss that man right on the mouth when he gave it to me. He saved my sanity. Literally.
3. Palmer’s Lotion
One of my girlfriends who had two kids with nary a stretch mark recommended this lotion. Now, to be fair, there are a number of factors that will affect whether one develops stretch marks or not – skin type, heredity, age, weight – but every woman hopes to avoid them. Whether it made the difference or not, I will never know, but I got zero stretch marks and my honey rubbed this into my belly and back every night. (It was AWESOME!) Mommy’s Opinion agrees. 🙂
4. Belly band from Target – $16.99
I especially hate to shop at maternity stores. My local stores had salesladies that preyed on the captive audience (read, naked fear) factor intrinsic to pregnant ladies and I hated buying anything from those harpies. I limited my maternity store purchses to the required items only – bras, formal dresses and maternity panty hose/compression stockings. Everything else I bought at Target. Their maternity department is freaking amazing!
The item that I used the most was the Be Band, which holds your pants up when you can’t button them anymore. I was able to wear all of my own pants during my pregnancy with the exception of maternity jeans. And I’ll tell you a secret: I still wear my maternity jeans with the belly band. I wish I’d found these things a decade ago, for those times when you’ve put on a little weight, but not enough to warrant a new size.
5. Baby Wise – under $10 at Amazon
A cousin of my husband with two children recommended this book when I told her one of our biggest concerns was sleep. We’re old compared to a lot of new parents, and we’d heard TONS of horror stories about sleep.
Baby Wise worked for us, but it did take effort on our part. I’ll talk about this more in next week’s post, but breastfeeding was a two person job for us when we first got started. The key to Baby Wise is the hindmilk, which is higher in fat and more filling. Many babies stop nursing quickly when their belly gets full, so they never get the hindmilk (which would keep them satisfied longer) and they nurse all the time and keep their parents up.
We worked our asses off breastfeeding and followed Baby Wise to the letter and had a good experience with it. Baby Girl had about 4 hours between feedings within her first two weeks and slept through the night at 9-10 weeks.
Note: for Preemies or babies who have issues with failure to thrive, all bets are off in those early months and I feel for you.
However, if you’re willing to work hard for the first three weeks to get great sleep in the coming months, Baby Wise is the best game in town. I recommend you read it early so you can internalize it before you have trouble concentrating in your last trimester.
I talked a few posts ago about my girlfriend who gave me a Snoogle and liberated me from the Pregnancy Pillow Parade that expectant moms go through. This one pillow made a huge difference in my world, since there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in your mountain of pillows when you really have to pee. Sometimes, I’d use a different pillow for my neck, but for the rest of my body, the Snoogle rocked my sleep-challenged world.
7. Large Yoga Ball
Yoga Balls are recommended for delivery (they stretch the muscles in your pelvic area, and just kinda relax things where they need some relaxation) but I used mine all the way through pregnancy. Whenever my lower back was hurting, I’d sit on my yoga ball and plant my feet wide on the floor, rotating the ball in small circles on the floor. (This is exactly the way they tell you to use it for delivery, FYI).
I LOVED my yoga ball! Sometimes, I’d sit on the floor and recline against the ball, leaned against the couch or up against a wall. I found it to be extremely relaxing to both my back and my neck.
What items were a godsend to you when you were pregnant? For those of you who are pregnant now, what are you particularly worried about having when the baby’s born. (I know, I know…everything! But we’re looking for things we can narrow down for a blog. 🙂 ) Last of all, for those of you like Amy (down in the comments) who don’t plan to ever be pregnant, think of this as your baby shower shopping list.
Take care of you!
HEADS UP: Next week’s post is about the things that rocked my world once Baby Girl got here. It was just too much for a single post. If you missed previous editions of Risky Baby Business and would like to catch up, click here.