This week we asked Christchurch midwife Anne O’Connor if she’d share some advice for looking after yourself during pregnancy. Here’s what she had to say:


In early pregnancy in particular, you need to be very thoughtful to yourself. You will feel exhausted and seedy. Here are my top tips for expectant mothers. 

Food: 

  • Feed yourself frequently and nutritiously. Little and often can help symptoms.

  • Try whole foods – not lots of carbs like I did (I put on five kilos in the first 12 weeks).

  • Take the time to plan and eat well even though you don’t feel like it. 

  • Eat lots of low glycaemic food like porridge or Bircher muesli. If you’re constipated add ground linseed to your cereal. 

 Bircher Muesli:

Soak rolled oats, nuts and seeds with either fruit juice or milk of choice overnight. You can add high fat yoghurt (dairy or coconut) and fruit.

Keep this in the fridge at home or work to nibble on during the day. It means you don’t eat non-nutritious food.

  • Don’t worry if you go off some foods in the first few weeks. Once the nausea is gone you will get back to eating a wider range of foods again.

  • Eat foods high in magnesium to keep leg cramps under control and zinc to help with immunity. You have reduced immunity to bugs during pregnancy. 

  • Feed yourself well, not just your children. I’m sure we are all guilty of giving our children nutritious food then feeding ourselves biscuits and muesli bars!!!

High Magnesium Foods:

Leafy greens, avocado, banana, nuts, seeds.

 

High Zinc Foods:

Red meat, shellfish, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs.

 Prioritise rest:

  • Go to bed early! Don’t stay up watching Netflix. If you’re struggling to get to sleep try the Calm or Headspace app. 

  • It’s common to wake at night for an hour or so and not be able to get back to sleep. Try to relax.

  • Ask your partner to get up if other children wake. Don’t feel guilty asking them to do that. Sure, they need to work but you also are growing a baby and working at two jobs (if parenting and looking after older children) or full-time parenting and will be exhausted. We all know that parenting the hardest job we ever do.

  • Ask your partner to take over extra tasks.

 Exercise:

  • Regular exercise is really important. Walking with friends is a great way to catch up and get exercise and children love going to the park or beach. 

  • If you can’t walk due to pelvis pain, try swimming. Do not try breaststroke if you have pelvis instability.

  • If you have ligament pain be careful how you lift toddlers. Don’t turn to lift. Stand straight on and engage pelvic floor and abdominal muscles and lift directly in front of you.

  • Encourage children to climb into car seat themselves. It saves your back.

 Communicate:

  • If your partner doesn’t seem to hear your pleas for help write it down for them. Tell them you are stressed, and it would be really helpful if they could do X, Y and Z. Write a list. Start small, then when they aren’t watching add to it ?. 

  • If you’ve had a bad birth experience talk to your Midwife. Make a plan that is flexible and realistic. Tell her what you didn’t like from last time and what would feel better this time.

 Quality family time:

  • Do fun things together as a family. Lots of families I care for are doing renovations while pregnant.

  • Get away from home at least once on weekend as a family. Go to the beach or park.

  • Turn off your phone, TV, screens etc.

  • Make sure you and your partner get you time. And don’t feel guilty doing it!! Think “I’m going to be a better parent for the break”.