heart shape on stick in front of a woman's pregnant belly

Loving Your Body During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant there are many changes that your body goes through which affect you mentally and physically. And on the appearance side of things, it can be hard to adjust to your weight and body image. Even the women who receive compliments to say that they are glowing, think about how they look.

You are carrying a baby

Stating the obvious here but remember that you are carrying a baby in your uterus, a baby which develops and grows every day. I keep using the good old saying, I’m bloated!” then I am corrected by, “No, you’re pregnant.” As simply put as it is, it’s true. For someone like me, my weight has never changed drastically, other than the odd 6lbs ish weight fluctuations here and there, sometimes due to Slow Transit Constipation but also because I am a woman, I’m human, and it happens. 

The other week I got teary eyed when I weighed myself. Maybe it was an emotional day or perhaps the reality of that true pregnancy weight gain hit me. Either way, I am reminded that every woman’s body is different. We all have our own shapes and we shouldn’t let our minds think so negatively about our bodies – that goes for inside and outside of pregnancy. But remember, during pregnancy, there’s a baby, a placenta, fluid etc. There’s bound to be weight gain. If you are concerned, speak to your midwife. 

Growth is precious

Remember the day you found out you were pregnant? Baby was barely the size of a pea. If you was like me, it was very early on. Your baby goes through some huge milestones. From that first scan to the anomaly scan, you notice a difference in baby’s size and features. 

So, if you love to see your little bundle of joy growing, try to enjoy the wanders that pregnancy brings the growth of your body. I for one struggled a little at first, especially facing the fact that clothes didn’t fit anymore or just didn’t look right. After only a few weeks, I told myself to cherish everything, even the sickness in the first trimester reminded me that baby was inside and was changing every day. 

I adore my baby bump. The bigger it gets, means baby is growing more and getting stronger. And I cherish each and every movement and kick that I feel, no matter what time of the day it is.

Love your pregnancy body

Try not to compare yourselves to other pregnant women, stories, predicted baby weights etc. Enjoy your pregnancy! Make the most of feeling your little one wriggle around inside you. Bond with your baby – talk, play music, let your partner be part of the experience as much as possible. I look in the mirror most mornings as I get change and I now accept my pregnancy body. If there are times where I am starting to feel low, Danny always tells me, “You look beautiful!” then gives me more food to cheer me up of course!

I love the days where I can wear nice dresses, especially as we are now in the spring months (or at least they say it’s spring in the UK at the moment but the weather doesn’t look like it). I am so excited for the summer months to be here for more flowy dresses, and the moment will be here before I know it when we are holding our baby boy in our arms. 

A quick little tip here for any pregnant women, Palmers lotion for stretch marks is really good. I definitely recommend. 

fresh glass of milk

How to Cope with Heartburn During Pregnancy

Oh the wonderful joys of heartburn during pregnancy. Heartburn is something I have experienced before until my second trimester of pregnancy. It started with a burning sensation in my throat followed by acid that travels from your stomach to the oesophagus. So, I am having random bursts of this, sometimes when eating and other times I could just be doing my usual daily activities. Luckily, I haven’t had it too severely but there are a few things I can suggest due to the difference I have seen when doing the below.

Do not drink caffeine or fizzy drinks

This is a given as you are advised to avoid caffeine during pregnancy, thank you for decaf tea! But one thing I noticed going a few weeks back, is that I wanted to drink Pepsi Max whenever Danny had it during meals or throughout the day. That goes with the list of many things I want when Danny has them! But unfortunately it doesn’t help and only makes heartburn during pregnancy worse. Try having a glass of milk. This has worked wonders with me most nights. It’s said to neutralise the acids in your stomach. 

Avoid spicy foods

Wait, what? Don’t eat spicy foods? I know, it’s a challenge for me too. I love so many spicy foods. But if you want heartburn during pregnancy to ease or go away, you have got to do what you can. There are so many little things like peri peri pasta salads, curry, fajita chicken wraps etc. You name it. If it’s spicy, I want some (all) of it. I have treated myself to the odd spicy treat here and there. Reducing the amount I usually eat and certainly helped. The same goes with greasy foods too. 

Drink lots of water

Again, something you hear often during life inside and outside of pregnancy. Staying hydrated is important and it’s another natural way to help reduce heartburn. One thing I like is a nice smoothie during the day. But I have to keep an eye on eating or drinking too many citrus fruits as this doesn’t contribute well to easing heartburn during pregnancy. 

Try not to eat too much chocolate 

Erm… I am a chocoholic during pregnancy so that’s just mean! Needs must though and I do steer away from it if I know heartburn is coming back with a vengeance. I am writing this post, it is Easter Sunday so there’s no doubt about me indulging in chocolate later. It’s a worth a try if it’s an option you haven’t given a go during your pregnancy yet. 

Do medicines like Gaviscon help?

It is safe to take Gaviscon when you are pregnant and there are a few flavours available. However, there are some guidelines which outline when you shouldn’t take it e.g. if you have kidney or heart disease (see https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/gaviscon/).

I was given a large bottle of Gaviscon from my GP the other month which was good as outside of pregnancy I think you usually have to buy it over the counter. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to feel the true effects from Gaviscon because my midwife and MAViS advise me to take 2 aspirin each night along with my prescribed blood pressure tablets due to chronic hypertension (developed years before pregnancy). It can be a pain because with me, heartburn tends to appear more at night time. And taking these along with Gaviscon within 2 hours of each other only makes heartburn symptoms worse. So, I only take Gaviscon if none of the above have helped or if it’s kicking in worse than ever.

I also have some medicine to take as I have slow transit and chronic constipation. I think this is why I was sick on one occasion. Try to find the best time to take it and make it a routine if you are taking other medication. Always consult your GP first to make sure it’s safe. 

More information on heartburn during pregnancy 

There are a few other remedies which your GP may advise. Visit NHS online to find out more: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/indigestion-and-heartburn/ 

heart shaped hands on baby bump

My First Trimester of Pregnancy Versus the Second Trimester

Today marks 17 weeks of Baby Guy’s journey. Since the day we found out the news, our hearts have grown even stronger in love. And as the weeks go by, we are 1 week closer to meeting our little bundle of joy. Now that I am a few weeks into my second trimester, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on my physical and emotional feelings throughout the first trimester in comparison to the second trimester.

A baby is growing inside of me, so I always expected tired days. However, my level of tiredness in the first trimester was on another level I hadn’t experienced before. I didn’t even have to do anything that day and I would feel drained. I wanted to go to sleep by 7.00pm or earlier most nights and that was a struggle because sometimes it meant I was neglecting the thought of eating my tea. That’s one of the many good things about Danny always looking after me though, he made sure I ate, and that’s before pregnancy. I enjoy doing things around the house such as cleaning and tidying and when I didn’t have the energy to do those, it got me down. I’m not even saying that sarcastically as a lot of people know I love to keep a house maintained. It was more than it’s part of what I genuinely love to do and it’s like a therapy for me, just like writing these blog posts.

Food was another challenge. I am the type of girl who will eat anything (well most things), I don’t see myself as a picky eater nor does Danny or my family. When that began to change during the first trimester, I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Banana milkshake? Nope, constantly thrown it right up but I could still eat bananas. I could eat sit there some nights and eat a plate of mashed potato. Sweet treats didn’t appeal to me too much even around Christmas which felt so strange. Danny did everything he could to find foods I could eat and find appetising. Some days this meant putting random combination of foods together to make sure I ate. I still made sure I was ate fruit, vegetables and all things with those important vitamins needed to keep me and the baby healthy.

Then the second trimester began

As the second trimester crept in, my love for food returned, along with a boost in energy levels. I am back whizzing around the house with the hoover and back into my cleaning routine. And I am still enjoying my walks along the river and in the park. Around week 12-13, I finally got round to thinking, “Maybe… I could try some spaghetti bolognese!” as the thought of eating beef mince meat beforehand made me feel sick. Everything about it, the look, texture and just the thought in general. It’s safe to say, I tried it and it went down nicely. Eating is much easier when the sickness goes. I’ve managed to demolish a lovely roast dinner or two. I also want chocolate now and that includes chocolate cereals, chocolate spread on pancakes, and chocolate milkshakes. I worried when I had a dentist appointment that the dentist would shout at me but he said everything looks good so now I can continue to enjoy these chocolate goodies, right?

It’s funny how your mind turns on you during pregnancy. Talking of emotions, even though deep down I am happy, more than happy actually that I’m carrying our first child, I’ve had a couple short periods of time when I’ve wanted to cry as I became anxious about handling all of the new things I’ll be taking on. Other days, I just feel, how do I put it? Bothered? Maybe that’s not the right word but I feel annoyed by little things and just don’t have it in me to say or do certain things. It’s like I want to isolate myself away. Then Danny, just as he always does, wants to make everything better. He might not always see it but I know how much he cares, he always has my back and comforts me the best he can.

When will we see baby again?

Now, although things have improved physically and mentally on the whole. I am becoming quite impatient to find out the gender of the baby and to see them again to check everything’s okay. We are slowly creeping towards the ‘3 weeks to go’ marks. 

Here’s to seeing you again Baby Guy, you keep mummy and daddy’s hearts filled with more love and happiness every day.

If you are 17 weeks pregnant, visit the NHS website for information and advice: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/pregnancy/week-by-week/2nd-trimester/week-17/#anchor-tabs

holding hands for comfort

Speak Up About Your Health – Thyroid Awareness Week

It’s Thyroid Awareness Week. For something that’s a small butterfly shaped gland, the thyroid is so powerful, and can attack many different parts of the body if there’s an imbalance of hormone levels. Although I haven’t had an official diagnosis, I want to share my story as my symptoms and test results are leaning towards and under active thyroid (hypothyroidism). I also know a few people that have a thyroid condition, some under active and others over active (hyperthyroidism). I need to have one more test in a couple of months to be able to get a clear answer of what’s going on, whether it’s thyroid or something else.

Since 2011, my thyroid levels (mainly TSH) have up and down like a yo-yo. In the last 6 months, they have been higher than usual. Every time something has lowered or increased, I have been advised, “It’s okay, it’s borderline.” But how does that interpret what’s low/high for every individual? We are all different and have different medical history, some heavier for some than others.

Since 2009, I have experienced a number of medical issues, some in more recent months, including:

  • Migraines (I was subscribed to Propranolol 80mg for 8-9 years by the hospital)
  • High blood pressure (controlled by medication)
  • Slow transit constipation/IBS – and now rectal bleeding – I am currently waiting for a sigmoidoscopy appointment
  • Tingling like pins and needles all over my body, on a daily basis
  • Longer, heavier, and more painful periods (to the point where sometimes, I only have a week window until my next one in-between the period itself and extra bleeding in-between)
  • Low iron levels
  • Raised cholesterol – this could be caused by a gene my mum has called ‘Familial hypercholesterolaemia‘ (I’ll just stuck to calling it FH!)
  • Low vitamin D – no chance of a beach holiday just yet though eh!

    Thyroid UK have reported on their Instagram account this week that, a lack of Vitamin D can be associated with thyroid disease.

Overall, I feel completely drained, and tend to have a lot of foggy moments. It’s been incredibly challenging in the more recent months, leading to low thoughts and feeling like giving up on finding answers. The weight gain on top of bloating due to bowel issues, not that many people notice, has still took quite a toll on me. However, with an extra influence from my boyfriend, I decided it was time to make a change. I have joined a new GP practice and it’s been one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I am heading in the right direction now.

During the last 6 or so months, I have been experiencing more cervical bleeding in between periods and after sex. So, with that on top of the rectal bleeding, you can understand why I’m on iron medication. 

Although having the copper coil was good choice for me health wise (or so it seemed at the time as I can’t take other contraceptives), having it removed could be the next step. It wouldn’t scare me if anything happens as a result of this. I dream of having children, so I hope I get to experience this coming true in the near future once everything’s sorted. 

I am sharing this personal story in the hope that, if you ever develop symptoms, always push for answers. Your health is more important than anything – mentally and physically. Remember to look after yourself. I never used to speak up in the past but now I am glad to finally be getting somewhere. The answers might not be what you want to hear but it means you can get the help you need.