As I enter the final weeks of my pregnancy (tomorrow is number 39!) I’ve been thinking back on this sweet journey and thought I’d share more of my experience, and what essentials I’ve relied on. I think what has surprised me the most is how much I have loved being pregnant. My doctors told me back at my 36 week checkup they thought baby boy would come on the early side so I’ve been going a little crazy playing this waiting game these past few weeks and the anticipation is definitely killing me–but it’s been such a special time in my life that I could easily go on with this bump a few more. (Even though not gonna lie, getting back in those high-rise skinny jeans sounds pretty great too).
That first trimester feels so long ago. May sound crazy but I knew I was pregnant right away–like within those first couple weeks (I’m pretty in-tune with my body). I took pregnancy after pregnancy test but they kept coming up negative. I kept telling my guy nope, I know I’m pregnant. Sure enough, after waiting a few more weeks that little positive sign was the best–although not really a surprise to me–surprise! Something that I’m incredibly thankful for and think is so important is not putting too much pressure on myself to get pregnant. I was blown away by the number of friends who as soon as we shared our news confided that they were having difficulty getting pregnant. This was heartbreaking for me to hear which has made me realize two things: 1) we need to talk about this more and share these struggles, and 2) to not put too much pressure on ourselves–stress is such a big part of it.
Those first few months dragged on for what seemed like forever. I was overly excited and wanted to shout our news to everyone, and yet for some reason felt I should keep it a secret until I was farther along. Looking back I say spread the news and tell your friends as soon as you feel it is right for you. For some reason I felt like I had to wait until the second trimester to tell people, and even waited a week or so to tell my mom (although mainly because I wanted to tell her in person). I think so many people keep it hush hush for fear of miscarriage, but after a scare of our own I soon realized this is when you would want those closest to you to know what you’re going through.
Take it easy. I had a heavy bleeding scare at 11 weeks. I was going on at my normal pace, and I can’t be totally certain but I’m pretty sure it was due to too much physical activity in my Pilates class. I was put on a mini rest and told to only walk while I gave my body time to heal. For the rest of my pregnancy I just stuck to a simple walking routine of ~ 30 minutes a day (a loop through our neighborhood)–and longer walks / hiking on the weekends with my guy. It’s actually amazing how fit you can stay just by walking, which is what I miss most about living in New York.
This was also the trimester that I was most engrossed with the apps and reading as much as I could about development and what was happening. It’s all so fascinating! One day you’re making ears, the next a placenta. No wonder you’re exhausted. My favorite app was: Ovia, (I also check: What To Expect and The Bump).
Naps! Thankfully I didn’t have very much morning sickness, but this entire trimester felt like one big brain fog to me and I just kept thinking is this my new normal? If you can, sneaking in an afternoon nap a few days a week was my key to getting through this trimester. I was a zombie by most afternoons and found it very hard to focus / work. And if I was on a full-day styling shoot, I relied on protein packed snacks for energy boosts.
What most people call the golden phase of pregnancy. And it definitely was, as I didn’t even feel (or really look) pregnant. The bummer for me during this time though was that I wanted to show so badly. Instead I had what looked like a well fed beer belly / burrito baby (peak swimsuit season which was awesome!). If this is the case for you, I found flowy tops and dresses to be my savior as I went through that awkward phase.
This is also when I discovered my number one pregnancy must: high-rise full bottom underwear. It sounds silly, but I bought two pairs and would savor the days I got to wear them… like it was a real treat for me! If I was on a trip I would save this pair for the car ride home (and look forward to it). Another little tip, I have been using these ultra-thin light day pads for years but they’ve become another top everyday pregnancy essential.
By the second trimester, any nausea and food avoidance completely wore off and I was back to my old eating habits. I actually thought I would have been more concerned about weight gain, but I’ve found that just focusing on choosing the healthiest options possible with baby in mind has helped me stay in shape. Again, I think we put too much pressure on ourselves. Instead I focused on incorporating as many baby superfoods as possible (which I usually crave anyway): salmon, nuts, sweet potatoes, avocado, berries, veggies etc. And popcorn and frozen grapes helped stop me from getting into the ice cream in the evenings.
This is also the trimester I started slathering on the belly oil (shared my full pregnancy beauty routine here).
Books I loved reading during this time: Bringing Up Bébé (not just a super cute story but surprisingly more informative than I thought it would be) and The Gentle Birth Method (whether you’re planning to go the natural route or not, I really enjoyed a more holistic approach to a healthy pregnancy and delivery–focused on diet, exercise, and meditation)
Take a trip! My guy and I planned our summer vacation during this second trimester and it was the best week ever. I am so happy that we got to get away just the two of us before baby.
Around week 26 my bump finally started to really pop! (Another surprising to me pregnancy fact: I love my pregnant belly / curvier shape!–more than I would have thought and this has been the one time in my life I’m okay with wearing tighter clothes). Picking up a few maternity pieces were absolutely necessary at this point, but I didn’t want to invest in too much maternity wear. I found that 1 pair of maternity leggings (I chose the under the bump style that I can continue to wear post-pregnancy) and 2 pairs of denim (black and blue) were all I needed to get me through. My sister also gave me this pair of cozy lounge pants–mainly because she was sick of my ridiculous pjs that I wear all the time–and they’ve been the best things. I wear them everywhere–not just around the house but to grab coffee, my doctors appointments, to workout… to bed. I’ll probably go to the hospital in them. Another style must? Comfy boots. Since I’m a boot over heels kinda girl I opted for flat boots most days of the week which I think has helped save my back.
Prenatal Yoga. I probably should have started going much earlier as I had cut yoga out of my routine completely after my 1st trimester scare. And I really regret this as I think yoga would have been so beneficial throughout my entire pregnancy but regardless, going just a couple times a week has felt amazing during this final stretch. For those who live in Sacramento I’ve been going to Herself Moms. At first, it felt a little cheesy to me (introducing yourself each class and chanting) and I’m used to a much more intense yoga routine, but I soon got into it. It’s just nice to get in some stretching and meet other’s due around you.
I had a pretty relaxed mindset about prepping for baby, I figured it would all work out (who really needs all of those gadgets anyway?)–but one thing I am glad I decided on early on was hiring a doula. I can’t report on labor with her as of now, but I will say that it’s been comforting to know she will be with us when that day comes and just having her for labor prep has been amazing. Another note on labor–we didn’t take a class. Again I can’t report on whether that was smart or not at this time but my doctor, who is hilarious, said it was a waste of time, and that’s sort of how we had been feeling all along. I feel like I know as much as I want to know and that by taking care of my body I’m prepping as much as I really can?
Ask your girlfriends–don’t Google. Labor doesn’t scare me–honestly I can’t wait for those contractions because I’m so excited to meet my baby. But when I have questions–like what’s really going to happen down there–I’ve gone to my mom, mother-in-law (who will really give it to me straight!) and my girlfriends. Whenever I google around it just sends me into a scare… so definitely stay away from any kind of forums.
Pedicures, prenatal massage, facials and hot baths. I’ve lucked out with feeling pretty great my entire pregnancy, but there’s something about treating yourself in these last few months that has helped put me in a really happy zen state. I think a pedicure, massage, or just a hot bath at home is the answer to a great night sleep. Plus they say that a happy mama makes for a happy baby! So I think relaxing as much as possible during these final weeks can only help. For prenatal massage I’ve been going to Brie, and for facials–Gabi at Mosaic is the best!
Evening Routine. I’m up a few times a night using the restroom and have struggled with many sleepless nights but have found I sleep best on the nights I stick to an early to bed evening routine. Winding down with a hot shower, and reading in bed instead of staying up on my computer has helped me get the best night sleep. Also never underestimate the power of clean sheets! We recently got these new sheets from SNOWE and I bought a few more extra pillows for our bed and maybe it’s all in my mind but I’ve been sleeping better ever since.
Lastly, most surprising about this final trimester is how amazing I still feel. I was warned that I would slow down a lot in this final trimester but honestly I have just as much energy as before. It’s only in these final couple weeks that I’ve forced myself to slow down, and by slow down I just mean not run off to the Bay Area as often, as my guy thinks I might have a freeway baby. And although I’m someone who’s not great at slowing down, it has been nice to soak up this time with my guy.
Photography | Ashley Maxwell