Recently I was reminiscing with some girlfriends about our first pregnancies. Ah, getting chummy with our chakras in Pregnancy Yoga; the Sunday morning lie ins; the exotic salads we’d prepare lovingly for ourselves and our little buns in the ovens.
But is it the same the second (and third..) time around? Hell no! Gone are the lie ins and exercise classes, replaced by toddlers jumping on your head at 5am, as you launch into the day with a vat of coffee and a dizzying schedule of Tumble Tots and Drumming for Fun.
There seems to be a consensus that the first time around, there is a smorgasbord of health guidance and support, but in subsequent pregnancies mums are kind of left to get on with it. This is at the very time when perhaps you need more help than ever:
Mum of 6 (yes 6) Katie Jagelski says –
‘The hardest part of being pregnant with toddlers is the sleep deprivation. You can’t always sleep in or take naps, and anyone with an energetic toddler knows it’s exhausting without the added aspect of being pregnant. It can be hard to find the time or energy to exercise.
Eating healthily is tough, too. Sometimes morning sickness or aversions to healthy staples make it harder. One of my pregnancies I couldn’t bear to touch chicken. Sometimes heartburn is a problem so finding things that don’t cause discomfort becomes more important than eating healthily.’
Mum of 3 Katherine Mifsud says –
‘It’s a challenge to be creative in the kitchen and organised enough to plan and then prep food. It’s not uncommon for time to evaporate when you are chasing after small children and the evening arrives and nothing is prepared.’
Some mums are able to come to people like me for one to one fitness sessions, where we work through the best exercises and nutrition to follow throughout the pregnancy; but what about women with neither the time nor the budget for a personal trainer?
In terms of pregnancy fitness, there are some great DVDs and online sites to follow at home. Building more walking into the daily routine is a great way to keep aerobically fit, and an off-road buggy can be invaluable for tramping through woods and fields if you have a toddler in tow.
Tag swimming also works well, where a partner or friend can swim with the kids whilst you take time out to do some laps in the adult pool. Having a dance off with the kids on a rainy afternoon is great fun and will get the heart and lungs working; arranging play dates where mums take turns to have a workout can also work well.
But what about healthy eating? Planning ahead is key if you can, e.g. pre cooking a big pan of peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic on a Sunday to have as a base for meals during the week. From this one base you could make spag bol, Spanish chicken casserole, meatballs in sauce, salmon stir fry and ratatouille.
Avoiding caffeine and cake at the mum and toddler groups will also help prevent that sugar / stress roller coaster which leaves you craving for more sugar and then slumping in the afternoon.
The Organix Little Book of Good Food – Bump to Baby has lots of ideas on how you can avoid the junk. In the book Dr Rana Conway, a top pregnancy nutritionist, offers some great tips on how to avoid food cravings, such as eating a fulfilling breakfast and getting an early night. She also has some useful food swap ideas like exchanging chocolate bars for strawberries dipped in a good quality dark chocolate – um yes please!
You can download a free copy at www.organix.com/bumptobaby, and there are some good recipes at www.organix.com/recipes/bumptobaby
And one thing mums are very good at is helping each other; I remember when I was pregnant with Joe a friend left a fish pie for us outside the front door. I literally wept with gratitude. Because sometimes what nourishes mums to be most of all, more than exercise tips or recipe ideas, is a simple act of kindness.