Healthy Pregnancy on a budget

sea-2585731_1280The day we realise we are pregnant it seems to start: A constant stream of tips and advice of what we should or should not do, be it from friends and family, social media, websites or health professionals. Whilst this is very helpful when questions are asked and to alleviate our concerns and anxiety, especially if we are going through it the first time, it can often leave us stunned and confused. Sadly these days, our own natural instinct has very often been obliterated by the information we can gather from elsewhere than our inner compass. This is more about the fact that it is very often suggested right from the start, that you need so many “things”.

But what do we actually really need to see us through a healthy, safe and enjoyable pregnancy?

We can spend copious amounts of money on counselling, treatments, supplements, privately funded antenatal classes…

Don’t get me wrong: look out for the best support you can get, talk to people, read a lot, be knowledgeable. Ultimately, it will give you the confidence and reassurance you need. But there are extremely easy and low-budget ways to achieve and preserve your physical and mental well-being.

Besides, a healthy body makes you feel a lot more in tune with yourself, your intuition, which is still the best guideline when it comes to your baby’s health as well as your own.

The following lists include some ideas (albeit incomplete, there is always more that might help or work for you) to help to get through a delightful, happy, gentle and healthy pregnancy.

Basically, there are three main pillars on which most of these points rest:

  1. Exercise

  2. Nutrition

  3. Mental Health

Exercise

  1. Go for walks. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to keep fit and healthy. Besides, the extra oxygen will be of some benefit for you and your baby.

  2. Go to yoga classes. If you can’t manage or afford it every week, do it every fortnight. Ask around or look for ads at your local library or on facebook.

  3. Go swimming. Entrance fees are usually not exorbitant, it is easy on the joints, it helps with the extra weight, is an excellent cardio-vascular exercise (which means it’s both for good for your circulation and as well as baby’s). What’s more, you don’t need a lot of equipment, apart from the fact that you will probably have to invest in a larger sized bathing costume (at least at some point).

  4. Do pelvic floor exercises. There are some excellent resources to follow. Look at the NHS website, the book you have been given by your midwife or just google pelvic floor exercises.

  5. Look after your back. As your lugging about the extra weight this is probably easier said than done. But you can find some very easy to do exercises on the NHS website or in most pregnancy books which are easy to follow and at no extra cost.

  6. Continue with whatever exercise you have done before which is not too risky such as downhill skiing etc. Ask your health professional when in doubt.

  7. Walk or cycle rather than taking the car as long as possible. Or when you go shopping, park it a little further down the car park. A few extra steps will do you good (unless of course, it’s slippery in winter – you don’t want to take a fall).

  8. If you feel you are not up to doing this on your own, try and connect with other expectant mums – you can also combine it with other things you enjoy, which won’t be as easy to do after the baby has arrived.

  9. And finally, of course – never overdo it. If you experience dizziness, nausea, vaginal bleeding, palpitations or abdominal pain, seek immediate advice from your midwife or GP.

Nutrition

  1. Make sure you follow the advice on dietary guidelines given to you by your health professional, your GP or midwife, and read the guidelines on trusted websites such as NHS and the pregnancy pack handed out to you. Don’t worry too much if you haven’t adhered to these right from the start, but do it as soon as possible.
  2. Stay away from faddy things and from counting calories. Healthy eating will also help you to get back into shape after giving birth quicker (something I have yet to see for myself) and it will increase your well-being. This is especially important if you suffer from morning sickness (which can occur any time of day)

  3. Stay properly hydrated, i. e. drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. Water is best, from the tap, but you might be thinking about investing in a water filter, esp. if you live in a house with old pipes.

  4. Consider taking a pregnancy supplement, esp. in the first 12 weeks, to make sure you have a high enough folic acid intake. Folic Acid is also contained in green leafy vegetables, which can be quite delicious when cooked properly and mixed with other nice foods. These home cooked meals are also less expensive than ready meals or eating out and healthier, too.

  5. Stopping smoking and drinking alcohol is such a given, that I do not need to go into that. Besides, it is a good cash saver if you are already on a tight budget anyway.

  6. Be wary of what you use on your skin as well as what you put in your mouth. It all penetrates. Go easy on deodorants and perfume, stop using the latter at all and use natural products. Crystal sticks are brilliant, I find and are not at all that expensive, esp. as they last for ages.

  7. I do appreciate that walking without make-up is not for everybody, but I found that my skin improved the more I let it breathe. I haven’t been using it for more than a decade now.

Mental Health

  1. Buy pregnancy books or get them from your local library and read the one that is provided by your healthcare service.

  2. Don’t google too much. Every niggle you feel could be anything (or worse) and you don’t want your anxiety levels to go up unnecessarily. Not good for you (nor baby).

  3. Listen to music (relaxing and soft music are probably best) and sing to baby (esp. after 16 weeks). They get to know your voice. Also, encourage your partner to talk to baby, they’ll react to daddy’s voice as well.

  4. Handle all the financial aspects in a timely manner, don’t wait too long. Find out what you are entitled to and don’t be afraid to ask.

  5. Do Hypnobirthing and practise consistently. According to all the accounts, I have read and studied it is useful for anybody, in that it helps you stay calm and relaxed, which will ultimately lead to a calmer and gentler birth even if intervention be deemed necessary. Courses usually cost between £200-300, but this varies according to where you live. While I would still advocate sticking to your budget, this is well worth the investment. Also, you could do it with other expectant mums and their partners/husbands (it is essential that they be there) and share the costs.

This list is far from complete and is rather thought to be opening up a discussion and give rise to ideas. I’d be happy to hear other views on this and look forward to hearing more about it.


 

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