Daisy Pearce's Pregnancy Wellbeing Guide
Practicing Midwife Daisy Pearce shares her pregnancy tips on fitness, nutrition, emotional wellbeing and what expectant parents need to pack in their hospital bag!
Daisy Pearce is currently on her own pregnancy journey with…TWINS! As a practicing midwife of eight years, we wanted to pick her brain on fitness, emotional and nutritional tips for expectant mothers. She even shares a list of key items she is packing in her hospital bag!
What advice to do you have for expectant mothers with regards to maintaining fitness throughout pregnancy?
We’re all well aware of how important exercise is for our own health and wellbeing but if ever there’s a time to be extra motivated it’s during pregnancy because it directly impacts another person’s health and wellbeing too.
It has been a bit of a misconception over the years that being pregnant means you have to take it easy or wrap yourself in cotton wool to protect your baby. But unless you’ve been given specific advice from your doctor because of complications, being active, getting puffed and sweaty by doing daily exercise is really important for you and your growing baby. Of course, you have to be sensible and choose options that are safe and right for you! I know from experience now that it is easier said than done when you throw morning sickness, extreme fatigue and the physical changes that come with growing a baby into the picture, but no matter what your starting level of fitness is, start with something that you’re comfortable with and makes you feel good; walking, swimming or light strength exercises. As you start to feel fitter and more confident, you can begin to set personal challenges with the guidance of your doctor. As Arthur Ashe said; “Start where you are; Use what you have; Do what you can.”
Do you have any nutritional tips? What nutrients should women focus on consuming?
You’ll be given all sorts of nutritional advice ranging from what you should be eating to things you must avoid. Generally speaking it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet with an increased focus on making sure you’re getting enough Iron, Calcium and Folate; things that your growing baby or babies are drawing from your system, so you need to consume more than usual.
Personally, I try to avoid eating too many sugary or refined carbohydrates. I do so outside of pregnancy too so that I’m giving my body longer acting, sustained energy sources rather than spikes in my blood sugar levels. I’ve been particularly aware of this during pregnancy because your hormone levels alter how your body processes carbohydrates and if you overload the body with fast acting carbohydrates this can impact your health. I certainly don’t avoid carbohydrates because they’re such an important energy source, but I try to get them from vegetables, wholegrains, whole wheat pastas and brown rice rather than high-GI, white or processed options.
I found the first trimester of pregnancy really challenging nutritionally because my morning sickness meant I couldn’t stomach my preferred food choices and I could only tolerate really bland, starchy foods. I just took the pressure off myself and ate what I could to make sure I was fueling my body with food when the rare windows emerged where I felt ok I would squeeze in as many colourful vegetables and lean proteins as I could when I could. Now that I’m in my second trimester I’m finding it much easier to make healthy choices.
What should expectant parents pack in their hospital bag?
- I haven’t packed my bag yet so you’re testing me here but when the time comes I will probably pack the following:
- 4 or 5 jumpsuits and singlets for each of our twins
- A few cotton wraps to swaddle the babies in (although most hospitals have these on hand for you to borrow)
- A large packet of newborn nappies (they can go through 6-8 or more a day)
- A few pairs of socks for the babies and a beanie each
- Some loose-fitting comfortable clothes for when I’m in labour
- Lots and lots of dark coloured, high waisted, not very glamorous pairs of underwear (pack as many as many as you think you need, then double it)
- A packet of thick sanitary pads
- 4 or 5 wire-free maternity bras or fitted maternity singlets
- 2 pairs of comfortable, button up pyjamas that a bit easier when I’m feeding at night (probably all night!)
- 2 pairs of trackies and some comfortable t-shirts for during the day.
- Toiletries (including lip balm!)
- A bag for dirty laundry
- Light snacks to consume during labour
- A hospital grade peanut birth ball which can be helpful for getting into good labour positions (some hospitals may supply them but I bought one online for $40 so that I could have a play around at home and get acquainted with before the time comes)
- A small speaker to play music through (Ben is in charge of the playlist)
Of course, this all varies depending on how long you stay in hospital and your own individual birth experience but remember to keep it simple. Your partner or a friend/family member can always go and get anything extra you need.
I find that exercise is as important to my emotional wellbeing as it is my physical health. This is true for me in general, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised that it was the case during pregnancy. I’ve also found talking to my close friends and family who are pregnant or have had babies really valuable to. Just hearing that they might have struggled with the same physical and emotional changes and how they coped makes you realise you’re not alone, that it’s a massive time in our lives and all part of this amazing process. Some of my emotions about pregnancy and starting a family are far from what I expected to think and feel before being here and it can be quite confronting. But talking to your partner or someone you trust as you go on the emotional rollercoaster from pure glee and excitement to doubts and anxieties and back again has been really beneficial for me. Having spoken to them it turns out I’m not crazy, it’s just a big time!
How is your own pregnancy journey going? How do you prioritise your own wellbeing during such a busy and exciting time?
It’s going well so far. There’s been happy tears and anxious tears and tears that I can’t explain (I blame the hormones) but all in all I’m in awe of what my body is doing and how much it is changing to accommodate our two little babies. Every week throws up something new, either something exciting like the feeling of them wriggling around in there and their kicks getting stronger all the time or a new challenge like not being able to bend down comfortably but it’s all part of the journey and I’m trying to embrace it all.
I’ve had to adjust my expectations of myself in terms of what else I can ask my body to take on physically with my training and mentally with how much work I can take on. I’s important that I try to get enough sleep, eat well and listen to my body when I need to slow down and reassess what I’m physically capable of. I get plenty of reminders from Ben that the most important thing right now is to grow these little babies so it’s great having him around when my ego is getting a hold of me and I’m trying to do too much.