The Daily Habits Keeping Me Healthy During Pregnancy & How I'm Tracking Them
Well, hello there! It's been a minute.
We've officially been living in San Diego for three weeks now and I'm just now starting to feel like a normal human again. It's been equal parts amazing and also insanely stressful being here (we are still living with my parents after some major hiccups with the purchase of our home) and I've been doing everything I can just to stay afloat. I had a lot of plans to "get ahead" on work projects before baby comes and write a ton of blog posts, but a lot of the stuff that is truly unnecessary has been put on the back burner for the time being. I have 10 weeks left of this pregnancy (holy moly) and time is FLYING by - the most important thing to me right now is making sure I am healthy, happy and as stress-free as possible so that is where all of my time and energy is going these days and I am 100% okay with that.
As a holistic health coach, my job is to help my clients make small, attainable changes that help them achieve a healthier lifestyle, and most of the time this means that we focus our conversations on simple, daily habits that make a big difference. You can't change your life in big ways unless you start small first! I've seen this both first-hand in my own life and also time and time again with my clients and I know this to be true. Since this is such a transformative time in my own personal life, I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on myself for a moment and share my own daily + weekly habits that I'm working on right now.
this is always on my chart! I am a crazy person when it comes to water intake and measure how much I consume every day - my goal is always a minimum of 60 oz. (I drink at least two of these daily) but these days I'm aiming for around 100 since I'm carrying another little human around and want to make sure she's hydrated, too! the easiest way to know how much water you're drinking is to take your body weight, cut it in half, and then drink that many ounces every day.
I don't love setting super specific 'exercise' goals for myself every day or week as it feels a little too rigid for my personality, so instead I aim for "movement" every single day. This typically means a minimum of 10k steps or a yoga/exercise class (ideally, both!). I'm honest with myself about this one - if I don't truly feel like I've gotten enough exercise or moved my body enough that day, I simply don't fill the box in and try again the next day.
this is one of those habits that I know is good for me but for some reason just doesn't normally happen unless I take a yoga class. because my body is going through so much physical change right now, I've been making more of an effort to set aside 5-10 minutes every day to simply stretch out whatever is hurting (right now it's pretty much always my hips). I've gotten myself into a little ritual of putting on my pajamas, getting ready for bed, and then stretching before I climb into bed and it's been a really lovely little habit I'm learning to enjoy - I've even gotten my husband on board and we do this together now.
next to water and movement, this is always on the list, too. you can read more about the supplements I take daily over here (and why I'm a big fan of them in general), but I really do feel a difference when I skip a couple of days or get out of the habit, so I make this a big priority.
make the bed
this habit is one I often encourage my clients to add to their charts because it is, in my opinion, such an easy way to set yourself up for a good day. to me, there is nothing better than coming home at the end of a long day to a clean house and a made bed and I've noticed that if I make it a point to make the bed first thing in the morning, I'm more likely to tidy up my space, leave my house nice and clean, and generally feel like a productive human right off the bat. This is another habit that only takes a couple of minutes but makes the world of a difference - give it a try if you don't already!
another non-negotiable is my daily magnesium drink. I swear I need to become a sales rep for CALM (the brand I drink) because I sing it's praises to anyone who will listen. I've even been known to carry around the travel-size portions in my bag and give them away like candy to anyone that complains to me about sleep, stress, or muscle tension (ha!). Magnesium is also super important for pregnant mamas as it helps to calm the aches and pains that come along with growing a baby and has been known to help tremendously with labor and delivery. It's very rare that I skip this habit, but I like to keep it on my chart just as a little reminder!
red raspberry leaf tea
this is a very female-specific habit, but I've become obsessed with drinking red raspberry leaf tea ever since we decided to start trying for a baby and even more so now that I'm pregnant. I actually recommend this to most of my female clients who complain about menstrual pain or are trying to improve overall reproductive health. it is known to help tone the uterus (aka make labor pains stronger and more efficient), ease menstrual pain discomfort, balance hormones and improve fertility. you can read more about it here (one of my favorite pregnancy resources) and purchase it here (in tea bags) or here (in bulk). Now that I am in my third trimester, I am drinking between 2-3 cups daily to prepare for labor!
I'll talk more about this in a separate post, but I've been adding some very pregnancy specific things to my daily habit chart now that I'm only two months away from my due date based on some "homework" and recommendations given to me by my midwife, doula and hypnobirthing course. One of those things is a daily inversion to help with fetal alignment (i.e. making space for the baby to be head-down when it comes time to deliver). It looks pretty silly, but actually feels incredible and only takes about 30 seconds. You can read a little more about it here!
I hate to admit it, but I'm totally not a reader. I much prefer podcasts or documentaries to books, but there is so much information out there regarding childbirth and motherhood that I've been trying to read before baby comes, so I've been pushing myself to get in a solid 20-30 minutes daily. reading puts me to sleep, so I've been trying to do this during the afternoon when I need to take a little break or am getting physically tired (pregnancy fatigue is real) and want to put my feet up. I'm working on a separate post about all of the books + resources I've been loving during pregnancy.
50 squats & 20 push-ups
since we are in the middle of a move and major transition, I'm no longer a member of my gym and haven't tried any new fitness studios here in San Diego (and probably won't until after baby arrives) other than yoga, so I've made it a point to do even just the slightest bit of strength training every day at home. Squats have been known to help strengthen the pelvic floor during pregnancy and are also totally ass-kicking (literally) with this extra weight I'm carrying around. I've also been working hard to maintain my upper body strength as best as I can, so I've been doing 20 modified push-ups once I'm done with my squats. I'm hoping this helps with all of that baby carrying I'll be doing soon!
there are so "goals" I would simply never have the time for every day, so rather than adding those to my daily tracker, I like to write them down as a "weekly" goal instead. right now, this includes these 4 things:
I've seen a chiropractor pretty much my entire life, but now that I'm pregnant, I am seeing mine 2x/week to ensure that as much muscles and bones are stretching and expanding, I'm maintaining proper alignment and avoiding as many aches and pains as possible. There is a specific chiropractic technique for pregnancy called the Webster Technique and I've found a chiropractor here in San Diego that specializes in it - I plan on seeing them right after delivery (a couple of days after) to help with recovery, too!
I will share a little more about this in a separate post, but we have been taking hypnobirthing courses to prepare for labor and delivery, and this is one of our "homework" assigments - it is a meditative/relaxation technique used to help release pain and fear and requires that both Blair and I do it together.
epsom salt bath
epsom salt baths are so helpful for muscle relaxation and tension relief, and I've found them to be incredibly helpful during pregnancy. I wish I had time for one every day, but realistically once a week is a nice goal to aim for!
I've never been super into makeup and skincare, but I do have products I love and swear by - one of them being this alaskan glacial mud mask. It helps to remove impurities from the skin and leaves my face feeling like a baby's bottom every time I use it. It feels like a total indulgence and I love to make this part of my Sunday evening routine!
HOW I TRACK MY DAILY HABITS
Anyone else love to check things off of their "to-do" list? Because I do! For me, I am so much more likely to achieve a task when it's written down and on a physical sheet of paper, so I made this habit tracking chart for myself a little over a year ago and have been using it ever since. Often times, I'll just replicate it in my notebook, but if I'm feeling really organized, I'll print it out on a Sunday and write down all of my goals for the week ahead.
I encourage all of my clients to keep track of habits as well and give them charts similar to this one (more customized based on their specific goals) to help create small, daily changes to their lifestyle. The fun thing about tracking habits this way is that it's helpful to get a clear visual of what is actually realistic in your life - I have found that often times we get really ambitious with things we want to achieve, have a hard time sticking to them because they're slightly unreasonable or unrealistic, and then get discouraged when they don't happen. Instead, I like to set really small goals that I know I can do every day.
I've also found that when you set smaller, more achievable goals, you're more likely to hit the bigger ones - for example, I know that if I get movement in every day (i.e. go on a long walk or take a yoga class), I'm much more likely to eat better and choose healthier options when I'm out and about.
So, how do you track your habits using this PDF? It's super simple.
1. write down your goals in the left-hand column. make them measurable (i.e. 60 oz. of water is better than "water") and attainable.
2. choose no more than 10. I normally have around 5 on my list, but since I'm pregnant and trying to step things up a notch with some specific things this final trimester, I'm currently at 10 which is definitely my max.
3. write the dates on the top columns
4. every time you complete a task, fill in the box or add a "x" to the square (however you want to do it) to mark it down!
5. hang the chart somewhere noticeable - on your desk, in your planner, on the refrigerator, next to your bed, etc. you're more likely to remember your goals when you can see them.
6. repeat every week and feel free to add or subtract habits based on your needs that week - play around with them and see what works for you!
If you give this habit tracker a try, please let me know how it goes for you or if you have any suggestions on how it can be improved upon!
you can download this daily habit chart here!