Make the shift to mum-to-be while still living the life you love. Yes, it is possible…
If your life used to revolve around Friday night mojitos and a daily caffeine drip, finding out you’re pregnant can leave you wondering just how you’ll still feel like you over the next nine months. Even a simple decision suddenly becomes overwhelming (can I still go for a run? Will I actually survive without wine?). Losing control of your body and changing your lifestyle to accommodate your growing baby can take some getting used to.
But pregnancy doesn’t have to mean missing out – it’s just a question of approach. In other words, stop thinking about what you can’t do and start enjoying what you can.
Drinking during pregnancy
If you struggle to remember a weekend (OK, let’s admit it, even a week night) that wasn’t perked up with a relaxing glass of red, then nine months of deprivation might be a scary prospect.
The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that if you’re pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
'You may find a Virgin Mary and ginger beer appeals more
You might not even fancy a drink during your pregnancy anyway. Sometimes, nausea, tiredness and a desire to be as healthy as possible can put even the most alcohol-loving woman off while expecting, or you may find a Virgin Mary and ginger beer appeals more.
But if it’s tough, find other things to help you unwind, such as watching the latest hot Netflix series. ‘Your brain takes around six weeks to break a habit, so keep up your new routine for that long and you’ll start craving your new evening treat,’ says psychologist Dr Sandra Wheatley.
Whether you’re a total workout fanatic or a leisurely swim kind of girl, being pregnant often sparks total exercise confusion. While you might not want to hang up your trainers completely, nor do you want to do anything that might put your growing baby at risk.
Around 30 minutes of gentle exercise four times a week is ideal – it could actually reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, according to research by Johns Hopkins University. Before you plunge into, er, lunges, consider how much you did before.
‘You shouldn’t take up a new routine or push yourself,’ says pre and postnatal fitness expert Joanna Helcke, from Zest4LifeUK. ‘Your body and joints are looser because of the pregnancy hormone relaxin, so avoid contact sports and high-intensity exercises, such as squash, as they could lead to injury,’ she says. You don’t want to overheat, either, so tone down your sessions and opt for gentler exercises, like a light jog, swimming or brisk walk.
Getting enough rest
If your idea of a good night is to stay out until dawn and spend the rest of your weekend recovering, you can expect a routine shift. Even if you’re not zonked by 10pm, you may find your nesting instinct kicks in anyway, making you more inclined to stay home.
'On nights out, give friends the heads up that you’ll be leaving earlier than usual'
Keep partying but, if you struggle to keep up with your friends now there’s a bump in tow, don’t feel bad. ‘Wearing shoes that don’t make you want to cry after an hour, and giving friends the heads up you’ll be leaving earlier than usual will take the pressure off,’ says psychologist Gladeana McMahon.
If you can’t face your normal antics, tell your friends how much you still want to spend time with them, then come up with alternatives. Ask if they want to come round for dinner, or suggest a cinema trip or afternoon tea.
How much caffeine can I have during pregnancy?
When you’re faced with a tedious work meeting or are wading through treacle after a bad night’s sleep, you might not have realised how much you relied on caffeine. But your baby won’t appreciate that fourth skinny latte as much as you.
The good news is, you don’t have to give up caffeine completely in pregnancy. The Department of Health advises keeping to 200mg a day – research links excessive coffee consumption to miscarriage and low birth weight. ‘A mug of filter coffee contains 140mg, while milk chocolate contains up to 25mg per 56g bar,’ says nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed. Or 200mg is the equivalent of two or three cups of tea (depending on how strong). Make the most of it by drinking it at 10.30am – research suggests our body clocks are most receptive to caffeine a few hours after waking up.
You could also spin it out by swapping to a mocha. Brew one-part coffee and add a teaspoon of cocoa (which can boost memory and blood circulation, says research from Harvard Medical School). Mix it all up with some hot milk for calcium, important for building your baby’s bones.
Your relationship during pregnancy
You’re used to long dinners á deux being a regular thing. But now you either fall asleep halfway through your main course or feel too sick to enjoy it. Plus, he finds it a little embarrassing that you have to grill the waiter over every dish (‘Is this goat’s cheese really pasteurised?’).
You won’t always be able to predict how you’ll be feeling in the evening, especially as it’ll keep changing throughout your pregnancy, so it helps to be flexible. A weekend lunch date may work better than an evening meal. Or try going to a market or exhibition together instead, which will give you something else to talk about – and remind you what you were interested in BP (before pregnancy).
‘It’s fine to chat about your bump, but make sure you allow time for other conversations, and keep having fun together,’ says Relate relationship expert Paula Hall.