So, I’ve only been pregnant twice. The first time, I did it like they did in the movies. I slept a lot, laid around, treated myself to milkshakes, bagels and baked brie whenever I wanted, and went to yoga class like once (you know, that one scene in the movie where they go to yoga?) and I reaped the, uh, benefits.
Benefits being, I felt pretty awful. I was sick pretty much the entire time with something (sidenote: I was also teaching K-2 Spanish at the time so par for the course probably with a lowered immune system), I was exhausted and irritable and pretty much miserable for the full 39 weeks and 4 days. I had all the classic pregnancy symptoms– swelling, insomnia, fatigue. I gained like 60 pounds. I had eczema everywhere. My face broke out. My iron was low. I had more asthma attacks during that pregnancy than in the year beforehand. The heartburn was terrible. And really, the only thing anyone ever said was “yeah… hormones” in regards to any sort of question or complaint I had. No one ever said, “well, are you eating well?” I was just eating whatever sounded good which was bread and cheese and Dr. Pepper (and also, apple juice if I remember correctly). It wasn’t until the crazy postpartum eczema days when I got serious about researching and diet and learned so much about paleo that I began to plan for my next pregnancy when I would eat better. And honestly, at the time that pregnancy didn’t seem so bad! Until I had this one and I realized how awful I felt.
This is mostly for myself, just to remind me should we ever venture down this whole pregnancy thing again (sitting here at 40 weeks + 2 days thinking probably not) that there are some serious benefits to a paleoish pregnancy. And I say paleoish because I did not adhere to any sort of strict paleo anything at all during the 40 weeks. As soon as morning sickness hit me at 6 weeks, I was all about the comfort food: Goldfish crackers, the Cheddar Bo (ew), and bagels with cream cheese. I splurged here and there throughout, a handful of times on a burger, regular people donuts or a biscuit. Most of the time though, I tried to stay gluten/dairy free in my splurges if that meant making my own, or waiting (ugh, waiting!) until I could get to a GF/DF bakery to get whatever thing it was that I had to have.
The thing that is MOST encouraging to me is that even adapting an “80/20” approach, 80% paleo, 20% whatever else… (and honestly sometimes more a 60/40 approach) was that I still felt great and seemed to reap the benefits of being totally paleo, even after a splurge. I only had eczema flare up a few times and with good moisturizing and reeling the diet back in and focusing on nutrient dense veggies and things, it almost always resolved within a day or so. Current exception is on my hands, where it has been pretty itchy and flarey for a week or two now, but I’ve had several splurges and have been eating quite a bit of dairy daily out of self pity for being pregnant for so long. I’m also “past my due date” so you know, hormones, stress on the body or whatever.
So, I’m no doctor or healthcare professional. I realize that every pregnancy is different. There are lots of different factors for me this time: I’m having a girl, I have a toddler to chase, I’m not working outside the home (although I’d tell you, all “mommy wars” aside, working from home with a two year old is the hardest job I’ve ever had– teaching kindergarteners how to use Google Drive included, although I think easier than teaching high school…). BUT! I believe that food matters. What you use to fuel your body with is über important, in fact the most important regardless of whether you are not pregnant, don’t ever plan to be pregnant, want to be pregnant, are pregnant, breastfeeding or a dude. Food matters. It absolutely matters. And I’m thankful to have experienced life post-paleo, I’ll never ever go back to the standard American diet. I’ll splurge here and there, but vegetables are forever a big part of my life because they make me feel awesome (and they make my eczema go away, and I’m not stuffy anymore, and I don’t have allergies anymore, and I don’t have asthma attacks or headaches anymore, and the list goes on and on and on and on…).
PS: And in case you’re like “wait, what is paleo again?” it is a diet without dairy, grains, legumes and refined sugar. There’s a ton of philosophies out there and different adaptations but that is the basic framework. Some people do raw grassfed dairy, some people do white rice, some people eat beans… the idea (that I LOVE) is that you are eliminating all the inflammatory/potential trouble foods for a period of time (Whole30, anyone?) and then reintroducing them slowly and one by one to see how they make you feel. If they make you feel bad in anyway, don’t eat it. If you “tolerate” it well, eat it up. Obviously, if you have food allergies/intolerances/Celiac’s Disease/Autoimmune Disorders there are some things you should probably avoid forever, BUT the idea is to give your gut/body a break and feed it great things and then see how you handle the not-so-great. I totally recommend finding a doctor/healthcare professional who values diet in treating chronic illness and picking their brain! I’ve been in and out of doctor’s offices my whole life for eczema, allergies, asthma, belly issues and it wasn’t until 2015 that I finally found a doctor who said “you don’t eat dairy and gluten right?” first thing when they met me. I literally hugged her. Check out the “we are paleo” page at the top for some of my favorite paleo bloggers and resources on the web! There are many!
last time: Around 25 weeks I was not able to wear my wedding rings because my fingers were so swollen. I had cankles every day, I woke up every morning with puffy fingers. By the end I could only wear fake Uggs in two sizes larger than I normally wore.
this time: None until this week (40 weeks!). Literally no swelling, have been wearing my wedding rings the whole time up until this week. I honestly think it is because of the weather too, it’s been a bit warmer outside and my fingers are a little puffy and my toes are too (but Marshall says he doesn’t see it).
last time: Basically I didn’t sleep at all during my pregnancy with Lincoln. I remember telling my friend about my insomnia and she was like “wait, I thought that was supposed to be third trimester” but it was the whole dang time.
this time: It’s been in spurts, but for the most part I’ve slept great up until the past few weeks when I’d wake up to pee and not be able to go back to sleep. Usually if I can get up to pee before 3am I am good, but after 3am I can’t get back to sleep. Probably also contributing factors is I’ve learned how to “get ready for bed”. Maintaining good work boundaries has helped with this, relaxing in the evenings before bed and I also diffuse lavender most nights and use a humidifier. All these things help, I think.
last time: I was so tired the whole time. Just always exhausted.
this time: I was so tired first trimester, slept for most of it. Once 16 weeks came though I felt great and did up until like 35 weeks when I got another batch of exhaustion. I was sleeping all night and going to bed way early and also napping during the day to get by. In general though, my energy level has been awesome and honestly better than when I was paleo and NOT pregnant (which I don’t freaking understand). We were out walking over the weekend and Marshall told me I was doing such a great job of “hanging in there” and I was like what are you talking about? I feel amazing! and it is so weird to me. I was literally 40 weeks pregnant walking uphill, sweating profusely and smiling and chatting with Marshall. So weird. So so so so weird. So not “me”. I really wonder if maybe I’m going to be running marathons or something crazy after this baby. Barely recognize myself.
last time: I was ~130 when I got pregnant with Lincoln. I lost about 10 pounds first trimester from all the puking, and before I delivered at my last appointment I was 179 which freaked me out so I didn’t look at the scale again until several weeks after I delivered. So +50 pounds from pre-pregnancy weight, but 60 if you include gaining back the 10 I lost….
this time: I had been maintaining at around 120 since really going paleo (but I never weighed myself because my clothes always fit! I was never bloated! Did not used to be the case!). I weighed myself this morning and at 40 weeks + 2 I am 148. BLOWS MY MIND. Even all the emotional eating splurges lately (GF/DF treats have sugar too, you guys) I’m still on track to gain the “recommended” 30 pounds and nothing more even if I go to 42 weeks. Blows my mind. Blows my mind! Like two Sundays ago I had 4 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in one sitting and the next day I went to Dunkin and had 3 more. And then this past Sunday I went to Rise and had a regular person biscuit (bacon egg and cheese, baby) and two doughnuts. I don’t even understand it.
last time: It was terrible. It was everywhere. My belly, my sides, my hands, my arms, my shoulders, my back, my face, my legs, my eyelids. So bad.
this time: A few localized places. I’ve had a few patches pop up on my face, but with targeted moisturizing they’ve gone away (seriously, I fell in love with the Beauty Counter Nourishing line this pregnancy because of this. So far I’ve only been able to save up enough for the face wash, but soon I’m gonna get the rest of it!). The inside of my arms have kept a patch or two the whole time, my hands are pretty flared right now but other than that no issues. After my big Rise Splurge I had a spot pop up on my cheek but it has since settled.
last time: Everywhere. My chin, cheeks and forehead. The whole time. Make up was my BFF.
this time: Not a ton! Just on my chin and cheeks some and honestly only in the past couple of weeks. Another reason I liked the Beauty Counter stuff, it helped clear my face up but improved my eczema too. So great!
last time: I had been anemic pretty much my whole life, pregnancy was no exception. Around 20 weeks I went on an iron supplement to keep my levels normal.
this time: NO ISSUES. I’ve been at 12 at every single blood draw for the first time in my whole life.
last time: I had to use my inhaler a ton, but again I was sick, it was cold/flu season and used to be pretty normal for me if I had a cold/respiratory infection.
this time: I don’t even have an inhaler anymore. I did have a few nights of I can’t breathe moments, but I realized finally that it was anxiety (yay? Ha not really) and not actually asthma. There was a perfect storm of me being a little too warm, a little too heartburney and laying down and feeling like I was being smothered from the inside by a baby in my lungs that happened a few times and we realized that is what caused it. I’d be half asleep, feel like I was suffocating and then freak the eff out, and it made everything worse. BUT factor in a good temperature for sleeping (74º on our thermostat and not a degree higher) + a humidifier right beside my bed + avoiding heartburn (no coffee or chocolate after 12noon + Maty’s Heartburn relief if needed) and diffusing lavender made a world of difference and I’ve had no issues since really. If I start to feel panicky like I can’t breathe I made sure all the things are going and sit down and breathe in the humidifier for a bit and then I’m good. No more freakouts. (Having had asthma my whole life and being forced to take swim lessons for most of my childhood makes me really really anxious when I feel like I can’t get a deep breath. Like really bad. Really really anxious.) Moral of the story: no asthma attacks, period.
last time: It started around 6 weeks and stayed until like 2 days after delivery. I thought I had strep throat a few times because it burned my throat so bad, and this was also probably a contributing factor in the insomnia because I couldn’t lay down.
this time: Like none, except for when I took the freaking prenatal vitamin. I switched to the Flintstones multi-vitamin around 20 weeks with no issues and have been HEARTBURN FREE until like the last 2 weeks. Coffee and chocolate are what kill me, and then water makes it worse. But not bad enough to actually stop drinking coffee or eating chocolate…
So, there you have it! My anecdotal evidence of a paleoish pregnancy! I’ve been “prelaboring” off and on for a few weeks now (that whole phrase is crazy to me) so no telling when this girl will actually come or not, but I am excited to see how/if this delivery is different than with Lincoln. My hope is it’s speedy (and soon, ha!) but I’ll be super interested to see if my balanced hormones and awesome feeling play a part in early/active labor and postpartum. More posts to come!