Mindful Pregnancy Table of Contents

This blog series is not meant to express an opinion about how anyone else should navigate pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting; this is simply the story of how one urban yogi in America moved through her own normal, relatively uncomplicated first pregnancy and childbirth. Although my posts end on positive notes, many parts of the process were challenging for me, and writing this blog helped me stay sane. My hope is that by being authentic about my experience I will empower other mamas to do the same. Because I shared what I was going through, friends from near and far reached out to support me, which made the difficult moments manageable and the joyful moments ecstatic. I thought it would be the birthing process that was empowering, but it was the solidarity from other women that gave me the fortitude to rise fully and completely to the challenge of motherhood. My hope for other mamas-to-be is that you will acknowledge your experience as it is (whether whether that’s blissful, horrible, or somewhere in between), will be unashamed to express that, and will be able to attain the resources you need to navigate your path.

I blogged my whole first trimester after-the-fact (alternating with present day posts), which makes it a little hard to navigate my Mindful Pregnancy posts in order. Here is an ordered week-by-week list of all my posts:

2 – Conception
3 – Pre-Conception Nutrition
4 – First Symptoms of Pregnancy

Bound Side Angle

4 Weeks Pregnant.

5 – Peeing on a Stick
6 – Secrets
7 – Nausea
8 – Surrendering Control (Or Not)
9 – New Joys
10 – Sharing the Joy (And Splitting My Pants)
11 – Hypermobility and Pregnancy
12 – Head Cold with a Side of Morning Sickness

12 Weeks Pregnant

12 Weeks Pregnant.

13 – Ascending From the Haze of the First Trimester
14 – So, What Type of Birth Are You Having?
15 – Beginning to Plan for Birth
16 – So When Do I Get That Baby Bump?
17 – Big Feelings
18 – Pregnancy Firsts

18 Weeks

18 Weeks Pregnant.

19 – It’s a Girl!
20 – Coping with Insomnia
21 – Beyond-The-Basics Nutrition
22- Pregnancy Book Reviews

22 Weeks Bump

22 Weeks Pregnant.

23 – To Work or Not To Work?
24 – Horizontal Growth Spurt
25 – Tis the Season to Dress to the Nines
26 – Baby Movements
27 – Home for Christmas
28 – 13 Misconceptions I Had About Babies

28 Weeks Pregnant

28 Weeks Pregnant.

29 – Nursery Mania
30 – Things I Love About My (Early) Third Trimester
31 – Healing an Eroded Body Image
32 – Birth Prep Class
33 – Dessert Decoration, Dog Deodorizing, and Dutailier
34 – Commitments to my Daughter
35 – “Lightening,” An Early Sign of Labor

35 Weeks Pregnant

35 Weeks Pregnant.

36 – Thoughts About Labor
37 – An Epileptic Mama’s Postpartum Plan
38 – Selfie Photoshoot, Stuck Rings, and Staycation


38 Weeks Pregnant.

39 – Encouraging Labor Naturally
40 – Equinox Firestorm’s Birth Story
40+ – Mindful Pregnancy Epilogue: The Fourth Trimester

24 Weeks Pregnant: Horizontal Growth Spurt

December 1 – December 7: 24 Weeks 0 Days – 24 Weeks 6 Days.

Eight weeks ago I was wondering when my bump was going to pop. Well, it’s here!

24 Week Bump

Filling out my maternity clothes.

Over the last two weeks I had a horizontal growth spurt. So far in my second trimester I’ve been gaining a pound a week or less, but in the last two weeks I put on around 5 lbs. At least some of that gain was to my thighs and butt, but I’ll consider that stored energy for the baby when she’s so big that there’s barely any room in my stomach for food (although, if I start feeling like I’m going to split my maternity pants, maybe I’ll lay off the butter and bacon).

What I love most about the bump: Seeing evidence that my baby is growing. I’ve been feeling her kick more and more, too, which is so cool.

Other bump advantages:

  • Filling out my maternity clothes instead of swimming in them. My “I ate a seed” shirt finally makes sense.
  • Being recognizably pregnant. Growing a human is hard work, and it’s nice to be acknowledged for it! I love telling people, “It’s a girl!”
  • Getting special pregnant lady treatment, like being allowed to use a restroom that’s not normally for customers or having three grocery store employees desperately (but ultimately unsuccessfully) trying to help me find the perogies I’m craving. Sometimes people do go a little overboard. I can still pick stuff up off the floor on my own, carry quite a reasonable amount of weight, and walk a modest distance. I appreciate the thought though!

Bump Inconveniences:

  • Before I was pregnant: if I had to fit through a tight space, I’d turn sideways and squeeze through. Now: if I can’t fit through facing forward, I probably can’t fit through facing sideways either. I clipped my belly pretty hard on a door handle trying to sneak into a meeting room one day this week.
  • Putting socks and shoes on is awkward. I can’t really bend my knee into my chest any more, and it’s hard to tie my shoe with my ankle crossed over the opposite knee.
  • I don’t think my feet’s integrity has caught up with the extra weight I’ve gained. By the end of some days this week, my tootsies were aching, especially if I’d been wearing non-supportive shoes. I think a key to my third trimester will be finding supportive (but hopefully still attractive) slip-on shoes. Any suggestions?

My biggest bump challenge: Now that the baby is bigger she is starting to press up against my stomach, which is causing heartburn. One day this week the heartburn was intense and relentless. It feels like the baby may have turned upside down so she can kick up against my stomach (in the long run, this is a good thing as the ideal position for birth is when the baby is upside down—most hospitals will do an automatic C-section if the baby is feet down). I’ve been managing the heartburn with food and lifestyle choices so far (sipping almond milk, going for walks after eating, sleeping on an upward slant). The next thing on my list of things to try is papaya, which several reputable sources have recommended. That said, I’ve Googled, “Are Tums safe during pregnancy?” several times, so my resolve may be wavering.

Identity shift: I couldn’t categorize this as good, inconvenient, or bad because even when change is wonderful, healthy, and productive, it’s hard! With the physical changes in my body, Richard sees me differently. I’m no longer just a wife and a woman, I am a mother and the carrier of his already-beloved daughter. He cares for me in ways he didn’t before, and seems to have a heightened protective instinct for me and the baby. Obviously this shift in both of our identities is amazing, necessary, and there are parts of it I love (like having Richard make me snacks), but I still have a sense of melancholy around losing my old, simpler identity. Also, these new roles entail all sorts of a scary responsibility and stir up a deep-seated evolutionary need to not mess up, which can degrade into self-doubt and self-judgment. The questions around my future work situation contribute to the feeling of getting a total lifestyle makeover. More and more I’m willing to dive wholeheartedly into this new adventure and see myself as a mother (the books I’ve been reading have helped), but there are still moments when I just want to be a woman and a wife. I guess that’s what babysitters and date nights are for!

20 Weeks Pregnant: Coping with Insomnia

20 Weeks Bump

20 Week Bump in one of my only non-frumpy maternity outfits

November 3 – November 9: 20 Weeks 0 Days – 20 Weeks 6 Days.

I don’t know exactly when I popped, but all of a sudden I have a bump!

I may have celebrated my new figure with a mini shopping spree in the H&M maternity section. In other consumerism news, I started making my baby registry/to-buy-list, and I’m gladly accepting suggestions on products I should (or definitely should not) request/buy. Currently I’m going off this newborn checklist (minus a couple items my sister advised me not to bother with) and using BabyList for my registry so I can add items from multiple stores.

Weeks ago, a friend told me that you feel best about halfway through pregnancy, and I’m wholeheartedly enjoying that. Many of the discomforts that I had in the first trimester have faded or disappeared. But, there has been one new issue that has arisen: insomnia.

I had trouble sleeping as a kid; I used to watch the red glowing numbers on my digital alarm clock for hours trying to fall asleep. At some point (maybe when I got into fitness, maybe when I discovered yoga, maybe when I started eating less sugar), that completely turned around and I became the best sleeper ever. I could easily fall asleep within a couple minutes; I could usually drop into an afternoon nap, even if I only had twenty minutes to squeeze it in; and even after a taking a long afternoon nap, I could still sleep just fine at night. The only sleeping I couldn’t do well was sleeping-in. I have some kind of genetic mutation that makes me chipper and energetic in the morning, and I usually can’t wait to get out of bed and start my day.

A couple weeks ago, I lost my magic sleep powers. Night or day, I have trouble getting to sleep. Once I do get to sleep, I wake up frequently and have trouble getting back to sleep. In the morning, I’m groggy and lethargic, and it’s hard to drag myself out of bed (I guess now I know how normal people feel).

Over the years, I’ve offered my yoga students techniques to help with sleep with this proviso: knowing the techniques isn’t enough, you actually have to use them. It’s hard to let go of addictive behaviors like snacking right up until bedtime, reading the news on a smartphone in bed, and laying awake mentally rehashing the events of the day or making plans for the days to come. When the mind is go-go-go, it’s not immediately gratifying to stop-stop-stop—but it pays off to have the discipline to do so. I had to take my own advice. I pored over my pregnancy resources for tips on getting a better sleep, and committed to actually do them. I’m still developing new habits, but when I do several (or all) of the following in the same evening I get a much better sleep:

  • Bedroom blackout. No more flimsy curtains, lighted clocks, or even indicator lights on chargers. The other night, I got up in the middle of the night and turned Richard’s phone face-down to block the tiny flashing notification light.
  • The bed is associated only with sleeping. Richard and I are on the same page about this, so we’ve never had a TV in the bedroom; however, I am trying to kick my persistent habit of using my smart phone in bed. Also, I’ve been doing Hypnobabies for several weeks, and was listening to many of my self-hypnosis tracks in bed. Although the tracks are relaxing, my mindset was to try to stay awake for them, which isn’t the right association for bed. I now find doing my self-hypnosis session on the couch, then heading to bed helps set me up for a good night’s sleep.
  • Turn off electronics well before bedtime. The blue light from TV, computer, and phone screens tells the brain to stay awake. Richard swears by apps that block the blue light from his screen in the evening so his computer display looks like it’s gone through a sepia filter. I prefer to turn everything off before bed to distance myself from stimulation and information overload, and spend the hour before bed doing something relaxing instead (see some suggestions below). I became especially committed to this after watching Breaking Bad one night before bed (I know, I’m late to the bandwagon) and dreaming that my baby was born and quickly grew up to be Jane. Keeping my smartphone off before bed is my biggest challenge.
  • Do exercises and stretches that balance out the body (but avoid anything that raises the heart rate as this can prevent sleep). Muscle tension is one of the things I’m most aware of when I can’t get to sleep. Before bed, doing a few exercises, stretches, and massage techniques with a foam roller or pinky balls makes a world of difference. I’ve learned that if I’m laying in bed and can’t get comfortable, getting up for five minutes to address the area of discomfort with some exercises works much better than tossing and turning for hours. If you’re unsure of how to address discomfort in your body, it is definitely worth it to see someone who specializes in movement to help you out. If you live in the Bay Area, feel free to contact me about a private session.
  • Avoid eating a ton right before bed. During pregnancy, the digestive system becomes more and more compressed as the baby grows, so processing a bunch of food can be uncomfortable and disrupt sleep. Instead, stick to a small snack. I read somewhere that turkey is a good pre-bedtime snack because it contains tryptophan, a sleep enhancer. I tried it one night in conjunction with many of the other techniques listed here and got a good sleep, so it may have helped (unfortunately the turkey breast I cooked was so dry I couldn’t bear to choke down the leftovers on subsequent nights—cooking advice welcome).
  • Do down-regulating activities to wind down for bed:
    • Warm bath
    • Meditation or self-hypnosis
    • Yoga nidra or restorative yoga (practice with a teacher who can help you modify for pregnancy)
    • Drink herbal tea, hot water with lemon, or warm milk and honey
    • Read a book (and not a suspenseful one that will hook you into reading all night). Reading about cervical dilation and effacement put me right to sleep one night.
    • Listen to relaxing music. I chose classical string quartet music.
    • Breathing exercise
      • Sighing breaths
      • Abdominal breathing: Inhale for four counts, exhale for eight
      • Anuloma viloma (when you’re pregnant extended breath-holding is contraindicated, so practice a four-count hold at most).
  • Use a ton of pillows to support a comfortable position. I’ve always slept with a pillow between my knees when I’m lying on my side, and I recently added a pillow between my arms to keep my shoulders neutral. Some pregnant women I’ve talked to swear by using a giant C-shaped body pillow and I’m seriously considering getting one.
    Update: I got the C-shaped body pillow, and I love it! I’ve been getting a better sleep since I started using it. The shape is nothing I couldn’t make with a ton of pillows, but the support stays put instead of shifting around as I sleep. Also, the pillow can be used facing either direction (and it’s not bad for lying on my back either), so I don’t have to adjust my set-up when I change positions at night. Side benefit: since it doesn’t take up as much space as a stack of normal pillows, it’s nicer for sleeping partners—Richard and I can even semi-cuddle while I’m using it!

The insomnia did result in one cherished experience. Since my placenta is in the front, I don’t feel much movement from the baby. On rare occasions, she gets into a position where I can clearly feel her little kicks, and I relish those moments. One morning this week around 4 a.m., I woke up to some flutters and pops in the left side of my by belly. Instead of stressing about getting back to sleep, I lay happily awake for a couple hours enjoying the connection with my baby.

16 Weeks Pregnant: So When Do I Get That Baby Bump?

October 6 – October 12 : 16 Weeks 0 Days – 16 Weeks 6 Days.

I’ve put on seven or eight pounds during pregnancy, which is apparently right on track for a healthy, normal-weight pregnancy. However, the voluptuousness seems to have gone everywhere except my belly. I’ve now got the voluminous breasts I’ve always dreamed of having (not complaining) and curvy thighs that can bust through cargo pants (I’ll post that story soon), but still not much of a baby bump to speak of. I got this hilarious maternity shirt, and wore it out this week only to be met with confused glances:

I Ate A Seed

Funny Maternity Shirt from DJammarMaternity on Etsy. I’ll grow into it!

Throughout pregnancy, the most common comment I’ve gotten has been, “Oh, I can’t even tell you’re pregnant!” In the first trimester, this was lovely. I would respond, “Check back in a few weeks. My belly is supposed to pop around week 12!” During that time, suggestions that I didn’t look pregnant were preferable to the less common alternative: “Oh yeah, I thought you’d gained weight, but I didn’t want to say anything.”

Now at the end of my sixteenth week, my belly still hasn’t really popped, and my perspective has shifted. Pregnancy is hard work, and I want something to show for it! Today, I got one of those rare remarks from someone I’d just met: “Oh, I thought you might be pregnant, but I didn’t want to say anything until you mentioned it.” It was all I could do to keep from gushing, “Really? You noticed?? Yay!”

To put it all in perspective, when I express my bump-impatience to women who have been pregnant before, they reminisce, “I remember thinking the same thing in my second trimester. Then by the middle of the third trimester I was so big that I wished I could go back!” And there it is. At every stage of pregnancy there’s something I could choose to be insecure, obsessed, or discontented about. I could also choose to focus on all the things to be contented and joyful about (i.e. the yogic practice of santosa). I have a healthy body, a healthy baby, a supportive partner, tons of resources at my fingertips, and live in an area where I can choose how to move through pregnancy and give birth. Letting my vanity overshadow all of that amazingness would be wasteful. I listen to a recording of 150+ “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations” for my Hypnobabies course every day, and I will add one more to my repertoire: “My baby knows how and when to create a bump and I will be patient.

Besides if I eat a several bowls of soup and drink the glasses upon glasses of water I’m supposed to be drinking daily, it pushes by belly out far enough to get a pretty convincing bump shot:

Week 16

My book baby, my fur baby, and my baby baby.