I started writing this blog when I was 39 weeks pregnant. I could not complete it as my labour started. After what felt like eternal labour, we delivered our baby girl on 20/05/2018. It was the most empowering, natural birth experience.
So now I have a 13-day old baby girl, who right now is sleeping beside me as I complete this blog. Reading this now makes me very nostalgic about my ‘pregnancy days’. It is hard to believe that I am not pregnant anymore.
Hope you enjoy reading this. 🙂
Hello, beautiful people,
It feels as if it was yesterday I shared my pregnancy news with everyone. But, here I am, 39 weeks full-term pregnant which also means I may pop the baby out anytime now. As a first time mother, I find this phase really weird, I do not know what to expect and what will happen when. The whole family is awaiting the BIG NEWS and I cannot help but feel anxious. But, I also understand that nothing is in my hands. It is NATURE and NATURE will work in its own course. So letting go of control and being patient is the only thing I can do.
Alright, let’s talk about my pregnancy diet and exercise plan today.
My Pregnancy Diet and Exercise Plan
Before we begin, I want to mention that I am no doctor/ nutritionist/ fitness trainer – so take this piece of writing as a note from one pregnant woman to another. This is not a guide by any means. Do remember that every pregnancy is different so what works for me may or may not work for you. Talk to your doctor and/or midwife and get your diet and fitness routine in place as early as possible in your pregnancy.
My Pregnancy Diet
The first thing I did after I conceived was to schedule an appointment with Mrs.Vijaya Krishnan of Healthy Mother in Hyderabad. She is an experienced midwife and her passion for Natural (and respectful) Birth is extraordinary.
Being pregnant for the first time, my mind was brimming with doubts related to fitness, diet and pregnancy in general. Talking to her got me cleared of all the unnecessary myths and doubts. It gave me the confidence that I can make my pregnancy journey – these 9 months absolutely amazing and memorable.
The diet plan that I followed is based on my discussions with Dr. Vijaya Krishnan. I also took inspiration from Rujuta Diwekar’s book – Pregnancy Notes: Before, During & After.
Alright, let’s jump into the details now.
My eating habits and lifestyle have been clean even before I planned on conceiving so I did not have to make too many changes to either my diet or lifestyle.
What I really had to focus on was:
1. To up my protein intake.
2. Reduce the portion size of each meal and replace a large meal with ‘smaller meals’.
My diet on an ‘ideal’ day:
Meal 1 (On Rising)
1 Banana + a glass of water. Alternative to Banana – 5 Almonds (Or any fresh fruit). I consider this as the most important meal because it gives me the energy to get started with the day. Enough energy till the breakfast is prepared. I never miss this meal, and, I think I have formed a habit for my entire life now. This first meal makes a huge difference.
Meal 2 (Breakfast)
Any simple Indian Breakfast like – Ragi Porridge, Idlis, Adai, Pesarratu, Poha, Upma with vegetables, Dhokla, Handvo etc. To up my protein intake, I have 1 fried egg/omelette whenever the breakfast does not have enough protein source. I also have a cup of filter coffee with this meal.
Meal 3 (Mid Morning)
Any seasonal fruit, tender coconut water, nimbu pani, fresh fruit juice or dry fruits.
Meal 4 (Lunch)
My lunch was pretty standard.
Roti + Subzi/Dal + Salad + Probiotic (or)
Rice/Millets + Dal/Kadhi/Sambar + Subzi + Salad + Probiotic.
Probiotics are a must as they help aid digestion. My source was either raita, home-made curd or buttermilk.
Meal 5 (Tea/Snack)
I mostly had fruits (or) dry fruits + nuts and a mandatory cup of cutting chai. On some days I would have my sprouts or sundal (boiled lentils/pulses salad) during this time.
Meal 6 (Mid Evening)
This is usually after coming back from work and I used to be very hungry. Here I used to have any homemade snack like a multigrain laddoo, khakra or chiwda. If I felt more hungry on a particular day, I would eat a homemade cheese sandwich or egg fry.
Meal 7 (Dinner)
Idlis, Dosas, Adai, Millet Dosas, Pesarratu, Roti + Subzi, Rice + Dal + Ghee – Just the basic stuff. Depending on the season, I would also make fresh soup or salad to go with the dinner.
Meal 8 (Milk)
Turmeric + Kesar Milk (or) Milk with Dates Syrup – Only if I feel hungry after dinner (which I usually did for the first 6 months). It is better to stick to plain milk with natural ingredients like – Turmeric, Kesar, and Dates instead of Mothers Horlicks (or) any protein powder. It doesn’t make you feel heavy, plus all the ingredients are very nourishing.
Dry fruits & Nuts
While I was under the assumption that I could eat as many dry fruits and nuts as I wish, my midwife clearly told me what and how much to eat. So, this was the count –
4 Dates, 5 Almonds, 2 Figs, 2 Anjeer, 2 Walnuts – To this I included a couple of unroasted & unsalted pistachios and few cashews once in a while. I also included a lot of Flax Seeds in the first trimester because of its high Folic Acid content.
‘Shudh Desi Ghee’ – (made from the milk of grass-fed GIR COWS) was a huge part of my diet during my pregnancy. Ghee was a part of every meal I had. If you live in Pune, a good source of pure ghee is – Holyganic and Indradhanu Farms. I would choose Holyganic over Indradhanu Farms.
I’ve listed the supplements that I had during these 9 months:
First Trimester – Only Folic Acid (once a day)
Second Trimester – Iron & Calcium (once a day)
Since my pregnancy was uncomplicated, I was not under any other medication or supplements.
I followed the plate method when planning my meals. To put in simple words the ‘plate’ method is a tool that allows visualization of food groups. If you break it down, an ideal plate (or a meal) should like –
FRUITS AND/OR VEGETABLES: 1/2 the plate
GRAINS: 1/4 the plate
PROTEINS: 1/4 the plate
Let’s talk cravings!
I have had some crazy cravings in these 9 months. While I am thankful that I had cravings for a lot of healthy food like vegetables, fruits, idlis, etc.. I did crave for quite a few unhealthy stuff like – Maggi, momos, molten chocolate cakes, plum cakes with rum, spicy desi Chinese and vada pao.
So yeah, while I did follow the above diet 90% of the time, there were days when I craved a lot of other stuff and I did eat them once in a while. I don’t want you to think that I only ate healthy for 9 months – that’s impossible. And I have no guilt, whatsoever. It is always nice to acknowledge your cravings – If you can, cook the dish you are craving at home or just go and eat at a nice (hygienic) restaurant. Avoid eating in the streets. Simple!
Okay, that sums up the food & nutrition part of the article. Let’s move on to fitness.
My Pregnancy Exercise
Along with my diet, I also discussed my workout and fitness routine with Dr. Vijaya Krishnan. She recommended that I walk and climb stairs daily along with practicing Prenatal Yoga and Strength Training. While walking and climbing stairs were something I was already doing, I knew I had to get serious about yoga & strength training.
I took it very easy for the first 3 months. I was just walking, climbing stairs and doing the usual household activities. It was in my 4th month that I enrolled in a prenatal yoga class and there was no looking back.
I did not realize the power of yoga until I started seeing the benefits myself – As I write this, I am 39 weeks 6 days pregnant and I can tell you that not once did I have back pain, leg swelling or any of the common complaints that usually comes with pregnancy. I have been sleeping through the nights even in the last weeks of my pregnancy and my body & mind feel so good. I truly owe this to Yoga and Strength Training.
I will list down all the exercises that I did in the last two trimesters below. I was meaning to make a video of this yoga routine, but, since I am a novice and some of my poses are still not right, I did not want to misguide anyone. So wherever possible, I will try to leave a link to the relevant exercises so you can take a look at it.
Walking – 2 km (or) 20 minutes
I was and still am irregular with walking. I can’t get myself to do it whatsoever. But, if you are reading this, please walk during pregnancy along with doing other exercises. It definitely helps in the last weeks of pregnancy.
Climbing Stairs – At least 300 steps a day
While I never really counted, I did climb a lot of stairs during the entire 9 months. And it is really not that difficult once you get used to it. The key is to climb slowly, breathe well and not run through the steps as if you were in a competition.
Pranayama, Meditation & Breathing Practices
1. Anulom Vilom – 10 minutes in the morning & evening.
2. Cooling Pranayama like Sitali & Sitkari – Great during summers.
3. Gayathri Mantra Chanting
4. ‘Om’ Chanting
5. ‘A’ kara – ‘U’ kara – ‘M’ kara Chanting (AUM) – Read more.
6. Trataka – with candlelight and sunlight
7. Hands in and out breathing
8. Hands Stretch/ Side Stretch breathing
9. Abdominal Breathing
10. Thoracic Breathing
It is great to learn in detail about the above-mentioned pranayama, meditation & breathing techniques from a professional yoga teacher to avoid mistakes.
Prenatal Yoga & Strength Training
Warm Up & Loosening Practices
1. Neck Movements
2. Loosening fingers
3. Loosening Wrist
4. Shoulder Blade Rotation
5. Hand Stretches
6. Ankle Rotation
7. Toe Stretches
8. Knee Cap Pulling
9. Side Stretches
More Exercises, Asanas
1. Titli Asana (Butterfly) – One of the most powerful asanas to strengthen the pelvic muscles. Till 32 weeks, just maintain the pose along with practising Ashwini Mudra. After 32 weeks, the flapping of legs can be started. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I did this asana twice a day for almost 6-7 minutes. It helps with dilation of the cervix.
2. Cat Pose
3. Tiger Pose
4. Hip & Waist Rotations
5. Calf Raising
6. Leg Raises (Partial & Full) – Front, Back & Sides
7. Front Squats
8. Wide Squats
9. Full Squats
I started by doing 15 squats at a time in my 4th month and slowly increased it to 150 squats by 40 weeks. I was in my yoga class when my labour was in the initial stages. My contractions were almost 10 minutes apart and still on that day I was able to do 150 squats with much ease – that’s the power of strength training. Strength Training especially when done with your own body weight makes a huge difference and it truly helped me cope with labour very well.
11. Plank Pose
13. Ardha-Kati Chakrasana
15. Upavista Konasana
16. Malasana – Holding at least 5 minutes. Started doing this after 34 weeks. Read more here.
17. Duck Walking (After 35 weeks)
Duck Walking is one of the most beneficial exercise that you can do during the last weeks of pregnancy. It strengthens the lower body and is very useful during labour & birth.
18. Bridge Pose – Great for lower back pain.
19. Pavan Mukthasana (Also called as the ‘Happy Baby Pose’) – Great for lower back pain.
The guided relaxation techniques are usually done towards the end of each yoga session and it focusses on relaxing each and every part of your body and mind. Please note that this is best done with trained instructors.
1. Instant Relaxation Technique (IRT)
2. Quick Relaxation Technique (QRT)
3. Deep Relaxation Technique (DRT)
4. Savasana in Lateral Position
5. Yoga Nidra
Prenatal Yoga Books
Yoga for Pregnancy by Dr. Shamanthakamani Narendran is a great book to understand prenatal yoga & fitness. I found this book in my yoga class and my prenatal yoga routine was very similar to what is mentioned in this book. However, I could not find this book anywhere online. Gem of a book, sad that it is not available online or in stores.
While looking for this book, I came across Prenatal Fitness 360°: The Way to a Healthy Pregnancy by Sonali Shivlani. I felt the book had similar practices as mentioned in the above book. A good resource to consider.
Join a Prenatal Yoga Class
Always train under a certified fitness trainer during pregnancy. It is the best thing to do because you get to workout according to your body + you workout according to the weeks (or months) you are in your pregnancy. Every yoga pose has a slight modification when it comes to doing it during pregnancy and not all yoga practices can be done during all the 9 months. So it is always good to train under someone who knows it best.
If you are in Pune, Spandayog in Baner is one of the best yoga centres for Prenatal Yoga. I trained under Dipti Kale and she was simply awesome. Spandayog focusses on the traditional Hatha Yoga.
My Pregnancy Weight Gain & Postpartum Weight Loss
I weighed 57 kgs when I got pregnant. By the end of 40 weeks, my total weight gain was approximately 10 kgs. So I weighed 66-67 kgs by the end of my pregnancy. As I write this, I am 13 days postpartum and my current weight is 59 kgs.
If you’ve read Rujuta Diwekar’s ‘Pregnancy Notes’ book, she says that with proper diet and fitness routine you can lose most of your pregnancy weight right on the delivery table. Well, I think she is right. Even though I feel like a deflated balloon at the moment, I did lose most of my weight on the delivery table.
In case you’re wondering, my baby was 3.22 kgs at the time of her birth.
Alright, that sums up this article. To end I would like to add that if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant – please take your diet, fitness & lifestyle seriously. It is okay if you are not at your best weight now. It is okay if your lifestyle is not very clean at the moment. With the ‘right help’ from a doctor, nutritionist and a fitness trainer – you can definitely make your pregnancy memorable.
And lastly – DO NOT COMPARE YOUR PREGNANCY, YOUR BODY with any other woman. What you experience is entirely different from what another woman experiences. So love your body, your journey and do the best you can to make it AMAZING!
If you are pregnant & reading this – I wish you have the most beautiful and memorable pregnancy ever! 🙂
Check this video if you’d like to know what I packed in my hospital bag.
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