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17 Little Things I Did To Have An Easier Pregnancy

Your mind is going through as much as your body, y'all.

Hi, I'm Rachel. I'm 25 weeks pregnant and have struggled with anxiety for my entire adult life.

Daniel Christensen

My anxiety comes in the form of irrational thinking and fears—for example, I'll start to worry about something, go down a rabbit hole of the worst-case scenario of what could go wrong, and then just freak the hell out until I find a way to calm down and get back to reality.

I've never taken medication for my anxiety, which is a totally personal choice. Instead, I've been fortunate that years of talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have been enough for me to manage it.

Being pregnant has definitely brought out some of the worst of my anxiety because there are so many changes that you go through, both physically and emotionally. And don't get me started on the hormones-

I also had a miscarriage last fall.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

*Deep breath* yes, I miscarried my first pregnancy. We got pregnant on our very first try, easy-peasy. Then at 9 weeks, my husband and I went to the doctor for a regular appointment and ultrasound, and it was there we found out that I was having what's known as a "missed miscarriage," which is when you have a miscarriage with no apparent symptoms.

My heart didn't just break, it turned to dust and disappeared. But when I started to talk to people about it, I started feeling a lot better.

After about a month, I wrote about it on Facebook. A bunch of friends, friends' parents, old classmates, and former coworkers reached out to me about their miscarriages, and whether they were 30 years ago or 6 months earlier, it was incredibly helpful and healing. And the overwhelming sentiment: It's super common (somewhere around 1 in 5 pregnancies) and SUCKS but also, it's even more common to get pregnant again soon and have a healthy baby.

I "quickly" got pregnant again a few months later (though that amount of time felt like eternity when it was happening), and I realized I literally didn't know what I would do if I miscarried again... but I had to figure it out.

Here are a few things that legit kept me from losing my mind while trying to conceive and throughout the first 24 weeks of my pregnancy.

Dami Lee / BuzzFeed

Keep in mind that every person and every pregnancy is different. This list is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice (please call your doctor or therapist for that); rather, it's a list of things that worked for me, in case they may someday work for you, too.

also known as "trying to get pregnant" or, if you've ever been on a message board about pregnancy, "TTC."

1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control and Pregnancy Achievement by Toni Weschler

Rachel Christensen / BuzzFeed

I've always been pretty in touch with my body but every pregnancy message board references TCOYF so I figured it probably had some good stuff in it. It does! I didn't chart my cycles (one of the big things this book discusses) because I already have some obsessive tendencies and I knew it'd do me no favors mentally. But this book is like a crash course in understanding your reproductive system. It even has funny/dorky pregnancy humor cartoons throughout it.

You can get a copy for yourself here.

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2. Not testing until after my missed period

HBO

It is sooo tempting to buy a ton of pregnancy tests and take them every day after you have sex in hopes you'll get good news early... but that costs a lot of money and for the months you're not pregnant, it is TORTURE.

I'm 25 weeks pregnant now and the test I took two days before my expected period said negative. Actually, I didn't know I was pregnant until two days after my missed period. I'd like to think it was a gift from the universe, because I spent those few days in between not obsessing about being pregnant. I even had a few glasses of wine. (Oh, how I miss wine these days. And beer. And sushi...)

3. Using line tests (not digital)

Jen Lewis / BuzzFeed

I liked the line tests that either show an extra line or don't, as opposed to ones that say "PREGNANT" or "NOT PREGNANT" because the words NOT PREGNANT suck to read. At least a line doesn't know that it's crushing your heart—I swear the digital ones are evil.

At first I liked First Response Early Result tests because the shape is easier to pee on (The Sweethome recommends them, too), but eventually I bought whatever was the cheapest at Target.

4. Planning something fun in case I wasn't pregnant that month

NBC

This was a trick from a friend who was TTC at the same time as me: Have a bottle of champagne in the fridge so you can celebrate another month of being able to enjoy drinking. Take an intense exercise class that you love. Eat a bunch of lunchmeat, if that's what makes you happy. (Yeah, apparently pregnant women shouldn't eat lunchmeat!)

The month before I got pregnant again, my husband and I were visiting family in a state where recreational marijuana is legal and even though we stopped ~getting high~ about a decade ago, we got some very weak edibles and had a fun time giggling and watching Netflix and eating way too many cookies. It ruled and actually took my mind off of the fact that I wasn't pregnant.

Disney

I'll say right now that once I started being able to feel my baby move in my body, things got a lot easier, emotionally. But before that, most of this stuff is all I had in between ultrasounds.

5. Switching doctors

FOX

Finding a new doctor can be annoying, but I didn't love the OB I had during my first pregnancy and the very idea of going back to her made me feel stressed out... so I got a new one! Honestly, even if she and the practice had been amazing, it would have been traumatic to me to go back after my miscarriage.

It is totally normal and your absolute right to switch doctors whenever the hell you feel like it. It's my damn body and my new OB has much shorter wait times, is easier to reach any time of day, and—maybe best of all—has slimmer wands for transvaginal ultrasounds. (Yup.) These things really mattered to me and I'm so glad I made the switch, even if it was annoying to have to give them my whole backstory and stuff.

6. Having a mantra

Hannah Hillam / BuzzFeed

My new doctor wouldn't see me until I was 8 and a half weeks along, which is pretty standard. I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks. So, if you do the math, that is 4 and a half weeks of FREAKING OUT. The thing that helped me more than anything was Googling "pregnancy mantra" and finding one that made me feel calm. I keep it as a note on my phone and some days read it multiple times a day.

Here are my favorite lines:

• Everything I feel and experience is part of the great lesson of motherhood.

• I am loving and thankful toward my partner, who is supportive through my pregnancy.

• I am connected to all women who are pregnant all over the world.

And I saw this on a message board somewhere and loved it so much that I saved it and read it often, too:

"We can either be paranoid and miserable and wish our lives away for the next few weeks, which won't change the outcomes of our pregnancies, or we can be happy and celebrate that we are pregnant, and if the worst happens then we'll face it knowing that at least we had a few weeks of joy."

7. Limiting my anxiety-Googling

Becky Barnicoat / BuzzFeed

Because for every thing you look up on the internet, there are hundreds of people freaking out in message boards about it. It's the anxious leading the anxious (to put it gently!). I could have called my doctor for stuff I was worried about but I knew this was about my brain and not my body.

When I HAD to Google, I used the term "irrational fear" along with whatever I was looking up. That yielded more good convos about calming yourself down and fewer horror stories... because if you're looking for a horror story about a pregnancy symptom, you will FIND ONE. I promise.

8. Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong--and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster

Rachel Christensen / BuzzFeed

I really just wanted a book that would tell me if the thing I was freaking out about was worth freaking out about, and this one really did the trick. Oster is an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School and a mom, and she uses her experience from both to give you a rundown of what conventional wisdom to follow and what to ignore.

I want to hug her. You can get a copy for yourself here.

9. Going to therapy

Twitter: @MartaEffing

Yeah, this one should have been obvious to me but I needed my OB to suggest it before I realized that I really needed to be regularly seeing a therapist during my pregnancy, especially since I was still carrying a lot of the emotional weight of my miscarriage. I don't know what I would do without therapy, and I'm told I'm setting myself up for a more successful postpartum (aka after the baby is born), too.

If you're wondering if therapy is a good choice for you, I love this guide from our amazing Health team.

10. Not responding to texts when I didn't feel like it

Zoe Burnett / BuzzFeed

Ahh I feel so guilty when I don't reply to people's texts, but I started getting multiple "how are you feeling??" texts a day and I just. could. not. People meant well, so I figured they would be horrified to know that responding to their texts would be really stressful to me.

So: I just didn't respond to them and pretended I was the kind of person who is so chill and busy that I missed their texts to begin with. For the people who obviously really wanted to talk to me about being pregnant, I politely told them I wasn't ready and that was enough for them to not talk to me about it.

I also need to regularly tell people not to tell me horrifying stories about pregnancy or going into labor, and I find myself at least once a week stopping someone before they tell me a story that I know will upset me or freak me out. They understand 100% of the time.

11. Drinking water

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

I know this is also obvious, please don't @ me. When your brain is messing with you and your body is doing all kinds of weird stuff, it's easy to panic and totally forget to drink water. It wasn't actually until my also-pregnant friend told me that her doctor had been yelling at her to drink water that I was like, oh, right, this is a thing I should be doing.

Water helps with cramps and constipation and like everything, you know all of this because hi, you've heard about water. But if your body feels not great, drink up and there's a good chance you'll start to feel better.

12. Eating small meals

Dlinca / Getty Images

Up to about week 16, I was puking at least once and sometimes three times a day. It was not fun. My doctor told me to have small, bland meals, and not be too hard on myself if what I was eating wasn't "healthy" because any food is better than no food. I basically lived off of ginger ale and saltines. When I could eat ~real food~, I kept my portions small, which also helped with heartburn.

HOT tip from my sister-in-law, a mother of a three-year-old: Eating peanut butter when you know you're going to puke soon makes everything at least taste a little more like peanut butter and less like puke. This only works if you, like us, freaking love peanut butter. (Hi, did I mention being pregnant is kind of gross?)

13. Preggie Pop Drops

Via amazon.com, Rachel Christensen / BuzzFeed

I flew from NYC to Chicago to a friend's wedding at week 13, which made me SUPER anxious because I hate planes and also because I really didn't want to spend the two hour flight throwing up the entire time.

Desperate to try anything and everything, I stumbled across these ridiculously named candies. And they actually worked! Maybe it's the "powerful essential oils and plant botanicals" the candies claim to have or maybe it's a total placebo? Honestly, IDGAF. What matters is, like 60% of the time that I feel a little queasy, I don't puke if I have one. I will take it.

You can get yourself some Preggie Pop Drops here. You can get them as drops or as lollipops, and there's a similar product that worked just as well for me called Queasy Drops.

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14. My handed-down body pillow

Rachel Christensen / BuzzFeed, Daniel Christensen

I started using my body pillow (not sure of the brand, but Amazon has a ton) around week 5 or 6. It helps me sleep better, so it's worth its weight in gold because a well-rested preggo is a happy preggo.

What's nice is that both of my brothers' wives used it when they were pregnant and it made me feel very close to them in an it-takes-a-village, your-sucky-symptoms-are-normal kind of way.

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15. Getting a Fitbit

Rachel Christensen / BuzzFeed

I could barely leave the couch without puking during my first trimester, but by the time I hit about 16 weeks along I was ready to intentionally exercise again, which made my OB very happy.

A group of people at work are in a weekly "competitive" Fitbit challenge (as in, a lot of smack talk with a healthy amount of steps) via the app, and joining it has been the most motivating thing for me to actually exercise. I chose to get the Flex 2 which is one of the cheaper models.

Having a Fitbit has definitely encouraged me to walk more—I average about 8,000 steps a day which is a few miles. It's given me more energy and makes me feel all-around better, even if I always come in last against my coworkers in our challenges. (But really, my steps should kind of count as 1.5x theirs, right? Right.)

An important reminder: Exercise is great for pregnant women but over-exercising is not so make sure you check with your doctor, of course!

You can get yourself a Fitbit Flex 2 here. FYI, it doesn't have a heart rate monitor, which some of my friends really like about their models of Fitbits.

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16. Not announcing my pregnancy when I wasn't ready...

Kayla Yandoli via MTV

Losing my first pregnancy created a whole new set of milestones for my second one: The first time I found out I was pregnant again, the first time I saw the heartbeat, when I officially was further along in my second pregnancy than I was in my previous (I've seen this referred to as your "balloon day" which makes me cry at my desk a little bit), the day I hit the second trimester, and then reaching "viability" at 24 weeks.

It's pretty common for people to announce their pregnancy at 13 weeks when they've hit the second trimester (because 80% of miscarriages happen in the first trimester, it's conventionally thought of as a "safe" time to announce it after that point), but that still felt too soon for me.

Suddenly on Facebook, though, all of these women I knew were announcing that they were pregnant—some due after me! I felt weird and ashamed and freaked out... and my husband and therapist were like, "Um, then don't announce it?" So I didn't.

17. ...Until one day at 23 weeks, I looked in the mirror and I had this big beautiful baby bump and could feel my daughter kicking the crap out of me and I realized that was my time.

Rachel Christensen / BuzzFeed

I put a picture of my husband drinking a Dad's root beer up on Facebook and never looked back. And I've started planning a baby shower and buying baby stuff from yard sales. These have been really big steps for me and my mental progress.

Because yes, at 24 weeks I finally accepted that I was probably going to have a baby in September. Which... is a whole 'nother source of anxiety.

Daniel Christensen

But I don't have any tips for that part yet :)

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