You and your body will undergo more physical, mental and emotional changes during pregnancy than almost any other time in your life. For some women, reading the multitude of “what to expect” guides is empowering; for others, all of that information fills them with fear and paranoia.

Learning to relax and enjoy the journey can be an empowering and delightful experience. Follow these tips for a zen-like pregnancy, trimester by trimester.

1st Trimester: Assemble Your Team

Most women begin prenatal care around weeks 8 to 12 of pregnancy. This is the time to set the stage for a healthy and supported pregnancy. Women who get early and regular prenatal care have the best possible outcomes, research shows.

Schedule your first prenatal visit, which will typically be your longest.

Take your partner along for every possible prenatal visit: A University of Missouri researcher, Mansoo Yu, has found that stress related to pregnancy uniquely affects the expectant fathers too, which in turn, influences the health of expectant mothers and their infants. Get dad on the same page with you and baby for best outcomes for all.

2nd Trimester: Move It!

Exercise is a natural stress-reliever in pregnancy. The 2nd trimester brings with it a rush of new energy and a revived sense of wellbeing. This is the perfect time to capitalize on new research that shows not only does exercise in pregnancy do mom’s body good, it also strengthens your baby’s heart in a way that protects him post-birth, say University of Kansas Medical Center Researchers, who demonstrated regular prenatal exercise strengthens fetal heart rates.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity at least 3 times a week for both your and your baby’s benefit.

Be active everyday in some way, even if just for a walk upon waking or after dinner.

3rd Trimester: Educate Yourself

This is it, the home stretch—the last third of your pregnancy. This is the time to begin to prepare for labor and birth, and there’s no better way than taking childbirth education classes. Research shows that women who have an educated and general sense of what labor will be like are more relaxed and less fearful, which can also help in dealing with labor pain.

  • Schedule a tour of your desired birthing facility to get familiar with the surroundings.
  • Take a class on labor pain management and natural, vaginal birth.
  • Bring your partner along so that you both feel confident about the upcoming big event.

Also read: Yoga positions for pregnant women


Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, LCCE, is founding editor of Healthy Mom&Baby, Senior Director of Partnerships & Publications at AWHONN, and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator in Sarasota, FL.

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