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My 3rd Trimester: COVID-19, PCOS, and more

My 3rd trimester was filled with so many ups and downs. It sure came at an interesting time. My 3rd trimester started mid-April 2020 when we were knee-deep in our stay-at-home order here in Michigan for COVID-19. The middle of my 3rd trimester was marked by civil unrest and protests breaking out across the country, including in my own backyard, Grand Rapids, over the death of George Floyd. Every OB appointment had a new flavor of the week in terms of COVID requirements, which always kept me on my toes. But sprinkled in there were so many wonderful things too, like finalizing names for Baby B, clients or followers getting pregnant with PCOS, the launch of my new e-book, adjusting to fluctuations in appetite, and feeling big, I mean BIG movements by Baby B in my belly.

COVID-19

I think we are all a little sick of talking about COVID-19, but it has been a serious milestone in both 2020 and my pregnancy. It seemed to have no rhyme or reason in terms of who got sick and how they carried their symptoms, making it quite stressful for a normal person, let alone a 3rd trimester pregnant person. 

I feel incredibly lucky that for the most part, my husband and I, as well as our families were not badly affected by the virus directly or indirectly. My husband and I work from home normally so not much changed there, but it is incredible how different you feel when you can’t even go the 2-3 places you were used to going daily. Or even just how isolated you start feeling from not being able to go to those 2-3 places daily or seeing close family and friends. My OB appointments started to get very interesting. Protocols changed every time I went in for a new appointment and my husband was no longer allowed to accompany me to any appointments. 

Although I felt relatively blessed throughout the whole process, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where I thought to myself ‘why this year?!’. A few times where I was at bigger appointments alone, I had a few moments of feeling sorry for myself and wishing my husband was able to be there with me during this new and sometimes anxious experience…both for me and for him. I’m a strong person mentally but sometimes you just want your person there with you, mainly to make sure you don’t forget anything you wanted to ask and catch every piece of information the doctor tells you. As I mentioned before, luckily my family’s health was not directly affected (meaning I think we all have been affected mentally in some capacity, but physically no one in my family has tested positive for COVID) and my husband was able to join me for my last OBGYN appointment before the baby arrives.

Civil Unrest

I was just starting to enter the 2nd half of my 3rd trimester when the riots started breaking out after George Floyd’s death. While I’m not going to use this time to take a political stance, I do want to mention that this certainly brought on some self-reflection on just how advantaged I have been throughout my life. This provided me with an interesting perspective considering I’m also due to bring a child into this world any minute. It made me reflect on how I was raised and what I might want to tweak to help create a human that is priivy to the world around her, understands the value of human life as well as the history of our country, but can also critically think about the information provided by (social) media and be able to come up with her own conclusions. Again, I’d be lying if I said this time in our history has not left me feeling uneasy with my own ignorance at times and just about bringing a child into this world at this time, but without uneasiness there is no growth. I’m going to leave it at that.

Ravenous Appetite and PCOS

I’ve touched on food cravings in my previous pregnancy posts, but I wanted to provide a few tips here. The 3rd trimester definitely left me hungry almost every 2 hours. There were often times that even despite having healthy food and snacks around, I would eat through those healthy foods and wonder ‘what else can I eat?!’. This was a little tricky at times in terms of trying to manage my PCOS and keep my blood sugar balance. 

Here are a few tips to help navigate this time: 

  • Pair your carbs with a protein or fat. This may sound redundant but it’s true! It helps keep your cravings to a minimum and keeps you full for longer
  • Consider inositol supplementation. Always consult your doctor and/or PCOS dietitian before starting any supplement but inositol, specifically myoinositol has been considered safe to use during pregnancy, can help keep your cravings under control, and has been shown to lower risk of gestational diabetes when used in combination with folic acid. Not to mention, it can help keep androgens (or male hormones) within normal levels. 
  • Keep ready-to-eat healthy snacks on-hand as much as possible. Having carrots, cucumbers, and spinach in the fridge is one thing. But having them washed, cut up, and ready-to-eat makes the decision to chose the healthy snack a lot easier. Even if you run out of your healthy snacks faster, all those vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber help keep both you and baby healthy! 
  • Listen to your cravings more often than you would when you weren’t pregnant. Now that’s not to say you can’t listen to your cravings when you’re not pregnant either, but during pregnancy our hormones are doing crazy things to help bring a healthy baby into the world. So often when you’re craving full-fat ice cream or pickles, your body (and growing belly) might be telling you it needs more salt, iodine, or calcium so LISTEN! Try your best to live a PCOS-friendly lifestyle 80% of the time, eat the food, and move on! 

Postpartum Meal Prep

Postpartum meal prep

 

In my final weeks of pregnancy, I tried my best to prepare a handful of PCOS-friendly meals and snacks to have on-hand to make postpartum life a little easier. Although my husband said he’s happy to cook (he’s a keeper!), I also know that this will be a new journey for both of us and it will be helpful to have some freezer meals and snacks to fall back on if he decides he wants a week off. I find it hard to cook for just two people anyway so cooking extra of some of my favorite go-to meals was not all that difficult for me. Plus, I’m planning on breastfeeding so I know my appetite might be a little larger than normal depending on how that goes. Some of these recipes are mine, but some are also from other fertility-friendly resources which I will link accordingly. For any pregnant mamas out there considering postpartum meal prep, Lily Nichols’ book, Real Food for Pregnancy, and website are great resources for recipes and nutrients to focus on throughout pregnancy and postpartum regardless of whether you have PCOS or not. 

I’m a dietitian and I seriously learned SO much about both prenatal and postpartum nutrition that I didn’t know beforehand by reading Lily Nichols’ book. It is no surprise to me that nutrition plays a HUGE role in postpartum healing and breastfeeding. An important tidbit of information that I found particularly helpful as it pertains to PCOS in her postpartum nutrition chapter was where she discusses carbohydrates. She explains that while it may be tempting to immediately go back to a low carbohydrate diet to help drop the baby weight, the immediate postpartum period is not the time to do so (or at least not until your milk supply is fully established). She states that this type of undereating can negatively impact your milk supply, put you and your baby at risk for dehydration as extra fluids are needed when creating breastmilk, and lead to inadequate electrolyte intake. 

What I made:

  • PCOS-friendly Apple Spiced Granola
  • Pork Carnitas (I followed Lily Nichols’ recipe from Real Food for Pregnancy book-check out her website here)
  • Beef Chili
  • Chicken & Veggie Coconut Curry (recipe from my ebook bonus items, but here is a similar recipe I use)
  • Brownie Protein Bites (recipe from my ebook bonus items)
  • Oatmeal PB Energy Bites
  • Venison and Veggie Egg Muffin Cups
  • Oatmeal Breakfast Bars (I used @fertility.with.pcos recipe from Instagram here)
  • Chicken Enchiladas (here is a similar recipe I use (feel free to sub out black beans for chicken and other veggies you have on hand for the sweet potatoes)-I did both gluten-free and regular tortilla options for me and my husband)

Recommendations for Storage: I’m not going to lie. I was in a pinch and needed to make this food fast so I used the standard disposable aluminum freezer containers. We are all human here. I will adjust for next time and plan accordingly, but here are some lower toxin strategies for freezer food storage:

*Tip: Depending on how many will be eating with you, portion out accordingly. For example, I portioned mine out into 2-4 serving portions for both my husband and I, but if it’s just you or more you’re feeding, you’ll want to modify as needed.

Launch of my Restore Your Fertility E-book!

Restore Your Fertility Ebook

This was definitely a highlight of my 3rd trimester! The launch of my Restore Your Fertility E-book on May 27, 2020 was so fun! It was a labor of love and what I hope to be a great resource for any woman with PCOS trying to get pregnant. I poured information I wish I would have known during my fertility journey, as well as other evidence-based information on how to get synced with your cycle, how to optimize your nutrition for fertility, and how to build a healthy, fertile mindset (a crucial part of any infertility journey!). Not to mention, it provides 2 weeks of PCOS-friendly meals to help get you started. It’s bound to get you one step closer to getting pregnant with PCOS! For more information on the ebook, click here

The day is almost here!

Last but certainly not least, enjoy this time! For me, I fluctuated frequently between excitement and anxiety over what I didn’t know or do yet. Did I read enough books or do I know what the hell I’m doing?! My take? Nope. There will never be enough books to read, videos to watch, recipes to make, or articles to read that will appropriately prepare you for becoming a parent. The most I can do? Allow myself some grace during such a momentous transition in my life. And I encourage you to do the same! I hope you found this helpful! The next time we chat, I will have a baby 🙂 Happy almost 4th of July friends!

-EAB