Swollen feet, stretch marks and poor complexion ? they?re not the most pleasant parts of pregnancy, and it can be hard knowing how to overcome each ailment in a pregnancy-safe way. To help you out, we?ve compiled a list of seven ways to look after your pregnant body:

7 ways to care for your body during pregnancy

When we?ve got a stomach so big that we can?t even remember what our feet look like, it?s no surprise that we often neglect to look after them. Swelling of the feet, ankles and fingers is a common side-effect of pregnancy that occurs because your body is retaining more water than usual. The extra water tends to gather at the lower parts of your body towards the end of the day and can be uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are simple exercises that can help to ease the swelling;  try rotating your feet in a circle eight times in one direction and then eight times in the other, and bend your feet up and down from the ankle. Also avoid standing for long periods of time or wearing shoes with a strap.

Pelvic floor exercises are simple to do but often underestimated. Our pelvic floor muscles are likely to weaken during pregnancy and childbirth, often leading to incontinence and less pleasure during sex. You should receive guidance on the various pelvic floor exercises from your midwife or doctor, but a simple one involves the ?squeeze, lift and hold? movement in which you squeeze and hold the muscles of your front and back passages, hold them for eight seconds and then release. It?s a simple exercise, but one that you should practice regularly to make sure your pelvic floor muscles remain in tip-top condition during and after your pregnancy.

Whilst some lucky women notice a decrease in breakouts when they?re pregnant, many of us notice that we become more prone to acne. This is because of a surge in the androgen hormone, which produces excess sebum and clogs the pores to cause spots. If you suffer with pregnancy acne, don?t panic ? your hormones will get back to normal after the birth, if not before. For now, make sure you wash gently with a mild soap or cleanser, and always wash your makeup off thoroughly; wear makeup products that are water-based instead of oil-based; and ensure you are using a pregnancy-safe moisturiser that is oil free.

If you have skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis to start with, you may find that pregnancy either completely clears it up, or makes it even worse ? it really does vary between individuals. As uncreative as it may sound, hydrating your skin by drinking plenty of water and applying a pregnancy-safe moisturiser regularly is the best way to relieve dry skin and itchiness. If your itching gets worse or you develop blisters, make sure you consult your doctor. The chances are it won?t be serious, but it?s worth getting checked out to make sure you and your bump are safe.

Weight gain is an obvious side effect of pregnancy, but gaining too much can be harmful to both you and your baby. It?s a common myth to think that because we?re pregnant, we?re ?eating for two? and we use this as an excuse to ? quite frankly ? pig out. While it is true that you need to eat more nutrient-rich foods to feed your baby, only a small amount of extra food is required. How much weight one gains during pregnancy varies amongst individuals and your health care provider should be able to give you a good idea of how much weight you might gain. As a general guide, the average pregnant woman should put on two to four pounds during the first three weeks of pregnancy, and one pound each month thereafter.

Having good posture is vital to looking after your pregnant body, particularly as you advance further into the pregnancy and the strain on your body increases with the size of your bump. As much as you feel like slumping your shoulders when you?re getting tired, it?s important to hold your body up straight to minimise the strain on your lower back and the rest of your body. Aim to have your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips and you can?t go far wrong.

Stress and anxiety deplete your immune system and can make you seriously unwell, so it?s vital that you make time for relaxation in your routine. Stress is not a pregnancy side effect that should be endured; you need to deal with it to avoid harming you and your baby. Thankfully, it?s easy to deal with if you make the time for it. Start with 15 minutes a day of deep relaxation; asking for help from friends and family; and scheduling time for yourself to do things that make you happy. These will all go a long way in making your pregnancy happy and healthy.  If someone is stressing you out, avoid them; if you have a hard job that needs doing, ask for help ? your friends and relatives won?t be annoyed at you if they understand and care about your health.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy your pregnancy while it lasts…

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