Pregnancy: The day my belly button changed, trimester 2 to 3

Looking back now from the lofty heights of week 31 of pregnancy, pregnancy at week 22 for me was a breeze. At week 22, I popped to the loo in work and it was only when I looked down I realised something was different - my belly button. It hadn't yet done that completely flattened out thing, or the popping out thing but it was definitely different. I'd spent the last few weeks trying to tell if I looked pregnant or just like I'd had a big meal, and trying to tell if I was 'bumpy' enough or if my bump was too small compared to other people at my stage. I guess the answer to all of that was, and still is, (as annoying as it is to hear) that everyone is different and will experience it in different ways! There is no right or wrong answer, just answers, lots of answers.

Now on reflection the majority of the second trimester was lovely, I could still go to the gym, movement was still fairly easy, I had my appetite back. I even felt like I had that pregnancy glow everyone talks about, but seems like a lie to keep pregnant women happy. Fast forward only a few weeks and I'd developed eczema on my face, cramps in my legs and a lovely bout of acid reflux after almost everything that I ate - not so enjoyable.

When I was a child I'd had very mild eczema in little patches behind my knees and in the creases of my elbows, and in adulthood I'd had the odd bout of it including on my face, but usually it was reactive (probably to some new product I'd tried, certain brands of fake tan being one of them), and it would clear up with an antihistamine. Now obviously antihistamines are a no go so for weeks I struggled on with red, itchy patches developing all over my face until it got to the point that I was quite miserable because nothing I was trying was working. I even stopped wearing make up in case that was the cause. I finally went to my GP who prescribed a cream to use sparingly which cleared it up within a week. But within a few days of not using the cream it returned with a vengeance. Now it isn't completely gone but I'm able to manage it better now. I don't know if its just luck or a combination of things but I've added more vitamin C to my diet, switched to using coconut oil to cleanse and the sun seems to have helped too.

I've upped my water intake massively to help with the leg cramps but there are a few times I've woken in the night with my calves cramped like nothing else and had to wake my husband up to stretch them, so he's started helping me to stretch my legs before bed to try and prevent it. And the reflux, although not pleasant, and not being able to pinpoint exactly what foods cause it, I'm managing with standard pregnancy approved antacids, and making sure I sit up properly to eat and for at least an hour after eating. It still creeps up at night, usually before bed, but I understand it's because this lovely little baby is growing and taking up all the room where my organs should be, so I kind of let it get away with it, knowing its only temporary.

I will eventually write a bit more about this third trimester but for now I can say that for me it's been difficult, I went from feeling great, to little annoyances, to a couple of really bad weeks, to the point where I am now, which is that all those little niggles mean nothing in the grand scheme of things so I'm trying very hard not to complain about them. A returning health problem I'd first had last year (when I wasn't pregnant) and had been operated on for over a year ago returned, with perfect timing, the week before we were due our pre-baby holiday in Barcelona. Given antibiotics, I went away anyway (after many doctor's visits, and a trip to the hospital to make sure there was no risk), knowing that when I came back I may need to have another operation. I'd already had a break down in front of the surgeon I met with because I didn't want a general anaesthetic while pregnant but was told it was necessary.

While we were away the issue got worse to the point of spending 10 hours in a Barcelona hospital, (whilst I can't really fault the care received, I can say I am eternally grateful for our NHS), where I received a local anaesthetic, several antibiotic drips (I made sure they were pregnancy safe) and paracetemol for the pain. I was able to finally enjoy the last few hours of our trip almost pain free but I'd only just coped with it all for the first few days - so much for relaxation. Another trip to a UK hospital when we returned confirmed that what they had done in Spain was fine and since then I've thanked my lucky stars that it wasn't any worse.

Now at 31 weeks I'm counting down to finishing work and then our magical due date, but in the meantime I've been using my rest time to research as much as possible.

It's been quite nice because there are a lot of bloggers and 'social influencers' who seem to have been pregnant lately, are currently pregnant or have recently given birth, so reading about their experiences has been quite comforting. Some people would rather feel their way around things like this themselves, but I am most definitely in the camp of the more research the better! Give me all the pregnancy books, show me all of the 'One Born Every Minute' episodes and tell me all your stories - honestly!

So, with that being said, if like me you want all of the information I have compiled a list of my current favourite books, people and beyond that I have been paying attention to. Because the way I see it, the more I know, the more informed decisions I can make, and as a super organised person, the better (and calmer) that makes me feel, because I feel empowered and in control!

1. Natasha Corrett

Natasha of Honestly Healthy is quite a few weeks further long than me currently, but it's been nice to follow her journey on Instagram and her blogs and to understand that as healthy as you try to be in normal every day life before pregnancy, sometimes you need to listen to your body and just do what you can - and if, like me, that means eating pizza and falling asleep on the sofa at 8pm then that's OK, it's all about finding a new balance that works for you. And trust me, the most important thing is just getting through the day sometimes. Plus it's inspiring to follow someone who is running their own business while pregnant, hats off!

2. Madeline Shaw

Another health and wellbeing inspiration who has been completely honest about her current pregnancy and all the things that go along with it. Madeline is a couple of weeks ahead of me, so it's nice to see how she is handling her pregnancy and the cravings, and sickness and exercising with a bump, plus her recipes are great - healthy and tasty.

3. What to Expect...

I bought What to Expect When You're Expecting because, well, I thought that was what was expected when you're pregnant! It's actually been really useful to read up on all the symptoms you might experience at different stages, if a bit of information overload at times. So far I've just been reading the month by month sections as and when they apply to me, but at some point I'll try and read ahead - so I know what to expect (ha!).

4. Clean and Lean Pregnancy Guide by James Duigan

I own most of the other Clean and Lean books and have always loved their recipes, meal plans, workouts, positive outlook and general guidance - they pretty much kick started myself and my husband in to clean eating so as soon as I found out about their pregnancy guide I had to have it. This book is written much more around advice and guidance to help you have a healthy pregnancy and is less about the recipes. I've found the workout routines really useful and although I've modified them slightly by adding a cardio warm up and some light weights to some of the exercises, they gave me a really good basis for my second trimester fitness regime. Sadly, for different reasons the most exercise I've been able to do recently is walking but the book is definitely useful if you want to maintain or get healthy during your pregnancy.

5. The Hypnobirthing Book

After all of the reading and research I found myself very drawn to the idea of Hypnobirthing. I'm yet to read this book in full and I obviously can't vouch for how good it is until after the event, but the concept is that we can train ourselves to treat labour and birth as a positive experience, try and remove the stress and that this will all improve the experience of labour and birth for ourselves and for our baby in general. I'm yet to start any antenatal classes but this book comes highly recommended and I'm looking forward to taking this all on board. Considering before I got pregnant I feared giving birth like nothing else, the whole thought terrified me, my mind set has changed considerably since doing all of my research and, as my mum says, 'it's in there now, it has to come out one way or the other'. So if I can make that whole experience as positive as possible I'll feel like I've done something right.

Do any other mums or mummies to be have any recommendations?

Oh and my belly button is now almost completely flat (and, I fear, on the verge of popping slightly).

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