I'm dedicating a four part series to health and pregnancy because it's important that we give ourselves and our babies this gift for the future. I know that I wasn't aware of the importance of health during my first pregnancy. I knew I should eat balanced and continue to exercise, but that was about it. If you don't know, you can't do better. So here's to you for doing better by taking the time to think about your health!
Before Baby is on the Books...
I like to think that I remember what life was like before kids...for me time was abundant and we kind of did what we wanted...and ate what we wanted. It wasn't a worry to me then as we exercised for fun as well. I can remember going a little crazy as we planned our elopement in 2 months and I did some crazy stuff to get my weight to right where I wanted it to be. Not super crazy, but calorie counting and lots of weird restrictions. Eating rice crackers instead of fruit as they had less calories is not healthy. When we decided we might want to try making a baby, I wasn't as strict, but still did things like eat ice cream as a snack instead of veggies. Or popcorn for dinner (okay, that one still happens occasionally).
If you are planning or are thinking about making a baby, why not get yourself healthy too! Eating right and exercising before makes it easier throughout your pregnancy.
Go talk to your doctor and get a physical as well as your blood work done. You can be screened to see if there are any issues to deal with before getting pregnant as well as see how healthy you are currently. Do you need to eat more iron rich food? Low vitamin D? You should start a high quality prenatal vitamin supplement. I say high quality as much of the budget prenatal supplements are not quality checked or assured and contain fillers that are junk. You want the vitamins and minerals to be bio-available, meaning your body readily absorbs and uses them. If they are not, they pass through your system in the same form. A diet rich in iron and omega 3 will go a long way in helping you prepare your body's stores.
Having a baby is like running a marathon and you would train for a marathon before taking part in one, right? Your blood volumes double when pregnant (part of your weight gain), which means you need to move twice the amount of blood putting your heart to work. A healthy heart does this job easily! Include cardio workouts before and during pregnancy, ensuring you have discussed this with your doctor or midwife.
Get your head in the game as well. Good mental health prior to baby is so very helpful. Pregnancy and childbirth are physically and emotionally taxing; past or present trauma and/or stresses will very much be part of your life in an in-your-face kind of way. Seek out someone to talk to and plan strategies to help you cope. Let your doctor know of previous or present trauma as they can work with you during the checks, pokes and prods. I wish I had worked on my coping skills revolving around my father's sudden death before having our first baby as it greatly affected me postpartum.
Clean it Up
Unhealthy stress may contribute to problems getting pregnant as do food in tolerances/allergies and off balance vitamin levels. Clean eating is one of the most recommended tips to help increase fertility. Organic foods have much lower pesticide levels that could affect fertility. Local foods will have better nutrients that those picked unripe and shipped long distances.
Talk with your partner. Open communication is vital. Read up on parenting styles, let your partner know what you expect, ask your partner what they expect from you and be open to finding common ground. I would recommend reading the "The Healthy Pregnancy Book" by Dr. William Sears (and family/friends). How to get ready to be pregnant is well covered and the explanations about why health is so vital during pregnancy are simple and well explained.
Stop and think about what toxins are present in your life. Do an audit on your cleaning concoctions and your skin care products. There are many great resources to
Next post will talk about what specific nutrients are very important during pregnancy and how to get them into your diet.