You’re pregnant! When you stop and think about the miracle that is happening within your womb and the capacity of the human body, YOUR BODY, to create and to adapt to pregnancy, aren’t you just amazed? It’s no wonder babies are referred to as miracles!
Some of you may have worked very hard to get to this stage of your fertility journey and others of you, not so much. Regardless, your health and the health of your growing child depend on you during this time.
Herbalist Susun Weed reminds us in her book The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year that, “During pregnancy you create the cells needed for two extra pounds of uterine muscle, the nerves, bones, organs, muscles, glands, and skin of your fetus, several pounds of amniotic fluid, a placenta and a fifty percent increase in your blood volume. In addition, you’ll replace many extra kidney and liver cells to process the waste of two beings instead of one.”
Start Your Pregnancy Off Right
The first trimester of pregnancy is filled with so many body changes and emotions that it can be tricky to navigate. Though overwhelming, it’s easy to not know where to start, or how to continue to support your changing body during this time. So, here are five easy ways to ensure a healthy first trimester…
1. Eat Well
First and foremost, if you have not already modified your diet, start making changes so you are eating a whole food pregnancy diet – What to Eat During Pregnancy – now. You will need to increase your consumption of many nutrients in pregnancy, which really is simple – just eat clean!
Eating clean is about going back to basic healthy eating principles. In pregnancy, concentrate on homemade meals and snacks from fresh, whole foods, that include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, moderate amounts of organic or grass-fed lean meats and cold water fish, full fat or raw dairy products, nuts and seeds and healthy fats. Eating clean also means limiting processed foods, added sugar and saturated fats.
Your body’s ability to adapt to growing and nourishing another being in early life is because of the nourishment you offer it before, during and after pregnancy. The concentration you give to this way of nourishing yourself for nine months and beyond will ensure it becomes habit and will help you teach your child to eat clean and healthy too.
Walk, walk, walk! And try prenatal yoga. Develop a healthy exercise practice while you can still move and bend over! The common recommendation for the amount of exercise you should participate in during pregnancy is 30 minutes of moderate exercise seven days a week.
Speak to your healthcare provider or midwife if you wish to start a new exercise routine or have concerns about continuing the routine you already have.
3. Learn to Naturally Manage 1st Trimester Symptoms
Sadly for many the first trimester can be riddled with not-so-welcomed symptoms of pregnancy, so much so that the joy of becoming pregnant can be temporarily overshadowed.
Your body is working overtime to make sure your baby is getting everything he/she needs for the rest of its stay in your tummy, which is causing you to feel fatigued and may be contributing to odd cravings. Your hormones are shifting to the extreme, leading to sore breasts, constipation and frequent urination. Your blood sugar may be low at various times, triggering morning sickness and nausea, so listen to your body, offer it what it needs. The key is to find what works best for you. Start by learning 10 Common Pregnancy Symptoms in the First Trimester.
4. Make Your First Prenatal Appointment
Your first prenatal visit most likely won’t be until around week 8 of pregnancy, if you don’t already have a trusted doctor or midwife, take these first few weeks of pregnancy to interview and find someone you connect with and trust. The person you choose to offer you prenatal care for the next nine months wears the first set of hands that will touch your newborn baby. You should nearly love them!
Expect to spend a bit of time at that first visit too. You may be asked to provide a urine sample, have a pap smear and provide a detailed health history. At around 10 weeks gestation you will have the option to have an ultrasound and hear your baby’s heartbeat. Other first trimester tests can include optional testing for genetic abnormalities of the fetus.
5. Learn Emotional Self-awareness, Rest & Listen to Your Body
Recognize your feelings and emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. If you are tired, rest or nap. If you are hungry, eat. If you ache, try going for a walk or a gentle massage. If you are emotional, cry or find someone to vent to. If you need help, ask!
I am convinced (no scientific proof) that a woman’s awareness of her body – her sensations, feelings, emotions, etc. – are naturally heightened in pregnancy. Maybe it’s “mother’s intuition” coming alive. In the words of Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, “While pregnant and after giving birth, a woman needs time to reflect, to nourish her inner self, and to form a bond with her newborn.” Use the next nine months to learn how to connect with your inner self and your growing baby. You won’t regret not dusting behind the refrigerator, I promise!
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from: https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/what-to-eat-when-expecting
- Kathryn Doyle. Probiotics linked to lower risk of allergies for kids. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/22/us-probiotics-linked-to-lower-risk-of-al-idUSBRE97L0UK20130822
- Kristen Michaelis. Beautiful Babies: Nutrition for Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, & Baby’s First Foods. Victory Belt Publishing, Inc. Las Vegas. 2013
- Pregnancy, First Trimester. Most Common Early Signs of Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://pregnant.thebump.com/pregnancy/first-trimester/articles/most-common-pregnancy-symptoms.aspx
- Roger W. Harms, PhD. Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy. Harper, NY. 2004
- Rosemary Gladstar. Herbal Healing For Women: Simple Home Remedies for Women of All Ages. Simon & Schuster, NY. 1993
- Susan S. Weed. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. AshTree Publishing. Woodstock, NY. 1986