What does it take to have a healthy pregnancy? These ten tips can be a catalyst for a deeply nourishing and healthy pregnancy. Sometimes all a mother-to-be needs are reminders of the sacredness and amazing journey that pregnancy is. Learn how immersing your pregnancy in deep gratitude, nourishing foods, joyful movement and taking charge of your choices can lead you to a wealth of pregnancy health.
1. Eat Whole Foods
Food is energy for the body. Whole foods are nourishing foods. Each and every thing you eat is going to go to your baby. Think about that. What you eat truly matters during pregnancy more than at any other time because what you consume is directly affecting another human being – your baby. The building blocks for your baby’s body come from the foods you eat.
Eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. A wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, free-range, grass-fed and organic meats, eggs, and dairy products, filtered water, and clean fish; you get the idea. Eating foods in their most natural state ensures you are getting the highest nutritional content. Whole foods contain naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, amino acids and more. Eating whole foods will also help you and your baby to avoid harmful chemicals such as preservatives, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, synthetic nutrients, and other additives that are considered non-foods, which are added to most all processed foods.
What about organic? YES!
Try to eat organic foods whenever possible. This will help to ensure you avoid harmful toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, and synthetic fertilizers.
2. Take a Prenatal Multivitamin
To make sure you are getting all the vital nutrients necessary to sustain you and your baby, a whole food prenatal multivitamin is recommended. In today’s world, foods are greatly lacking in all the vital nutrients the body needs to sustain life, let alone two lives. This is where a prenatal multivitamin can help ensure you and your baby are getting all the vital nutrients required for pregnancy. A multivitamin should never be a substitute for good nutrition, but a “boost” or a “top off” to help make sure all those nutritional bases are covered. We love Baby and Me Multivitamin by MegaFood because it is made from 100% whole foods and is gentle on the digestive system.
3. Move Your Body Daily
Now, more than any other time in your life, your body is going to be rapidly changing shape, weight and size. Daily movement and exercise are going to help you stay grounded, strong, and flexible. These are important aspects needed for carrying a baby and the demands of labor, breastfeeding, and motherhood. Exercise also helps keep stress at bay.
Relish in your changing body and how it feels. Dance, walk, swim, yoga, feel your body move daily. 30-45 minutes of moderate exercise a day is going to strengthen your heart and increase circulation. During pregnancy, your blood volume almost doubles; this puts more strain on your entire body, especially your heart. Exercise helps to keep your body and heart strong, while aiding in gentle, regular detoxification. The increased heart rate and circulation also helps your baby to receive nutrient and oxygen rich blood for healthy development.
4. Transform and Resolve Stress
Stress, my oh my, in the world we live in today, it can be very challenging to keep stress at bay; that is why I urge pregnant mothers to learn to transform and resolve stress as it arises. Yes, it would be ideal to make time each day to cultivate a practice to lower stress levels, what we call stress management, but I find that during pregnancy more than at any other time in life, stress can just come on. Perhaps it is all the hormones, rapidly changing body, life role and energy levels, food demands, increased blood volume, others opinions on your choices and body, and prenatal appointments; really, the list goes on.
How you react to stress and manage it when it arises is going to be important. Life during pregnancy is transforming so rapidly, there are going to be moments when elevated stress levels are present. So how can you transform and resolve stress?
- Change how you react to stressful situations. When faced with an ongoing stressful situation, there is only one thing you have control over… how you react. Pay attention to how you react to the stressful people at work, or to your stressful situation. Getting control of how you react will have a big impact on what happens inside of your body when a stressful situation presents itself. This takes some attention and practice.
- Don’t allow stress to fester. Take time as soon as you can to resolve the stress you are feeling in some way. This could be breathwork practice, meditation, yoga, going for a walk, talking with a friend, craft, journal, drink a cup of chamomile tea, prayer, repeat a positive affirmation, or simply take a nap. If the stress is in the evening, be sure to resolve the stress in some way before you go to bed.
- Watch your life transform from stressful to creative and joyful. Once you notice how you react to stressful situations and get the hang of resolving stress as soon as possible, you will begin to see that you are transforming your life and pregnancy into a more joyful experience.
5. Find a Good Doctor or Midwife to Work With
What does a good practitioner consist of? This is going to be entirely up to you and your partner to decide. Most urban areas have many doctors and midwives to choose from, but if you live in a rural area, your choices may be limited. The goal here is for you to find the best fit for your needs, no matter how limited or abundant your choices are. After all, you will be working with this person for many months and during a very transformational and intense part of your life.
The making of a good practitioner:
- Makes you feel comfortable
- Is qualified, professional, confident and has good references
- Listens to you and your partner
- Answers your questions well
- Feels right to you
- Has excellent back-up staff on hand and/or an equally wonderful colleague/s they work with
- Respects your birth plan
As a doula, I have seen many couples make the mistake of not listening to their gut feeling when choosing a doctor or midwife. It is extremely important for a mother to be comfortable with her doctor or midwife and the type of prenatal care she is receiving. You should know pretty early on in pregnancy if you feel your practitioner is a good fit. It can be relatively easy to switch to a new doctor or midwife early on, if they don’t feel like a good fit. If uneasy feelings are allowed to go on, one may find they will be facing rising fears about the doctor or midwife during labor and birth. The labor and birth process is one of the most important times in life and pregnant mothers deserve the best care, with few stressors. Take your time when choosing a doctor or midwife. Ask to set up an interview with them before deciding which practitioner is the one.
6. Talk to Your Baby
For some women this comes naturally, but it can feel awkward at first. Talking may be something you do within your heart and mind, or out loud, but the goal here is to communicate with your growing baby. Your baby is nestled cozily in your womb, and is acutely aware of its surroundings, you. They learn from what you experience. Tell them how you are feeling, what you are doing, about their family, what you are eating, and what you look forward to and imagine about meeting them. Read, sing, and dance with them while they are safely tucked inside of your womb. How lucky this child is to have such a wonderful mother.
7. Drink a Lot of Water
Thirsty? I remember how thirsty I was during pregnancy and that if I didn’t drink enough water, my mind and physical body paid. Carry a water bottle with you full of filtered water everywhere you go. Drinking at least 10 full glasses of water daily will help to keep you hydrated, help prevent nausea, and help to keep amniotic fluid amounts at a healthy level. Dehydration can lead to morning sickness, fatigue, and second and third trimester contractions.
Be sure to drink water from a glass, stainless steel or BPA-free container to help prevent estrogen-mimicking toxins from being passed on to your baby.
8. Let Your Body be Your Compass
Tune in to what your body is telling you. When pregnant, this is more important than ever. There will be more strain, more hunger, and more intense emotion than at other times in life. If you are feeling tired, rest. If you are hungry, eat. If you experience more Braxton-Hicks contractions, drink more water. If you are stressed, take time to alleviate it. This may be easier said than done, but I find that women who listen to their own needs and then follow that with nourishing what the body has said it needs, tend to enjoy pregnancy more and have less problems during pregnancy, labor and birth.
Each day take time to tune into what your body is telling you. Listen deeply to your inner wisdom. Once you have an answer, do what you need to fulfill those needs. Your intuition and body can lead you to what you deeply need for a healthy pregnancy, labor, birth and new motherhood.
9. Cultivate Deep Gratitude for Relationships
The relationships you have now may change once you become a mother. Perhaps you have children already, but this pregnancy is new to you. All those relationships you have now may change once a new baby has arrived. This is a completely normal and natural part of life. Everything changes and it is extremely helpful to go with the flow of life when you have deep gratitude, respect and honor for your current relationships.
Take time each day to cultivate deep gratitude for your relationships, especially that of your closest partner, which most often will be a spouse. They want to be involved, recognized, and loved as part of this pregnancy and birth. Thank them and the powers that be for this person daily. Say a small gratitude prayer for that person and something you truly appreciate about them each day. Do something nice for them, encourage them and involve them in your pregnancy. Show them in some way how important, appreciated, and loved they are as part of this newly expanding family.
10. Believe in Yourself and Your Body
This above all may matter more than most everything else on this page. Everyone is going to have their opinions on what you should do with your body and pregnancy. This is where I find it very important to have pregnancy affirmations close by. These are positive statements about pregnancy, your changing body, and outlook, so that you can remind yourself about the beautiful journey that you are on. You can make up your own or use the ones below. Hang them next to your mirror and say them out loud, repeating them each day.
- I am a beautiful woman.
- Pregnancy is a natural part of life.
- My body is capable and healthy.
- My changing body is beautiful and just the right size for my baby.
- The foods I am eating are nourishing me and my baby and I am thankful for them.
- My body and baby are developing just as they should.
- I allow my body and baby to be my guide.
- I love my growing baby.
- I love my supportive partner.
- Pregnancy is a great joy to me.