Whether you have just decided to start conceiving, or you already got that positive test, this blog will show some insight into how to have a healthy pregnancy journey. If you haven’t already, check out Part I of my Pregnancy Series: The Essentials for Preconception. This will help you prep for pregnancy so when the time comes, your health is as optimal as possible for you and your baby when you do get pregnant.
The moment you find out you are pregnant, you will feel an overwhelming mix of emotions- excitement, fear, shock, happiness, denial, gratitude, etc. Don’t worry, this is normal! Whether you’ve been trying for months or years, or if the positive test came as a surprise, you’ll go through a wide array of feelings and it’s okay. Accept these feelings and take the time to process this huge news. You’re going to be a mama!
To help you feel more confident in this long journey ahead of you, I want to give you as much advice and recommendations as I can. Our goal is to ensure that you are staying healthy during this time, as well as making sure your baby has everything it needs to be healthy too.
No one said growing a baby was easy! You’ll experience cravings (for random or odd mixtures of foods), mood swings, fatigue, discomfort, and more. This is all totally normal, and it’s important that you remember to give yourself some grace. There will be days that you feel like wonder women during this journey and days where you just want (and need) to lay in bed. Both kinds of days are acceptable!
Just because your friend who is pregnant seems to be exercising every day and able to drink green juices every morning, doesn’t mean you are failing when you feel nauseous just standing up or looking at any sort of greens! Everyone will have their own pregnancy experience (even different experiences from one baby to another). Be easy on yourself and try not to compare your journey with someone else’s.
It’s important to exercise during pregnancy because it can help with an array of health issues- back pain, gestational diabetes, stress, and fatigue. Exercise during pregnancy can also help to reach full term delivery. If you didn’t workout before pregnancy, it may not be the time to train for a race, but you should still try to incorporate some movement into your daily or weekly routine.
We don’t want you to stress out over exercising, so exercise as you feel comfortable. Sometimes that means more gentle walking, pilates, and yoga. Prenatal yoga has been used to decrease distress and these women also felt more confident in going into labor. You can do this with friends or your significant other to make the workout more enjoyable. Getting your body slowly into the groove of exercising will help you when the time finally comes to give birth. When you exercise during pregnancy, you will build up stamina that will be much needed during labor!
I personally did a combination of walking, weight lifting, pilates, yoga and stretching.
Growing a baby is no joke. Your body is putting a lot of its energy into creating a human being. This means there is less energy for you, mama. Don’t try to overdo it by acting as you were before pregnancy. There may be times where you need to rest for a couple of hours during the day or once you get home from work. Get off your feet, rest up, and do things that bring stillness to your mind and soul.
Obviously, we don’t want this to be 24/7 thing. But when your body is telling you that you need a break, then it’s important to listen to it. Once you get that rest, you’ll feel more able to get a walk or yoga session in later. It’s vital that you are not only getting in movement, but you are also allowing your body to relax and reset when needed.
One of the most important things you can do during your pregnancy journey is to focus on your health. Make sure you are not only supporting your physical body, but your emotional, mental and spiritual health as well. Here are some practices you should start now (if you haven’t already) to ensure a healthy pregnancy journey.
Make sure you are consuming enough nutrients to support both, your body and your baby’s. Many people consume less than optimal foods, especially in pregnancy. This isn’t the time to use pregnancy as an excuse to get that donut everyday- even though it’s very tempting. However, don’t beat yourself up over a treat here or there!
You should focus on getting as many greens and nutrient-dense foods into your diet as possible. Depending on your situation, especially during the first trimester where everything seems unsatisfying or untolerable, it’s important to still get in some vital nutrients.
Taking a high quality prenatal vitamin is the best way to ensure you are getting enough- whether you are consuming a good diet or not able to at the moment. If you are my client or decide to work with me, I can give you recommendations on specific brands for your needs. A few of my favorite brands are metagenics, thorne and seeking health for prenatals. They can all be found on fullscript.
It’s important that the prenatal that you choose contains the following vital vitamins/minerals in the most optimal form for absorption:
Vitamin A, C, D, E, K
It’s especially vital that you focus on minimizing toxic exposures when you are pregnant. Because toxins can affect the baby, it’s more critical than ever that you are aware of where toxins are coming from and how to avoid them.
Toxins can not only impact your health and the potential for complications associated with delivery and miscarriages, but environmental toxin exposures can also increase your baby’s chances of having developmental issues, metabolic disorders, asthma and even jeopardize the future of their health as they get older. One really important swap is cleaning products and laundry detergent. My favorite go-to non-toxic all purpose cleaner is Branch Basics. And if you want to read more about how to make your home safe and healthy for not only you, but also baby, check out my non toxic home post.
During your pregnancy journey, set some time aside to focus on your thoughts and mental well-being. This may include journaling, meditating, breathing techniques, prayer, etc. This can help you deal with any anxiety, and can also help you get in the right mindset for labor and delivery. For me personally, I journaled and prayed for my sweet baby and our birth plan. The most important thing to me was bringing a healthy baby into this world but I still fervently prayed that the lord would allow me to have the birth I desired- which was a natural birth at the birthing center. I also read Mama Natural and Guide to Childbirth.
When the time gets closer to your due date, you’ll want to start thinking about alternative medical services that may benefit you if you would need them. Here are a couple services that I personally used throughout my birth at the birthing center. You can also use these in conjunction with your hospital birth plan.
This is common practice in other countries, but we often don’t view it as prenatal or postpartum care unless there is an issue. I personally recommend establishing care and doing an evaluation pregnant, doing a birth prep appointment and then of course follow up postpartum. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help everything from constipation, painful sex, tailbone injury, diastasis recti and more.
Finding the right chiropractor can do wonders, not only for pain during pregnancy, but during your labor too. They can perform safe adjustments that help with inadequate uterine function, pelvic contraction, and baby mal-presentation. Many times, these services can help lower the rate for needed cesarean births or help in prolonged labor (like in my experience! – Read more on my labor story here).
Having a birth plan can help you experience the birth that you’ve envisioned. If your dream is to have a natural birth, then make sure your providers know that desire. If it’s to try to go without pain medication as long as you can but are still open to accepting pain management interventions, then make sure that’s written down.
Birth plans allow you to express your wishes so that everyone is on the same page. These plans may change and you should be open to alterations of your plan to protect both you and baby when necessary. It’s vital, however, that you advocate for yourself and your birth plan. This is your birth and your body. You want to make sure the health of you and your baby is a priority, but we also want you to have the best birthing experience possible. I communicated all of my desires to both my husband, my midwives and my doula.
A doula can help advocate for you and your wishes especially during the rough moments you will go through during birth. They can suggest alternative positions or practices to try to help progress your labor along and lessen the need for medications or c-sections. I used one at the birth center in addition to midwives and it was extremely helpful!
If you would like to optimize your chances for a healthy pregnancy journey, getting set up with a functional medicine provider is one of the best choices you can make! Unlike regular conventional medicine, they take the time to dig deep and assess your lifestyle behaviors, nutrient status, diet, and genetics to make a pregnancy plan that is best for you and your baby.
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