Looking back on my two pregnancies I can see soooooo many differences. With my first, I was working a desk job, craved carbs constantly, did limited exercise and subsequently gained 60 lbs. If you know me, I'm a fairly petite person so gaining half of my body weight in 9 month was definitely not the best choice. My labor was also long, clocking in at 40 something hours.
Contrast with my second pregnancy, I was running running around chasing a toddler, still craved carbs but this time choose whole grain nutrient dense carbs, exercised regularly and gained a more reasonable 35 lbs. And my 2nd birth was powerful and fast with only 3 hours of active labor. With my first, I felt more lethargic, lacked stamina and could tell my heart was working harder than it should have been. With my second, I had way more energy, better muscle tone and mentally in a positive place!
While we may be unable to change our genetics there are a host of healthy choices we can make to increase our health before, during and after pregnancy.
Take inventory of the foods that you are using to fuel your body. What beverages are you consuming? Are you exercising regularly? Now is the time to make those needed changes! Providers like Midwife, Adrienne Brown, LDEM founder of Wasatch Midwifery & Wellness offer a preconception check to assess your medical history, discuss nutrition, track your fertility and ways you can prevent loss. If you have a goal to loss weight before your next pregnancy start now! If you are underweight talk to a Nutritionist about healthy ways to increase your weight and set goals for yourself. Find friends who will hold you accountable. Eat nutrient dense whole foods! Green leafy veggies, bone broth, plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, fruits, whole grains and seeds like brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, legumes and whole grains are all great choices! Protein from and omegas from wild caught salmon is another excellent choice providing immune boosting, bone building and heart supporting nutrients.
During early pregnancy the placenta forms where the fertilized eggs attaches to the uterine wall. The placenta is a vital organ providing increased oxygen to the baby, nutrients, a way to dispose waste and carries carbon dioxide away from baby. This necessary, life providing organ needs healthy nutrients from Mom to ensure baby grows and develops well.
Most providers agree Moms should eat an additional 300-350 calories each day during pregnancy. For some Moms, ice cream, frozen pizza and fast food may seem like a easy fast fix yet choosing nutrient dense foods help baby and her or her's placenta to grow properly and ensure the needed vitamins and minerals are not pulled from the Mom's own body. Talking to a health coach or Nutritionist is a great place start and I love cheering on my clients as they make healthy choices for themselves and baby!
During the first trimester, sometimes it's hard enough just to keep down foods let alone choose the right foods (hugs readers, I've been there ) One of my finest memories during my 1st pregnancy was discretely sneaking out my co-worker's empty yogurt containers from the mini garbage can by my desk because I couldn't stand the smell of yogurt and tossing them in a trash can faaaaarrr from my desk. (great memories....right???) In 2014 a study was published in NCBI showing how the inhalation of lemon essential oil significantly reduced nausea during pregnancy. You can also try eating small, protein rich foods snacks throughout the day to help balance blood sugars and keep the nausea in check.
Mom's who exercise regularly during pregnancy enjoy a host of benefits from reducing the need for a c-section, are less likely to develop gestational diabetes, experience a shorter labor, less prone to morning sickness lower risk of preclampsia and may even sleep better! Visit Fit Pregnancy if you need more reasons to keep up the workouts.
Ask the Expert?
Nutritionist and yoga instructor and founder of YIN Wellness Lauren Rodas, MS writes the following:
Research has shown that the lifestyle, exercise, attitude and nutrition choices made by women during their pregnancy have a direct, and often long lasting, impact on the health of both mother and baby. Additionally, babies whose mothers take good care of themselves while pregnant are more likely to have a positive pregnancy experience, an easier delivery, faster recovery and better overall health.
Poor eating habits by moms during pregnancy have been shown to slow the growth of the fetus as well as contribute to the development of long term and often irreversible health issues for the child including obesity, raised levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. A recent study by the Harvard Institute of Public Health found that 95 percent of women who consumed a nutritious diet had healthy babies. In contrast, 65 percent women who ate mainly junk food had premature, malnourished, functionally immature, or stillborn babies. Research also supports that what women eat while they are pregnant helps shape their babies taste buds to crave those specific foods throughout life.
Be kind to your body, now isn't the time to be super woman! Continue eating nourishing foods and if breastfeeding consume an additional 500 calories (choose well). Talk to your provider on appropriate exercises and when it is safe to resume them after baby is born. Enjoy this time as you bond with baby. Don't hesitate to ask for help or consider hiring a postpartum doula to support you during this time.
Regardless of where you are in your health or pregnancy journey we all have to start somewhere. Join an exercise class, find a friend who will hold you accountable in your health and fitness goals , connect with health coach or talk to your OB or midwife about ways you can improve your health and well-being.
~Alyssa Moulton is a Certified Hypno-doula who loves supporting her clients from pregnancy through the postpartum time. If you were to describe her in three words she would say calm, empowering and authentic. She is passionate about helping each client feel empowered and supported in their birthing decisions. When not serving as a Doula, Alyssa loves teaching youth and adult cooking classes from Healthy eating and meal planning to homemade pastries and loves seeing her student's learn new skills and feel empowered in the kitchen! She also hosts a bi-monthly Mom's Circle in Herriman as a way for Mom's to connect, grow and live in community with each other. Interested in learning more? Contact Alyssa for a free consultation. ~
Autumn Alyssa, CHD is a Birth and Postpartum Doula serving women and families from Bountiful to Provo in Davis, Salt Lake & Utah Counties