Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
We all want the best possible start for our babies, don't we? And we want to enjoy our pregnancies, get ready for labor, and be in good health during pregnancy and postpartum too. As a professional birth doula, I get asked all the time, "What are your top pregnancy tips?" So here they are, my top 7 pregnancy tips for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Eat well. It is amazing how connected our bodies are, how what we eat affects everything from our moods to our immune systems to baby development in utero. We all know that we need a variety of foods, plenty of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and probably not too much junk or processed food. But how do we determine which foods we need? First, think nutrient density. Colorful fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, rich bone broths, and healthy fats and proteins are all examples of foods that are rich in many different nutrients that we need without a lot of additives that do not provide nutritional benefit. Second, think about what vitamins you need, such as plenty of folic acid and calcium. Spinach, oranges, broccoli, and kidney beans are great sources of folic acid, while milk, yogurt and spinach have a lot of calcium, for example. In addition to any prenatal vitamins your care provider might recommend, be sure you are getting plenty of vitamins from your food sources. Third, be sure your diet includes healthy fats, which are the building blocks for the brain. Healthy fat sources can include meats, butter, avocado, nuts, and fish. Want to learn more about eating well for pregnancy? Check out Real Food For Pregnancy by Lily Nichols, an excellent book for all expecting women. You could also consult with a nutritionist or health coach for more individualized support.
Stay hydrated. Adequate hydration helps form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood, support digestions, and flush out toxins. It also helps decrease constipation, reduce swelling, and decrease risks of UTIs and preterm labor and birth. You should aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day or 8-12 glasses. You can also get more water from food sources like watermelon, cucumber, and other watery fruits and vegetables.
Keep moving. We often feel tired and sluggish during pregnancy, and it is so easy to allow this to become an excuse to vegetate on the couch all the time. But staying active during pregnancy is so important to your well being. Activities like prenatal yoga can help alleviate soreness and pregnancy-related discomfort, while swimming can be a welcome relief from the weight of pregnancy and can also be very relaxing. Walking every day aids in digestion and also helps encourage baby into a better position for birth further along in pregnancy. Staying active also helps support your mood by releasing endorphins and getting you outside in natural sunlight. It can help you relax and connect with your baby as well as take your mind off of anything that might be worrying you.
Surround yourself with positivity regarding pregnancy and birth. Have you ever noticed that as soon as people find out you are pregnant, they want to tell you all their horror stories about pregnancy and birth? This robs our joy as expectant mothers, can add to our worries about our health and that of our babies, and can increase our fears surrounding birth. Seek out people who will encourage you, celebrate with you, pray for you, and uplift you. Find those people in your life who believe in you and your ability to handle pregnancy and birth. And don't be afraid to gently ask someone to refrain from sharing all their negativity with you.
Seek chiropractic care. Seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy can do so much for your physical comfort and for getting your body ready for birth by resolving tightness in uterine ligaments and encouraging optimal fetal positioning among other things.
Be aware of how you sit, stand, and rest. Body positioning for you can make a huge difference in your comfort and in the ease of your labor and the position of your baby. Be mindful of being more upright, of not slouching or tucking your pelvis in. Sit on a yoga ball, bounce or do large hip circles. Use pillows to support your belly and back and in between your knees for hip alignment while you sleep.
Take time every day to rest, meditate, and relax. Connect with your baby. Pray. Visualize a healthy pregnancy and the birth experience you hope to have. Repeat affirmations. Spend time just being still.