Some of you may have noticed from my recent Instagram post that I am pregnant! I am now 23 weeks, and I figured I would write about what I’m doing, to enable a healthy, positive me, and a healthy baby. Hopefully this helps other mamas-to-be out there.
My aim is to maximise my chances of an enjoyable, healthy pregnancy, creating a healthy baby, to retain a strong capable body, as well as to prepare for the physical act of birthing a baby.
- The main thing I did preconception was to take a prenatal multivitamin for at least 6 months prior (I used Thorne brand as they use methylated folate and other vitamins which are the active forms, and therefore better if your body is not good at the steps required to convert these vitamins to the active form, such as with MTFHR mutations). In addition to this, I took a few other supplements (see bottom of page for some of my preferred brands), which I am continuing during pregnancy. Unfortunately the kind of prenatal your doctor may recommend is just about the bare minimum to prevent some complications of pregnancy like neural tube defects. Most prenatal supplements miss out on other essential nutrients vital to optimal health, so women need to be informed about what else to take. I took a highly quality (i.e low toxin, low oxidation) Fish oil (omega 3s reduce inflammation and are vital for brain development), Vitamin D (which is actually a hormone, and vital to bone health, immunity, and inflammation levels. It reduces risk of autism, asthma, prematurity, gestational diabetes, and more), Vitamin K2 (for bone health, clotting and reducing birth deformities), and L-arginine (increases blood flow). I also took certain adaptogens like ashwaghanda.
- I took no alcohol/other substances, and halved my caffeine intake by replacing half with decaf.
- I tried to reduce stress as much as possible to send my body the message that all is safe to make a baby. That said, I conceived just after my father’s death, so go figure!
- The father’s health is also important prior to conception, so my husband look a male fertility supplement including (among other vital vitamins and minerals), zinc (supports healthy testosterone levels and sperm), acetyl-L-carnitine, COQ10 (protects sperm from oxidative stress), lycopene (antioxidant), as well as fish oil. He also reduced alcohol intake drastically.
- Eating healthy and staying fit is probably the hardest in the first trimester. Nausea made most food unpalatable to me, and I was too tired/fatigued to work out much. I went through A LOT of fresh ginger tea in these months, and I don;t know how I would have coped with the nausea without!
- In terms of food, I tried to eat as closely to I normally do as possible, but I was more inclined to eat more carbs (especially more fruit, I particularly enjoyed citrus fruit), and less meat. Apart from that, I stayed organic and gluten free.
- I tried to work out when I had the energy (things like Tabata sets if I had a lot of energy, otherwise yoga, weights and walks). I felt a lot weaker during strength training, and was easily fatigued, so I just took it slow, and just did what my body felt like. Something is better than nothing!
- In terms of supplements, during the pregnancy I’m continuing the prenatal supplement and the other ones mentioned above, and am also taking Vitamin C, NAC (associated with reduced risk of preterm delivery, and many other benefits), Sunflower lecithin (high in choline, vital for brain development), Glutamine (the most abundant amino acid in the body, and vital for the nervous system). and Acetyl-L-Carnitine (improves mitochondria function by supporting the transfer of raw energy sources into the mitochondria, and also increases levels of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine; as such, it is neuroprotective). I’ve also recently started taking turmeric/curcumin and CoQ10 for their anti-oxidant properties, Alpha GPC (another choline booster)and Probiotics (essential for the microbiome. The baby inherits your microbiome so it should be optimised during pregnancy).
- With the nausea mostly gone, I went back to eating how I normally do – a “paleo-ish”, organic diet, consisting of grass-fed meat, eggs (with runny yolks, which are full of nutrients and especially choline which is vital to brain development), lots of veggies, and healthy carbs like sweet potatoes, cassava, plantains, and small amounts of fruit.
- In terms of exercise, I have a lot more energy now! So I’m incorporating at least 3 long walks a week, yoga/stretching a few times a week, specific posture exercises, Kegels/pelvic floor exercises, weights, and occasional more intense cardio workouts. I’ve been feeling more strong and fit, and it feels really good to be active. The benefits include a lower risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, excess weight gain, premature labour, congenital deformities, and more. In addition, the benefits for babies is long-lasting, and includes improved cognition, lower anxiety, and lower risk of heart disease and diabetes in later life.
- Mindset – I’ve really prioritised meditation, and mindset training during this pregnancy. Some of the books I’ve been reading (listed below), emphasise the importance of relaxing, and letting go into labour (as stress/tension/fear can really impact on the progression of labour; a key example of the mind-body connection), so by practising and getting really good at it prior to labour with meditation, self hypnosis and visualisations you can really mentally prepare yourself for labour. These practices are helping me to to stay relaxed and healthy, now, and will also help me cope with the changes and stresses of having a child, and of life’s general ups and downs. It’s also really nice to be looking forward to birth as an exciting and potentially deeply spiritual event, rather than the unfortunate societal vision of fear and pain.
I haven’t reached the third trimester yet, but will be sure to post again on how that feels, and what I’m doing to prepare for birth!