Photo by Abi Porter from Babble
If you’re reading this, most likely you’re already or soon to be pregnant. And if that’s the case, I’m pretty confident this isn’t the first post you’ve read about how to maintain optimal health during pregnancy.
Beyond that, I would imagine that you have had conversations with your medical professionals about how to maintain health during pregnancy for you and your unborn child. Here we have a few “less traditional” pieces of advice for staying in great health during pregnancy.
Tune Out the Advice
Obviously, listen to your medical professional’s advice about how to keep your healthy during pregnancy strong, but beyond that, try to turn down the volume from outside observers. These people do have the best intentions, but you are going through a significant event in your life and should therefore be treated as such: sacred.
Take a break from the parenting blogs (I realize the irony here), put down the pregnancy books and tell your mother-in-law that you have another call coming in. No matter what, there will always be things you look back on and wish you had known, and that’s all part of the process. Just breathe.
Tune up Your Intuition
When I was pregnant with my son, I really tried to connect with my own inner sense of what felt good and what did not. If I was feeling tired, I slept. If I was feeling energetic, I went to the gym. If I was hungry for a second bowl of cereal, I went for it. Our bodies know how to do this, and if we listen, they will tell us what we need.
I exercised throughout my pregnancy, but the only physical activity that I would come to with joy on a daily basis was walking. My husband and I took long walks with our dog every day and I have to admit these walks were not only great for our relationship, but also prepared me for the insane amount of walking I would do during labor as well as following the birth of our son (walking was one of the only reliable ways to get him to fall asleep).
Eat Nourishing Food
I definitely indulged when I was pregnant, but I never felt more convicted to eat for healthy during pregnancy. I was keenly aware that every bite I took would nourish my son, so I wanted to make sure it was worthy. Eat fruits, and vegetables, and grains, and healthy fats. Consider your eating habits during pregnancy your first opportunity to show your child what a healthy diet looks like.
Prioritize the Health of Your Relationship
I know the constant advice of “Go on a date because you will NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN” gets old, but putting some extra effort into your relationship prior to the addition of a child is important. The most stressful and trying moments of my relationship with my husband came about at 3:00 in the morning over the screams of our son. Had we not had the foundation of a healthy relationship to fall back on, I’m not sure we would have been able to weather that storm.
I purchased a prenatal yoga video within minutes of finding out I was pregnant. Now granted, prenatal yoga is VERY different when you are four weeks pregnant instead of 40 weeks, but there was nothing more blissful than gentle stretching towards the end of pregnancy. Once again, listen to your intuition and only do the poses that feel good, but when they do, stick with them. Spend hours in them if you like.
This is easier said than done, but whenever you can, grab some shut eye. So much generative growth happens during sleep (I mean, babies sleep 90% of the day when they are newborns, and you see how fast they grow??), so allowing your body to sleep when it can not only helps you, but helps your baby’s growth and health during pregnancy.
If you can’t sleep in long stretches due to discomfort, do it in spurts. Invest in a pregnancy pillow. Create a space completely designated for restorative rest and spend as much time there as you can. And if you fall asleep while watching movies, that’s okay too.
Once again, you probably already know this, but your body needs water. Beyond the fact that it’s crucially important to keep hydrated for health during pregnancy, this sets the stage for healthy habits after the birth of your child.
If you choose to breastfeed after the baby is born, you need to doubly hydrate because your body is literally losing a large amount of liquid each feeding. My doctor told me that with each feeding, I should drink 10 oz. of water to replace what I was losing and that this would help me have more patience with my husband/dog/cable guy etc. It seriously worked. I had no idea being dehydrated could have such an impact on my patience, but that was the best advice I’ve ever received.
Love the baby. Love your partner. Love the world. Love yourself. The world is a scary place and sometimes the thought of bringing a baby into it can be terrifying. One of the best ways to maintain your sanity and mental health is to practice gratitude and take time to express love to those around you. It may not create peace in the Middle East (yet), but it will create a happier home for which to welcome your new child. Above all, love.