Recently I’ve been searching for a short, easy-to-read handout on nutrition and exercise. I was having trouble finding what I wanted…something that hit the high points, but wasn’t so detailed that no one would take the time to read it. Here’s what I came up with, though there is SO much more that could be said. I encourage each of you mama’s to research nutrition, supplements and exercise so that you know WHY you are doing what you’re doing for you and your baby!
During pregnancy, your body faces extra demands and nutritional needs. Making wise choices in caring for your physical needs can help to build a healthy baby, improve your energy levels, experience less complications during birth, and have a more rapid recovery. How is that for motivation?
There are many varied suggestions out there as far as pregnancy diet goes. While it is important for you to do your research and make the best choices for your particular situation, the following are a few principles to go by when it comes to what you eat:
– Major on high-quality protein. Protein helps to give you sustained energy, builds good skin integrity, and keeps your blood sugars in check. Some ideas include: Greek yogurt, cheese, nuts, nut butter, chia seeds, eggs, meat, and seeds.
– Consume a variety of vegetables, preferably organic whenever possible. This helps to provide you with more fiber, and the multitude of natural vitamins and minerals that vegetables contain.
– Add quality oils to your diet. Recent research has proven that quality fats are good for us, contrary to what we used to be told! Coconut oil, olive oil, and butter (esp. if it’s grass fed!) are examples of good fats to be consuming.
– Reduce your intake of carbs-especially simple carbs. While carbohydrates are good in moderation, they shouldn’t be considered the foundation of your diet. Carbohydrates tend to elevate blood sugar levels, as well as adding extra pounds to you and the baby during the last several months of pregnancy. When eating carbs, do your best to make sure they are made of whole grains whenever possible, which provide you with fiber and a slower sugar release. Using a variety of organic grains (such as oats, spelt, rye, etc.) are better choices than only consuming wheat products.
– Stay away from artificial sugars, and limit your intake of refined sugar. Try using maple syurp, honey, coconut sugar or other more natural-type sugars when you need something sweet!
– Try to limit fruit juices, and eat whole fruit instead.
– Keep healthy snacks on hand, so that it’s easiest to make good choices when you’re hungry!
Ideally, your nutritional needs should be met through a healthy, balanced diet. But most of us can still use a bit more help! The basis of your supplements should include a high-quality prenatal vitamin, one made from natural food sources instead of being chemically engineered. Seeking Health, New Chapter Organic, and Thorne Research are good brands, but there are more out there. Most moms are also lacking in sufficient calcium and magnesium, and I recommended taking a minimum of 1000 mg. of calcium each day. This can also help you to sleep better at night, and experience less muscle cramping and discomfort. Other supplements are normally suggested and added as needed, and we can discuss your particular needs during our prenatal visits.
In preparing for your labor and birth, it’s good to keep in mind that it is similar to preparing for a marathon. No one decides to run a marathon and then does it the next day-it takes lots of preparation and training for the big event. It’s much the same with giving birth. The more prepared and equipped your body is, the better able you’ll be able to handle the challenge and the easier your recovery will be. I highly recommend the following:
– Take a brisk walk at least 3 times each week, trying to go at least 1 mile in distance.
– Incorporate some type of exercise program (even just 10 min. long!) into your daily routine, and make it happen at least 3 times a week. There are many different 10 min. pregnancy workouts on youtube, and many other options you can take advantage of. A routine that incorporates lots of squats and leg-strengthening moves can be especially helpful in getting your body prepared for birth.
– Visit the “spinningbabies” website for information on daily exercises that encourage good alignment for mom and good positioning for baby. I have an excellent DVD on this subject that I encourage each of my clients to borrow and watch.
– Consider visiting a chiropractor during the last trimester to ensure your body is ready for birth!