Every year in the United States there are an estimated 6 million pregnancies according to the American Pregnancy Association. Some of these end with bouncing bundles of joy, others end due to unexpected complications, and still others choose to end their pregnancies. In fact, out of these 6 million pregnancies, the American Pregnancy Association reports there are just over 4 million live births.
When it comes to having a baby there’s a lot to think about. Aside from the color of the nursery there are important issues to consider as soon as you know you’re pregnant – or even before you get pregnant. If you want to have a healthy, happy pregnancy and give your baby the best chance for a healthy delivery and life it’s vital to do a few things before you get pregnant or as soon as you find out.
Do no harm.
Of course any woman who wants to have a baby automatically knows not to do any harm. But many mistakenly overlook some of the most important points. It’s vital to quit smoking, drinking alcohol, caffeine, using drugs (prescribed or street drugs), or engaging in any other behaviors that aren’t good for you. Once you’re pregnant what you do to yourself you do to your baby. Get rid of the bad habits first and foremost.
Eat real food.
Many women look forward to the days of pregnancy when they can eat anything and everything they see. This simply isn’t the best approach for a healthy pregnancy. Gaining too much weight isn’t good for mom or baby. Excess weight at childbirth can complicate the end stages of pregnancy, delivery, and even the recovery period we refer to as post-partum.
Then there are those women on the other side. Those who dread the weight gain and skimp on meals in fear of getting ‘fat.’ This is a huge mistake too. If you’re ready to become a mom (or think you are) now’s the time to stop putting yourself and your own wants first. It’s vital to consider the health of the baby, not your own growing waistline. Many women find if they’re active after giving birth and they breastfeed, the weight slips away painlessly.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women who are average weight at the onset of pregnancy gain about twenty-five to thirty-seven pounds during the entire pregnancy.
It’s vital when you’re pregnant (as well as before and after pregnancy) to eat a balanced healthy diet loaded with toxin free, natural, fresh foods. This means lots of locally grown fruits and veggies. You should also eat hormone free, free range meats like chicken, beef, and eggs. Eat whole sprouted grains, not processed and refined grains. Opt for nuts, seeds, legumes, and more that Mother Nature has given us to eat.
It’s extremely important to avoid all fake or highly processed and refined foods. These are the bagged, boxed foods that line the grocery store shelves and pack the freezer aisles. Choose foods that are fresh and whole, not processed. These fake foods contain additives, preservatives, unhealthy oils, dyes, and more toxins you don’t want your baby to have. Protect them in the womb to give them a healthy start.
Do real exercise.
If you already exercise then keep going as long as your OB/GYN or midwife says it’s okay. Be honest with her or him about what exactly you do at the gym or during your fitness workout. If they advise you to stop or slow down – do it! This isn’t the time to take unnecessary risks. Like I said, there will be years and years to exercise once the baby is born. Don’t risk it now. Sometimes pregnant women are asked to scale back on certain exercises. If you can’t engage in your tried and true exercise try to alternate with walking or some other mild activity that your doctor gives the okay to do. You may discover something new and different that you absolutely love.
It’s also a good time to consider what type of exercises you can do with the baby once he or she arrives safe and sound. Jogging? Walking? Hiking? Start them now and when baby’s ready bring them along!
However, if up to this point you haven’t exercised, consider beginning a low impact exercise program. Consult with your doctor first then get started. Power walking, easy hikes, or a yoga/pilates fusion are a great way to get fresh air and some needed exercise while pregnant. Get creative and don’t be afraid to try out activities you previously wouldn’t consider.
Take real vitamins.
During this time of your life your body (and your baby’s) has a greater need for certain vitamins and minerals. Many prenatal vitamins contain exactly what you need. Be sure to take these vitamins but don’t settle for a low quality vitamin. These cost a bit more but are more easily digested and absorbed by the body than their synthetic counterparts. I recommend Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code Prenatal Vitamins.
Some women have trouble tolerating large vitamins. If that’s the case for you, consider liquid vitamins or individual supplements for folic acid, iron, and the other vital vitamins and minerals needed in pregnancy.
It’s also crucial during this time to up your intake of foods containing the specific vitamins and minerals you need. This is actually your best source.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists there are certain minerals and vitamins pregnant women, nursing women, and those hoping to get pregnant should consider. Check out the following list to see those:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B1 – thiamine
- Vitamin B2 – riboflavin
- Vitamin B3 – niacin
- Vitamin B6
- Beta Carotene
- Folic acid
Eat foods rich in these vitamins and take your prenatal vitamins.
There’s no doubt about it, now’s the time to rest up. You may be in for some sleepless nights in the months ahead so take the time now to nurture and care for yourself. It’s essential to be getting plenty of sleep during this time. Prioritize the items on your ‘to do’ list and put sleep close to the top.
There’s almost no other experience in life that will put you in awe of the greatness of our Maker. When you experience pregnancy and childbirth even the biggest skeptics begin to believe in a Higher Power and miracles. Childbirth is truly a miracle and getting to experience it first hand is powerful.
When you’re pregnant you can really begin to nurture your connection to God. It’s during this time that a miracle is taking place within your body. Tap into this and you’ll gain peace, wisdom, and feel surrounded by the greatest love of all.
Whether you attend church, synagogue, meditate, or simply spend time in nature connecting with your Creator pregnancy is a great time to deepen this connection or re-connect.
Having a healthy, vibrant pregnancy in large is up to you. If you follow these steps along with whatever your health care practitioner advises you it can be the best nine months of your life. Enjoy this precious time, a miracle is occurring.
Dr. Axe's Action Steps
- Start to read up on delivery options, vaccines, pregnancy tests, and decide what is best for you.
- Make the changes needed to help your baby get the healthiest start possible.
- Evaluate your lifestyle following the 6 steps above.
- Visit your OB/GYN or midwife as soon as you know you’re pregnant and follow any directions he or she provides.