Pregnancy brings so much joy and excitement as we experience the miracle of making and bringing another life into the world. It can also come with a host of other experiences like nausea, acne, headaches, backaches, bloating, constipation, fatigue, sleeplessness, and irritability. Fun right? Did you know that living the proper lifestyle before, during, and after pregnancy can help women overcome and possibly even avoid a lot of these symptoms? I know this because I live it—I was one of the lucky ones who had a healthy pregnancy and enjoyed almost every moment. How did I get so “lucky,” you ask? I gave my body and my baby the right environment to grow!
- Detox: I started off by preparing my body a year or so before conception with a detox and gut healing program at Forum Health Clarkston, where I’ve worked as a Nutritionist since 2017.
- Activity: As fitness instructor, I have been active with cardio, weight training, and yoga for many years and was able to continue this through my entire pregnancy. Regular activity boosts energy and supports sleep. It also soothes stress and anxiety—two major ailments during pregnancy.
- Food: A lot of women begin eating for two a little too early when they become pregnant. The choices of food you make while pregnant will go a long way in preventing too much weight gain, helping your energy level, and balancing your blood sugar. Choose mostly organic foods, lean protein, lots of fruits and vegetables, and fiber. You’ll want to speak with your doctor about when to increase calories.
- In addition to food, hydration becomes extremely important during pregnancy. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. During pregnancy your body needs even more water than it does when you’re not pregnant. Dehydration can lead to a lot of the headaches most women experience at one time or another during the nine months as well as other issues.
In addition to the bothersome symptoms of pregnancy, scarier and more serious symptoms can occur throughout pregnancy such as preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, or gestational diabetes. Not all of these can be avoided as genes can play a role, but by eating the right type and amount of foods, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, moving your body every day, and making sure you are combating stress with a healthy de-stressing routine such as yoga, meditation, or a fun activity, you can have a much healthier, happier pregnancy.
Newborns are so very fragile, but as their immune systems begin to develop, as the gut health begins to form, as you begin to feed solids, many other uncomfortable things can arise for babies with their health. Many babies suffer with a condition called “colic” where the baby can become very fussy, upset, and have long drawn out periods of crying. Many babies experience digestive issues at an early age with things like constipation, gassiness, and or acid reflux. Due to babies’ immunity still developing, they can become sick easily and even get into territory like RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) which can be extremely dangerous to little ones but seem like a normal cold or flu for an adult. Infants can also suffer with frequent ear infections which can lead to antibiotic use at a very young age and this unfortunately wipes out any good bacteria they may have and lessens immunity even more.
Health Begins in Utero!
I have been extremely blessed and lucky that my daughter has not had any of these issues! As she approaches six months of age, she is thriving, happy, and very healthy! I truly believe that health begins in utero and so what you eat, drink, put on your skin, inhale- all of this gets to the baby. They begin to taste in utero at about 13-15 weeks old and so if you live on sugar and processed foods, guess what baby is going to want when you start adding solids in? I made sure to start a prenatal vitamin three months pre-conception to get my body ready for her and have continued taking it today while breastfeeding. My prenatal is a tested and certified product that also includes other wonderful nutrients for babies such as choline and omega 3 fish oil to decrease neural tube defect risk and increase brain health. Over the counter prenatals often don’t have the right type of nutrients so you really have to be careful when choosing one. I have also been on a probiotic for over 2 years myself, but as soon as Piper was born, I started giving her baby probiotics as well as Vitamin D to help her immune system and gut develop.
Breast Milk is Best!
I have also been fortunate enough to be able to exclusively breastfeed her from day one. There is so much research on what breast milk does for a developing baby and how important it is. Breast milk can protect baby from allergies and eczema, decrease digestive issues, reduce risk of respiratory viruses and ear infections, lessen risk of SIDS, can increase baby’s IQ, prevents obesity later in life, and creates a very comforting bond for mom and baby to share. Not every woman is willing or able to breastfeed for various reasons so if formula feeding is a necessity, they do make organic formulas, which I would highly recommend.
Next month, solids get to come into the picture for us and I am planning on making my own homemade baby food from organic fruits and vegetables, but I will be offering vegetables first to avoid giving her palate sugar as her first food. There are so many incredible resources on how to do this easily, affordably, and conveniently.
All we can do as parents is our best for us and for our children. I’m so lucky that I have the knowledge that I do to be able to have given her the right tools to thrive, grow, and be my healthy, happy little bug! I am so glad that I pass all of this information on to my own clients as they go through a pregnancy so they can hopefully have a similar outcome. If you are interested in getting your body prepared for pregnancy or getting yourself healthy during any stage of pregnancy, I would love to work with you.
Brittany Golden is a certified Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Forum Health Clarkston!