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Three Important Ways to Achieve a Healthy Pregnancy
My Pregnancy Experience
When pregnant, it can be difficult to sift through good and bad information to make the best choices for you and your developing baby. My pregnancy was a very “magnetic” experience so to speak. People were naturally drawn to me, offering their unsolicited advice, both good and bad or simply giving me feedback that didn't necessarily apply to me.
Whether women were jealous of my rigid self control with food or concerned that I wore high heels from beginning to end, the bottom line is a pregnant woman has to trust her instincts and do what is right for her. With that said, yes, I am contradicting myself by providing advice; however, I hope that some aspect of this article will be useful to other pregnant women.
About a year before my husband and I decided it was time to start our family, I read the book, The Fastest Way to Get Pregnant Naturally by Christopher Williams. The funny thing is I found this book at a Dollar Tree store, and yet it has given me some of the most valuable information. When it came to adopting a diet, the book suggested eating healthy and balanced meals and maintaining a normal weight.
6 months prior to getting pregnant I began a raw food diet with the exception of eating whole grain carbohydrates and dairy that were minimally processed, natural or organic since making these types of foods from scratch can be time-consuming. Starting this diet 6 months in advance of getting pregnant was important to me; I wanted to give my body time to create nutrients and get rid of any toxins before it was time to start conceiving.
When I did become pregnant (which was on the third try), I was astonished that I had absolutely no cravings for junk food. It’s difficult to say why, but I truly believe it was because I started the raw food diet so far in advance of getting pregnant. The things I craved most were healthy foods, like fruit and salmon.
Over the course of my pregnancy I gained 35 pounds, gaining 25 to 35 pounds (according to Kaiser Permanente) is considered normal. The smaller you are pre-pregnancy the more you will need to gain. My typical meals throughout the week, which I recommend consisted of fruits high in antioxidants, colorful vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and probiotic dairy. If I ever did have a sweet tooth, I resorted to frozen Greek yogurt as my “ice cream” fix.
A Pre-Pregnancy Must Read
Diet During Pregnancy
Did you change your diet when you became pregnant?
Easy and Healthy Meals
- Cut up apple or pear and cinnamon over oatmeal
- Egg whites and 2% fat cheese
- Kale salad with homemade olive oil and vinegar dressing
- Peanut butter and jelly (without added sugar) sandwich
- Salmon with brown rice and steamed broccoli
- Baked chicken and red potatoes with cooked spinach
- Handful of walnuts
- Mixture of blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (these are also great over oatmeal
- Frozen Greek yogurt
- Baby carrots
- Granola bar
The Raw Food Diet
Pregnancy Diet Tips
- In addition to eating healthy during your pregnancy, drink lots of water. On average, drinking about a gallon of water each day is excellent. Caffeine free herbal teas are also great, especially hibiscus tea.
- Never drink alcohol or caffeine and never smoke.
- Follow the American Pregnancy Association's guidelines on eating fish to avoid consuming the allotted amount of mercury for pregnant women.
Every woman is very different when it comes to exercising during pregnancy. Some ladies can run marathons while others can barely catch a breath walking. Having a single developing baby as opposed to twins or more definitely makes a difference as well.
I always enjoyed walking, so when I was pregnant with my daughter, I loved to walk on my lunch breaks during the workweek. In the evening, I did light cardio at the gym such as using the stair stepper, elliptical machine or walking on an incline on the treadmill. Light weight lifting on my arms and legs was also a great way to keep active and strong. During the weekend, I stayed active doing chores around the house like cleaning and light gardening.
The key is that some form of exercise is important. Even if it’s just stretching or getting up and walking for only 10 minutes, keeping up stamina get women more prepared for the big day and keeps their blood circulating. Sometimes, taking a class can be more motivating for some people; consider pregnancy yoga.
For women that do have the energy and if your doctor approves, I highly recommend staying as close to your normal pre-pregnancy workout routine as much as possible. If you are planning on getting pregnant and do not currently exercise, now is the time to start.
Mind Your Media
These days, it’s very easy to frighten yourself with youtube videos, documentaries, articles, and TV shows surrounding pregnancy and birth. All different types of media can sensationalize one true story of a very rare situation and make it seem more probable or dramatize an incident to make it seem worse than it really was. I remember when I was in a birthing class, one of the attendants who had anxiety was actually “prescribed” by her doctor to avoid reading or watching anything regarding pregnancy and birth other than what her doctor recommended.
Similarly, I highly encourage women to be informed, but be mindful of the sources they choose for information about pregnancy and birth. I have found that BabyCenter, WebMD, and The Bump are all great online sources. However, don’t get too caught up in forums for answers, as every woman experiences a different pregnancy and birth. Questions meant for your doctor should be just that – ask her instead rather than a group of strangers in a forum. And when it comes to WebMD, don’t go too crazy with the Symptom Checker. Have your doctor review any symptoms that worry you.
I also enjoyed reading Tia Mowry's book, Oh, Baby! This book was great on all levels from questions to ask your doctor to what to put on your baby registry.
Additionally, one of the best sources for information next to that of a doctor are newsletters and pamphlets from your healthcare provider. For me, this was through Kaiser Permanente in the form of newsletters. I signed up for weekly newsletters via email that told me how my daughter was developing, precautions to take, dieting, exercise and even things to discuss with my husband.
These little emails were a fantastic source of information for me. I even developed my own hierarchy for how to value information as it came. If something I read or watched online contradicted with the newsletters from Kaiser Permanente, I knew it was best to uphold the information outlined in the newsletters.
Oh, Baby! by Tia Mowry
5 Months After Birth
At five months postpartum, I weigh 115 pounds at 5 feet even. Most people are surprised and assume I’m babysitting when I am out with my little one. Others ask what I did to be back down to my high school weight. It really comes down to three simple things: Healthy eating habits that align with a raw food diet, staying active without overdoing it, and making sure to get information from reliable sources.
So next time someone tells you there’s no turning back the clock on having a great body post-pregnancy, just remember it all comes down to choices. Choose the right foods, activity and lifestyle for you and make yourself feel empowered by being able to take control of your own pregnancy and birth rather than focusing on what others tell you.