Self Care for a Healthy Pregnancy
Before during and after pregnancy, self care ceases being a luxury and becomes a medical necessity. Preparing for and recovering from pregnancy should be the same as training for and recovering from a major athletic event like a marathon or an Iron man (one that lasts 18-24 months!). Your body needs the same sort of support. In China, after birth, a mother is not allowed to get out of bed for a month! She is fed healing soups and tonics to help her regain her strength and heal her body. Since that is not the culture we are immersed in, it is even more important that we find ways to fortify and replenish ourselves throughout the pregnancy cycle. Here are my suggestions!
1. Get acupuncture. Before during and after your pregnancy, acupuncture and herbs can help with;
-- fertility issues
-- balancing your hormones
-- building and restoring your resources (blood, qi, energy)
-- stress management and anxiety
-- muscle pain
-- morning sickness
-- lower leg swelling
-- sleep problems
-- heartburn and more
In addition to increasing your odds of a natural pregnancy, acupuncture has been shown to be effective partner for IUI and IVF treatment-- recent studies show a 26% increase in conception rates when acupuncture was used in conjunction with western fertility treatments.
2. You cannot be on a diet. You cannot be on a diet before, during or after your pregnancy. For starters you need somewhere around 20% body fat for optimal fertility. And your body needs healthy fat, protein, and carbs to build the resources it needs to create a human being from scratch. It needs resources to carry you through birth, and it needs resources to recover. You cannot do this on green juice and salad. Healthy eating is not one size fits all. There is a big difference between a cleansing diet and a building one. And you need to be on a building diet through the pregnancy cycle. You do this by eating lots and lots of healthy fats and cooked veggies (not raw) and adding carbs back into your diet and upping your red meat intake (if you eat meat, if not I would recommend some blood building herbs). Think comfort food. Think stick to your ribs. Healthy of course, but real substantial food to build strength and endurance, as if you were training for or recovering from an athletic event...because you are!
3. Manage Stress. I know, easier said than done! But in my experience, stress is one of the main obstacles to conception, a smooth pregnancy, and recovery. Basic neurology dictates that our central nervous systems are either in “fight or flight” or “rest and digest”. When in fight or flight, all bodily functions not directly related to our ability to survive are switched off. Non-essential bodily functions include digestion, immune function (including tissue repair!) and you guessed it, reproduction. One of the best things you can do before after and during pregnancy is find ways to alleviate stress. That is going to look different for everyone. It may mean working less, or turning your phone off on the weekends, or cultivating a yoga or meditation practice, or gardening or spending time alone. Truly, whatever works. But spend more time in “rest and digest”. Not only will you have an easier pregnancy, but you will improve your overall health.