We strive for a healthy, fit pregnancy for so many reasons, not just physical health. Pregnancy is a time of joy and personal growth, of beauty and discomfort, of stretching and changing, all wrapped up in the journey to meet a brand new little person. It’s not only about eating well and moving your body. It’s a whole-person effort.
By feeding both our bodies and our souls what they need along the way, we can enjoy pregnancy to its fullest and be as prepared as we can be for the life changes to come after the birth.
Healthy Pregnancy Nutrition
“Eating for two” is probably the phrase most commonly associated with pregnancy. Unfortunately, it’s a narrow and inaccurate representation of what eating well in a healthy, fit pregnancy looks like.
Instead of simply eating more, go for nutrient-dense foods that will increase the intake of important fats, minerals, and vitamins without turning into stress- or mindless-eating. You can also increase nutrient intake and hydration at the same time with an herb-rich pregnancy tea like Lady in Waiting.
- Try adding one big salad to your menu every day, and load it up with new veggies, nuts, and seeds every time.
- Go for at least a gallon of clear fluids each day. (Hint: a good pregnancy tea counts!)
- Be careful when indulging sweets and processed “foods.” It can get out of hand quickly and won’t actually satisfy any nutritional needs. Instead, go for fresh fruits or healthy homemade treats.
Morning sickness often makes nutrition a challenge, but it’s only a phase. Sip herbal teas, try some morning sickness remedies, and do your best to make good choices when you can eat.
Healthy Pregnancy Fitness
When choosing the proper exercises for a healthy, fit pregnancy, you have to keep your changing body in mind. Not only are your proportions and size changing, but your organs have moved, your muscles are stretching, your ligaments are loosening.
Walking and light swimming are good choices, as well as prenatal yoga. These exercises are low-impact and work with your changing body rather than challenging it in a stressful or dangerous way.
And don’t forget the invisible muscles! Your pelvic floor is like a woven basket of muscles that carry the organs in the pelvic area. A pelvic floor that is weakened can lead to incontinence and even affect birth and recovery. Kegel exercises to tense and release the pelvic floor are good, and even better when you also practice deep squatting exercises.
A simple but challenging Kegel exercise is to squeeze the pelvic floor (a bit like you are stopping a stream of urine) in increments – a little, then pause and hold, then a little more, pause and hold – envisioning an elevator going up to the top floor but stopping at every level. This helps you develop control of the muscles while strengthening them. It’s okay if you can’t feel much control right away. Keep trying as though you can – eventually it will get stronger!
- Enjoy moving your changing body!
- Take your loosened ligaments into consideration when choosing an exercise
- Don’t forget to Kegel and squat
The combination of a stronger bottom and pelvic floor will help prepare you for a healthy, fit pregnancy and birth.
Healthy Pregnancy Spirituality
This is the missing link in our pursuit of health. So often, we focus only on our physical needs and forget that health is a total-body package. Without spiritual and emotional well-being, we cannot be truly healthy. The same is true even more so during pregnancy, when our lives are changing so very drastically in a relatively short amount of time.
- Take some time to meditate on you and your growing baby, such as seeking a pregnancy heart word to guide you along the way.
- Don’t drop connections with people – it takes a village for both baby and you.
- Allow yourself to rest from the busyness of the season. You don’t have to do it all.
When we focus on a healthy, fit pregnancy, we can help to prevent some of the more unpleasant sides of the process. Pregnancy insomnia, for example, may be alleviated when you’re exercising regularly and eating nutrient rich foods. Your mind and body will adapt better to the later stages and to the rigors of birth when you’ve maintained a healthy, fit pregnancy throughout.
What are you doing (or did you do) to stay healthy and fit through your pregnancy? We’d love to chat here or on the Facebook page.