I am nearing the end of pregnancy, and I’m really excited to get to hold my little guy! This pregnancy has definitely been a little more difficult than my first as I’ve had to chase an active two year old, deal with the summer heat, prepare our family to move (still not sure if the baby will come before or after moving day… that’s how soon we’re moving. Yikes!) and continue working from home.
Despite feeling a little more “pooped” I still have been blessed with a great pregnancy. Part of that is luck and part of that is preparation. And that’s why today I want to share some of my favorite natural approaches to pregnancy.
Of course, every pregnancy is different… and every woman is different. What works for me may not be the best for you. And I’m sure there are things missing on this list that are a must for others. But if you are newly pregnant, trying to conceive, or just stashing info away for “someday” I hope this guide will help you navigate your way through pregnancy with ease and power.
My favorite things for a healthy, natural pregnancy
Real food nourishment/Supplements
In my opinion, nutrition and movement are two of the most critical aspects of a healthy pregnancy… and healthy baby. And while we can’t control every outcome or guarantee that there will be no issues, getting the nourishment your body (and baby) needs during those nine months (and before) is essential.
What to eat and why: Rather than give a whole list of foods to consume, I’d suggest picking up one of these two books to give you a really good foundation of what your body needs to nourish your baby and why:If you’ve been around my blog before you know that I don’t subscribe to any one particular diet. I personally believe that getting the right kind of nourishment requires diligence and specific nutrients that may not align with your nutritional beliefs. So whether you take these recommendations or not, be sure to be smart with what goes in your body for the sake of your baby.
While I believe the best nutrition comes from whole foods, I do think there is a time and place for supplements, as long as those supplements are of good quality. GMOs, synthetic vitamins, and other additives in many supplements make them useless at best and dangerous at worst. When I’m looking for a supplement I choose organic, whole food supplements. I also check the “other” ingredient list carefully. I also make sure that I’m getting folate instead of folic acid for the reasons lists here.
Leg cramps are a common issue for many during pregnancy, and I started to experience them about half-way through this one. Thankfully my midwife recommended these mineral drops. Not only do they provide essential nutrition to our body, but my leg cramps went away within a matter of days. (You can find them here.) They are something I will continue to use beyond pregnancy for sure.
I believe in the power of movement. I especially believe that when we are regularly active that it makes for a much easier birth and recovery. And I admit, this time around I am no where near as diligent as I was during my first pregnancy (which, hello… I wasn’t working and didn’t have a toddler… so yeah). But still, I make an effort to keep my body active.
For me, prenatal yoga was my favorite type of exercise. It strengthens the body, prepares your mind, focuses on breath (which is huge for labor), and opens the body. Here are a few recommendations:
This is my favorite pre-natal DVD ever. Although, if you are new to yoga it may be a little difficult. For those who practice somewhat regularly, though, this DVD set it gold. Lots of different workouts to fit your schedule and they are good. (Find it online here.)
Other great prenatal yoga DVDs:
I also highly recommend getting an exercise ball if you don’t already have one. Sitting on it while doing subtle adjustments and weight shifts helps strengthen the pelvic floor. Lying down with your upper back supported by the ball helps open the chest and keep the spine happy. (Find one online here.)
And remember, you don’t have to spend money to be active. Walking, stretching, weight training (if you know what you are doing), and swimming are just some of the other options available to you. The point is: Keep moving and do what feels good.
I don’t think there is a time in my life when I submerged myself more into reading than during my first pregnancy. In fact, I may have gone a little overboard and filled my head with so many ideas and ideals that I lost a little of my own intuition. (Not something I recommend). BUT, I do believe that preparing yourself for the changes that lie ahead through pregnancy, labor, and birth is a good idea. Here are just some of my favorite prenatal reads:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
I love, love, LOVE this book. The birth stories alone are worth the price. Nothing else made me feel more aware of the process of labor while at the same time give me some insight into how different each experience can be than this book. Read it.
What can I say? I love Ina May. I did take a breastfeeding class before giving birth, but it was nothing compared to what I learned from this book. I especially loved how this book helped me relax a little during the nursing process (which can be really hard at first).
Other books I enjoyed:
And while this isn’t really a “pregnancy” book, it’s a great one for anyone interested in their own fertility:
One of the most important things I think mothers can do to better ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth is to rid their homes and lives of unnecessary toxins. The developing fetus is both a powerful miracle and vulnerable person. Making sure we aren’t loading our bodies with toxins is critical. Here are some ideas to help you:
Replace your cleaning and beauty products with diy all natural ones. (Check out my free recipes here.)
And if you are ready to completely change your home, check out my e-book All Natural Living. With over 70 recipes you can eliminate all toxic products in your home and save money by doing it! (Learn more here.)
Support and Comfort
Finally, let’s not forget that pregnancy can get a little… uncomfortable. This is an area where individual preferences will differ, but here are a few little gems that can help with some of the aches and pains of growing a human being.
One of the first signs of pregnancy is tender breasts. And that’s just the beginning. From that first few weeks of pregnancy until your little one begins to wean, you’ll notice that “the girls” will get larger and more sensitive. That’s why I love my coobie bras. For starters it’s not a specific sized bra so it can adjust to the “growing” factor. And underwire bras are not good for nursing (or your lymphatic system in general). These bras are inexpensive, comfortable, and supportive. (Of course, I’d read the reviews thoroughly before making a purcahse. I’m pretty small chested and if you are “better endowed” it might not be the best fit for you.) You can find them online here.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t used a pregnancy pillow myself… mostly because I’m cheap and I already own a bajillion pillows that I coordinate to do the same thing. But if I were just starting out again, I’d invest in one of these. Less hassle, and more specifically designed to support you belly and help you get the sleep you need (until you start peeing all night long, of course.)
Again, this is something I haven’t used… for which I’m grateful. I think the best way to stay supported is to stay active and do prenatal yoga to enhance your own natural muscular support. However, if you experience back pain then this little guy might be a really good investment to keep your centered and feeling good.
There you have it. Some of my recommendations for a safe and natural pregnancy. What would you add to the list?