Whether it’s your first or your fourth child, pregnancy can sometimes seem a little restrictive. No soft cheese, no big fish, no caffeine, no raw eggs – the list goes on and on. The endless limitations can send you googling “What CAN I eat during pregnancy?” As you become more aware of what you can and cannot put into your body, you’ll inevitably encounter research on diet and pregnancy and it’ll open up the Pandora’s Box of lifestyle changes. While we won’t get into a debate on cloth diapering and other “hippie” styles of parenting, I do love to give those listening a little education on how to have a healthy pregnancy (and a healthy baby). Here are a few fundamentals that you can consider as you do your research into living well during your pregnancy.
Since it’s what started the conversation, and food is your fuel for growing your baby, I thought we should discuss this one first. Eating clean and knowing what foods trigger inflammation in the body is one of the most important aspects of growing a healthy baby. It’s an obvious statement, but as a reminder: baby gets all of his or her nutrition from you, so making sure you’re putting in things that provide baby with the most nutrients is key. You’ll want to be a little more wary of artificial ingredients, aware of the source of your produce, and avoid processed foods where possible. Do you have to eat completely 100% clean 24 hours a day? Not necessarily. Cravings happen. Though be sure you’re not having weird pregnancy cravings – which could mean that you’re deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients. Eating things like eggs, salmon, sweet potatoes, whole grains, walnuts, leafy veggies, lean meats and colorful fruits and veggies is a perfect start. Consider how your body is reacting to foods you eat, though, as some foods can cause inflammation during pregnancy.
Drugs and Chemicals.
Keeping your body as free from chemicals and drugs as you can is a great way to ensure that your baby will grow to be healthy and strong. While a simple Google search will yield hundreds of charts providing lists of approved medications for pregnancy, you’ll want to be sure that you’re paying attention to symptoms you’re experiencing rather than just covering those symptoms up with drugs. Constipation? Look at your diet. Itching? Consider the fact that you may be inflamed because of a food allergy. Heartburn? Eat small, well-spaced meals throughout the day, and consider limiting acids. Headaches and swelling during pregnancy often have to do with hydration. Where possible, be proactive to discover the source of the ailment before you take the reactive approach and take medicine. Consider the same approach as you research the chemicals that you put on your body on an every day basis. Natural alternatives are available for body washes, lotions and even deodorant. The less chemicals that you’re putting into your body, the less toxins you expose your baby to.
Aches and pains will inevitably begin to happen in your back and joints as the pregnancy hormone Relaxin kicks in later in the first trimester. As we discussed above, you don’t necessarily need to default to Tylenol. Chiropractic care can help with many pregnancy symptoms, including headaches, back pain, in addition to helping your system communicate with less interruption. On a daily basis I encounter patients who have experienced great relief and even improved subsequent pregnancies by starting chiropractic care. Putting your body into properly alignment is one of the best things you can do to prepare for labor and help your baby to grow properly in the womb.
Not everyone is like you. Some go through their pregnancies with guidance from their care provider without much research as to what can help to enhance the process and the development of their child. But you might be a little different. You might live a little more proactively. When it comes to pregnancy, do what’s best for you. Remember that exercise, diet, and everything that you put into your body will have an effect on your baby. Knowing this, living well and being proactive with regard to your research and daily approach to life will make for a much more pleasant pregnancy.