Let me just start by saying that I wish each woman the happiest, healthiest, and easiest pregnancy and delivery possible!
I’ll also add a disclaimer at the beginning of this post, since when it comes to matters of nutrition, health, and supplements, there are as many opinions as there are products, and many of those opinions can get quite heated! But fortunately for me, I am the one who is composing this blog post, so you’ll get to hear MY opinions, and how I came to them. ;] Although I do plenty of research for the choices I make, I also rely heavily on what “feels right” to me in my decision making. Because every woman and situation is different, I am a huge advocate of both of these things! Do your own research, do NOT just take my word for it! & use your own judgment! A mother’s instinct is a powerful thing. ;]
I would also like to say that it is important to discuss supplements you intend to take during your pregnancies with your health care provider. However, there is a disclaimer to that as well. Most healthcare providers have not been trained in herbs, vitamins, and their affects and benefits on the human body. A lot of these medical professionals have also not been trained extensively on nutritional needs, and honestly a lot of their schooling and knowledge in these things is somewhat limited and dated. Since they operate in a world of medicine, that is what they know well. Does that make sense? I have nothing against doctors! I think they’re wonderful, and a great resource to have! I am simply noting to you that you cannot rely on your doctor to do all of your research for you, or to make all of your family’s health decisions for you. :]
Okay! Let’s get started, shall we? ;]
My Secret Weapons of Pregnancy! [First and Second Trimester Edition] (there will be a whole post on third trimester secrets coming later!)
These are “secrets” that I would LOVE to shout from the roof-top! Being a huge supporter of natural birth, I would love to make the whole experience more enjoyable, attainable, and effective for every single woman out there! A healthy baby is what we all want, but is a smooth delivery too much to hope for? I don’t think it is. We’ll address the emotional preparation for it another day, but today I want to focus on boosting your pregnancy power! ;]
Prepare before you conceive:
Having a happy healthy pregnancy can be more attainable if you prepare for it ahead of time! I encourage any young lady who is preparing for marriage, or who is even starting to THINK about children to start preparing NOW. The longer your body has to store up vitamins and build up healthy nutrition, the better things will go for you in your pregnancy! This is especially important for mothers who already have children. With your first baby, your body had (?? 20+ years maybe?) to store up the vitamins and nutrition it would need to produce an exceptional and healthy child! Growing a human being takes quite a toll on your body, though, and conscious thought should be put into replenishing those lost (but certainly not wasted) nutrients. Calcium and magnesium, iron (naturally- I discourage the use of iron suppliments), along with B vitamins, C complex vitamins, and vitamin A should be readily available. Many of these things can be found in whole grains (not the store-bought kinds- sorry!), red meats, chicken, fish, vegetables, deep greens, whole RAW milk, real cheese, and other such natural foods. Getting enough protein is a necessity in any stage of life, and it is scarily neglected in our day-to-day food consumption!
I very much recommend the book “Let’s Have Healthy Children” By Adelle Davis for health and nutrition advice. While she tends to come across a little strong in her beliefs, I still think there is good to be taken from her book! Besides. Who can really find a book they agree 100% with? ;] It is a wonderful guide to preparing for conception, pregnancy nutritional needs, preparing for a healthy delivery, and the benefits of breast feeding. It even includes a nutritionally sound baby formula recipe, for those unable to breast feed their child for whatever reason. The book is no longer in print, but I found mine on amazon.com, and they do still have them available there from time to time.
I also recommend finding yourself a good prenatal vitamin to start on before you plan to conceive. It can take vitamins a little while before your body is absorbing the full affects of them, and then there’s that pesky fact that the first 4 weeks of pregnancy one is generally unaware of the existence of the baby. ;] Since those first 4 weeks are vital in the aspect of cells splitting and splitting and splitting again to form your wee one, already being on a multi-vitamin that supplies the demand suddenly put on your body is a really good idea. ;]
*The prenatal vitamin that I currently take is not actually labeled a “prenatal” vitamin. It’s a women’s multi vitamin that is well balanced and very well conducted. It was designed for women’s needs specifically, and is chocked full of little extras that promote energy, beauty, and over all health. I chose to use it for a prenatal vitamin because it supplies all of the basic needs that I feel prenatal vitamins should meet. It also contains the B vitamin folate, which I prefer over the synthetic version folic acid. These pills are called “super mom,” and are available >>Here<<. (I get the vcaps instead of the tablets because they are easier for me to swallow… I have to take twice as many for a daily recommended dosage, but that’s okay to me since swallowing tablets while not feeling my best does NOT work for me!)
(forgive the cellphone quality pictures. My DSLR is on loan to my mother right now. heh)
In the first few weeks of pregnancy:
Now, I will be the last person in the world to tell a mama in her first trimester that she needs to adhere to a strict diet. Mostly because my two pregnancies have been SOOOOOO different from each other! In my first pregnancy, I was hungry ALL the time. I loved cottage cheese (great source of protein) and spinach (great source of iron), and would eat them together with seasoned salt on top for a snack almost every day. I also loved muffins of any kind, and Mexican food! (I had to watch that a bit! haha) Now this current pregnancy (my second) has been completely the opposite! From about 6 weeks, I have been at the mercy of whatever food choice sounds like it might go down and stay down! (although luckily I haven’t vomited yet) I am not hungry very often, and have been eating small amounts every few hours because feeling full makes me feel just not pleasant at ALL. I just cringed and shuddered typing about cottage cheese and spinach, as I can hardly stand the THOUGHT- let alone the taste- of those things this time around! I have had to become creative with snacking, and I have been eating a lot of soup because it’s so easy on the digestive system. :] The point being that in these first few weeks, I would say its probably okay to eat what you need to eat to keep going- ESPECIALLY if you’re throwing everything up! But if you can try to steer towards things like protein and away from empty carbs (things made with white flower and starch), you will probably feel much better.
First Trimester Tips and tricks:
*If your morning sickness is quite bad, try to just eat something like toast that’s dry, just a few bites every 15 mins or so. Keeping your stomach from getting empty is a good way to avoid making your “morning sickness” worse.
*Have hubby grill some chicken tenders and put it in the fridge for you to pull out and gnaw on with some whole wheat bread, and something fatty like mayo if you can handle it. Protein is what you need to keep going, and the good carbs give you fuel. A lot of women prefer dryer meat during this time of the pregnancy.
*Find something you can drink. Anything. And sip it out of a straw. Avoid carbonated beverages, but natural juices can be a very good thing. Whole raw milk is wonderful if you like it! (You can’t possible get too much calcium in your system while growing a baby or breast feeding) If you can’t keep down a whole lot of liquids, try making your own popsicles! That can be an easier way of getting some liquids to settle on a queasy stomach.
*Frozen greek yogurt. I got mine in squeeze-tubes, and popped them in the freezer. They’re an easy snack for you or the kiddos! [Protein! yay! haha]
*Suck on a mint, or a lemon drop! Hard candy helps, true story. If you like ginger, then get ginger chews or ginger candies to suck on.
*Take your vitamins with a meal or snack close to bed time. In the first few weeks, vitamins made me feel sleepy and a little yucky! So taking them before bed allowed me to sleep through those unpleasant side affects, and wake up to the energy they provided.
When you start to feel better:
This can happen anywhere between 10-15 weeks, normally. & my, is it a glorious feeling! ;] This is the time to start being more conscious about having an adequate diet!
Things to consider-
*My first thought when I started to pay attention to getting exceptional nutrition when I was pregnant was “My goodness. The grocery bill is ridiculous! Is it worth it?” The answer is “YES!” Do you have to spend a fortune to be healthy? No. But good food does cost money! The reason health has declined so dramatically in our country is because its so much CHEAPER for manufacturers to produce a product that is less natural, full of preservatives, and made with chemical-filled ingredients we can’t even pronounce. We buy those products because, well, they’re cheaper! Right? & we don’t think about it that we pay the price later on for saving money on good solid food. Medicine and emergency doctor visits, just for example. Beyond that, we must remember that we’re building the foundation of something that will be permanent- a little human being that will continue to grow on the outside of us. Would you build your new house with cheaper products, intending to live there for many, many years? Well, if you did I bet you would soon realize that the cost of repairs and replacements throughout the house as it aged would have been avoided had you spent a little more on quality building pieces to begin with. As Adelle Davis said in one of her other nutritional books “There is nutrition that maintains, and there is nutrition that grows.” Basically she was saying, as an adult you may be able to get away with faulty nutrition that barely maintains the health of your body (until your body becomes under stress, that is), but little people are growing and growing! They need sound enough nutrition to GROW, and to grow in health. Brain growth and development, bone and muscle growth, and body maturing are no small tasks! we aught to give our children every possible advantage in these areas.
*A good goal is to have protein as your main course, and sides that benefit you nutritionally. Brown rice, quinoa, grilled veggies, fresh salads, seasoning your favorite side dish with yummy herbs, and trying a new vegetable recipe is a great way to add to a meal! Try steamed/boiled cauliflower, sprinkled with garlic salt and parmesan cheese! Or steamed asparagus with butter and salt! Maybe try making artisan mashed potatoes occasionally, with red potatoes and leave the skin on. drain them after boiling and put them immediately into a bowl and use an electric mixer to combine them, some milk, and a dash of butter, cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Trying new things is fun, and it makes for interesting meals. :] Our favorite proteins are grass fed beef (steaks occasionally, and more often hamburger. We love grilling hand-pressed burgers or making a stir-fry with chopped veggies and lean hamburger!), hormone free chicken and turkey ( because even though those hormones may have been “safety approved” there have been studies that show they do affect your body, and by extension the body of your unborn child. The very idea of eating meat of animals who have been given chemicals to make them fatter?? ugh! What do we expect it will do to us?!), and (wild caught!) Alaskan salmon, and tilapia! (this is cheaper and safer to buy frozen, as you avoid the risk of spoiled fish, and meat that has been thawed and unthawed multiple times). Fish is a wonderful addition to your diet, and contains fabulous things for your baby’s growing brain. :] If you don’t like fish, it’s probably because you haven’t tried my mama’s recipe yet. ;] But in any case, a total lack of real fish in your natural diet calls for the addition of cod-liver oil capsules into your vitamin routine. The natural DHA found in fish is really important to the health of that little brain that is developing VERY quickly!
-Are you wondering if extra vitamins are necessary? If you are wondering about how someone like me who tends to believe that the things God created should be our standard for “natural” and “good” believes in taking so many vitamins during pregnancy, I will explain where I am coming from. I do not recommend adding any vitamins (ESPECIALLY in a synthetic form) to your diet that could be potentially harmful to you or your child if accidentally you were to take too much. Things like iron, in my opinion, should REALLY try to be obtained naturally, as it is very difficult to get enough iron naturally to harm yourself. (Iron can be obtained through dark leafy greens, red meat, and cooking with a cast iron pan. In extreme need of iron, a woman who eats a small piece of liver once a day for a week will likely be cured of her deficiency.) However, when it comes to things like vitamins C & E, and B complex, and Calcium, not only is it not dangerous, but it’s extremely helpful! If you want to guide your diet carefully enough to be sure you get all of these vitamins in the amounts that are adequate for optimal health benefits, you are more than welcome to! Just know that it is more difficult in the world we live in. The ground has been raped of so many of its natural resources, including the high mineral content that it once held, in turn making vegetables and grains of lesser quality, and the animals who live off the grass that grows less fortified in these things that would have been stored up in their blood, and in turn their meet. It’s not impossible, but it is difficult. I chose to take capsules because I am then aware that I am getting AT LEAST ____ amount of each vitamin that I take. :]
I’m going over all of this kindof fast, and I will admit that it’s somewhat challenging for me to voice my opinions on these things, because I know they will be contradicted. I hope you feel free to take what you agree with and leave the rest where it is for someone else. ;] Please also know that I didn’t dream any of this up, and if you would like to see more research behind any of the things I’ve said, please request it and I will point you to my source. But as you can see, this post is getting long enough without me listing every source for every idea. ;]
Now! On to the second trimester! :]
The Second Trimester:
Your second trimester starts around 15 weeks. By this time, you’re probably starting to show! & That’s great! Looking down at my growing belly always reminded me to take my vitamins and apply coconut oil to my skin. ;]
*Coconut oil is wonderful lather for the skin! I used it to lather my belly, breasts, and thighs every time I got out of the shower (be careful not to wash your stomach with harsh soaps during pregnancy, as this can strip out the oils necessary to promote a healthy stretch!) I also like to mix it up with lotions or oils that are specially formulated for stretching skin! Anything with vitamin E oil, olive or coconut oil, shea butter, etc, is probably going to be great for your skin. A few favorites of mine are Earth Mama Angel Baby Body Butter, and Nature’s Pearl Ultra Rich lotion. They both have a pleasant and mild natural scent, and feel just wonderful on that growing belly! Research suggests that the motion of the application of lotions/oils on the skin stimulates the skin and keeps it healthier, ensuring a more comfortable stretch. A good natural product is also important, of course, along with promoting healthy skin from the inside (that’s where vitamins come in!).
*Vitamins C and E will help that skin stretch naturally! Vitamin C promotes Elasticity throughout your skin, and Vitamin E will keep skin tissue healthy, and help to keep it from scarring. (that’s what stretch marks are) While stretch marks are thought to be a hereditary problem, an extremely adequate diet, along with ample amounts of vitamin C & E, can help prevent them. [living testimony.] Vitamin E also has the added benefit of preventing Varicose veins, and is very helpful in treating/managing them if you already have them. I’ve been taking them combined, by a brand called Good’n Natural. I take 500mg of C and 400IU of E a day (1 pill) the first trimester, and then up it to two pills (1 morning, 1 evening) in the second and third trimester.
*I’ve also been taking Grape Seed extract (Nature’s Pearl brand), to keep blood sugar at a normal, and to strengthen blood vessels and promote energy. The assist in the war against varicose veins (which don’t actually run in my family, I don’t think, but I’m not taking any chances! haha) Grape seed extract is very health promoting for any stage of life.
Pregnancy tea is one of the best secrets to a healthy pregnancy! I drank at least a cup a day during my second and third trimester when I was pregnant with Genna. I’ve just started drinking it again now in this pregnancy (I’m about 14 1/2 weeks), and I’m quite enjoying it. With my first pregnancy, I tried to save money by buying red raspberry leaf loose-leaf tea and making it myself, and I don’t think I’ll be doing it again this time around. It’s hard to get it to taste good enough with not much sweetener to tolerate it daily! So This time around I’m going with Natural Medicinal’s Organic Pregnancy Tea. It has a delightful minty taste that needs only 1/4 tsp raw honey to two bags of tea, and is delicious iced as well. I buy it on Amazon in bulk (6 boxes in a case), and the price comes out the same as if I would buy 5 boxes (in the grocery store) and get the 6th free. Red Raspberry leaf is a wonderful herb that helps to prepare and train the uterus for the marathon it has to run at the end of the pregnancy. ;] Probably because of the tea, I had Braxton Hicks contractions from about 25 weeks on. (that’s good- you want that practice!) In the last trimester I mix up the tea routine, but that’s another post. ;]
*Walk it out.
No, seriously. Walking in pregnancy is not just for the end of pregnancy when you want the baby to come out! Walking (especially a fast-paced walk that gets your heart rate up- but not one that gets you breathing so hard you can’t have a conversation) does just about everything good for your body that can be done while pregnant, thanks to a very perfect design by God! Walking will ease those growing aches and pains, keep you feeling more peppy, and most importantly, walking regularly helps the baby to get settled in a good position before it gets big enough that it’s hard to change that position! Bonus points if you include your daily walk with God in this- as even secular research has found that connecting with God (Although they would say meditation works as an alternative) while taking a brisk walk relaxes, rejuvenates, and refreshes the mind, body, and emotions greatly. I tend to agree. I got a free bible app (youversion), and I listen to it on audio mode while I walk. It’s wonderful.
*Please Drink Enough Water.
I know everyone says this, but it’s more than a good idea! It’s the difference between uncomfortable swollen ankles, fatigue, and nausea as apposed to energy, and in general feeling good. I’m terrible at drinking enough water, so I have some tips for those of you who are like-minded. ;]
-Get a special water bottle. (no, seriously, and learn to keep it near you. Figure out how many times a day you need to empty it to get your quota of fresh water down, and make it a habit. I found it was easier to drink water from a bottle than a glass.)
-Flavor your water. (Lemons are good, so are cucumbers, and fresh fruits like strawberries or blueberries. Anything herbs you like may also make water drinking more bearable, as did Ice for me!)
Alright. Hopefully this hasn’t been overwhelming, even though it is a lot of information to take it at once! If you’re thinking of having kids, please do seek out the book I mentioned above, as well as the book “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit” (Also by Adelle Davis) and learn about how to prepare now! (There are so many helpful references to guiding your diet available, I’m merely listing a personal preference here!) If you’re already pregnant, I hope you found some useful information! I can’t wait to share the 3rd trimester eddition of “pregnancy secret weapons!” Which will talk also about labor preparations and helpful vitamins specific to the last trimester, and the last few weeks. :]
In parting, I would also like to encourage you to start slowly with any of the above mentioned vitamins and herbs, and work your way up to a full recommended dose, especially if you are already pregnant. :]
AND, of course, NUTRITION is the principle thing to a healthy pregnancy. I’m not talking about the health fads that the world comes up with as the latest and greatest thing. I’m talking about a good, old fashioned, the-way-God-intended food intake that is varied and delicious and full of every good thing that God made and blessed for the nourishing of our bodies. You can take all the vitamins you want, and it won’t make up for an inadiquate diet. But good nutrition paired with good vitamins are the key to a healthy pregnancy, and an exceptionally healthy child. ❤
Peace&Love[&Nutrition] to all!