Published for BLK+GRN and on Medium.com
While it is important to have a healthy, toxic-free lifestyle at any time in life, the habits that we have when trying to conceive and during pregnancy are vital. Yes, every woman, body, and pregnancy is unique, but there are some solid basics we can be aware of from Day 0.
So while following celebrity pregnancies on Insta can be #pregnancyinspo, that is not going to give you an honest look at what it takes to have a healthy pregnancy. That’s facts.
Here are some concepts to consider if you’re thinking about having a baby.
Let’s start with the most important step in preparing for a healthy pregnancy: nourishing your body. Whether you are dealing with infertility related to Polycystic ovary syndrome (also known as PCOS), have a hectic lifestyle where nutrition hasn’t been a priority (but have a suspicion that living off delivery isn’t going to give you the most), or honestly just never gave a second thought to what you eat, the truth is that it’s helpful to start a healthy way of eating before pregnancy and ride that out through to the end.
Keep in mind, how your body looks isn’t a clear indicator of whether or not your nutrition needs are being met. So while it’s true that weight loss or gain before getting pregnant, and watching how quickly you put on weight during pregnancy, can be helpful to improve the outcome of your pregnancy, it’s important to do that by following a balanced diet. Research shows that the way we eat can increase fertility, and better prepare a woman’s body for the demands of pregnancy. Fads like low-carb, low-fat diets or a celery juice detox are not the move.
- Get rid of highly processed foods, as often as you can. That means, foods from boxes, cans, or jars, with ingredient lists full of things you can’t pronounce.
- Ditch the non-organic items whenever you can. Those foods are high in pesticides that can mess with fertility. Check the dirty dozen list and clean fifteen lists to help make organic eating more affordable.
- Go for plant-powered meals, packed with colorful vegetables and fruits, high-fiber starches like plantain, yucca, and ancient grains, and proteins like nuts, seeds, legumes, and sprouted tofu.
- Think of “beans and greens” as the center of your grocery list. These foods will do wonders to boost your intake of important fertility and pregnancy nutrients like folate, iron, and magnesium.
- Enjoy healthy fats, from olive oil, avocado, and chia seeds, to grass-fed meat and wild-caught low-mercury seafood. Also, eat the whole egg.
- Drink primarily water or other unsweetened drinks. Limit sweetened drinks as much as possible, since those can cause inflammation that leads to hormone imbalances.
- In order to eat enough food to give your body all that it needs to be well-nourished and relaxed, it’s important to not skip meals.
Start a Vitamin and Supplement Routine
Although eating right creates the foundation, boosting your nutrition with vitamins and supplements can help override infertility and also give you peace of mind if you conceive but haven’t started taking a high-quality vitamin.
- Key vitamins and minerals for fertility include vitamin D, vitamin C, folate, zinc, selenium, and B-vitamins. Talk to a nutritionist to get a sense of what your diet may be lacking.
- Fish oil. Yes, omega-3 supplements have the potential to help boost fertility.
- Herbs that are high in nutrients, easy to find, and oh-so-natural include red raspberry, nettle, dandelion, alfalfa, and red clover. Try them in an herbal infusion.
Detox your Daily Life
Exposure to chemicals is risky. Not only can “safe” chemicals interfere with your body’s natural hormones, disrupting cycles and increasing chances of infertility and pregnancy complications, everyday chemicals can also seep into your blood — and have been found in umbilical cord blood as well.
Detoxing your daily life means, going for more organic and natural beauty care items, picking toxic-free cleaning products, and using natural laundry detergents.
And since it is so important to decrease your toxic exposures, whenever and wherever you can, simple tricks to decrease exposure include avoiding plastic bottles and containers, washing new clothes, towels, and sheets before you use them, and staying away from cigarette smoke.
Worried about the toxins that may be in your system already? Try this:
- Eat organic and natural foods for 2–3 months before trying to get pregnant.
- Follow a plant-based, high-fiber diet that includes fermented foods, which combined will support our body’s natural cleansing processes.
- Check out EWG for more on which ingredients are safe and which chemicals to avoid in beauty and household products.
- Use an organic yoni steam to detox your… yoni.
Increase the Chill
Anything that can cause you stress long-term, can disrupt hormones and increase inflammation. If you’re after fertility and a healthy pregnancy, your body requests you to keep calm and carry the heck on.
We each have different stress triggers and ways to clear stress away. So while one woman’s downward facing dog is another woman’s shame spiral, here are some suggestions of ways to reduce physical and mental stress.
- Exercise. Do something you love. Be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Stretch, walk, dance, laugh your heart out, but whatever you do, don’t sit for more than an hour at a time without moving your body.
- But don’t exercise too much. Excessive sweat marathons can actually stress the body, which will have the opposite effect from what you’re after.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep restores and renews. Set up a good sleep pattern and really try to stick with it.
- Find your zen. Relaxing habits, calming routines, escapes into nature, refolding all your clothes into free-standing squares. Whatever it is that works for you, dig in.
- Consider therapy. It’s 2019. Therapy is the new black, and it’s pretty darn sexy. If you want to use therapy as a space to help you reflect, find your purpose, grow from within, heal from trauma, improve your relationships, why not make that a part of your pre-pregnancy plan? If you find new tools to help you keep your inner peace, no one will thank you more than the loved ones supporting you in your pregnancy and your future family members.
This list may seem long, daunting, and a lot less fun than following Kim K. But, no worries! Change doesn’t happen overnight. Focus your efforts by picking 1–2 personal priorities, and give them your all for a few weeks at a time. As you become more confident in certain practices, you will naturally be able to have room in your life to tackle something new. This is how we develop healthy habits. One day at a time, showing ourselves patience and kindness through the journey.
What lifestyle changes are you interested in making today?