healthy pregnancy

Both of my pregnancies were easy. I never felt too big to tie my shoes or to go for a walk. My butt never grew: I was all belly both times. I also had very little aches and pains that most of my girlfriends complain about. I am not telling this story to brag : perhaps, it’s luck, or good genes. Or, perhaps it is something I did.

I believe that to enjoy a healthy pregnancy a woman needs to make her health a priority and adhere to the following seven rules, after consulting with her doctor or a midwife, of course. I put the list of these rules together, because they helped me tremendously and I hope that they can help you.

1. Remove all potential chemicals from the house. The regular detergents and the chlorine bleach, coupled with the liquid you use to scrub the shower create a cocktail of chemicals that have been connected to various ailments, cancers, autoimmune disorders and even birth defects. Invest in all natural, organic cleaning solutions. Or, make your own, using baking soda and vinegar.

2. Go for at least a 45 minute walk each day. And don’t say that you don’t have time: log off your favorite website and go. It’s good for you and good for your baby.

3. Eat right. Many people mean different things when they say that. I believe that the optimal pregnancy nutrition includes zero processed foods, zero junk foods,  zero artificial sugar and zero trans fats.  If it sounds like an unattainable ideal, try to get as close as possible to this standard. It does include ample quantities of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, organic eggs and if you choose, organically raised meats and wild-caught fish. Cheese is heavy, mucus-producing product, which is devoid of healthy fats. Instead try unrefined oils, avocado, cold-pressed nut butters. Make sure you eat both green and red vegetables every single day. Drink green juice, if you can tolerate it. Snack on dried fruit. Bake these cookies, when you want sweets. If your diet is full of color, flavor and natural foods, there will be no time or place for the junk we like to put in our bodies. If you simply remove something, you feel lack. If you add something else (healthy foods) prior to removing the “unhealthy” ones, there will simply be no room for junk. Before moving the empty-calorie foods out, move the healthy foods in.

If you are so used to eating pastries, pasta, cheese, sugary snacks and other sources of empty calories that a diet based on pure foods sounds like torture to you, I understand. I’ve been there, too. The good news is, taste buds are ridiculously trainable and adaptable : they like what you usually feed them . If you eat French toast for breakfast every day, your are used to a very intense sweet flavor. Trying to replace it with a  bowl of oatmeal and a smoothie made of fresh fruits may feel like replacing the French toast with hay. As you keep eating the oatmeal and the smoothie instead of the French toast and keep it up for about a week, your taste buds adjust to newer, subtler flavors. Now, if you try the French toast, it will taste like a sugar attack: way too sweet. Pregnancy is a wonderful time to retrain your taste buds and to step away from the refined foods. Now you are responsible for the health and the future eating habits of your child! And as a side benefit, you are a lot less likely to gain too much weight by eating only natural, unprocessed and unrefined foods.

When it comes to restructuring one’s diet, there is no single approach that fits everyone. Some of us would benefit from a complete overnight change and dramatic burning of the chocolate stash, while others would be better off implementing slow changes. Whichever road you choose, the goal should be the same:  less artificial, processed, fatty junk food, meats and dairy products and more fruits, vegetables and natural unrefined foods.

I am not advocating for a complete vegetarianism, although I eat practically all vegan food. If you want to continue eating meat, it is your choice. I do not think that meat is necessary more than three times a week in anyone’s diet. The portion of meat should be your palm-size, not your face’s size. I ate the same vegetarian (practically vegan) diet during both of my pregnancies and my babies were big and healthy both times. I believe that with the right supplementation and the right knowledge, a vegetarian or even a vegan pregnancy can be very healthy.

4. Do some yoga moves. If you have a steady yoga practice, learn what’s safe and what’s not for an expectant mother. If you have no idea what yoga is, try a prenatal yoga class: it’s a great place to meet other expectant moms and to exercise safely. If you are not into yoga, simply learn a couple of easy breathing exercises and a special pregnancy Sun Salutation. Practicing these moves will do wonders to your muscles, your joints and your mental state. I love this DVD I made because it’s honest. The program on it is pretty much exactly what I did at home while pregnant with my oldest son. This program gave me strength, flexibility, energy and more during my pregnancy. Sharing this program with other pregnant Moms is a lot more than selling my product: it’s sharing my vision and helping others: a lot like this blog, as a matter of fact. Whichever yoga moves you do, make sure to do them every single day. “I am pregnant, tired, heavy and lazy” is not an excuse. Get off the couch and do at least a pose or two: it will change your day.

5. Do something spiritual every day. Pray, laugh, meditate, connect: do something that unites you with the Higher Source. Pregnancy is a very special time when the woman’s energy is wide open to receive and to grow. Use this time well. Any special spiritual traditions, started now are likely to continue and grow with your children.

6. Make something for your unborn child. I knitted blankets for all three of my kids. You can knit, sew, draw, paint, write : anything that would make the child feel special and wanted later and anything that would make you dream and exclusively focus on that unborn child is wonderful. Some mothers are told to talk to their unborn baby and it leaves them clueless, because of  “how can I talk to my belly?” factor. Doing a project for your unborn child solves these gaps in communication. As I was knitting those blankets,  I was visualizing my children and connecting to them. I was actually sad, when the blankets were done. 🙂

7. Do something special with your man. It will be a lot harder to accomplish once the baby is here. Maybe, you can go for a walk together every night? Or do the yoga together? Or even start a healthy diet…

Let me know your thoughts on healthy pregnancy: what worked for you and what didn’t.

About Dr. Anastasia

Dr. Anastasia Halldin holds a Ph.D in holistic nutrition. She is a homeschooling mother of four boys and a girl. Dr. Anastasia starred on a yoga TV show. She also produced and appeared in thirteen yoga DVDs. Dr. Anastasia speaks four languages and loves doing crafts with her children. She adores sharing her easy healthy family recipes with other mothers.
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