Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Every Mommy-to-be should Know

My sister and brother in law are expecting a baby this September. This will be my first niece or nephew so you can only imagine my excitement!

Of course after hearing such awesome news, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun aspects of baby prep.- i.e. transforming the guest room into a nursery, thinking of (and then arguing over baby names), planning a baby shower, etc. But naturally, my first instinct as a health coach was to make sure my sister was taking care of herself.

Aside from what most mommies-to-be already know, such as the importance of loading up on folic acid, and steering clear of alcohol, cigarettes, fish with high mercury content, caffeine, and undercooked meats and eggs, there are many slightly less obvious factors, 7 of which I discuss below, that all mothers- to- be should know:

1- Don't go to hell with yourself! - For those of you who are already health conscious, being pregnant is no excuse to go off the wagon. Many women have the misconception that they are eating for two, and think that it’s not only ok, but preferable to over-indulge. But according to experts, women do not need to consume much more than an additional 300 calories per day during their second and third trimesters. So, fight the desire to polish off greasy Chinese take out with pie alamode and stick with a delicious and nutritious way of eating. You and baby will be thankful you did!

2 - Ditch artificial and processed foods - Processed foods can be defined as the following: Any whole food that has been chemically altered in order to lengthen its shelf life, lower production costs, and make it look more appetizing to the consumer. This not only results in a reduction in nutritional value, but also results in harmful toxins. Still confused about processed foods? Make it easy on yourself by avoiding packaged goods and fill up more than half of your shopping cart in the produce section. Buy organic or from your local farmer's market when possible, and wash your fruits and veggies well!

3- Don’t cheat! - Just because you are taking your prenatal vitamins every day, doesn't give you a free pass to skimp on good nutrition. Although your vitamins are important, they are supplementary and should be treated as such. Make sure to follow a whole food diet filled with an abundance of dark leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and organic animal products such as meats, Greek yogurt, pasteurized milk and certain cheeses.

4 - Decode your cravings - Often times we crave foods that our body needs. For example, a craving for salty chips could be our body begging us for trace minerals found in sea salt. Instead of suppressing such cravings, seek healthier alternatives. For example, instead of reaching for that bag of lays, snack on lightly salted brown rice cakes, organic whole grain crackers, or kale chips sprinkled with sea salt. Or even better, steam dark leafy greens with sea salt and olive oil. The greens contain the minerals your body is really in need of. If you suddenly are dying for a bowl of ice cream, grab a Greek yogurt, and sweeten with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of Stevia instead. Is it bagels you're after? Toast a whole grain English Muffin (Ezekiel brand makes great ones) topped with almond butter. Missing Sushi? Mix brown rice or quinoa with avocado and ginger dressing. *** Quinoa is especially great for mothers to be as it is high in protein.

5 – Get Plenty of Rest - It's very common for pregnant women to feel fatigued which is why it is important for you to get more sleep than you normally would. Be sure to get 8-10 hours a night, and nap if you have the luxury of time to do so. Not a napper? Be sure to make time for R&R each day whether it's simply to lay down or read a book.

6 - To exercise or not to exercise - If you already had a regular work out regime before you conceived, talk to your doctor about ways to modify your routine without giving it up. For those of you who did not exercise prior to pregnancy, now may not be the best time to introduce a new routine. However, discuss the possibilities of light forms of exercise such walking or pre-natal yoga with your doctor. Exercising during pregnancy can help to alleviate stress as well as future labor pains.

7 - Don't Stress! - Life is full of stressful situations that cannot always be avoided, and with a baby on the way, you may be experiencing even more than usual. A healthy, whole food diet, in conjunction with plenty of rest will help alleviate any stress you may be experiencing. You may also want to consider taking up meditation or learning different breathing techniques. Another way to alleviate stress is to focus on the good. Keep a gratitude journal and write down 2-3 things you are grateful for each day. After all, you have a little bundle of joy on the way!!!

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