I remember when I was preparing for my first pregnancy, I often felt overwhelmed by all the hormone talk and all the things I felt like I should be doing.
Overwhelm always leads to stuckness and non-action and so I want to lovingly remind you that even just by beginning to familiarize yourself with your hormones, your body and how to ideally prepare yourself and your future baby for an amazing pregnancy, you are doing something so important and so wonderful.
Don't worry if not everything sticks right away.
You don't have to do it all perfectly.
Take it slow.
Incorporate one thing at a time.
Listen to your body.
Create space for nourishment in the form of good rest, nourishing food, and loving company.
Ok, in the last two posts I covered the importance of working on your stress levels and keeping your blood-sugar stable. In today's third (and last) post, I am going to talk to you about the importance of having a healthy microbiome.
Alright, let's get started. The third biggest culprit that women often miss in preparing for a healthy pregnancy is:
3. A weak microbiome
The physical why:
The reason here is two-fold:
1. Pregnancy is a time when the mom's body is under high demand. She needs to eat nutrients not only to sustain herself, but to build a new human <- what they call the miracle;)
Remember that your baby's brain starts to develop before many women even know they are pregnant. That's why it is recommended to be on a high quality prenatal vitamin for about 6 months before you want to conceive.
The reason it is important that your gut is really healthy is so that it can absorb all the nutrients you are eating, deliver them into your bloodstream and bring them to where they need to go: your own cells, brain, organs and tissues as well as to your baby through the placenta and the umbilical cord.
This is no small feat and optimizing your absorption is one of those things that is in your control to drastically improve. Plus, it will improve your digestion as well so that you are less likely to suffer from pregnancy constipation.
2. Strengthening your gut lining is also really important to keep foreign substances and undigested waste from entering your bloodstream unwantedly. Over time, if your gut lining becomes more and more damaged a condition occurs called "leaky gut" and it plays a huge role in people who suffer from auto-immune disease.
So, strengthening your gut in essence is important in order to build up your immune system and decrease inflammation in your body, but also in order to be able to supply your growing baby with five star nutrients in utero. Nothing but the best for the little ones, right?
Signs that you may have a gut issue include bloating, gas, cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, auto-immune diseases, adult acne, headaches... to name a few.
The emotional why:
A healthy gut microbiome positively impacts your stress-response system as well as your mental health (in addition to fending off obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome).
While the exact cause for postpartum depression is still unknown, some research suggests that it is the mom's nutrient deficiencies after pregnancy and birth that are adding to the occurrence and severity of PPD.
I say it's worth a shot and make sure you are doing all you can to make those initial months of mommyhood as pleasurable and easy on yourself and your new bundle as possible.
Did you know that your immune system will be drastically suppressed during pregnancy so that your body doesn't attack your baby. Crazy (and genius), right?
That means that making sure that you are starting your pregnancy as nutrient rich as possible and keeping your gut healthy is key for your physical well-being but also your emotional resilience.
What to do and where to start:
1. Get your hands on a high quality prenatal vitamin. One of my favorites is by Thorne Research. Plus a high quality fish oil like this one by Nordic Naturals.
2. Start taking a high quality probiotic. I like this one by Metagenics.
3. Eat a nutrient rich diet. Think: lots of greens and other bright colored vegetables, good-quality animal protein (free-range, grass-fed, without hormones and antibiotics), and high quality fats (avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, olive oil).
4. Consider eliminating inflammatory foods, especially gluten, but also dairy, soy, and refined sugar.
5. Reduce your exposure to alcohol and caffeine as well as processed foods.
6. Don't take antibiotics unless you absolutely have to (they destroy all the bad but also all the good bacteria in your gut).
7. Go off hormonal birth control (this is a sensitive topic that I will write about more, but just to name a few of my reasons for not being a fan of any hormonal birth control: it has an antibiotic effect on your gut and studies show that women on hormonal birth control have a much greater risk at being nutrient deficient + hormonal BC messes with your natural hormone production causing hormonal imbalances).
8. Chew your food well and with pleasure.
9. Drink water with lemon to alkalize your ph and make it less acidic.
Phew lovely! You did you it.
Trust me, I am well aware that I shared A LOT of information with you over the last few days, so congratulations for sticking with it. Even if you just implement one thing from each email, you are doing something amazing and wonderful for yourself and your growing family.
Here is to you!