Fitness and nutrition impact the health of a baby tremendously! The health, well-being, and happiness of the mother greatly impacts the health of the fetus. The fetus relies on the mother for everything – for nutrients, for safety, and for love. Women that focus on their own fitness and nutrition during pregnancy, not only have healthier babies, but experience a number of added benefitsincluding shorter labors, faster recovery, and mitigation some of the common pregnancy side effects.
I have found this to be very true of my own pregnancy journey. I am currently 36 weeks pregnant and expecting my first in mid-July! Fortunately, I have been an active person for many years, a coach for the last 6 years, and a holistic nutritionist for the last 2 years. So, I began my pregnancy journey from a very “healthy” standpoint. However, that does not mean that I didn’t deal with some of the most common pitfalls and side effects of pregnancy. Let me share with you some of my experience and how I was able to continue to show up to the gym and in the kitchen while also listening to my body (and my baby!)
Fatigue– This is perhaps one of the top side effects of pregnancy that plagues most women, and usually what keeps them from getting to the gym or staying active. The increase in fatigue (and nausea), especially in the first trimester and at the end of the third, took me by surprise. Being the active person, I am, I was not prepared for the intense lethargy and exhaustion that comes from growing a human.
What I did – I showed up to my workouts, no matter what. What I found was that getting to my workout normally is what took the most effort, once I was in the workout, it was much easier to simply stay moving! Ironically, I would leave with MORE energy than when I walked in. This didn’t mean that I didn’t have to modify and take down the intensity sometimes, I still listened to my body, but I didn’t make excuses! When I felt nauseous in my workout, I pulled back a little, sometimes I did puke and then just jumped right back in. I figured it was better to be tired and nauseous around a bunch of women that have experienced this, than just be at home feeling lousy by myself!
As long as there are no contraindications, studiespoint to how beneficial exercise is to the mother and the fetus. Staying active during pregnancy helps to control blood sugarlevels in the mother (reducing chances of gestational diabetes or helping to control blood sugar levels in those with diabetes), regulates cholesterol levels, and helps avoid excess weight gainof both mother and fetus.
Cravings–So let be completely honest and say that I already craved weird things prior to being pregnant! I love pickles, kimchi, basically anything vinegar-y I am down for at all times! Probably the weirdest moment was when my husband offered me a pickle and I said ‘no’! I didn’t and still don’t have many cravings actually. And I truly believe it’s because I have focused on my nutrition for the past few years and try to live a very clean, balanced, and plant-based lifestyle. Most cravings actually stem from a nutritional deficiencies or hormone imbalances, so by eating a well-balanced diet, most food cravings tend to disappear. Take a look hereto see what your cravings might be telling you! However, there are two things that I have craved a lot during pregnancy – protein and chocolate.
What I did – For protein I made sure to stock up on a variety of items. Hard boiled eggs are a must! I just hard boil about a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week to have on hand (use your Instant Pot if you have one! They come out perfect every time!) They are an easy grab and go item and great if you are pregnant or not! I also kept a few types of organic raw nuts for a quick protein pick-me-up (Brazil Nuts are high in selenium which most women are deficient in.) I have Vanilla and Chocolate Pea protein in my pantry at all times so that I can make a quick protein smoothie, also great when that sweet craving kicks in too!
And speaking of sweet… to help alleviate my chocolate craving, I would have chocolate! Imagine that! However, I made sure to have DARK chocolate, and by dark I mean 100% dark! So either theAbsolute Black Dark Chocolateby Montezuma or the 100% Pure Cacao Chocolate Chipsfrom Santa Barbara Chocolate. Top either of those with a little almond butter or sun butter and that craving is satisfied!!
Stress/anxiety – Not only did/do I experience some stress around bringing a new life into this world and be responsible for him, I also experienced stress (especially in early pregnancy) about being responsible for the growth and the development of my baby in the womb. I think this stress, worry, or fear is what keeps a lot of women from working out or doing a lot of the activities they would normally do. And while there are definitely some activities pregnant women should avoid(skiing, climbing, contact sports, etc), all activity should not be avoided due to fear of harming the baby. Like I’ve said, movement and exercise are actually great for the baby and for mommy!
What I did – I listened to my body and to my baby. If I was doing an exercise that didn’t feel good or just didn’t feel right, I stopped! I stopped the exercise though, not the whole workout! I know my body pretty darn well, I know what feels right and what doesn’t, so I just listened to it. Yes, there are websites that list everything you should and shouldn’t do during pregnancy, but I found a lot of those lists to be very restrictive. This practice of listening to my body and being in-tune with my baby actually decreased a lot of my stress and anxiety because I felt connected to myself and to him. And I knew that if I was connected to my baby, he would let me know if I needed to change something. Now, one of my favorite things to do after a workout, is to just lay down, close my eyes, and put both hands on my stomach and just connect with him.
My biggest advice (to myself, to other pregnant mamas, to everyone) is to just show up. Even when you don’t want to, just show up. Life is such a precious gift. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by life, especially when pregnant! It’s easy to want to turn inward and go with what is comfortable. However, I promise, that if you just show up, move your body, and stick with it, you are going to feel better! It might not be right away, but you will feel better for showing up than you will for missing out.
*Please do not begin any exercise or nutrition program while pregnant before consulting a licensed professional. The information provided here is from personal experience and opinion.