Sarah Greenfield, RD, CSSD, shares essential pregnancy tips pulled from her Pregnancy Guide to help you experience a happy, healthy term. I found out I was pregnant when I was halfway across the world in Australia, studying microbiome restoration with the top expert in the field. My mind was so focused on my career and expanding as a practitioner that I was totally caught off guard. But in that same moment, I felt connected to this little life I had inside my body, which made me feel more empowered than ever. I was going to be a mom—and if you’re reading this, perhaps you’ll soon be one, too! Here are the top healthy pregnancy tips I followed and hope will help guide your own journey.* *This information should not be used in lieu of professional medical advice. Always follow guidance from your OB-GYN and/or primary care physician.
6 HEALTHY Pregnancy Tips FROM A DIETITIANAs a dietitian and poop aficionado, I wanted to make sure I did as much as possible to create a healthy foundation for myself and my child. I approached this new journey in the same way I approach creating a healthy foundation for my clients in my private practice. Above all, I focused on:
- decreasing toxic burden
- optimizing digestive health
- eating whole foods
- taking the right supplements
- managing stress
- incorporating movement
1. Decrease Toxic BurdenOur world is full of toxins. But fortunately, our bodies have many amazing systems in place to filter them out. However, when you’re pregnant, your baby is more susceptible to toxins because they’re able to cross the blood-brain barrier—something we have protection from as adults. The best place to start is by removing toxic products from your environment, such as:
- nail polish
- hair dye
- beauty products (check the toxicity status on EWG)
- cleaning products
2. Optimize Digestive HealthSince immunity begins in the gut, having a healthy and diverse microbiome was a top priority for me when I was pregnant. To begin, eating a diverse diet with lots of colors can help feed different bacteria in the gut. Aim for 40 different whole foods per week and include lots of good fermented foods. Some of my favorite fermented foods to eat daily were:
- coconut yogurt
3. Eating Whole FoodsA balanced diet helps stabilize blood sugar levels and optimizes digestion. It’s important to remember that your body only requires about an additional 200 to 300 calories while you’re pregnant. (Read: the idea of “eating for two” is dated.) However, if you plan to breastfeed, you’ll need to eat around 500 additional calories per day. Next, between weeks 24 to 28 of your pregnancy, you’ll need to get more thorough blood sugar tests to rule out potential red flags. But again, all the while, eating balanced meals will help keep blood sugar levels stable. Make sure each meal contains fiber, fat, protein, and veggies. This balanced plate can help stabilize any blood sugar spikes and support your growing baby. In addition, try to keep processed foods to a minimum. Also avoid deli meats, sushi, and high-mercury fish like tuna and swordfish.
4. Take the Right SupplementsWhen you’re pregnant, you want to be conservative with the amount of supplements you’re taking. However, it’s essential to find a high-quality prenatal supplement. I always looked for one that had methylated B vitamins and iron (in the bisglycinate form to help prevent constipation). It’s also important to take high-quality fish oil, vitamin D, and probiotics.
5. Manage StressFollowing this pregnancy tip is absolutely essential. Stress isn’t just a state of being; it’s also a physiological response that changes your body chemistry. In fact, stress changes the way we process sugar. It causes our bodies to store more fat, decreases the diversity of the microbiome, and can promote inflammation. High levels of stress during pregnancy can even decrease the baby’s birth weight and potentially cause early labor. The key to stress management is to find activities that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy meditating, don’t force yourself to do it! (Though personally, I loved this guided pregnancy mediation and would do it in the morning before I started my day.) Instead, try:
- walking in nature
- creating boundaries around things/people that cause stress
- warm (not hot) baths
- essential oil diffusers
- putting your hand on your belly and breathing
6. Incorporate MovementWhile pregnant, I wish I could say I worked out four times per week and loved every minute—but that just isn’t true. I felt extremely nauseated and tired throughout my first trimester. For that reason, I prioritized rest over pushing myself to workout. But once the nausea calmed down, I was able to incorporate more walking, prenatal Pilates, and light strength training (of just three to five pounds). Above all, it’s important to do what you makes you feel good and stay comfortable. If your body is calling for more rest, rest! Conversely, if you feel really good working out, then by all means continue working out. That said, the general rule is to not do anything where you can’t catch your breath. So when it comes to fitness and pregnancy advice, remember to be easy on yourself. Even though you may not feel it, your body is doing so much. It’s okay to allow yourself to rest!
Final ThoughtsThese are just a few simple pregnancy tips to get you started on your path to a healthy term. If you want to go even deeper, make sure to check out my Pregnancy Guide that outlines specific products, how to create a low-toxin environment in your home, recipes, and holistic remedies for common pregnancy ailments. It also has tips for postpartum recovery, my favorite products, and how to keep a healthy mindset. Last but not least, congrats on your pregnancy! I can’t wait for you to experience the joys (and challenges!) of being a mother.
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