I actually wrote this list of important pregnancy tips for a few different people in my life who have all recently become pregnant.
When I was pregnant, I researched everything as a (second) full time job, and I really want to make it easier on other moms to begin understanding what questions they need to be asking, and how to prepare themselves for childbirth.
So here are my top 10 most important pregnancy tips and resources, to help you to have a healthy pregnancy, a confident birth and become an informed parent and give baby the best start possible.
I am such a huge advocate of these classes. They are geared towards women who want a natural childbirth, but are FANTASTIC regardless of your views.
You will learn about all kinds of pain management techniques, what to expect during the various stages of labor, different medical interventions that may or may not be needed, and essentially give you the confidence in yourself to make decisions in the heat of the moment if needed.
They include a complete nutrition plan, exercise plan, weekly lessons with a certified instructor, AND they certify your birth partner to be your Doula.
Even if you should choose to hire a professional Doula to be by your side at the birth of your child, the knowledge that you and your partner gain through these classes is absolutely invaluable.
I truly can’t say enough about how amazing these classes were for me as well as others I’ve recommended them to.
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This book was a really good resource of information, showing both the natural and medical options, and the potential consequences of each, detailed side by side for easy comparison.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I had a hard time making head and tails out of all of the conflicting information I was getting from every direction. This book was recommended to me by my midwife, and really helped build my confidence in my choices
This was the book that really helped me to know what to expect during the actual labor and childbirth process – along with the Bradle Method classes above, and it really helped me to understand and confront childbirth as a natural part of life rather than a medical procedure.
It includes lots of birth stories, home birth deliveries, and the details that helped these many women through the birth of their child… all through the eyes of the mother of all midwifery, Ina May Gaskin.
This book also goes into some technical details and medicines that may be involved in some deliveries. If I was to recommend only ONE book, this would be the one.
When I was first pregnant, I had so many things to research, that breastfeeding didn’t quite make the cut. IT SHOULD HAVE.
I ended up having a tremendous amount of breastfeeding trouble, all of which could have been avoided, if I’d read this BEFORE he was born.
It was through sheer persistence that I was able to persevere through everything to go on to nurse him until age 2, when he naturally weaned.
I wouldn’t wish my issues on anybody, and having a good beginning to your breastfeeding journey is one of the best things your can do for your baby’s health, now and throughout their life.
Mother’s milk is truly a magical substance. Scientists are only beginning to discover all of the amazing benefits of this liquid gold, including it’s cancer preventing properties
5. Exercise During Pregnancy!
This might not be what you want to hear, but is one of the most important pregnancy tips… Pregnancy and motherhood are hard enough without having to exercise, right?
It’s true, especially when dealing with morning sickness, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is so, so, SO important to have a strong body through pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
Your birth should be considered a major ATHLETIC EVENT.
Think about it, you’re having consistent muscle contractions of your ENTIRE abdominal area for sometimes upwards of 5, 10, 20 or more hours…
You need to be generally in good shape to avoid having extra difficulty and needing dangerous interventions simply because of exhaustion. This is more common than you think.
The Bradley Childbirth Classes outline a great group of pregnancy and labor specific exercises, but also, you should NOT be afraid to continue exercising as usual, especially in early pregnancy.
Long walks can and should be continued all the way up until you give birth.
***Always consult your doctor prior to beginning any workout program during pregnancy and postpardum.***
After your baby is born, I HIGHLY recommend a postpardum specific training program like Mom Strong, which is a 5 minutes a day program specifically targeting the muscles that you NEED to strengthen to get back to normal function.
Did you know that nearly every other country in the world includes pelvic floor physical therapy in their postpartum care?
North-American women joke all the time about “peeing themselves” as mothers when they jump on a trampoline, go running, or whatever… as if it’s normal.
The truth is that it doesn’t need to be a normal part of motherhood, and honestly, peeing yourself isn’t funny, it’s annoying, embarrassing, and can happen at VERY inconvenient times.
It is very easy to find youtube videos for post partum workouts or workout videos in general. HOWEVER, most of these are created by people who like to workout and share with others, and even though they’re well-intentioned they are not post-partum professionals.
As a competitive gymnastics coach of 20 years, I know a lot about fitness, and I DO NOT RECOMMEND WINGING IT. It is well worth a small investment to buy a program that is targeting the exact muscles and issues that women deal with post-partum, like incontinence and the stubborn after-baby belly.
***Always consult your doctor prior to beginning any workout program during pregnancy and postpardum.***
As hard as it is to be a pregnant mama, adjusting to the reality that you’re going to be a daddy can sometimes be a completely foreign concept to the new daddy in your life, one that doesn’t become real until the baby is actually born, which can be very shocking.
The daddy doesn’t get to feel the very real kicks and growth of baby inside him, so finding ways to include him in the process as much as possible is very helpful!
This book, along with the Bradley Method Childbirth classes I mentioned in #1, really helped my husband be prepared to really HELP me in the task of having our baby, naturally and without intervention.
It allowed him to really participate and have enough knowledge of what was going on and what to expect, that I knew he could advocate for our family and our wishes, even if I became unable to.
8. Proper Nutrition – Start Right Away
***Check with your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements. I am not a Doctor or Nutritioninst.***
I am a strong believer that you can not get everything you need from just the food you eat. Food is MUCH less nutrient dense than it once was, before traditional farming practices became prevalent.
That is for another article, but suffice it to say that the american diet generally consists of a lot of garbage, which is very difficult to avoid.
Even as someone who eats organic, pasture raised and grass fed food, and who used the Bradley Method Diet, I used all of the guidelines below, and went on to have two extremely healthy pregnancies, full term babies with perfect APGAR scores, who have had zero health issues, allergies, etc. So what I list here is based only on my own research and experience.
You MUST check with your doctor and do your own research.
- Use a good, whole food based prenatal multi vitamin. This is the one I use. Try to avoid the synthetic ones, as they are not as absorbable and usable by your body.
- Multi Mineral (including all trace minerals). This one is excellent. Trace minerals are SUPER important for baby’s development, and your overall health. Most people don’t eat nearly enough leafy greens per day or enough variety to get enough minerals.
- 100 grams of protein daily (per the Bradley Childbirth Method nutrition plan, and general midwife recommendations). This is very important to track daily, and can be very difficult to achieve when your stomach starts to get squished more by the baby, or if you’re experiencing morning sickness.
I recommend grass fed collagen powder (and has lots of other benefits), which has no flavor, so you can add it to your tea or other beverage every day. OR you can grab some KOS plant protein (delicious!), which is the one that I used.
- Fish like salmon (wild caught only!) or chunk light tuna (NOT albacore) 1-2 times weekly. There are other options too, but those are my favorite. You have to avoid bigger fish because of the higher mercury content.
If you don’t do seafood, it is really important to get good quality fish oil and take that every day. Baby needs DHA, an omega 3 essential fatty acid for eye and brain development, to avoid birth defects, and it will help them hit their milestones quicker.
- B vitamins, especially B1 (thiamin) and B9, (folate). The best way to get folate is from the FOOD BASED prenatal multi. Folate is the natural form, you’ve probably heard of folic acid which is synthetic. The rest of the B vitamins I get from non-fortified Nutritional yeast (also called brewer’s yeast). This comes in tablets (easiest) and less expensively in flakes or powdered form.
Brewer’s yeast tastes kind of cheesy, and I like to use it every day to make my own salad dressing, or you can mix it into scrambled eggs, or any kind of savory, cheesy type of thing. I have tablets on hand in case I’m not eating salad.
- Calcium and Magnesium – Calcium is super important because if you don’t have enough of it, it is one of the few nutrients that your baby will literally steal from your own bones if there’s not enough of it. Personally, I used Calmag Fizz because it’s properly balanced with Magnesium, super easy to make, and tastes great.
Note: Avoid calcium carbonate tablets! This is basically like eating rocks. It might be cheaper, but it’s not properly absorbed by your body, so why bother?
9. DON’T EAT FOR TWO!
When you’re pregnant, people will come out of the woodwork giving you all kinds of unsolicited advice. I find it is good to listen, smile and nod, then throw most of it away.
I would say there are more myths than there are truths regarding childbirth and parenting, and one of the most prevalent is that you’re “eating for two”!
This is a fast track to excessive weight gain and the pregnancy complications that come along with it. You actually need 0 extra calories in the beginning, so just eat healthy along with the Bradley Diet.
In the second and third trimesters, you need between 300 and 450 extra calories per day, which is the equivalent of one or two handfulls of nuts
I recommend simply listening to your body. Don’t snack constantly, because it will become very easy to overeat!
I know, it’s not nearly as fun to be responsible… but you are the one who will have to deal with the consequences later if you use pregnancy as an excuse to eat way too much.
It’s not worth it. Eat a healthy amount that’s needed for you and your baby. Focus on NUTRIENT DENSITY.
10. Pay Attention To Cravings
You’ll hear all kinds of old wives tales about
what your various cravings mean, but that’s all they are… tales.
The reason I say pay attention to them, is because it’s actually your body trying to tell you it needs something. In other words, it’s deficient in something.
So if you’re craving ice cream, maybe you actually need more calcium. don’t give in and just mow down on ice cream, use your head and find a better way to handle the issue, like upping your Calmag Fizz intake, or eating some plain yogurt.
I sweeten mine with stevia, add berries and it tastes like desert!
If you’re craving chocolate, maybe you need more magnesium. Don’t eat a bag of reese’s cups, go for some raw cacao powder mixed with hot water and stevia (this is the brand I love) and some almond milk or coconut cream for delicious, healthy hot chocolate
I know, that’s a lot more than just 10 things… but once I got started it was very hard not to keep going. If you have ANY questions at all I’m here for you! I also offer personal coaching sessions, so feel free to email me if that is something you want to set up.
Please let me know if this helped you at all! I would love to hear your thoughts.
Best of luck in your pregnancy and mommy journey!