Pregnancy, the wonderful time when your heart is filled with immense love for an unborn soul and your mind is consumed with the single priority of giving your child the healthiest start. However, for some these days of wait and wonder can often turn into days juggling nausea or mood swings or strange cravings or all of the above!
You may be worried sick (literally!) about what you are eating, what you are wearing, what you put on your skin, how much or how little you exercise. Panic attacks about all the gadgets that you might need; the right pillow the right shoes, the right cream and so on. But pregnancy need not equate to guilt trips and anxiety attacks. Nor should it be a 360° overhaul of your lifestyle, home or bank account.
These are a few of the most valuable tips I have culled over time, building on my own experience, advise from medical practitioners and Ayurveda and Yoga masters. Simple effective, time tested tips that debunk myths and sieves the sense from the chaff. Here they are; to help you have the healthiest, happiest and most natural pregnancy.
750 extra calories are needed a day when you are pregnant or ‘eating for two’! For a lot of unaware mothers-to-be, this sounds like a free ticket to feastdom! However, caution, eating more than what is needed can simply lend to adding empty calories and extra weight putting you and your baby at risk. Surveys now show that roughly half of all pregnant women are overweight or obese!
A natural healthy pregnancy begins with a natural diet. You and your choices of food are your little one’s only source of nutrition. Ayurveda recommends ‘sattvic’ food –foods that are abundant in prana – the universal life-force that nourishes all living things. This not only refers to vegetarian foods but also foods that are grown without herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, irradiation; in short without anything toxic and unnatural. Refined, packaged, canned, processed foods are excluded and so are foods that are fried, fermented, or leftover since the life energy of these foods has been depleted or greatly reduced rendering them heavy and lifeless. Highly stimulating foods like caffeine, sugars or highly spiced dishes need to be had in limits. Sattvic foods include nuts, fruits, seeds, beans, vegetables, whole grains and dairy.
Aspire to a healthy well balanced diet with the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, healthy fats, fiber, and water. This can be easier done by eating a wide variety of wholesome foods every day since each food has a unique mixture of nutrients.
Green leafy vegetables are a must since they among other nutrients are an important source of folic acid. If having them as a salad does not sound appetizing you can try them as green smoothies or juices.
Stock up on healthy energy-sustaining snacks and eat them often during the day. Again enjoy a variety – ranging from fruits, muesli bars, nuts, protein biscuits, dates and so on. Have some always with you. Eating small snacks every two hours goes a long way in preventing morning sickness.
Do start the day with a hearty breakfast. Ayurveda suggests a warm freshly prepared healthy one.
Conscious eating also includes:
- Mindful preparation – use iron skillets, stainless steel, earthen ware to cook your food avoiding strictly Teflon and other toxic non-stick cooking pans and pots.
- Mindful storing – use steel, stoneware, etc and avoid toxin leaching plastic containers
- Mindful eating – take a few minutes to sit and eat. Avoid rushing and eating on the go.
Regular exercise must be a vital part of your health routine (unless prescribed otherwise by your doctor). Studies show that daily exercises done during the first trimester reduce complications from arising later on in the pregnancy. Exercising increases circulation improves posture and firms muscles.
Exercises that are advisable include walking, swimming, gentle yoga stretches, weight-bearing exercises, pilates and low impact aerobic. The most important thing to remember, enjoy whatever exercise regime you choose. Pregnancy is a time to be filled with positivity and joy. If a workout sounds tiresome and boring take a dance lesson or a walk in nature instead.
Do listen to your body and do not overdo activities. Balance with enough pampered rest.
Rest, relax and sleep
For a mother-to-be, resting consciously sometimes can be hard, with all the excitement, anxiety and things-to-do lists! However, building ‘me-times’ during the day is pivotal to your health. It is one of the four pillars of health according to Ayurveda. (ahar (food intake) achar (lifestyle, routine) vihar (relaxation, recreation) and vichar (thoughts/belief).
Schedule a few ‘quiet moment’ times during the day; even if it is just to put your feet up, close your eyes and listen to some soothing music. Use these moments to ask yourself how you are feeling emotionally and physically, and listen to the answers. Some ‘down time’ in the evening before bedtime works wonders in lulling you into a sound restorative night’s sleep.