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Getting the body ready for baby

It’s that time, though I can hardly believe it. Seems like yesterday I gave birth to our little joy-ball in the bathtub at the Austin Area Birthing Center. In reality, it was over fifteen months ago! Time flies, and alas, we are ready to get started with Baby #2. I had a near perfect pregnancy the first time, and while most of that was simply grace (thank You, God!), I do believe that my diet and habits played a significant part. Many women interested in having a natural (drug-free) childbirth have since then asked me what I did for my “perfect pregnancy.” So I thought I would give some simple steps to help you so that you can provide the best possible physical environment (I’ll cover the spirit and soul/mind in later posts) for your baby to develop. These are a great refresher for me too as I get this body ready!

1. Begin eating a diet based on whole, real foods. If you do only one thing, stop eating “foods” with chemicals. Look for these ingredients specifically and eliminate them completely from your diet: high fructose corn syrup, anything “hydrogenated,” Nutrasweet (that means no Diet Coke, ladies), pretty much anything you can’t pronounce. Remember, simple is better, and God made our food with everything we need in it. If He didn’t put it there in the first place, we probably don’t need it. I wholeheartedly recommend Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods. This book was written by a real mom and has a real easy-to-read style. If you buy only one book for your pregnancy, make it this one!

Note: If you have been eating a diet full of chemicals and processed foods, would you consider doing a de-tox or “cleanse” before you get pregnant? My favorite cleanse has been the Standard Process 21-day cleanse. It is whole foods based, organic, and completely natural. It is also one of the more balanced cleanses, and has had long-term results for me. It will help you find your ideal weight and will break your food addictions.

2. Water, water, drink more water. Get in the habit now. My beloved husband must have brought me a glass of water every 20 minutes when I was pregnant. Part of what kept my weight down was the fact that I was running to the bathroom every five minutes! This is not necessarily something you will want to do. Do it anyway.

3. Walk! It’s one of the few exercises you can do the entire pregnancy. We walked almost everyday of my pregnancy, literally. During the first few weeks, I ran into a woman who had delivered both of her boys without drugs. She said the first birth was much easier than the second because she had prepared by walking all the time. I took her words as if they were from God Himself and I made it my goal to walk all the time. Since I was determined to have a drug-free birth, I basically pretended that I was training for a marathon and kept a painfully regimented schedule. It really helps if you have a partner to do this with – like your husband! :)

4. Stretch! Boy, do I need to be writing this. I have not been diligent about stretching post-partum, but that is about to change. We had a few sets of exercises that we (I) did each night to help me maintain flexibility. I was determined not to swell and knew that I needed to keep good circulation. It worked! Stretching. Key. You could also do prenatal yoga. I kept it simple and just bought a video rather than going to classes. If you are like me and only want to buy one video, I’d go with this one: Prenatal Yoga. Once I had watched it a few times I just did the exercises that I liked the best so that I didn’t have to sit through too much mumbo jumbo. No offense. :)

5. Take prenatal vitamins. I am passionate about my prenatals. If you are a skeptic and think all brands are the same, trust me, they are not! You want a whole food-based vitamin (that means you are eating actual foods, not synthetic garbage!), preferably organic. Again, I wholeheartedly recommend Perfect Prenatal. Go ahead and buy the big one. You’ll be pregnant a while and you’ll still want to take them when you’re nursing all the time.

6. Rest, relax, and get in the habit of taking naps. You need lots of sleep. My beloved husband stroked my arm until I fell asleep every night since it was sometimes hard for me to get relaxed. This was great practice for labor since relaxation can help the labor process go much more smoothly. Watching a movie was also like taking a sleeping pill. Whatever works for you, get some sleep.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I am sure you already have a stack of books to tell you everything else. The point was to keep it simple. It’s not all about the body either, so stay tuned for future posts about getting your mind and spirit ready for a perfect pregnancy, labor and delivery, and baby!

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