A healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy YOU! Often, prenatal advice centers wholly on what you should or shouldn’t eat or how much caffeine you should consume while pregnant. But it’s so much more than that!
It’s important to look at what you’re putting IN your body, but it’s equally important to consider what you’re putting ON your body, and what you’re doing WITH your body during pregnancy. So here are a few of my best tips for having a healthy pregnancy.
Be conscious of what you’re putting IN your body
I’ll dig deeper into great strategies for diet and nutrition in the next few sections, but I wanted to take a moment to address two big no-no’s that most people don't know about.
Avoid excessive exposure to plastics. Phthalates, found in many plastics, can increase risk of gestational diabetes, preterm labor, and pregnancy loss. BPA’s, also found in plastics, can risk neural and behavioral effects in a growing fetus, and can even impact the development of the baby's reproductive system. Though it may seem impossible to avoid plastic entirely, one tip that can pay huge dividends for the health of mama and baby is to never microwave food in plastic (many plastics release these toxic chemicals when heated).
Avoid pesticides by buying organic meat and dairy whenever possible. Over-exposure to pesticides has been linked to birth defects, preterm labor, and miscarriage. To eat organic on a budget, focus on buying organic meats and eggs, but don’t stress as much about fruits and vegetables. Pesticides can be washed off fruits and vegetables, but can’t be separated from meat and dairy.
Be picky when it comes to what you’re putting ON your body
Your skin is your body's largest organ, and research suggests your skin absorbs approximately 60% of whatever you put on it (and the face is even more absorptive than the majority of the body). Each of us has a ‘chemical body burden’ due to the products we use on our skin, the environment we live in, and the foods we eat. And we can actually pass this burden along to our babies. Shockingly, an astounding 287 chemicals have been detected in the umbilical cord blood of newborns (meaning the chemical body burden can start before our babies take their first breath). By being picky about your skincare products and very selective, you can reduce the potential impact of these chemicals on your baby. Avoid products with retinol, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide while pregnant. Most women have heard to avoid retinol in their skincare products while pregnant. Some have heard to avoid salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide (a tough sacrifice to make if you’re experiencing pregnancy acne!). But many aren't really aware of the impact general skincare products can have on their baby.
Use products that follow the EU standards for skincare. The European Union bans over 1300 chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. The US, by comparison, has only banned 11. Look for products that specifically say they’ve been formulated with no parabens, phthalates, and mineral oil. Want a recommendation? I love Artistry Skin Nutrition, which is vegan, clean, and is free from over 1,300 other iffy ingredients.
Be intentional with what you're doing WITH your body:
During pregnancy there are plenty of reasons NOT to get the exercise and self-care we need: we don’t feel well, we’re exhausted, or we’re busy with the kids we already have. But being proactive with how you treat your body yields big long-term benefits. Choose low-impact activities to stay active. Having an active pregnancy can help you feel better, have a smoother delivery, and bounce back from your pregnancy faster. But there are safe and unsafe ways to exercise. Pregnant women should favor low-impact, moderate exercise programs like walking, swimming, yoga, strength training, and/or low-impact aerobics. Picking a workout routine designed specifically for pregnancy will take the guesswork out of what’s safe (and for the mamas who already have a few tinies at home like me, nurture yourself by carving out time for intentional exercise, versus just chasing after your kiddos for 12 hours a day!)
Treat yourself to prenatal massages. Additionally, receiving a monthly prenatal massage is an excellent way to help your muscles adapt to the stress of a changing body (and center of gravity) - be sure to work with a Massage Therapist who is prenatally certified! Consider prenatal chiropractic care. Chiropractic care can also contribute to a great pregnancy and labor. Back when I lived in the city, my chiropractor, Dr. Andrea Shavitz, introduced me to Webster technique, a specific chiropractic technique used for pregnancy that can encourage a smooth labor as well as optimal positioning for the baby in-utero.