During the course of pregnancy, a woman experiences a multitude of physical changes. Skin expands, joints misalign, and new hormones secrete to prepare yourself for the development of new life. Pregnancy is an exciting time in any woman’s life, but it can be arduous and painful if you don’t cater to what your body is experiencing. Make the most of it by treating your body right, and read my list of helpful health tips that I’ve compiled from my personal and professional experiences.
Image used via visualphotos.com
1. Use coconut oil
Although coconut oil is popularly known for reducing stretch marks, using it during your pregnancy can provide you with countless other benefits that carry on post-natal. I suggest using Sunfood’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, which is both raw andorganic.
Internally, coconut oil can improve digestion through making absorption of vitamins and amino-acids easier. Coconuts also contain lauric-acid, which protects the immune system of the fetus. Moms whose diet has a healthy intake of coconut oil can increase the nutritional value of their breast milk exponentially. Coconut oil is easier for infants to
digest, as well, since it can be more easily absorbed into their underdeveloped bodies.
The benefits seem endless when considering coconut oil. You can even use it to soothe your infant. It helps relieve diaper rash, and gets absorbed into the body straight through the skin, optimizing its healthy qualities.
Image used via growingupherbal.com
2. Take safe supplements made with organic materials
When shopping around for prenatal supplements, be sure to keep in mind that GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) are being used in many of the choices you may come across. It is highly possible that the feedstock for microorganisms in vitamins with fermentation are from GMO’s. Luckily, you can easily buy organic, whole-food based supplements online, with brands like New Chapter and MegaFood, which safely provide vitamins like iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and potassium.
While taking some supplements is recommended, you should be getting the majority of your nutrition from its natural source. It is the best way to derive nutritional value while pregnant.
Image used via hearthealthywomen.wordpress.com
3. Keep exercising
A lot of women (especially first-time moms) are fearful of exercise being too strenuous on the body. While you shouldn’t be doing high-impact exercise, practicing yoga, walking, or other forms of light exercise is perfect for mom-to-be. Strengthening the muscles you use during labor make delivery easier, and have been known to quicken the birthing process. Exercise also ensures cellular nutrition, enables removal of waste, stabilizes the spine, and reduces inflammation.
Pilates, a form of therapy that has proven more helpful than even minimal intervention medicine, is a great way to exercise while pregnant. Many of the leading local Obstetricians/Gynecologists refer their patients to the Clinical Pilates program at our Wellness Center. We treat many pre/post-natal women who are looking to stay fit and ease lower back pain from the shifting of weight during pregnancy.
Most women are concerned about regaining their pre-baby physiques, which can be difficult to do, especially if they suffer from diastasis recti, a common condition that occurs when the growing uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen so much that they separate. While possibly causing a slight bulge (known more commonly as a “pooch“), many women suffer from lower back pain, as well, which can make even routine tasks difficult. Matt Nelson, our Rehab/Conditioning Expert, has developed a specific protocol for his pre/post-natal patients that involves balance, coordination, and core exercises, treating diastasis recti effectively.
Image used via pregnancyandbaby.com
4. Step up your nutritional intake
When pregnant, you are expected to take a host of prenatal vitamins that ensure adequate fetal health. This brings to light how important it is to receive vitamins and minerals from an organic source. GMO’s can contain harmful and toxic ingredients that might jeopardize the health of your child, as even trace amounts can be absorbed during fetal development. Many companies produce GMO’s to cut costs, but at the price of your health.
What to eat:
I recommend our pregnant patients follow Dr. Piazza’s nutritional advice by obtaining their vitamins and minerals from actual whole-food sources, such as:
- Foods that are high in folate and folic acid, like beans, leafy greens, asparagus, avocado, oranges, and strawberries, which are integral for the development of the neural tube and the spinal cord.
- Iron filled foods like kale, soybeans, spinach, and quinoa that help form hemoglobin, and carry oxygen to the blood.
- Green, leafy vegetables can also provide calcium, an important nutrient for building bones.
- Spinach, pumpkin seeds, organic dark chocolate, and cashews are high in zinc, boosting immunity for you and baby, while promoting cell growth.
- Bananas, avocados, almonds, grapeseed oil, and dates are good sources of choline, which contributes to the development of the baby’s nervous system.
- Seeds like flax, chia, hemp, mustard oil and seaweed provide an abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids for structural cell building.
- Sprouted grains, legumes, brown rice, and broccoli all have fiber, important for aiding digestion, and in the prevention of constipation.
- Hemp seeds, asparagus, artichokes, and eggs have your recommended intake of protein that also provides the amino acids for cell construction.
It is important to recognize that you are eating and excreting for two, so be sure to increase your intake of vegetables and fruits for optimized digestion. The more you go, the less bloated you’ll be!
Image used via americanpregnancy.org
5. Treat your body
Relaxin is a hormone that your body secretes when you are pregnant, which loosens the soft tissue in your body. In doing so, your uterus and abdomen can expand to properly fit the growing fetus. What begins to occur as this happens is the expansion of your pelvic bones, and in almost every case, the misalignment of your spinal column and joints. As your abdomen expands, your center of gravity shifts, and a host of physical ailments can persist unless you are treated properly.
There are several different kinds of therapies that you can do to ease the discomfort and pain from the rapid physical changes brought on by pregnancy. Getting adjusted by a chiropractor is endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association, non-invasive, and can realign your spine and joints, relieving back pain and sciatica. Also: invest in a Soft Form Maternity Belt for support while you sit. This is especially helpful if you work an office job!
Other APA endorsed therapies are those like acupuncture, which can prevent morning sickness. Physical Therapy is another great option for pregnant women, since it helps you work on posture, stimulate nerve involvement, and maintain flexibility. These therapies are based upon pain relief, and enable you to live a full life during pregnancy.
Image used via ojcommerce.com
6. Sleep better
This tip seems to be a give-in. Everyone wants to sleep better, but for pregnant women, it can be extremely difficult to have a night of restful sleep, especially in the last months of pregnancy. Set the mood for sleep when you head to bed by indulging yourself in some aroma therapy. Pregnant women have a heightened sense of smell and taste, and certain scents can settle your mind, as well as your stomach. Make sure to use especially diluted amounts of recommended organic oils made by companies like Young Living, with scents like lavender, chamomile, and rosewood, which all have sedative qualities.
It’s important to sleep on your left side, as sleeping on your right side can obstruct the umbilical vein that brings blood to your uterus. A tool you can use for to make sleeping on your side more comfortable is a pregnancy pillow. I even used this for nursing after I gave birth! I would recommend the Comfort-U Maternity Pillow, which features a large rectangular pillow separated in the middle for you to position your body. With the side pillows placed under your belly and lower back respectively, it is much easier to have night of restful repose.
Image used via weightlosswowfactor.com
I cannot stress enough the importance of drinking water during pregnancy. Water facilitates the process that enables the absorption of essential nutrients. It transports the vitamins and nutrients, along with minerals and specially secreted hormones to your cells, eventually reaching your baby.
As I noted before, you’re excreting for two, which means there’s even more waste that will need to be expelled. Drinking water helps dissolve waste products and flush out your system. In doing so, you can eliminate all of the bloating that occurs with pregnancy.
There are other ailments that accompany pregnancy, such as itchiness, bloating, and heat-flashes. All of these can be solved by hydrating adequately. Water moisturizes your skin from the inside out to prevent the discomfort of scaly skin, expels fluids from your body for less bloating, and regulates your body’s cooling system.
Along with filtered water, every pregnant woman should drink Coconut water, a naturally sterile beverage filled with health-boosting properties. Make sure to purchase coconut water not from concentrate, like Nirvana Coconut Water. This beverage contains almost no cholesterol, and is filled with electrolytes that replenish your body’s natural salts.
Victoria Scarano, D.C.
Dr. Scarano has been practicing with NY Chiropractic & Physical Therapy for over a decade. Specializing in the area of pre-natal and perinatal care, Scarano has a loyal following among expectant mothers due to her extensive experience with the Webster Breech Turning Technique.
Board-certified in both Chiropractic medicine and Physiotherapy, Dr. Scarano is a graduate of Life University College of Chiropractic. She received a Bachelor of Science. from Moravian College. Dr. Scarano is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association, and the Vice President of the Staten Island chapter of the New York State Chiropractic Association.