So often when a woman becomes pregnant, this is a time when her eyes begin to see things in a different way. In preparation for the arrival of her little one, the world suddenly starts to look big and scary. A soon-to-be mama might start to scrutinize products as she’s buying new items for the baby, adding items to her registry, and creating a nursery. She also might start to question things that she’s been doing for years—foods she’s eating, products she’s using, decisions she’s made—and all with good reason! A fresh and vulnerable new baby will be making his or her way into this great big world and every mama wants this transition to go as smoothly as possible. As a result, today I will be offering some tips for expectant mothers based on some of the most frequently asked questions in my practice.
Staying hydrated should truly be a priority for everyone. When pregnant, however, a expectant mothers needs even more water than the average person in order to perform tasks including forming the amniotic fluid, producing extra blood, and carrying nutrients (among others). Because of all of the functions an expecting mama’s body is performing, quite simply, some of the biggest concerns about a mama’s body and overall “success” with pregnancy can be tied back to how well-hydrated she is.
Before going any further, I want to discuss how to optimally hydrate! Most people initially think of being hydrated as only how much liquid one drinks each day. As far as drinking, I specifically recommend “living” water, coconut water, smoothies, and juice from fruits and vegetables. We must also keep in mind that hydration can also come from eating fresh foods—specifically raw fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of the most hydrating foods include cucumber, watermelon, pineapple, greens, tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, cantaloupes, peppers, and celery, but there are so many more.
When looking at overall hydration, we must also be mindful about the salt content in food choices, as well as any dehydrating beverages as these will have the opposite effect.
Now that we’ve covered HOW to increase hydration, let’s consider some of the additional tasks that a pregnant mama’s body must complete while hosting and growing a baby—digestion and flushing out waste and toxins.
As such, a frequently mentioned concern during pregnancy is constipation. As you might guess, adequate hydration is vital for keeping us “regular.” When eating fresh fruits and vegetables that have high levels of water content and fiber, your body can more successfully perform its jobs of digesting foods and eliminating waste. Including adequate amounts of greens, fruits, potatoes, and vegetables will keep things moving.
If you are properly hydrated, are consuming copious amounts of fruits and vegetables, and are still experiencing sluggish digestion, talk to your midwife, OB-GYN, or other health care provider about adding a magnesium supplement to your prenatal care. Magnesium offers many benefits to expectant mothers!
Another big concern women have during their childbearing months is the inevitable gaining of weight. So many mamas begin to worry about gaining “too much” weight as early as the minute they find out they’re pregnant.
For perspective, for most women maintaining a healthy weight, 30 lbs is an appropriate amount of weight to gain for a single baby, and 25-35 lbs is a healthy range. For those who are medically considered underweight or overweight at the time of conception, or for those having multiples, this number will vary accordingly.
When it comes to weight, of course diet and movement are important variables, but hydration is again a huge component! Frequent drinking and frequent eating of water-rich foods provide your body with a sense of fullness which can help you feel satisfied throughout the day so that you’re not inclined to reach as often for less healthy options.
Along the same lines, frequent eating (every 1-2 hours) supports the adrenal glands. This is helpful because as blood sugar drops, cortisol and adrenaline increase. Not only can this contribute to weight gain, but can also increase stress levels and anxiety. Check out my blog post, Adrenal Support for Life’s Stress, for more details.
What about energy? Regardless of the trimester (and let’s face it, some trimesters are more exhausting than others!), we still have lives to lead outside of growing a baby. No surprise, staying hydrated helps to maintain consistent energy levels. A lack of fluids can cause one’s heart to work harder to pump oxygen all throughout the body, which, in turn, can make one feel tired, sluggish, and less focused.
In addition to the weight discussion above, frequent eating and drinking are also vital for maintaining energy levels. As anyone who gets “hangry” will tell you, by going more than 1-2 hours without eating a balanced/“adrenal” snack, an expectant mother’s blood sugar can crash suddenly leaving you with a lack of energy and focus.
Stretch marks are another common concern for pregnant women. Believe it or not, stretch marks are an inside job. Rubbing some oil on a pregnant belly can surely help to keep it hydrated and smooth from the outside, but hydration from within (are you noticing a trend here?) is the truest way to fight off stretch marks.
Hydration-filled and silica-rich foods such as melons, cucumbers, artichokes, asparagus, cauliflower, radish, green beans, dandelion, and leafy greens are great ways to support your body from the inside. Nettle leaf is another excellent source of silica and can be consumed as a tea or taken as a supplement to combat stretch marks.
Moving Toward a More Plant-Based Lifestyle
In addition to providing us with lots of water content, moving to a more plant-based diet can provide lots of benefits during pregnancy. I realize that there are mamas everywhere in different phases of health and healing—some who eat the Standard American Diet, some who are plant-based, some who are paleo, and so many in between.
Simply increasing the amount of fruits, veggies, and leafy greens consumed (and reducing the amount of processed foods) can have a great impact on an expectant mother’s brain and body! This includes the topics already discussed as well as increasing overall nutrient consumption and reducing one’s risk of diseases such as heart disease, strokes, and more.
If the thought of big changes seems overwhelming, consider just starting somewhere! This might mean an extra bowl of wild blueberries, or adding a salad to your lunch! There are only positives that will come from making these small changes and over time, they start to add up!
You can also check out my free ebook, 10 Tips to Success on a Plant-Based Diet, for more help.
Iron deficiency is an issue for many women during pregnancy. The problem is that many iron supplements that are frequently called in as the “solution” to this issue will often actually worsen things for a pregnant mama.
I recommend first trying to raise iron levels by consuming iron-rich foods such as spirulina, spinach and leafy greens, cherries, lentils, potatoes, mushrooms, nettle, and pumpkin/hemp/flax seeds. Vitamin C is also super helpful as it enhances the absorption of these foods and their nutrients. If/when needed, a plant-based iron supplement may be recommended.
Support Your Pelvic Floor
So often you’ll new mothers mention that they have a hard time coughing/sneezing/exercising after having a baby. I’m here to say that it’s never too late to start thinking about your pelvic floor. In fact, it’s a great idea to start thinking about it as early as possible.
If “pelvic floor” is terminology that is new to you, your pelvic floor muscles are between your pelvic organs and your perineum (the tissue between your bottom and your vaginal opening). This muscle layer stretches from your tailbone to the pubic bone. As babies grow, they put pressure on this area, which can cause the muscles to weaken and drop.
Let me say that this information is not intended to be scary, but to share that you can start to think about ways to support your pelvic floor during pregnancy. You can do this by simply learning to be mindful of movements while holding children or objects such as car seats, etc.
Additionally, consider silica-rich foods such as melons, cucumbers, artichokes, asparagus, cauliflower, radish, green beans, dandelion, and leafy greens which are great ways to support your body from within. Once again, Nettle leaf is another excellent source of silica and can be consumed as a tea or taken as a supplement.
Perfection Isn’t the Goal
There’s so much pressure out there—whether from well-intentioned family members or complete strangers—resulting in mamas or expectant mamas being made to feel like they must be 100% perfect. This is certainly unrealistic as oftentimes in pregnancy, women have specific preferences, aversions, cravings, and even nausea/morning sickness, which make it feel SO hard to try anything new.
Pregnancy is truly a time to listen to the wisdom of your body. I’m here to say that it’s all about meeting yourself where you are and taking small steps for the better.
If that means you add in an extra salad or an extra apple, your body will thank you! If you can squeeze in extra ounces of freshly squeezed juice, please do!
If you are able to add foods to naturally bring iron levels up, or start thinking about how to support your pelvic floor, that’s amazing!
This is definitely a time to listen to your body and to do what you can to help to bring your sweet bundle of joy into this world the best way you can. I am rooting for you!
Here are some additional pregnancy blog posts and recommendations (including a non-toxic registry) for expectant mothers or soon-to-be pregnant mamas! I cover everything from tips for breastfeeding mothers, to preparing for a natural birth, to support for a woman’s body, and much more.
1:1 Support & Pregnancy Consultations
If you’re looking for more 1:1 support, learn more about how you can work with me directly. I am booking 6 months out, but pregnancy support packages are always prioritized, so email upon booking.
Dr. Kimberly Spair brings an enormous amount of compassion and light to her work as a healer. Her personal experience of overcoming chronic health issues while managing the demands of her busy life as a mother, wife and health practitioner gives her a special and invaluable insight into the challenges and struggles so many of her clients face. I deeply respect and honor Kimberly and her genuine commitment to helping her clients heal. She is a true ambassador of the healing information I share.
– Anthony William, Medical Medium
Nothing is more powerful than a mother in touch with her intuition and power. Dr. Kimberly Spair’s course will help awaken that within you.
– Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. OB/GYN, Women’s Health Expert, Visionary Health Pioneer, Wellness Speaker, and New York Times Best-Selling Author