A word from our midwife:
Nutrition and fitness are so important, and most of us feel like we're not doing enough, or not doing as well as we should in both of those categories. This is typically true throughout our lives, but we feel it much more keenly in pregnancy when there is a sense that our babies' health and well-being is being undermined or depleted by the things we wish we were doing better. The good news is that our bodies are incredibly resilient, and this very much includes the body's ability to give the best of our nourishment and nutrient reserves to the baby. The body will always put the baby first in this regard, so that it is much more likely that the mother isn't getting all that she needs, not the baby. The babies are getting all that they need, and mother's may feel more tired and more drained because of this. All of that to say, nature has given us a lot of room to give ourselves plenty of grace when it comes to nutrition in pregnancy. So go easy on yourself!
And while going easy on ourselves, there are a few key ways that we can all work smarter, not harder, when it comes to being as healthy as we can be in a fast-paced, processed food, modern world. With the schedules that we keep, we are well acquainted with the difficulties of fitting everything into a week, and somehow eating vegetables and getting some exercise while we're at it. Here are a few of the tricks we personally use to try to eat better and exercise more, even when time is short and days are long.
1) When you crave sugar or carbs, eat protein first
Protein helps to regulate our blood sugar over time. When we eat only sugar or carbs, our blood sugar goes higher and crashes sooner, which means that more sugar gets pulled into our tissues and turned into fat for long-term energy storage, and we're hungry sooner. Protein helps the blood sugar to not shoot up as high, and to stay at a good level longer, meaning less fat production, and not needing to eat as often. It's incredibly common to crave a lot more sugar and carbs in pregnancy. I personally find it so helpful to know that when the body is craving these things, what it really needs is more protein. Sugar will almost never curb a sugar craving, but protein almost always will. By eating protein before you have a treat, you will almost always find that you don't need the sugar you were thinking of at all, or that you can eat way less of it and be more satisfied afterward. Do a quick google search of good sources of protein, and pick out all the snacks or foods that you know you like and that are easy for you to have ready. This suggestion goes a long way!
2) You don't have to go to the gym to get good exercise. A little walking will do!
The research is very clear that even a 30 minute walk 2-3 times a week significantly decreases blood sugar levels over time (meaning less fat production), and (here's the great news), significantly reduces the likelihood that a woman will deliver a big baby at term. Less weight gain, nice-sized babies when it's time to birth: that's a win-win! And much easier to fit in than many exercise regimens. The research also shows that when you do have a meal or snack that's high in sugar or carbs, just taking a quick 10-15 minute walk immediately after significantly lowers the amount of sugar that gets turned into fat, and the amount of sugar that goes to the baby (which can make them more fat, too). Don't make it your goal to completely cut out sweets and treats; we need them too. But eating protein before, and/or a quick walk after can greatly decrease the down sides of eating sugar.
3) Look into an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cookers
I promise I'm not getting paid to say this, but an Instant Pot has revolutionized my ability to cook whole foods and veggies for myself and my family, especially when weeks are busy and time is tight. A pressure cooker cooks food thoroughly in small fraction of the time--especially really great foods that normally take a long time, like root vegetables and beans. And in other great news, it leaves much more of the nutrients intact in those foods than cooking them a long time with sauteing, boiling, or baking. So food that is more nourishing and takes way less time to cook: that's another win-win. For example, a sweet potato normally takes 40-45 minutes at high heat in the oven to cook thoroughly. It's ready in 3-6 minutes (depending on your settings) in a pressure cooker. This is just one of hundreds of examples of healthy, balanced foods being ready in minutes, rather than hours.
4) For a balanced meal, have three colors on the plate, and white doesn't count
This was a rule one of my midwives taught me for how to quickly assess if you're getting a good balanced meal, in pregnancy or otherwise. It's easy and straightforward. How many colors are in the foods on your plate? If you're missing one or two (and white doesn't count), throw in some raw carrots, a side dish of blueberries, or cut up some fresh peppers to give yourself more of the nutrients you and your baby need.
5) Can't seem to get veggies in no matter how much you try? Green smoothies are a great solution
Green smoothies are a way that you can get in the veggies equivalent to two or three salads, in a fraction of the time, with no cost to nutritional value. A bag of greens from the store inevitably turns to sludge after a few days in my fridge. I got sick of the waste of food and money, so now I keep a huge bag of greens in the freezer specifically for smoothies. They stay fresh for weeks instead of days, and they blend beautifully. And if a straight-up green smoothie is too much for your taste buds, add some frozen fruit (it's much cheaper to buy organic frozen fruit than organic fresh fruit, and the frozen is just as nourishing), especially dark-skinned berries to make it sweeter while packing great nutrients into that smoothie. And a scoop of organic protein powder is easy to add and goes a long way in keeping you full longer, and getting you and baby the great nutrition you need.
Just remember, when it comes to this stuff, work smarter, not harder! You can do this!
With much love,
Your TBC Midwives
Pregnancy Nutrition Books We Love:
100 Healthiest Foods To Eat During Pregnancy
Vegan For Her
The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book
The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing The New Mother
Bea Hammond at our 2nd seminar of the 2018 season: Acupuncture for Fertility. Along with a Q&A session, Bea demonstrated how acupuncture works to all of our participants. To learn more about acupuncture & Beas' practice, check out her website.
Local Provider Highlight, Nicole Bennion, FIT4MOM
Join Nicole Bennion, franchise owner and instructor at FIT4MOM Murray, to discuss the prenatal and postnatal body when it come to fitness. Get to know what happens to you body, how to train it properly and what are the best exercise for you . You'll also get a quick demo workout provided by FIT4MOM Murray! (Stroller Strides/Fit4Baby certifications, AFAA Personal Training & Group Fitness certification and Franchise Owner)
We are excited to introduce you to Amy Updike,
our new Fitness contributor!
Amy is a mama of 2 & currently on her 3rd pregnancy! She had her VBAC & 2nd babe at The Birth Center & has since become a fitness personality!
We are thrilled that she will be giving us her tips & tricks for staying healthy throughout your pregnancy no matter what your activity level or ability!
Fitness in the First Trimester
As a mom of two, now 11 weeks pregnant with my third baby, and also a sponsored, professional athlete, there are a few things I have figured out about fitness during pregnancy.
With my first pregnancy seven years ago, I wasn’t into fitness yet. I did the occasional prenatal yoga class or hike. But I wasn’t consistent or serious about my fitness. That all changed 11 months postpartum after my first baby. I got very into fitness and even started competing in bikini fitness competitions, was much better at it than I ever though I would be, and ended up turning “Pro” status in the International Federation of Bodybuilding nine months into competing.
My second pregnancy came shortly after competing in my 12th fitness competition and I was determined to stay fit throughout the pregnancy! With the midwives' blessing, I continued to lift weights 4-5 days a week throughout my entire second pregnancy, even lifting the day I went into labor! I believe that my fitness and activity level contributed to my successful VBAC that I had at The Birth Center! I also noticed that I had more energy and less aches and pains related to pregnancy the more active I stayed.
I continued on to do many fitness photo and video shoots after that second pregnancy and even competed in one more Pro Bikini competition.
Here I am now, in my third pregnancy, still determined to maintain my fitness level to have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy while making it easier for my body to get back into great shape after baby!
Here are some of my BEST fitness and nutrition tips for the first trimester:
- Continue to move! In general, it is ok to continue doing the same or similar exercise you were doing before becoming pregnant. Even if you aren’t feeling up to doing as much or as intense exercise as you were doing before becoming pregnant, try to make a point to do something active most days, even if its just walking. If you feel like you can still get in your favorite type of workout, try! Even if its not your best, strongest, or most intense workout, its still SO much better than nothing at all!
- Listen to your body! I have noticed that if I start to feel dizzy, winded, nauseated or anything else that doesn’t feel “good”, I slow down and back off a little. Our bodies are one of our most amazing tools. If we listen to our bodies, they will tell us what is ok and what is not ok. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- I don’t always, but sometimes I do lower the weights that I lift during the first trimester. It depends very much on my energy level and how strong I feel that day. I have noticed that I have to give myself and my body a lot of grace. I have to remind myself that even though I feel more tired and weak than normal, that my body is doing something that is absolutely incredible.
- After about 9-10 weeks pregnant (or whenever my tummy starts to protrude even a little), I stop doing “Ab specific exercises”. This doesn’t mean that I stop using my core muscles, but I no longer do crunches, sit ups, or planks where the abdomen “cones” or bulges. Continuing to do these exercises while pregnant can potentially cause Diastasis Recti which results from damage of the abdominal muscles causing abnormal separation which lasts even after the pregnancy is over. This usually results in bulging of the abdomen, the appearance of still being pregnant months after delivery, and a change in the abdominal appearance postpartum. Many women struggle with this. Diastasis Recti can also be exacerbated by having an abnormally large baby or genetics. But I have found that by avoiding any straining exercises that cause bulging of the abdomen, that I have successfully been able to avoid Diastasis Recti and have been able to get that 6 pack ab look back after both of my first two pregnancies! *I will talk more in a future newsletter about the BEST way to maintain a strong core during pregnancy.
- Try to maintain a well rounded diet. I keep my protein fairly high during pregnancy to provide enough nutrients to maintain and recover my muscles as well as provide for the growing baby. I have also noticed that I have less swelling when I keep my protein intake adequate. I include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables during pregnancy. We all have cravings and it can be pretty easy to give into them. But if we constantly give into unhealthy cravings of too many sweets or processed foods, it can leave us feeling tired and yucky. One of my best tips for combatting the unhealthy cravings is to stock up on a wide variety of healthy food options. This way there is bound to be a healthy option that also sounds very good! I haven’t been able to eat enough big, crunchy, fresh salads and low fat string cheese this pregnancy. The better I fuel my body, the better I feel!
10 Essential Steps To A Healthy Pregnancy
7 Healthy Upgrades To Make While Pregnant
Check Amy out on:
- Instagram: @fitamysuzanne
- YouTube: Amy Updike
- Facebook: fitamysuzanne
Lastly, yours truly has been fortunate enough to not only be trained by the women I hold in incredibly high regard but to now also be a part of this incredible team as a Birth Assistant!
I am looking forward to learning & growing along side of them & our incredible families with each birth!- Danka