12 Ways to Prepare for Healthy Pregnancy

conception

I put together a guideline for myself as a reminder of the ways I will be proactive in our pregnancy journey.

1.  Prayer.  With God, all things are possible.  I love this prayer from Marianne Williamson:  Dear God, may I be pregnant with the expression of a new being: someone more magnificent than I have been; more powerful, healthier, more alive, more tender, more compassionate, more full of love.  Amen. 

2.  Sleep by 11pm.  I had been struggling with “post-partum night owl syndrome” and got addicted to staying up late working till 3, 4, 5 in the morning.  While it’s tempting to stay up late when the baby’s asleep and the house is quiet, 8 hours of restful nighttime sleep is essential for promoting a healthy circadian rhythm.  When the eyes are exposed to total darkness, the brain produces the optimum amount of melatonin, a hormone that allows the body to heal itself.  A good night’s sleep is the basis for health and happiness.

3.  Maintain stable blood sugar level. Avoid simple sugars and refined carbs, which can cause spikes in blood sugar and raise insulin levels.  Over time, this can lead to hormonal imbalance, thus affecting fertility.  Replace simple carbs such as white or enriched flour with whole grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice.  Sweeteners such as sugar, maple syrup, honey and agave can be replaced with naturally sweet fruits and vegetables such as bananas, apples, peaches, pineapples, melons, sweet corn, yams, pumpkins, carrots and parsnips.

4.  High protein/low carb diet. It has been shown that women who eat a high protein/low carb ratio diet had the highest pregnancy rate (80%).  Also, protein from plant sources like beans are associated with increased fertility. When buying proteins from animal sources, choose from companies with responsible practices such as sustainably harvested fish, pastured eggs, and grass fed beef.  Whole Foods has an amazing sustainable meat and seafood department.

5. Eat avocados, healthy fats and fermented foods .  Alisa Vitti, Integrative Nutritionist and Hormone Expert, recommends increasing amount of avocados eaten.  In a study, women who ate 3 avocados a week versus women who did not, had 3.5 times greater successful conception.  Avocados are a great vegetarian source of monounsaturated fat that help stabilize hormones.   Other healthy fats with essential fatty acids include olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.  Fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kimchee and yogurt help aid the body with digestion and restore proper balance of gut bacteria.

6.  Eat variety of fresh fruits & vegetables.   Raw fruits and vegetables are rich in the micronutrient glutathione, which help improve egg and sperm quality and vascular health of ovaries.  Greens also contain calcium and magnesium, which help our body to use hormones more efficiently.  Veggie juice from beets, lemon, kale, cucumber, parsley, apple and ginger is my favorite.  Eating different colored vegetables will ensure full range of vitamins and minerals.

7.  Daily exercise. Exercise produces endorphins and makes you feel good.  Low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, and swimming are great for pregnancy.  Avoid running, biking or any down-bearing exercise that make it harder for the sperm to swim or embryo to secure itself to the uterus.   Stretch the hips to improve healthy blood flow and nutrients to the ovaries with hip circles and yoga poses such as pigeon, king dancer, eagle, and down dog.  And breathe with your diaphragm, which allows more air to enter your lungs.

8.  Drink water with lemon instead of coffee in the morning.  Lemons balance the pH and has an alkalizing effect on our body.  The citric acid helps the body to flush out kidneys, stimulate the liver, and energize the mind.   Plus lemons are loaded with vitamin C and help supercharge our immune system.  Hydration in general helps replenish fluids and blood needed to nourish the egg, uterine lining and uterus.  Drink half oz per pound, so if you weigh 100 lbs, drink 50 oz of water. 

9.  Food based supplements.   Fertility acupuncturist Heidi Brockmyre recommends 1000 mg of fish oil with 500 mg DHA Essential Fatty Acid, which has been shown to improve egg, sperm and embryo quality.   Protein is the building block of all cells, so a daily protein powder such as Amazing Meal can help fill in the gaps with 15 g of plant-based protein per day.  A daily multi-vitamin that includes vitamin D, calcium, B12 and folic acid is important for fertility in men and women.

10.  What to Avoid.  Avoid caffeine, alcohol, soda, processed soy products such as soy protein isolate, sugar, refined carbs, preservatives, artificial flavors, sweeteners and chemicals, hydrogenated oils, spray butter, fake butter, margarine, whipped topping.  Avoid eating colors you can’t find in nature  and anything you can’t pronounce.  Also avoid chemical exposure such as dry cleaning and harsh cleaning supplies.

11.  Wear socks.  I tend to get cold or clammy feet, so wearing socks will help me retain warmth so that my body basal temperature is high enough for incubation.  Koreans believe you can’t get pregnant if your feet and butt are cold, so keep them warm.

12.  Meditation for 5 minutes.  Meditation slows the heart rate, calms the mind, relaxes the nervous system, improves brain chemistry, enhances immune system, slows the aging process, harmonizes hormones, increases creativity, builds confidence, develops emotional stability.  Just close the eyes and breathe in God’s healing and love circulating.  “Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.” – Krishnamacharya