Thursday, 16 April 2015

Paleo Pregnancy Diaries: Keeping Active in Pregnancy and Pre-natal Supplementation






Hi everyone! 

Hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather we have been experiencing the past few days. It is lovely to have such stunning sunshine but also very distracting if you have to work!

Today I want to fill you all in on my pregnancy to date as well as speak to you about pre-natal supplementation and whether it is necessary at all.

I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with my 2nd baby (after an almost 12 year gap!) and I am getting very excited about my impending arrival! My bump is getting much bigger now that I am about to begin my third trimester but I am lucky enough to be still feeling great and keeping myself active and busy. Baby is growing well and is kicking and moving around lots in the past week or so. I started to feel movement from 16 weeks but it is now getting more and more evident. Even as we type I just had a huge kick which made me take a sharp intake of breath! Baby is having fun in there!

Thankfully I have had no heartburn or anything yet, just some tiredness if I do anything above and beyond my normal activity. After something exerting I feel like I could sleep forever!



When I look back on the first pregnancy 12 years ago and compare it to this one, the differences are striking. I have been working hard at trying to ensure I am keeping my diet as Paleo as possible in order to nourish both myself and my growing baby.

Pregnancy nutrition is so important and unfortunately is often overlooked in favour of prenatal supplementation - something I definitely do not agree with. Diet should always come first. Supplementation of nutrients should always be viewed as just that - a supplement to an already healthy diet, not an excuse to eat rubbish food and "top up" with a man made supplement to counteract it! If your diet is varied and healthy you should not need a prenatal supplement, your diet should be enough.

To learn what foods you should be including in your diet read my post on important superfoods in pregnancy here

In saying that there a couple of supplements which I do include in my pregnancy regime which I think are important and which you may also like to add in.

What Supplements Do You Need?

Folate: 
This is one which is commonly advised me take during preconception and early pregnancy. However there is a huge difference between folate (natural form) and man made or synthetic folic acid (the version commonly used in OTC brands as well as the prescription one). For me I would always recommend someone take folate form of this vitamin and to be cautious if you have MTHFR mutation which means you are unable to absorb folic acid. In this case you should work with a nutritional therapist to ensure you choose the right form for you. There has been extensive research on the benefits of taking folate in pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects so do ensure you start taking this prior to conception as well as consuming plenty of folate rich foods like spinach, kale and other greens.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid
These essential fatty acids are so called because they can not be made by the body itself, they must be taken in through diet or supplementation. In the case of consuming oily fish it is imperative that the fish must be wild and be from a clean source to ensure that there is no risk of contamination. While this is always important, it is especially important when pregnant or breastfeeding as the types of toxins found in fish can be stored in the body and passed on to foetus or baby through breast-milk. It can therefore be preferable to take an Omega 3 supplement in the case where good fish is not available. These oils help to reduce inflammation in the body which can help with recovery after labour as well as possibly preventing stretch marks and are crucial for baby brain development.

Probiotics
Probiotics are a critical part of the pregnancy regime. As above you should aim to get these wonderful bacteria from fermented food where possible, but if fermented cabbage isnt appealing to you right now take a good probiotic supplement instead. Babies inherit their mother's bacteria during birth but according to emerging evidence they also take on our bacteria while in the womb. It is not known fully how this happens but it is thought it takes place via transfusion of some type through mother's blood into the placenta. Probiotics ensure that baby gets the right combination of good bacteria which will lead to improved immunity and long term health. They also help mother prevent illness during pregnancy as well as prevent constipation.

                                               

Pregnancy Cravings
What about pregnancy cravings I hear you say?! While it is true that we should not become bogged down by worrying about eating 100% clean and perfectly during this time, it is still very important that we are aware that everything we eat is in part being passed along to our growing baby. I am not perfect by any means (nor to I proclaim to be) but I try my utmost to ensure that the vast majority of my food is healthy, nutritious and unprocessed. Ensuring you balance your blood sugars by preventing eating sugar and refined foods as well as focusing on eating adequate protein will also help prevent fatigue and morning sickness. We owe it not just to ourselves but also to our little miracle who's development depends on us! So resist the urge to use your pregnancy as an excuse to throw in copious amounts of chocolates and instead focus on eating as healthy as you can!



                                               
Keeping Active
In terms of staying active and healthy I recently started pregnancy yoga. It is such a relaxing and therapeutic thing to add to your life at any time but there is something so nice about taking time out to just be and breath and enjoy the quietness. As well as allowing us to relax and switch off from the stresses and strains of daily life it also turns on our parasympathetic nervous system and allows to take time to bond with our growing babies. We are also learning important breathing techniques which will come n useful during labour. I am also walking 2 miles 3/4 times a week which I am really enjoying. My dog is loving my new found enthusiasm too! I am a strong believer in the idea that we should not let pregnancy be a time to sit back and do nothing. This notion of "taking it easy" can be overdone sometimes and providing the pregnancy is a healthy one, everyone should be trying to keep healthy and active in pregnancy.

To the next 3 months: 
All in all things have been going great so far. I have been doing lots of research on birthing and breastfeeding (which I plan to do) and as the weeks go by the thoughts of the imminent labouring process become more and more frequent! As Mothers to Be we all pray and hope for a great labour but unfortunately mother nature usually has her own ideas!

I will do a post soon on my birth plan and what things I hope to include as well as updates on my pregnancy in the coming weeks.

Until then, enjoy the lovely weather!

Denise