Hey guys! I’m hanging out on my couch tonight after a great but relaxing day – a few appointments, a workout and walk, some good down time and relaxed time to make good food in the kitchen. Although I felt cooped up on Monday, today mat leave feels pretty great. 😉 I was reflecting on what’s helped me feel good throughout the past few months, and while every person is different and each person’s pregnancy unique with their own stories, I thought it would be fun to share a few insights into what’s helped me feel physically, mentally and emotionally well. So, let’s dive right in with something I never thought would be standard in my life:
If you’d have asked me a year ago if I thought that chiropractic care was useful for people in general and pregnancy specifically, I would have said no, unless you got into a car wreck and needed some care or for the person who’s tried everything to help their bodies with a physical pain and hasn’t had any success. But here’s the thing: as I got to know Travis from The Institute for Human Potential 360*, I learned that receiving chiropractic care is quite like anything else in a healthy lifestyle from other professionals like a nutritionist, a personal trainer, etc in that it’s beneficial if you have a problem but is also great to do as preventative health care. He and I traded services to get to know each other locally in Inglewood better, and as I asked questions, learned from his knowledge of the body, mind and heart from a well-rounded perspective and also felt changes in my body from regular adjustments, my mind began to be more open about this profession.
Dr. Travis and I at 38 weeks! He’s also my neighor, been a client of mine, and is an active participant in the community we live in!
It was also learning more about the 4 pillars of BirthFit, the program I jumped into with 2 feet when I found out I was pregnant, that helped me learn more about the value of chiropractic care (being one of their four pillars). In BirthFit’s words, the value of chiropractic care is to “be structurally balanced and free of subluxation, so that the nervous system can function ideally and communicate with all systems of the body,” and this is one of the biggest things I’ve learned through chiropractic care – that it connects and takes into account the whole of the body. We aren’t just physical beings!
One of the benefits of chrio during pregnancy specifically is assessing the body as it rapids changes. Think about it – how often does a person gain 20+ pounds in just a few months? A lot is happening with the center of gravity shifting as well as all the movement in not only ligaments and muscles but bones with the hormone relaxin pulsing through the woman’s body. Dr. Sohan at the clinic explained it to me like this: think of your pelvis as the rim of a basketball hoop. The round ligaments (where women get a lot of pain in what I’d describe as more or less the groin area) are like the net on the hoop. The looser those ligaments (which tighten up as you go!), the easier for babe to come on down through the pelvis, and the more likely for the baby to have room to maneuver to be head down, which is the position we want for our babies before birth. So many different parts of the body are tightening up and compensating during pregnancy, so being checked for these things is super beneficial.
One of the ways I’ve seen weakness in my body is as displayed in my left leg, where all my varicose veins manifested and where my calcaneus, or heel bone, has been achy and stiff when I walk. I mention these things to Travis as well – it’s certainly not all “cracking” as people seem to think! I always leave my sessions feeling better, and I’m super grateful for the care before I got pregnant to help with my alignment and mobility and then for that continuing care during pregnancy with so many things changing in my body. I take advantage of the jacked up pillows with hole in them and love laying on my stomach without pain for the adjustments, as well as for adjustments on my back and side – find a chiropractor who is certified in the Webster Technique and also works with pre- and postnatal women!
While I certainly haven’t focused on eating “only real foods” or stressing about sugar etc, I have been eating as many whole foods as possible while listening to my body’s cravings during these past 9 months. For example, bread has been a staple during my pregnancy. I never cut it out in the past, but I certainly didn’t have toast as often as I do now! I have also kept caffeine in, but only as my body wanted, which was roughly about 1 cup of coffee a day after the first trimester (when it really just didn’t sound good to me!), and have enjoyed things like tuna, packaged natural turkey meat, and the occasional diet Coke when it just sounded right. I didn’t stress about if my egg wasn’t perfectly cooked or if I had some raw batter of the brownies I was making and relaxed about the process. I did make an attempt to keep a lot of greens and protein in my diet even if they had to come in the form of protein shakes (thanks, BiPro!) because those seemed essential to me.
What didn’t seem essential, however, was tracking my macros, so I stopped doing that and just listened to my body. A lot more carbs and food overall, but even with some ice cream or candy treats I made sure not to use the “eating for two” concept as an excuse to indulge, because your body simply doesn’t need that many extra calories!
In the same day I had bone broth AND a treat from Village Ice Cream! 🙂
My biggest advice? Don’t stress. It’s not worth the extra anxiety and intensity of focusing on what you are or aren’t doing “right;” eat according to your cravings (ie – carbs are okay! fats are great! we still need protein!) and try to get those micros (vitamins, nutrients) in as you can, and don’t go crazy with the volume. I also like the idea of eating based on what’s effective versus ineffective – it takes the emphasis off “good” or “bad” and removes the morality from it. Check out a recent post of mine for more info on this concept.
I’ve written about this before, and if you’re not new to my blog this will come as no surprise to you, especially given my job as a personal trainer! Movement has helped me feel good all throughout my pregnancy, and while I know that not everyone feels well enough at times to move, I can only speak from my own experience and from what is great IF you can do it, and you know your body best! Some of my friends have been on bed rest, struggled with carpel tunnel syndrome or have had to crawl around the house towards the end of their pregnancy; another could only walk for 10 minutes at a time because of excruciating back pain. So I recognize that my pregnancy was easy in this sense. But even on days that I didn’t feel like I could workout, I would take a walk – earlier this helped as I was sick and just had to get out of the house, despite the blizzard that had ensued all morning!
I realized that this is a big piece of my self-care (a phrase that for some reason I don’t love that much, but whose idea I understand) and that it makes me feel strong, capable and peaceful. Besides, I know that there aren’t many days left where I’m deciding where and when to workout instead of a tiny person dictating those things for me! 😉 So I may as well enjoy it as I’m able, whether I’m done training clients or not. Still time and space to train myself and then feel good about propping my feet up more at home!
Learning – But Always with a Grain of Salt
I’ve loved listening to podcasts, reading different resources online and in print form, and asking questions of my friends and family members who’ve had kids. Some of my favorites?
The Birthful Podcast with Adriana Lozada
The BirthFit Podcast with Lindsey Matthews
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Our Healthy Birth Choices class, along with wisdom from our midwives and the groups I’ve attended there, have also been very beneficial as they’ve not only taught us about the physical details and logistics about birth but the mindset with which you enter it as well. To me, more information is better than none, and taking all this information in has helped my mindset; I now know that there’s many different ways we can experience birth despite having the best laid plans, and that has encouraged me/us to go into birth and the beginning of the transition to parenthood with an open hand mindset.
Think of it like this: if you hold onto something extremely tight in your fist, you’re not as fluid to move with what may come, but more rigid and stiff. Furthermore, if your precious item (be it a physical thing or an idea or plan) gets taken away from you, it hurts pretty bad when your fingers have to be pried open one by one. But, if you can hold that item or concept loosely in your hand, not only are you free to go with the flow when life happens around you, but if that gets taken away, it doesn’t hurt as much, and something (perhaps even better!) could be put back in it’s place.
So like I said, all these conversations, hours listened to quality content, and time spent reading has resulted in me feeling armed with knowledge, knowing all the while that my story could be very different. I have to go with the flow and trust my body, trust God’s bigger plan for our lives, and trust the people we’re surrounded by (our midwife team, our doula, Allison, and my biggest supporter, Mikey!). So take all that advice with a grain of salt, and work most of all on your own mindset – it’s something we can all benefit from practicing, pregnant or not!
This includes things like being mindful to, as I just said, put my feet up at night, or do calf raises to help keep my blood flowing when standing in line or at a stoplight waiting to cross. It includes epsom salts baths, which aren’t really my thing but help me feel relaxed and are good for my veins, plus prenatal yoga and the occasional float at Float Life – all things I wish I would have discovered and then done more of earlier on in my pregnancy! Getting real vitamin D but also supplementing (for me it’s been prenatal vitamins, omega 3, vitamin E, vitamin C, and now adding some others as I get closer to the end!), hiking as I can and getting out on river trips and camping, and just generally doing things that make me feel… ME!
Vitamin D with a side of varicose veins, cankles, an almost-double chin and REALITY! I love sitting on our south-facing porch with the sunshine that makes it so much warmer than it is on the other side of the house!
More extras? Not feeling bad about saying no to events/outings, especially during the evenings and towards the end of the week while I was working, and not feeling guilty about watching TV with Mikey at night rather than doing epic, last “couple” things has also been important when I’m simply feeling more tired than usual. And lastly? I can trust my body. I can trust my God, who gifted me with this baby. And I can trust that regardless of how anything in life turns out, I still have my identity, foundation and future secured in Christ. All of these “extras” have been good for me to practice or let go of, and as the days tick down I’m grateful for little moments of extras more and more.
And there you have it! Some “best practices” that have worked for me, knowing that everyone’s experience is unique to them and there’s definitely no right or wrong. Moms and pregnant mamas – what would you add to (or take away from) the list? I’d love to hear what your experiences were like.
Live well & be well, friends, and have a great rest of the week!