Is pregnancy something you desire? Has being a mother been a dream for you since you were just a little girl? Even those who crave having their own baby are likely to face fear and challenges, and experience growth along the way.
Walking through the step by step process with a midwife, nurse, a mother friend, or your own mother will give you mixed views, experiences, and opinions about what you should and shouldn’t do through the nine months, as well as before and after, including how you should go about announcing your pregnancy.
So, on top of being a little intimidating and uncertain, now there is confusion! What should you believe and not believe? What should you do?
The truth is, all pregnancies have fixed characteristics, like how much nutrition you should be taking in to nurture the baby inside of you, as well as variables, such as how long the baby is expected to stay inside the womb. There is no way to know for sure what your pregnancy will be like (morning sickness, how much weight you will gain, one baby or three, etc.), but there are Truths about pregnancy that, if followed, will leave you feeling empowered as a mother and a sense of control over the process.
Some of these truths include increasing your nutrient intake for two people, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and being considerate of the fact that your baby is experiencing what you are experiencing, from developing cravings to language and mood.
Nutrient Intake for Two
According to Johns Hopkins, pregnant women should up their calorie intake by 300 daily, specifically from whole foods and not from sweets and fats. Nausea and morning sickness symptoms may be reduced by a balanced, healthy diet, in harmony with your growing baby.
To create a balanced diet, you do not necessarily need to supplement, unless you are on a plant-based diet or have some disorder that prevents you from absorbing certain vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A and Potassium can be found in sweet potatoes, bananas, spinach, bell peppers, and tomatoes, just to name a few. Vitamin A is important for developing your baby’s eyesight, immunity, and skin. Potassium, like calcium, activated neurons and the movement of blood through your body, which will in turn reach the uterus.
Calcium, essential for the development of bones and teeth, as well as encouraging the mother’s blood movement and neuron signaling throughout the body. It can be found in fortified milk–plant-based options, like soy milk, are available too.
Iron and folic acid are readily available in fortified breakfast cereals and some grains. You can also cook in an iron skillet to increase your iron intake. Folic acid intake for pregnant women should be 400 micrograms daily and can also be found in berries, nuts, citrus, beans, and some leafy vegetables. This vital nutrient helps build the brain and spinal cord. Iron is equally as important, as iron helps your body produce hemoglobin, red blood that carries oxygen throughout your body.
Protein is essential for muscle and tissue production, creating antibodies, as well as developing hormones and enzymes. It can be absorbed by indulging in beans, nuts, seeds, meat, and/or fish.
There are some foods you should be clear to avoid, like packaged lunch meats, unpasteurized dairy, and raw meat and seafood, which contain unhealthy bacteria that can have nasty effects on a developing human.
It will be necessary to talk to a professional, either a nutritionist, pregnancy nurse, or midwife, about when you should be focusing on getting what nutrients, as certain nutrients are vital at certain stages of your baby’s development. You should also ask about fluid intake, as this will vary from person to person based on body-weight, diet, etc.
Drugs and Alcohol
If you haven’t already heard this before in health class or from the media, drugs, and alcohol are a big no-no for expecting mothers. With each sip, inhale, injection, or any other form of consuming the two, you are putting your baby’s life and wellbeing at risk. There have been many studies done on birth defects and their relation to drugs and alcohol.
The term “drugs” is just an umbrella term and can be defined as substance inducing physiological effects. Some commonly used recreational drugs are cigarettes, marijuana (THC or CBD), heroin, meth, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and the list goes on. Drugs do not exclude pharmaceuticals, like anti-depressants or sleep-aids. Any time you are receiving medicine from a doctor or planning to buy it over the counter at your local drug store, you should consult whoever is guiding you through the pregnancy process.
Birth defects of drugs and alcohol range from physical to mental impairments, and can even lead to miscarriage. You can view a list of those effects online as a reminder not to use any substances if you are ever feeling tempted. Some people claim it’s okay to drink a glass of alcohol every now and then during pregnancy, but to avoid any complications and reduce symptoms, it’s better to swear sobriety.
Your Baby Sees and Hears Everything
The way you act, react, think, eat, and sleep all have an impression on your growing baby. From the words that come out of your mouth and the emotion behind them to the foods you eat and drink, your baby is a copy of you, not only in the DNA. And don’t be fooled, this doesn’t start happening when the baby’s brain is fully developed, it starts at conception.
This might sound like a lot of pressure in conflict with expected mood swings, food cravings, and other pregnancy-triggering reactions, but there are many things you can do to keep your impulses at bay.
Prenatal yoga and sitting or walking meditation are great for calming the mind during these stressful times on your body. You are completely capable of training your mind, so in the case of an impulse decision or reaction, you are aware and can hone it back in without acting on the impulse.
If you want to reduce food cravings, then understanding what cravings are really pointing to is essential. For example, craving salty foods may just be implying that your body needs more electrolytes or water. When you can treat the root of the issue, rather than the surface level craving, you are well underway to develop a self-disciplined, driven, and independent human!
Creating an authentic, open, and honest relationship with your friends and family before or at the beginning of the pregnancy will allow you to say simply, “I can’t handle (whatever the situation is) right now, can I have some time to reflect on it?” Then, return to your seated meditation, hone in on the explosive and impulsive feelings, and find stillness. You are in control! If someone who isn’t close to you triggers you, say the bank’s customer service, you can try taking a few deep breaths, being silent for a moment, or returning at a later time in order to recreate peace in your body.
For this reason, pregnancy is a great opportunity for self-growth. You will learn a lot about your physical and emotional bodies, what triggers you, how open and authentic your relationships are in comparison to where you would like them to be, and more. These practices reveal the capital-T Truths about your life!
There is so much to be excited about when you discover you are pregnant. It would be a traumatizing experience to lose or disable your baby with malnutrition, drugs, or alcohol. Parenting doesn’t begin when the baby is born, it begins now with the nurturing of the developing baby inside of you. Talk to it, sing to it, feed it enough good food, and the baby will be more of a blessing than you could ever ask for!
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