I always had big plans to be the healthiest pregnant mama on the block. Eating a healthy, balanced, vegan diet and a daily prenatal yoga practice were on the list. In addition, there was a long list of “no ways” and “nevers” including caffeine, wine, and sugar. Since we found out we were pregnant, we not only had the opportunity to travel to super fun places in Europe like Barcelona and London, but we also had the opportunity to head back to California for three months to spend quality time with friends and family. This trip included excursions to San Diego, LA, the beautiful central coast, Yosemite, and San Francisco. Needless to say, a daily yoga practice pretty much went out the window. Traveling every few days and sleeping in a different bed every few nights challenged my great intentions of a healthy, balanced diet. The first 15 weeks were pretty smooth. But being honest, this baby started craving ice cream and iced coffee (“cafe del tiempo” here in Valencia). At first, I was hard on myself. Now, 25 weeks in, I am sitting down enjoying my cafe and helado while reflecting on all the ways I can take care of my baby boy while balancing pregnancy and a move to Spain.
6 simple ways to take care of yourself and baby during pregnancy
Try to focus on what you CAN do, as opposed to all the things you CAN’T do.
1. Green smoothies
– Fruits and veggies contain high amounts of vitamins such as vitamin C, potassium, and folic acid which are super important during pregnancy.
– Smoothies also have a good deal of fiber, which aids in digestion and helps to keep things moving, reducing pregnancy-related constipation.
Preparing a green smoothie in the morning is a great way to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients right off the bat. Try out different recipes and combinations until you find one that you will actually drink. Start with more fruit and then wean yourself into at least 3-1 servings of vegetables-fruit. Here is a typical combination I conjure up in the mornings:
1 cup packed washed spinach or kale
1 pealed, large carrot
1/2 large cucumber
1/2 green apple
Handful of strawberries
1/2 lemon squeezed
1/4 cup of water
tbs of nut butter
*Tip- prepare two servings and share your super-duper healthy smoothie with your partner!
2. Protect yo-self! (from radiation)
Radiation from our computers, cellphone, television, and wifi follows us around everywhere we go. It is virtually impossible to avoid. More longitudinal studies need to be done to determine the actual risk on developing fetuses, but current research has found links to various biological impacts from everyday exposure. Because I work from home, I am constantly using my laptop and have my cellphone close by. I have my, also-pregnant sister, to thank for one of my favorite products: a radiation-blocking blanket created in collaboration with the Honest Co. and RadiaShield. This BellyArmor blanket is available on Honest’s website:
3. Belly Butter
Wow. I just love belly rubs! Buy local or make your own at home if possible to avoid exposing your belly and baby to harmful additives and chemicals. Besides the well-known benefits of belly massage during pregnancy such as the reduction of stretch marks and soothing of itchy skin, there are other, more meaningful, benefits as well. Self-care during pregnancy is something that is often put on the back burner due to stress, our busy schedules, and all the planning that goes into having a baby. I find my belly-massage time as dedicated time to slow down, give my body that is working oh-so-hard some needed attention, and connect with baby. Belly massage during pregnancy results in increased occurrences of infant massage and higher levels of self-care practices for both mom and child later in life. Invite your partner to take part in this time with you, too. Massage is a great way to connect intimately as a couple. And what is better than being interrupted by little baby kicks?! When your natural body butter is combined with a fragrant essential oil such as lavender, the scent helps to relax you and can aid in resting peacefully at night. Lastly, just because the bottle says “belly” butter, be sure to share the love with the rest of your body! Especially areas prone to stretch marks such as your breasts, thighs, hips, and booty.
Don’t have the money, time, or patience to buy or make a belly butter? Straight up organic, extra virgin coconut oil does the trick! Besides, you’ll fall asleep dreaming of the tropics…
Zoe Organics: http://www.zoeorganics.com/products/belly-butter
Peace Potions Blissful Belly Butter: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Get movin’!
Not everyone has the time or discipline for a daily exercise practice. And you know what? That’s ok! Just. Get. Moving. Prenatal yoga is divine. It is a great way to stretch, create flexibility, build strength, learning breathing techniques, and form a community with other expecting mamas. If you don’t have time or access to classes, there are plenty of other ways to keep you and baby healthy through daily exercise. Watch online exercise videos, go swimming at the pool or beach, or simply do some light stretching at home. The simplest way? Go for a walk. Living in Spain, we end up walking at least an hour a day just by default. Walking to the market or yoga, going out for dinner or coffee in the city… When it has been super hot, we have walked the mall for hours enjoying the publically-funded AC. You have plenty of errands to run in preparation for baby, so think of it as a way to add exercise into your day. One of our favorites? Planning decor for the nursery and walking aimlessness around Ikea for hours.
Probiotics have been a lifesaver during this pregnancy. These capsules of “good bacteria” promote a healthy digestive system, strengthen the immune system, treat urinary tract infections, and much more! Sounds like the perfect remedy for many pregnancy-related ailments. Paired with my daily prenatal multivitamin and vitamin B-complex, my probiotics have helped me to stay super-duper regular, ward off heartburn, and remain healthy during my pregnancy. If you aren’t a fan of taking capsules, there are some great foods that have natural sources of probiotics such as yogurt and tempeh.
*Tip: Look for probiotics that are vegan and gluten-free in order to avoid other tummy issues. Example…
6. Treat yourself!
Yeah, yeah. Avoid caffeine at all costs. Avoid sugar. Avoid alcohol. Watch out for spicy foods. Don’t eat too much oregano. There are so many things we, as pregnant mamas, are asked to avoid. My advice?* Listen to your body. Practice moderation. If you eat sugar and feel horrible, then it probably isn’t a good idea to continue eating sugar. Can’t sleep and feel light-headed? Skip the afternoon coffee. Otherwise, continue to enjoy the little things in life. Not only does your baby absorb all the harmful chemicals from the outside world and the foods you put into your body, but your baby also absorbs your joy; your love; your happiness. Participate in life and enjoy the amazing experience of being pregnant. Go ahead, have that ice cream with your friends. The memories you make with loved ones during this time are going to be more impactful that an itty-bitty bit of sugar. 😉