If you’ve read my bio, you know I’ve had three babies. I’ve learned a lot about self care through each of my pregnancies, and so much about how that related to my babies’ health and healthy birthing processes.
I’m going to break up some of the info about my pregnancies up into different posts…but for those ladies that are expecting, I will give some relevant information that I accumulated with my experience about both having a natural childbirth and staying at a healthy weight during pregnancy.
As a disclaimer, I am not a doctor, so please follow your health professional’s advice specific to your health requirements.
My first pregnancy, I started out vegan and soon changed to a standard American diet, to make eating with my husband easier as I got tired (I was also taking a Bradley Method that encouraged eating protein). I ate for two, gained about 37 lbs, and had complications during the birth. I didn’t hire a doula and got overly dehydrated. I had an emergency Cesearian birth and didn’t find out about seven months later that I had undiagnosed Celiac disease. My first-born was a miracle and a testament to how Mother Nature protects babies and takes from the mommy what is needed.
I spent a year and a half healing my gut after my son was born, on a medical gluten-free diet and had to do food testing for lactose and FODMAP sensitivities during that time. After about four months of Autoimmune Paleo diet I got pregnant with my daughter.
During my second pregnancy, I had severe morning sickness for up to about six months and lost, weight initially. I stayed on my medically gluten-free diet and followed many grain-free recipes. Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain recipes were my go-to at the time. I gained about 5 lbs less than my first pregnancy (I didn’t really log my food intake or monitor calories). I had a healthy natural delivery, with the assistance of an awesome doula.
I was very active and lost most of the baby weight by six months postpartum and more, by being mindful about my diet and exercising 6 days a week.
Then I found the Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines about a year and half post-partum. I followed her diet/exercise plan and the SWEAT app for the next year, at which point I was pregnant again with my third. I didn’t want to lose my new lifestyle with the pregnancy so I kept a food log and essentially ate the same nutritious diet and only walked 30 minutes daily after about 12 weeks. I did some bicep curls and gentle squats a couple of times a week until I was about 8 months along. My goal in my third pregnancy was also to not overgain – knowing that I was four years older than my second childbirth and it would be harder to lose afterwards. I didn’t want to predispose myself to diabetes or cardiac issues with three children. So I was far more careful about my intake and only really added 300 extra calories to my diet in the third trimester. Overall, I gained 12 lbs less than my first pregnancy and delivered my youngest by way of another healthy all natural birth.
Now, you want to know what was amazing to me? On the standard American diet with little exercise I had a complicated birth and trouble starting to breastfeed. My other two pregnancies, when I walked daily, I gained far less. Also, by eating a nutrient dense diet and healing my nutrition deficiencies through diet, I had no problems breastfeeding. Lastly, in my third pregnancy, I essentially had dropped 18 lbs by two weeks postpartum, but I’ve lost more slowly since and have been focused on body conditioning for strength and keeping essential fats and calcium in my diet for my nursling.
With each baby I nursed, my body held fat differently in the first year than normal to protect my babies with a little fat storage. I’ve accepted that is how my body is. Everyone is different. By my third baby, I honed in on a nutritious diet being extremely important for my baby as well as myself. (With my second I had less nutrient dense food and my baby took most of my stores…so mother nature left me with less). My self-care this time around is to eat well enough that I don’t get anemic or lose bone density and maintain my nursing with healthy nutrition for my baby until he’s at least a year.
5 things I did to have a healthy natural birth and stay in shape during pregnancy:
- Hiring a doula helped me to have natural births
- Eating a nutrient dense diet helps baby development and breastfeeding
- Eating only an additional 200 calories in the second trimester and 300 calories in the last trimester (as long as you didn’t start out under/or overweight) prevents excess gain/long term health consequences like cardiac issues or diabetes
- Walking daily for 30 minutes is excellent exercise for pregnancy – listen to your body, though.
- Ruling out nutritional deficiencies and food sensitivities or autoimmune issues and having a good nutrition/exercise before getting pregnant can really prevent complications in childbirth.
So this last baby-body transformation is a work in progress and I’ll keep you posted!