A nourished journey towards and through pregnancy
A nourished journey towards and through pregnancy
By Natasha Mason, Founder & Director, Nourish Melbourne
‘Fail to plan, plan to fail.’
While this strikes me as a blunt, blanket statement, it does have merit when it comes to planning a healthy conception, followed by a healthy pregnancy. At the same time, I know that a couple can do all they can to fall pregnant, the woman doing all she can to be healthy and fit before falling pregnant to ensure a trouble-free pregnancy, yet by the sheer fact that her body is so different to mine and the next person’s, the above quote isn’t quite so fitting.
So, while there was plenty of planning in my own case, please keep this in mind as I take you through my journey towards what was a quick and natural conception and, at 36 weeks pregnant, a (so far) trouble-free pregnancy. I’ll also share the services and products that have helped me at each stage of my conception and pregnancy journey. This piece comes at the request of Nourish Melbourne followers, subscribers and Members who have asked me questions such as, “who did you see before falling pregnant?”, “did you take any supplements before you fell pregnant?”, “what have you been doing throughout your pregnancy?” and “what have you been eating before and throughout your pregnancy?”.
At the end of this piece I’ve listed who I personally consulted, together with who else we recommend to help you on your own journey, as well as some great reading from the Nourish Melbourne blog archives from our community experts.
THE CONCEPTION JOURNEY
Our conception journey started at least one year before we planned to fall pregnant. This involved both Mr Nourish and me consulting a Chinese Medicine practitioner/natural fertility specialist. Our diets were picked apart, we were sent for blood tests and we each completed a MTHFR test. From there, we each began our prescribed path to being in the most ideal position to conceive a healthy baby, naturally. This is where supplements and herbs come in and where I won’t recommend any specific products, as I believe all supplements should be professionally prescribed and not purchased under any other conditions. For example, through the MTHFR test we found that Mr Nourish also needed to be taking a folinic acid supplement as opposed to just a general male fertility multi-vitamin, which only contained folic acid (and wasn’t being absorbed by his body).
We also both saw our GPs for general health checks. This is where our journey was paused for a little while as I found out that I had abnormal cells in my cervix, which eventually needed to be removed through surgery. I wanted to ensure I had the all clear following this surgery, as well as taking some down time to ensure full health of the cervix before we considered trying for a baby. Call this ‘clearing the cobwebs’ if you will, but I wouldn’t want to imagine the complications of having fallen pregnant and then finding this out. I guess this is one example where the ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ motto rings true.
When it came to diet, I undertook a gentle cleanse to my usual diet (wholefoods, generally gluten free and low on dairy), which consisted of removing acidic foods, such as coffee, alcohol and meat. This happened a few months before we planned to conceive. Depending on your own diet and other circumstances, you may be recommended to follow an organic juice cleanse/detox to clean the slate! I also love the benefits of gut-nourishing foods such as bone broth, sauerkraut and kombucha – all foods I’ve included in my diet for at least the last two years, conception and pregnancy aside.
Mr Nourish did something similar with his own diet, and also became more aware of his alcohol intake. Did you know that the male sperm at the time of conception is indicative of the health of the male three months earlier? That just gives you an idea of the minimum time you should spend planning a healthy conception.
Exercise, for me, has always been regular, non-intensive (that doesn’t mean not working hard, but not always working out to the point of exhaustion) and, most importantly, enjoyable. If you don’t like a certain type of exercise, there’s no point in doing it no matter if it’s the latest fad or what your best friend loves to do. Because, in the end, that leads to STRESS, and this is a huge inhibitor to natural conception and most likely the number one issue a natural health practitioner will tackle with you first and foremost. So, with that, I can’t recommend regular mindfulness meditation practice highly enough. Where the mind goes, the body sure does follow. (See the end of the post for recommended apps and programs.)
I have received regular acupuncture right from the beginning of my conception journey, throughout the recovery period after the surgery I had, around the time we wanted to fall pregnant and right up until now, and will continue to do so to the end of my pregnancy, which will help ensure labour comes on naturally and safely. Before we started the conception journey, I had a slightly shorter cycle, which we wanted to draw out before conceiving (a remnant of having coming off the Pill, even though that was over a year earlier), and which happened over a few months. I was prescribed my own Chinese herbs to take alongside this. Once my cycle was at the length we wanted, together with my Chinese Medicine practitioner, we could determine the exact time I was ovulating, and even checked this with the help of over-the-counter ovulation detectors. At the exact time we wanted to fall pregnant I received acupuncture specific to ovulation and conception… and, well, off we went! Just a few weeks later, the good news was in.
A NOURISHED PREGNANCY
Apart from about eight weeks of ‘morning sickness’, a very normal event that is a sign for you to slow down and let your body focus on building a human, I feel that pregnancy has treated me well and I think everything I’ve shared in my conception journey cannot be discounted when it comes to this.
One thing that I am asked a lot when it comes to morning sickness is “what did you eat?”. Well, I just ate what my body craved, which was basic, starchy and ‘carby’ foods like bread, potatoes, sweet potato, pasta and I personally couldn’t get enough of cold smoothies and cold fruit like watermelon out of the fridge! Would I usually consume so many starchy and carby foods? No. Did I worry about it? No. I just made sure I chose the cleanest sources possible. Bread would be organic and stone ground or sprouted, and pasta would be either organic or I would go for a buckwheat or spelt option, for example. And I have to say that even past the time of morning sickness, my body has felt like it needed a larger amount of starchy foods and carbs than usual, and the same rules apply. I have not stressed, worried or felt bad about eating anything. Again, this is a stress on the body and not something you want to be exposing your body to during pregnancy. Oh and coffee. I absolutely love coffee (that doesn't mean I've ever had a lot of coffee or depend on the caffeine on coffee, I just appreciate coffee). I have been having one coffee a day which I enjoy. The two rules I've held with coffee is having avoided it during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, which is the most critical time of pregnancy in terms of fetal development and chance of miscarriage, and not consuming coffee together with food, as this does inhibit the absorption of nutrients from your food.
Together with regular acupuncture, regular chiropractic adjustments have made me feel amazing and are an incredible way to keep the nervous system in check and alignment on track for when the time comes for baby to make their way out. Chiropractic treatment is 100 per cent safe during pregnancy, but again, please contact a chiropractor if you have any concerns or want to know more… specific to your body.
Before falling pregnant and all the way throughout my pregnancy I have taken at least two to three reformer Pilates classes per week. I feel this has been such a great support for back health as well as the effective use and training of the pelvic floor and core strength. This is something that you need to be doing before falling pregnant and continue to do when you do fall pregnant. I have been doing regular light strength work in the gym with the help of the ‘Mumafit’ App, and one thing that I love and just cannot miss is a weekly prenatal yoga session. And when I really haven't felt like doing anything, I just get out and walk. Walking is so calming to the nervous system, restorative and just moving is a plus in my books.
Again, following on from the conception journey, I can’t recommend mindfulness meditation enough. I have specifically loved the ‘Mind the Bump’ App by Smiling Mind, which is also great for partners of expecting mums, and can also be used post-pregnancy once baby has arrived. De-stressing and relaxing with a pregnancy massage when you can is also a great way to pamper yourself and take away aches and pains.
When it comes to skincare, body care and make-up, it’s been the same deal as what I’d usually do outside pregnancy. I guess this is a big point in itself – having a clean body to start your conception and pregnancy journey with is so important. Along with food, anything you are putting on your body counts, too. You can see all of the skincare we recommend here, and lately I’ve loved the Well People brand of make-up, sold at The Staple Store and The Lab Organics (in store and online). Body oils have been fantastic and feel so nice to use. I’ve used anything from plain old coconut oil and avocado oil to the likes of the Mummy Tummy Body Oil by DnA Elements (can only be purchased online through Nourished Life). Do they really work in the fight against stretch marks? I don’t know, but you’re giving your skin the best chance if you do use one. DnA Elements also makes a beautiful range of skincare for babies. For tired feet, which also need some loving, there is only one organic, locally made foot cream I can recommend and that’s Healed Solefood. And finally, when it comes time to pack the bags in preparation for birth, I have TOM Organic maternity products all ready to go.
Mr Nourish and I recently completed a hypnobirthing workshop with Jess from Path to Birth. Jess will be sharing a full post about hypnobirthing in our next newsletter in two weeks’ time. This course has given us a heap of tools to train the mind and prepare for labour and birth in a positive, non-fearful way. It’s also great that the birth partner can become so involved with the help of this course, too.
I hope this piece has been of some help and guidance to you. There is a whole lot more I could share on what I have/haven’t been doing but, let’s face it, this blog post would be a whole lot longer. If there is a particular question you have or are in need of some direction, I’m happy to answer emails at email@example.com.
This blog post is based on my own journey and you should consult a qualified health and wellness professional to receive your own personal health advice and recommendations.
All products and services mentioned are part of the Nourish Melbourne community of recommended holistic health and wellness businesses and have not paid to be featured here.
RECOMMENDED READING FROM THE NM BLOG ARCHIVES
The Pill – do you know what it really does? by Samantha Walker, Absolute Body Health
Misconceptions About Fertility by Dr Amanda Waaldyk, Angea Acupuncture & Yoga
Preconception Health: Is Your Body Baby Ready? by Dr Amanda Waaldyk, Angea Acupuncture & Yoga
NEW NOURISH MELBOURNE WORKSHOP COMING SOON
Women’s Business: Your Hormones, Cycle and Fertility for Wellness – Saturday 23 May 2015, 1–4pm, Angea Yoga Studio, Prahran. Email us if you would like to be the first to know as soon as further details and tickets are released.
All of the natural healthcare providers below (with the exception of the holistic GPs) offer savings to Nourish Melbourne Members. Click on each to find out what they offer, or to find out more about becoming a Nourish Melbourne Member, click here.
- Chinese Medicine/natural fertility and IVF support specialists/acupuncture: Mandi Azoulay at Bodhi Wellness, Amanda Waaldyk and team at Angea Acupuncture & Yoga and Samantha Walker at Absolute Body Health
- Holistic GPs: National Institute of Integrative Medicine (NIIM), Burwood Road, Hawthorn
- Chiropractors: Click here for all Nourish Melbourne community chiropractors
- Meditation apps and programs: Mindful in May, Smiling Mind, 1 Giant Mind
- Meditation teacher: Laura Loka
- Reformer Pilates: KAYA and KX Pilates
- Pregnancy Massage: Milk & Honey Remedial Massage, Still Beauty (mobile massage)
- Prenatal Yoga: Angea Yoga and Lightspace Yoga
- Hypnobirthing workshops: Path to Birth and Melbourne Hypnobirthing