The Importance of Self Care During Pregnancy
I don’t think that many people would refute the statement that proper nourishment is important for a healthy pregnancy. It’s true that there are some babies who turn out just fine despite the odds of having been fed a steady diet of potato chips and diet coke in vitro, but most of us would probably agree that just because humans have a tenacious inclination toward survival, does not mean that pregnant women should eat fast food for every meal. So we do our best, we eat our greens, and we try our hardest to avoid stuffing our faces with too much junk.
But, is nourishment limited only to food? A quick glance at dictionary.com yielded the following definition of ’nourish‘: to supply what is necessary for life, health, and growth. And while nutrition is a huge part of that, today I would like to focus on other ways of nurturing ourselves that don’t necessarily relate to food. A holistic approach to health incorporates body, mind, and spirit, and to nourish – or neglect – any one of those aspects of ourselves will have an impact on the whole being.
Pregnancy is an incredible time when nourishing our bodies and our babies are one and the same. From the moment that precious little being slips out of the birth canal, its needs will be different from yours. But for now, they are interchangeable; by nourishing yourself, you are also nourishing the life that is growing inside of you.
Nine ways to nourish yourself during pregnancy
Make sure that you are getting at least 8 hours a night. A maternity pillow can help many feel more comfortable, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Go to bed early, as the most restorative sleep happens between the hours of 11:00 and 3:00 a.m.
In addition to your nightly dream time, try to find moments throughout the day to rejuvenate yourself, and schedule them if you have to! For some this can mean a small cat-nap during the afternoon. For others it can mean sitting down for half an hour with a cup of warm tea and a good book. Do whatever puts you into a state of ease and relaxation.
Meditate, practice affirmations, or just simply find a few minutes during the day to sit quietly with yourself and appreciate the beauty and wonder of the life growing inside of you.
Find a kind of exercise that is right for you, and make sure to adapt your routine as your belly grows. Trust your instincts and never push beyond your limits. In addition to toning the body in preparation for labor, there seems to be a plethora of reasons why exercise is good for both mama and baby.
5. Eat a healthy diet.
I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about food, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the importance of good nutrition. In a nutshell, this means eating a variety of unprocessed whole foods from plant and animal sources. Eat the rainbow, and focus on foods that don’t come with a lot of packaging, which tend to be full of preservatives and less nutrient-dense.
6. Indulge a little.
Okay, so this could mean a bar of dark chocolate or a delicious berry smoothie, but there are plenty of other non-food ways to pamper yourself as well. Get a massage. Try a new kind of tea. Take a warm bath by candlelight. You deserve it!
7. Create. Draw. Paint. Knit. Cook. Write in your journal.
Creativity is not a skill; it is a practice and a way of life! Find some time to allow your inner artist to express herself in whatever medium she chooses.
8. Spend time in nature.
Soak up the sun and get your daily dose of vitamin D. Even if the sun is hiding, being out in nature and breathing fresh air will do you and your baby good.
Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Focus on deepening your relationship with your partner, and strengthening connections within a community that nourishes the core of who you are and who you want to become.
Do you have a favorite way to nourish yourself? If so, please share it with others in the comments below!