holistic pregnancy I
This blogpost was published exactly two years ago, over at my old website. It was my way to share with you all the glorious news of our pregnancy with daughter Lou. The post was taken off when my new website launched last June (2015) but since so many of you have asked for it, I have done a repost. Hope you’ll enjoy! Xoxo kyra.
As you might know I have been taking the summer off. just hanging out and soaking up space after an amazing but full first half of the year. This summer break could not have come at a better time since i have been craving afternoon naps and detesting (yes, you are reading this correctly ; ) the smell of home cooked food all summer. No, I’m not going through a rebellious phase, I’m building a little person in my belly! When this blog post airs I’ll be 15 weeks pregnant. My fiancée and I are expecting a magical babe this coming March! Luckily, after six intense weeks my energy is back and the nausea has almost disappeared, which is super fortunate since my summer break has come to an end and I am back in the kitchen. Developing healthy tasty recipes while being extremely nauseous is NOT a great match ; )
I have always felt it inappropriate to write about a subject that I haven’t experienced myself. Experiential wisdom is where it’s at, if you ask me. Once you experience it, you feel it and you know of it. Knowledge turns into wisdom. True wisdom lies in the hearts of the ones who have gone through it.
Now that pregnancy has become part of my reality I feel I have some great stuff to share with you. Think light bulb moments, food challenges, folic acid issues, anti nausea recipes, first trimester yoga practices and tips how to be present and thus enjoy every minute of this magical process. (Yes, even when the morning sickness has you in full lockdown!)
So, I present you with my little guide to your healthy happy holistic pregnancy.
To create a bit of a structure I have decided on three main pillars to discuss the various subjects.
These pillars are: nutrition, yoga and wellbeing. Here we go ♡
'Such miracle bodies we have. Being pregnant just reconfirms that for me, it takes it to a whole other level.'
As some of you might know, I have been eating a plant-based diet since… uhm forever. Choosing to cook with wholesome, seasonal, organic*, pure and natural produce such as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, veggies, (dried) fruits, natural unrefined sweeteners, fresh herbs and dried spices has never been a struggle for me, just one great opportunity-rich adventure. So when my fiancée and I decided to try to get pregnant I was convinced I would continue with my so loved green smuices, salads and veggie rich stews. I had decided to keep supercharging myself and this wonderful little baby-to-be with greens galore. But, as I know now, the change that occurs when you get to carry such amazing new life in your belly is so great, you can never ever expect anything to happen the way you think it will before it’s actually there. So… I was in for some letting-go of presumptions and had a huge lesson in ‘go with whatever is’. More about this later.
*Eating organic (or even better: bio-dynamic) is great for everyone but when you’re pregnant even more so. The intake of pesticides causes harm to (unborn) children, affecting the development of their neurological system. So don’t panic, just go organic!
Anyways, I had done some research about the most talked about vitamin when it comes to being pregnant: folate, which belongs to the b vitamin ‘family’. As various studies say, taking an extra daily dose of this vitamin before and during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy reduces the chances of your baby developing serious neural tube defects up to 70%. But since I am not a great fan of supplements* I decided to get all of that extra folate through my food, my every day meals.
*My belief: if you have a balanced, varied, pure and wholesome diet and you boost your digestion you ingest and absorb all the nutrients you need. It is in my opinion preferred to get these vitamins and minerals in their natural shape and form: food not pills. This is what the body recognizes. Of course sometimes blood tests show major shortages of a certain mineral or vitamin and power supplementation is needed to get the body back on track. This is a different matter. This is a body that’s already temporarily out of balance.
I made a list of the foods I ate in one day and added up the amount of mcg I ingested on a daily basis. Turns out it peaked to about 700 mcg, which is 300 mcg above the recommended amount of folate suggested for pregnant ladies. (The Netherlands recommends 400 mcg p.d.) If you eat plenty of leafy vegetables, whole grains, (citrus) fruits and beans daily you will happily and easily exceed the RDA.
What I found out next was that it is perfectly possible to ingest TOO MUCH folate and therefore damage instead of support your babes development. This od-ing occurs when you supplement using folid acid, which is the synthetic form of folate whereas folate is the natural form of this specific b vitamin. I furthermore found out that most (or basically ALL) supplements in The Netherlands use this synthetic form (folic acid or ‘foliumzuur’ in Dutch) and it was terrible hard to find one that contained the natural, recognizable and ‘safe’ one (folate or ‘folaat’ in Dutch). So my belief that ‘natural is best’ and the discovery about ‘too much may cause damage’ led to my decision to skip the supplementation and go for good, well thought out, wholesome, organic food. Which went great until… I was blessed with ‘morning sickness’, which in my case was ‘all day and night sickness’. During these 4-6 weeks or so I wasn’t able to get ANY green leafy vegetables in my system. My body was just not having it. It was difficult for me to home cook since the smell of food preparation made it all that, and a whole extra lot, worse. God bless the organic deli around the corner, which serves the most amazingly nutritious quinoa salads and soups. I lived on that AND (citrus rich) cacao power smoothies sprinkled with beepollen for a couple of weeks. During this time I decided to let go of my initial expectations and go with whatever was presented to me: nausea. A little surprise, which made it hard for me to reach that recommended amount of folate. So from week 6 until week 10 I supplemented with NATURAL folate, which I found after careful online investigations.
TIP: Once the wish to get pregnant is there, start making a list of foods that contain folate and how much is in every specific food. I found this website very helpful. You can enter any food and learn about the nutrient density of that specific product. This way you can track how much folate you’re ingesting per day. And in case you won’t be able to get folate in through food, or if you have some kind of problem with digestion and absorption, order natural folate online. I recommend this one by Solgar. Preparing yourself is key. When you are prepared you feel safe and when you feel safe you feel happy and carefree. These are the emotions you want to skyrocket throughout your healthy happy holistic pregnancy.
Now a few words about that tiny surprise called nausea. There are various things you can do to naturally diminish the intensity of your nausea. You will find a list of my personal favourites below. Something I learned while going throughout this all was to not beat myself up over the fact I wasn’t able to eat according to my ‘ideal and perfectly planned pregnancy diet’. I didn’t force anything in and just simply listened to my body and its needs. I strongly believe the body is way wiser than our sometimes overpowering minds or will. We may think something is healthy or needed but the body may wisely know otherwise. Just go with the flow and trust your babe will get exactly what it needs to be healthy and happy. Trust is crucial in this process when so much is changing and you’re moving through unknown territories. Trust your body’s wisdom. Trust. (I can’t say it enough ; )
ANTI NAUSEA TIPS:
1.Drink rooibos tea or have this amazing rooibos infused muesli by my friend Elenore.
2.Use ginger in your meals, soups and teas.
3.Remind yourself to take deep breaths. Often.
4.Enjoy relaxation. Yoga will give you that and more.
5.Breathe in the sea breeze if possible. It’s healing stuff.
6.Eat smaller meals (and more often) throughout the day.
7.Don’t eat sweets together with savoury dishes. Stick to one or the other.
Yoga has been part of my daily life for so long, it was a sure thing I was going to continue practicing throughout my pregnancy as well. Yoga provides me with this deep connection to my body, I feel what’s going on ‘in there’, I feel safe and happy and at home in this little bod of mine. All of which are great benefits when you’re going through such a lifechanging process: making space for another person, for it to grow into this healthy happy human being. Connecting to your body (and mind and heart) on a daily basis creates trust in your physique. It makes it easier for you to flow with whatever is. It makes you more present throughout the whole process so you can experience it consciously happy and aware and gives you the opportunity to connect with that amazing person growing inside you.
I have continued my vinyasa flow practice. Practicing at home for about an hour or so a day, skipping the poses which just didn’t feel right anymore* and staying in touch with my body. I was sensitized to see if the pose I moved into carefully felt yummy. Most of the times I did my own sequence, which I shortened and taped for you guys to enjoy. It is a special 1th trimester class but as I go along I will start to post also practices for 2nd and 3rd trimester. You may find the video HERE. Another practice that I really enjoyed and highly recommend is by my friend Tara Stiles who has this wonderful prenatal flow video out on youtube.
TIPS: The above mentioned videos are generally said appropriate classes during pregnancy but always keep in touch with what feels right to you and what does not. If a pose doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t right for you at that specific moment. Listen. You know your body best. Never go straight into the pose but slowly ease into it. Your body’s boundaries will change and you’ll have to keep an open mind. Never expect something to be possible or appropriate because it was possible or appropriate before. Easy does it.
Poses that I skipped: all (deep) twists, (deep) backbends, deep stretches of the groin and hips such as hanumanasana, acrobatic poses such as middle of the room handstand, the use of uddiyana bandha and cleansing practices such as nauli kriya.
Instead i focused on: strengthening the legs, hips and arms, loosening the muscles in neck and shoulders, flowing with my breath, sidebends and spinal movement to create space in the chest.
Now that I have reached 15 weeks I will be able to join a weekly prenatal yogaclass. I will definitely start doing this, just to be able to be guided once in a while and enjoy the dynamics of a group class. If you haven’t practiced yoga before but are really curious I advise you to join such a guided class to start under supervision of an experienced guide.
I consider what I eat and my yoga to be important for my (and now my babes!) health and happiness. But these are mere examples and ways of how I give shape to my life. They are ways to improve the already there goodness and awesomeness that we are ALL born with. That’s why focusing on your whole wellbeing is so important, it’s not just the food you eat. It’s about your outlook on life, your tone of voice, your thoughts, about you being present and true to yourself, about you taking care of yourself in every way, shape and form. And by taking care of yourself having the ability to take care, inspire and help others. By taking care of you, all aspects of you, you take care of your baby. Here are some of the ways I have been taking care of myself (and our babe) both body, mind and heart-wise.
Even before I got pregnant, actually some months before that, I started ‘preparing’ my body and my mind for new life to enter my reality. I did this by creating space. Very much as you would clear a room to make space for the arrival of a new visitor. I cleared my body from clutter (I detoxed in a way very similar to the way my book daytox describes), I cleared my house from clutter and I cleared my mind from clutter, thereby created fresh new space. With these last two (house and mind) I had some help. I used an amazing new book I found through my friend Elles, your spacious self by Stephanie Bennett Vogt. In it Stephanie guides you, with explanatory texts and practices, to clear the clutter in home and life, to revel in your own spaciousness which is a place of stillness and joy and to let go of people, places and things that no longer serve the incredible person that you are. To me this book was (and continues to be) a powerful tool in creating spaciousness in day to day life. Feel free to also visit her website which contains even more inspiration to get you to simplify and declutter.
It sound so simple but can be really challenging. Our western society is not really constructed so you may, whenever needed, take rest. It is though a very important part of being healthy and happy. This is the perfect time to start practicing having the courage to take time to rest. My body told me it needed rest, my eyelids would move down to my knees after lunch and I had to take a siesta. Luckily I was able to since I am my own boss and it was my summerbreak but even if you have a desk job you can find space to take it easy and have a breath. Go for a 15-30 minute lunchbreak, sit on an outside bench, close your eyes and breath in some refreshing and energizing oxygen. Focus on your breathing while you continue to sit there for 5-15 minutes or so. It is the simplest form of meditation, which deeply relaxes and restores you. It is basically a conscious version of sleep. There are many other ways to take rest other than sleep.
I bought this amazing biodynamic prenatal massage oil by Weleda and rubbed (still do and will continue till birth) it on two times per day. With the oil comes a leaflet of instructions so you’ll know what to do. It smells great and contains this awesome mix of nourishing oils and healing extracts. It will prevent stretch marks from forming (eating an healthy fat rich diet will help even more) but most of all gives you this opportunity to send love, care and attention to your body. As you’ll massage yourself you will feel pampered and taken care of. Best thing ever!
Since I have such a curious mind and I love reading I bought two books (less is more. More can be confusing i tell you!) to use as extra inspiration. I fell for mama glow by Latham Thomas & ‘magical beginnings, enchanted lives‘ by Deepak Chopra. It’s just so much FUN to read about this mind-blowing process that’s happening in you, your babe, your partner, your life. The books I chose are holistic ones, which not only talk about the physiological facts but also about all other aspects: to support the body in a natural way, get to learn about the mind and nurture the heart. I highly recommend both. They are great additions to this exciting and magical journey. A journey that’s undoubtedly different for everyone, but a few books or guides can give it even more depth and make you learn about yourself in ways you otherwise perhaps would not have.
5.Connecting with my baby
Everyday after my yoga practice, during the 15 minutes of reclined rest (savasana), I place my hands on my lower belly and talk to my babe. I wish him/her an awesome day full of happiness and health galore. I ask how he/she has been. If there’s anything needed. But mostly I just send shiploads of love its way. The amazing thing is I have felt this babe inside my belly even before the test came out positive. Your whole energy (in that area) starts to change, vibrate and go UP. Just by placing your hands on your belly, being quiet first and feeling what’s going on you get to connect to that awesome new life inside you. How freekin’ mind-blowing this is!
6.Thanking my body
Well let me tell you this, if I have learned one thing in my life it is that the body is nothing less than absolutely perfectly AWESOME. It continues to amaze me. How it is capable of ‘building’ a human being with its very own character and features without you having to think about it. It happens automatically. The body is THAT wise. So everyday after connecting with my babe I send love to my body and thank it for doing exactly what is needed. I thank my body for being so forgiving and resilient because I have not always been 100% kind to it. Even after not treating it as well as it deserves or after any kind of dis-ease the body will be flexible beyond belief and activates the self-healing mechanism it so smartly built in. And then, when you take care of her, she will regain her balance and will do everything perfectly and seemingly automatically again. Miracle bodies we have. This being pregnant just reconfirms that for me, it takes it to a whole other level. Thanking your body will grant you with gratitude and self love, two incredibly powerful pillars to become the most happy and healthy version of yourself.
Now this post draws to an end. These writings are a part of my personal journey, of things I’ve learned through reading but mostly experiencing. I invite you to do the same, to give shape to your very own and unique healthiest happiest pregnancy. By being present, connected to your body, your needs and desires, by being loving. Wishing you all the most magical journey possible (and will definitely keep you posted on mine!) ♡