5 Ways to Prepare for Pregnancy Naturally
It is very important to prepare for pregnancy and not just “wing it”. The healthiest soil creates the healthiest plants, just as the healthiest body will create the healthiest babies.
Taking the time to prepare for pregnancy isn’t always possible (my third baby was a big surprise!) but if you have the opportunity, do it! A healthier body will lead to a happy and healthy pregnancy, birth, baby and journey to parenthood. It’s worth it!
1. Fertility Detox
One of the best things we can do before becoming pregnant is to help our bodies get all the yucky things out of our bodies with a fertility detox. The body clears toxins through the bowels, blood, skin, kidneys, lymphatic system, lungs and liver… but sometimes it needs a little help. If we support these organs through various methods of a detox or cleanse, we will help them to more efficiently cleanse the body of toxins and waste.
Note: If you have MTHFR like me, your body has difficulty detoxing. Making a point to detox is even more important for you and your future baby.
Help the body absorb more nutrients from food
Feel less fatigued
Clear the skin
Create a healthier home for a new, growing baby.
According to Donielle Baker, author of Cleansing for Conception, we should begin cleansing 4-6 months prior to conception so that you can effectively cleanse the body and then spend 2-4 months building nutrient stores.
Here are some easy ways to implement various methods of cleansing in our lives.
Sweating is one of the ways our body cleanses itself from toxins and other impurities. It also happens to be a byproduct of healthy exercise. Make a point to allow your body to sweat multiple times per week. Here are some ideas:
Jogging or running
Hiking in nature
Skipping or jumping jacks
Exercise classes at a gym
Yoga for fertility
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salts draw out toxins through the skin. Use the salts in a hot bath for a relaxing and therapeutic way to cleanse the body.
Directions: Pour 1-2 cups of Epsom salts in a nice, warm bath and enjoy.
Essential Oils: To add essential oils, mix the desired oil in the Epsom salts before placing salts in the bath. Try using 2-3 drops of lavender for a relaxing effect. Hint: A little goes a long way!
TIP: Some people prefer magnesium bath flakes (magnesium chloride) instead of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Both support detoxification.
Milk thistle is a liver supportive herb and can be made into a tea, or taken by pill. Milk thistle can even be helpful to eliminate morning sickness.
The most efficient way to take milk thistle is through an extract (standardized to contain at least 70% silymarin) at the recommended daily amount of 280 mg.
Donielle’s book has a longer and more detailed list of methods of cleansing (or detoxing) for conception. Her books is a must have if you’re looking to prepare for pregnancy naturally.
2. Eating for Fertility
The best thing you can do to help your body detox is to begin eating for fertility. Our body needs more whole foods and less sugar, caffeine and processed foods.
Eating this well may seem like a daunting task! However, Donielle Baker, in her book Cleansing for Conception, has done the work for us. Towards the end of her book she gives us six weeks of meal plans built in with her fertility cleanse plan. Her meal plan contain ideas for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks that all help cleanse the body and prepare for a pregnancy.
Tip: Don’t try to do everything all at once. For the first week, cut out fast food and sodas. During the second week make a point to eat a large salad every day. Breaking big changes down into small, manageable pieces you will be less overwhelmed and more likely to have long-term success.
3. Raw Prenatal
Another way to prepare for pregnancy naturally is to start taking a prenatal vitamin. But not just any prenatal vitamin will do.
If we are going to spend the money and take the time, the prenatal vitamin that we choose needs to bio-available. What I mean by bio-available is that the nutrients in the vitamin can be both absorbed and used by the body.
Too often our bodies don’t know what to do or can’t handle what’s in the typical prenatal vitamin. Folic acid is a perfect example of this. The folic acid in most prenatal vitamins is not what we need, but actually folate. Sadly, folic acid is not as effective in preventing neural tube defects as we were led to believe (and it’s also linked to other scary side-effects).
Instead consider a prenatal like Mega Food Baby & Me or the Garden of Life Raw Prenatal. Both contain folate and are created from whole foods. I prefer the Garden of Life brand, however, because it also contains probiotics.
Another way to prepare for pregnancy is to learn good hydration habits. Many people are chronically dehydrated and their cells are incredibly thirsty. Not only are we not drinking enough water, but many of us are misinterpreting the body’s signal of thirst as a signal of hunger. We are eating when we should be drinking!
Dehydration makes the body feel tired and impairs mental cognition. Continuing the habit of dehydration into pregnancy will only complicate things further. It can even heighten the symptoms of morning sickness!
Fixing the habit of dehydration before pregnancy will lead to an easier adjustment when the hydration needs increase for pregnancy.
TIP: Figure out how much water to drink before the day begins. Use a hydration calculator to help determine how much water to drink per day while not pregnant.
TIP: Pour the required amount of water into mason jars and leave them on the kitchen counter (or carry them with you wherever you’re going). By the end of the day the jars need to be empty. Pace yourself!
TIP: Another way to stay hydrated is to fill up ONE mason jar and put the same number of rubber bands around the jar as the number of refills you would need throughout the day to meet your H2O requirements. Every time you refill, remove one of the rubber bands. At the end of the day you should have an empty jar with NO rubber bands on it.
5. Listen to the Body
Pregnancy and birth necessitates a certain awareness of the body. Why wait for pregnancy to learn to listen to the body? Here are three simple ways to practice better body awareness.
Becoming aware of the breath is the first step in becoming more body aware. By noticing one’s breath, we instantly are snapped back into the present moment and are “in our bodies”.
(have someone read it to you slowly for the full effect):
Without changing it, start bringing your awareness to your breath.
Notice your breath.
Is it shallow? Is it deep?
If you find your mind wandering, without judgement, bring it right back to your breath.
Now bring your awareness to your outward breath. Notice it. Notice where it begins… and ends.
Has your breath changed since you brought your awareness to it? How did it change?
A fun way of becoming more body aware is by practicing yoga. Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that makes a point of noticing the breath with each movement!
The best way to make yoga a habit is to attend classes near where you live. It’s fun and you’ll even meet some new people.
If you’re like me and live far away from “the big city” try a fertility yoga DVD in the comfort of your own home.
Go to the bathroom
The third and final simple way to become more body aware is to go to the bathroom whenever your body signals that it is time.
Too often, especially women, we try to “hold it” until a more convenient time… sometimes hours later.
This is an unhealthy practice that can lead to urinary tract infections, constipation and a bad habit of ignoring the body.
Be kind to the body and when it’s time, go!
To encourage you on your natural pregnancy journey I’ve created a “Prepare for Pregnancy” printable checklist which includes the resources listed above and a place to take notes.
Open it up, print it out and fill it out.