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Episode 22: Adding New Eating and Movement Habits in Pregnancy

birth prep pregnancy Nov 04, 2021

What would you tell someone who knows they'd like to eat and move more intentionally, but at six months pregnant isn't sure how to start and feels frozen with overwhelm? 

I received this great question from a pregnant person. My answer, in short, is to add small easily doable things (no restriction!) and envision the purpose of your new habits.

Envision movement as massaging your body and baby and inviting the baby into optimal position. Envision nourishing yourself and your baby as you eat, bringing in all the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and nutrients your body and infant need to move together through this massive transformation. Make sure any new food or movement habits are small and DOABLE.

If you try to totally overhaul your diet overnight -- it won't stick! It's too hard. If you decide to start strenuous exercise having not moved strenuously much before -- it'll be hard to stick with - it's too difficult. 

So start with something you can do. For example: start with a daily ten minute walk on your lunch break. Walk five minutes away from your desk out your door, and then five minutes back. Sway your hips, envision massaging your hips, inviting your baby into optimal position. Then, next week if you're feeling good maybe go ten minutes each direction each day! Maybe not. Just start where it feels doable. 

For nutrition habits it's important to remember food is so much more than calories. Food is pleasure, food is culture, food is community, food is ritual. Don't deprive yourself of the joys and pleasures of food but instead think of adding nourishing foods at each meal. Add protein to each meal. Or cook up your favorite vegetable for the week and add a serving to each meal. While you eat, envision your food entering your body, nourishing your body and baby. Find all the pleasure and joy in food that you can.

Full Transcript

Hello, and welcome to episode 22 of the weekly Brave Journey Birth Preparation Videos. I'm coming back at you again, snuggled up with my favorite plant out here in the backyard. Uh, you might be hearing a waterfall in the background. I'm sorry for the background noise. I personally find it soothing in person, I'm not sure how well it's going to translate across the video.

So bear with me. But today we're going to talk about the pressure to eat and drink perfectly. I find that most people who are pregnant are obsessing over what they can and can't eat and also obsessing because their care providers have told them not to gain too much weight, but just gain a little bit weight and already in our culture, and specifically I'm talking about the American culture at the very least, is obsessed with female bodies in particular, but all bodies being a certain weight. And restricting their food in certain ways... and all these concepts of health and wellness, which sometimes are very toxic and sometimes are helpful.

So I just wanted to read a question I got from an adorable pregnant person.

She wrote to me that this really hilarious question, she said,

"I would love it. If you would call. Where to start if you happen to be six months pregnant and you have not been taking fantastic care of your body with exercise and diet, not for me, definitely not for me. Definitely for a friend." This is where she made me laugh.

"I know that the answer is definitely eat better, do yoga and go for walks. But I'm wondering what other things I could be doing. I feel frozen by having waited this long".

So this person is six months pregnant and has found that somehow they've gotten six months along in their pregnancy and they are not doing all the things that they feel like they should be doing with their diet and exercise.

And it's a real conundrum because the truth is that what you eat directly nourishes your baby. And so what you eat matters.

I'm not telling you what to eat or drink. I'm not your medical care provider and I'm not a qualified nutritionist, but I am saying that some of these rules and fears around what to eat, I think come from how little we can control in pregnancy, how much is out of our control and then how much obsessing over what we can and can't eat makes us feel like we have control.

But if that makes you feel uncomfortable, you could sit with that.

I'm going to move on to this dear lovely persons question.

So I would say if you're six months pregnant and you've been finding it hard to move or eat, and now you're just completely overwhelmed because you feel like you waited too long. Then the best thing you can do is start super, super small. So, if you are trying to turn around and the next day completely change your diet and completely change your movement habits, especially if you've been finding pregnancy uncomfortable and difficult to move, it's going to be too hard to do and you'll give up.

But if you think of small incremental changes and I'm talking small, I'm talking on your lunch break, walk five minutes, one direction, and five minutes back... in your flip flops. Don't go out there planning to go on some strenuous. And intend to like, get yourself super out of breath and make sure that you're exhausted at the end of it.

You're not going to do it if that's your intention, but instead go out and imagine massaging your hips as you walk. So you're massaging your baby, inviting your baby into an optimal position. You're massaging your hips. You're rocking your baby and you can just walk forward for five minutes away from your home or your workplace.

I work from home. So this is what I'm thinking, but if you work at a workplace on your lunch break, five minutes away from your work. And five minutes back. And start there, start there no more and then build up if the next week you're like, whoa, I could totally go longer. Do 10 minutes, one direction and 10 minutes back, every lunch. And just start small. It doesn't have to be so intense.

And the same with food, everything you eat is nourishing your infant. So imagine as you eat that you are nourishing your infant. Don't worry about restricting what you can't eat, unless it's dangerous. But instead think I'm going to add this vegetable to my plate because it is full of nutrients and I'm nourishing myself and I'm nourishing my infant. And you're adding 📍 nutrients to your platter and don't hold yourself back from the things that make you happy.

Food is about so much more than just calories. Food is pleasure. Food is community. Food is ritual. So definitely don't hold back from the things that bring you joy, but add nourishment, add things that make you feel nourished in small doses. Don't try to change your diet tomorrow, buy one extra vegetable, cook it for the week and add it to your plate and nourish your body. And pick your favorite vegetable.

Don't make yourself eat things you hate. Okay. So that's the not so popular opinion that I have about the fact that I think people obsess over food because it's the one thing that they can control. And there's so much that you can't control pregnancy. And diet and nutrition and movement are hugely important, but they have to be manageable and doable for you. Otherwise, you're just not going to do it. So you have to add small, manageable changes in your movement and in your diet.

That's my advice to this darling question. All right. Thank you for your vulnerability person who sent this question and I appreciate you. And, um, I cannot wait to hear about the birth of your beautiful baby. And all of you, thank you so much. I appreciate you. Email me [email protected]. If you disagree with me or you agree with me, I just love hearing from reach out talk soon. Bye.


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