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Preparing for Pregnancy, Part 1: Laying a Nutritional Foundation

Preparing for Pregnancy: Laying a Nutiritional Foundation

This material originally appeared in a slightly different form in our Fall 2010 catalog

When I married in 2004, I was almost 26, and my husband and I knew we didn’t want to wait long to have children. Although many women have children after thirty, we both wanted a large family and weren’t sure how long our child-bearing years would last. Even so, we were slightly surprised when just six weeks after the wedding we found ourselves expecting our first child! Excitement filled our house, and to add to our own joy, this would be the first grandchild for both his parents and mine.

Preparing for Pregnancy: Laying a Nutiritional FoundationAt the time, I was a practicing registered nurse, and although I did not work in obstetrics, I’d always been fascinated with the subject. Despite the fact that I had scored a perfect 100 ranking among my peers that year in the OB/GYN national competency exams, I gradually found that I actually understood little about the importance of preparing my body to be a mother.

I knew I needed to take a prenatal vitamin once the pink line appeared on the pregnancy test. I knew the importance of Folate to prevent birth defects. I knew I needed to generally take care of myself. But I did nothing to really prepare my body for pregnancy.

My pre-pregnancy diet consisted largely of fast food, meals from a box, and sodas. I had done nothing to eliminate my chronic gut problems, build nutritional storehouses, or make sure my body was in shape for this miraculous event.

Due to long work hours, my entire day’s nutrition consisted of an orange for breakfast, half a sub sandwich for lunch, and half for dinner (and when I say sub, I mean a foot-long white bread sandwich with nothing but processed cold cuts, American cheese and jalapeño peppers). I washed that all down with the largest cherry limeade I could buy, because it had to last my entire shift; it was a healthier choice, I figured, since it did not have caffeine. I often went an entire week without eating unprocessed meat, fresh vegetables, and whole grains.

My bouts with morning sickness (to the point of vomiting) lasted from early in the pregnancy until three days after my baby was born. With my second pregnancy came nine months of migraine headaches, followed by my newborn son’s chronic health issues. I finally decided there had to be a better way to do pregnancy! The challenges I faced have led me to some fascinating factors that make for a healthier momma and, therefore, a healthier baby.

The Two-Way Gift of Health

maryOur health is a gift, not just from the Creator, but also from our parents. The field of genetics is still full of mystery, but we do know that the health of our parents when they brought us into the world plays a large role in determining what our own level of health will be, and your health will play a major role in your children’s health.

People generally assume that most health issues depend simply on the genes we pass on, that they determine what makes us more or less vulnerable to various diseases and health conditions. Many of us don’t make the connection that we directly pass on to our children a reflection of our own state of health, apart from genetic factors.

As a result, our children often suffer from the same digestive, immune, and chronic health issues that we do, not just because of genes but also because of how we care for ourselves. If you’ve had problems with your digestion, it should not come as a surprise that your child is colicky. So before you think about having a baby, first consider how to rebuild and restore your own health. Not only will you be passing on to your future children a head start in health, but the habits you develop will benefit them throughout life.

Getting Your Gift in Shape

The place to start building your health is with your diet and your nutritional lifestyle. Nutrients are the building blocks of cells, and it is vital to take in nutrients that build healthy cells. Diets full of healthy fats, grass-fed and organic proteins, fermented foods, properly prepared grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables are vital. While there are several very good diet suggestions out there, I personally recommend Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers as a good starting place. It’s published by the Weston A. Price Foundation and offers great guidance for nourishing your body and preparing the inner stores of nutrients necessary for pregnancy.

Most people recognize the need for protein, iron, and vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, but it is only recently becoming known that healthy fats are needed as well. A British publication noted that for a healthy reproductive system, a woman needs 25 to 30 percent body fat, while the American recommendation for women of child-bearing years is 21 to 33 percent. Healthy fats include coconut oil, whole milk, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and grass-fed butter and meats (with healthy portions of the fat included). A great primer in the study of fats is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Just as important as what you put in your body is what you don’t put in. Fats to avoid are shortening, margarine, vegetable oils like corn, soybean, and canola oil. Other no-no’s include artificial sweeteners, white sugar, white flour, MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup, caffeine, and soft drinks (even cherry limeades!). Not only are they empty calories, they are often toxic to the body.

Another crucial part of your lifestyle evaluation is your level of physical activity. At any time in life, exercise keeps the body feeling well, the joints moving, aches and pains dispelled, and increases overall vitality. To “get in shape” for pregnancy, it’s important to incorporate into daily life activities and exercises that increase stamina, flexibility, and cardio function. If you’re wary of exercise because of pain, I recommend you read Pain Free. I’ve followed its guidelines for almost a year now and have found incredible relief from aches and pains, while increasing my flexibility and balance.

When you exercise while pregnant, it’s important that you not burn too much fat. High impact aerobics and long distance running often burn more than the recommended amount of body fat for a healthy pregnancy. The key here is to research the regimen you will be participating in and maintain a level that’s right for you.

Join us tomorrow for Part 2 when we discuss choosing supplements and avoiding morning sickness. 

Mary Ewing has been with Beeyoutiful for six years (through three pregnancies!). She enjoys exploring life with her husband and five children as they cook, garden, play and dream of homesteading. Her interests include traditional cooking, learning about herbs and essential oils, and traditional art forms such as sewing, crocheting, knitting and smocking.

Exercise Your Right to be Pain-Free – Winter 2010 Catalog

by Nancy Webster

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Doctors would say my right elbow suffers from bursitis or “tennis elbow.” Lifting the gallon jars of our cow’s fresh milk from the fridge had become a killer chore, thanks to joint pain triggered by the bending and twisting required to milk our cow. If I weren’t dubious about medicine, cortisone would be the answer.


Instead of doing drugs, though, I started doing Windmills, the Static Wall Clock, and the Progressive Groin Stretch four to six times per week. Within a few sessions of these and several other healing exercises, my right shoulder and hip—the real culprits in my problem—regained function and stopped making my elbow do work it wasn’t meant to do. The pain subsided. No drugs. No surgery.


The feet and ankles of Grace, our 13-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, are so pronated (rolled inward) that they cause pain in her knees and hips. The typical solution is shoe orthotics and leg braces, but Grace does Knee Pillow Squeezes, the Floor Block, and the Air Bench, among the exercises in her routine. The resulting strengthened muscles are helping hold her body correctly, and we no longer hear regular complaints about her aching legs. Even more exciting: she won’t have to wear cumbersome and expensive orthopedic aids.


Pain-free Secrets Revealed


The drug and surgery-free answer to your skeletal pain issues is found in the landmark book Pain Free by Pete Egoscue, a nationally renowned physiologist and sports injury consultant to some of today’s top athletes. The Egoscue method claims an astounding 95-percent success rate in relieving chronic pain, the key to which is a series of gentle exercises and carefully constructed stretches called Egoscuecises or E-cises. These strengthen specific muscles and bring the body back to its proper alignment and full, pain-free functioning.


The Egoscue book contains photographs and step-by-step instructions for dozens of E-cises specifically designed to provide quick and lasting relief from:

  • Lower back pain, hip problems, sciatica, and bad knees;

  • Migraines and other headaches, stiff neck, and sore shoulders;

  • Shin splints, sprained or weak ankles, and many foot ailments;

  • Bursitis, tendinitis, and much more.


It also features preventive programs for maintaining health throughout body. So even if you are not hurting right now, you can prevent future pain and keep your body in alignment with the E-cises in Pain Free. The book is a wonderful gift of hope and knowledge for loved ones with chronic aches and pains. (Pain Free can be found on page 14 of our Winter 2010 catalog.)


How the Book Works

To educate and care for hurting people, Egoscue clinics have been established in major cities around the world. Our local advisor and friend, Cecilia Brewer, is currently in training to be an Egoscue instructor and says Pain Free book owners can achieve satisfying results even without a personal exercise consultant. The best approach is to choose four or five E-cises from any section of the book. Repeat those E-cises four to six times per week for one or two weeks until your muscles start to “remember” the proper place to hold the skeleton. Then follow a new menu of E-cises for another week or two, and so on. Because the body’s frame is interconnected, E-cises in the foot section, for example, will benefit the neck, so any combination can help your situation.

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In making your exercise plan, note that one E-cise, the Supine Groin Stretch, stands above the others and should be included as part of every menu. This stretch can be done at the conclusion of the day’s menu, or it can be done at a separate time during the day, depending on how much time you have available. While you can improvise E-cise equipment using a belt, a chair, a pile of books, and throw pillows, I highly recommend purchasing the Egoscue “tower” which makes doing the Supine Groin Stretch much simpler (the tower is available from the Egoscue website www.Egoscue.com).


A Supplement to the Supplements

The folks at Beeyoutiful now offer Pain Free as its “third dimension” in health maintenance. Egoscue’s approach to physiological health provides a fitting complement to the Beeyoutiful line of supplements and information about nutrient-dense food preparation (see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon in Beeyoutiful’s recommended books section).


The Egoscue method works wonders in place of, or in combination with, chiropractic care. When a chiropractor manually adjusts your spine, for instance, you schedule your next appointment and go home. But between appointments, muscles naturally return your spine to its previous position if you do not regularly teach and strengthen them to hold your bones in the correct place. This “teaching” is precisely what E-cises do for your body. The Egoscue premise is that all pain—even pain like carpal tunnel in your wrist—is related to the alignment of your body from head to toe, and regular E-cises maintain this alignment. The best news is that you can do them at home, for free, with phenomenal results if you are faithful.


Fearing that we had only costly “traditional” options for helping Grace, I had fairly well despaired of ever addressing her pain issues. But seeing her now pain-free is truly liberating. Discover Egoscue, and you’ll discover affordable, do-able options for managing and even healing your chronically sore feet, back, shoulders, neck, and more. The Webster family testimonies are just two of thousands from people helped by making the Egoscue method part of their lives.