Posts Tagged ‘healthy food choices’

3 Simple Pre-Conception Preparations

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Congratulations! You are thinking about getting pregnant! :) The period in a couple’s life when they are hoping to expand their family is¬†certainly an exciting time. While it may be a little ways away for your family, there are things you can do in advance to optimally prepare your body for¬†carrying new life¬†and it’s never to early to start!

Make Healthy Food Choices: Nutrition is probably the number one most important thing¬†you can do to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. The awesome part of this is that it is something¬†you can¬†completely control; what¬†you put into¬†your body is 100% yours to decide! Of course eating well is important for everyone no matter what phase of life, but it is especially important for women during their childbearing years. If you want to make changes to your current diet, my suggestion would be to ease into it. Drastic dietary changes are often only temporarily sustainable efforts. Perhaps start by simply adding more whole foods into your diet? One idea might be to start your morning with a green smoothie? It’s a really easy way to get in a ton of nutrients. Another factor¬†that influences¬†healthy food choices and the relationship we have with food, is¬†the common belief/misconception that healthy foods don’t taste good.¬†If you believe that then you are less likely to select a healthy food and go straight for the junk foods¬†which you know tastes good, right? Who woudn’t choose something yummy over something bland and tasteless? Eating is supposed to be a pleasurable experience!¬†However I assure you eating healthy can be delicious, succulent, invigorating, and pure decadence! If what is healthy to you is boring, perhaps experiment more with foods and flavors? You might also try imposing more mindfulness into¬†meals as described in this post. Another mental shift in eating is to focus on how foods make you feel after consuming them; really looking inward and examining how your body responds to foods. You might¬†discover that healthy foods help you feel more vibrant and energetic as well as provide clarity of mind.¬†¬†By attributing those positive qualities to the foods we use to fuel our bodies, we change our relationship with food. No longer does a donut look appealing…it starts to look like something that is going to make¬†you feel heavy, sluggish, and unfulfilled. By changing the way you eat before getting pregnant, you are filling your body with optimum nutrients needed to grow and nourish a healthy baby. And you¬†are setting¬†yourself up for continued healthy food choices during pregnancy and postpartum. Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding are a lot of work for your body and properly fueling your body can positively impact all three!

Increase water consumption: While this goes hand in hand with healthy eating, it is definitely worthy enough of separate mention. Water is quite healing and restorative to our bodies. Through large consumption of water we can help remove toxins from our body. One great way to start your day is to drink a large glass of water upon awakening. You have likely went 8 hours or so through the night without consuming any water so your body would graciously welcome a large glass of water each morning. Try to figure out a way throughout the day to have water readily available and accessible to you. Often this means carrying a water bottle with you. Investing in a quality water bottle that is easy to fill, clean, and drink from is definitely worthwhile as it is likely to directly impact how  much water you consume. By increasing water consumption during the pre-conception period, you are setting the stage to do so during your pregnancy. Staying properly hydrated during pregnancy can actually prevent some pretty serious medical issues. Something as simple as drinking water can change the course of your pregnancy, so bottoms up! :)

Be Active/Exercise: Again when you consider how much work carrying and birthing a baby is on your body, having a healthy strong body becomes even more important. If the idea of exercise means going to the gym and hating every minute of it, then of course you won’t be motivated to do it. However if you open yourself to the idea that there are hundreds of different ways to be active, you might find a type of exercise you actually enjoy such as hiking, biking, roller-blading, skiing, running, dancing, power-walking, yoga, volleyball, softball, tennis, swimming, surfing, etc. If exercise is infused into a recreational hobby, it becomes less of a ‘chore’ and something you are actually passionate about and willingly/happily devote time to. In addition to the direct health benefits of exercise, by engaging in physical activities we become more attune with our bodies which obviously¬†carries great advantages during pregnancy and childbirth.

What are some ways you prepared for pregnancy? Would love to hear your ideas!

-Sarah

API Principle #2: Feed with Love and Respect

Friday, November 11th, 2011

This is the second Friday of our 8-week series where we examine an Attachment Parenting International Principle. Today’s principle is Feed with Love and Respect. API recognizes that feeding your baby is deeper than simply providing nutrients; it truly is an act of love. It‚Äôs a way for you to connect with your child by meeting this basic need in a lovingly, gentle manner. After the birth of my first son, I quickly discovered the joy of feeding him. In fact it led me to enjoy foods in a whole light. I see four distinct milestones around feeding your baby. They are as follows:

Pregnancy – Although API doesn’t cover prenatal nutrition in their second principle of Feed with Love and Respect, I feel it‚Äôs worth mentioning. After all it‚Äôs really your first opportunity to nourish your baby. Making healthy food choices during pregnancy is equally beneficial to you and your growing baby. If you experience nausea during your pregnancy, this can be especially challenging. In that situation you are hopefully able to find a few healthy foods that agree with you.¬†:)

Breastfeeding ‚Äď API states that ‚ÄúBreastfeeding satisfies an infant’s nutritional and emotional needs better than any other method of infant feeding‚ÄĚ (http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/feed.php, 2008). However they do recognize that some babies¬†are bottle-fed and offer suggestions on how to do so that maintains a secure attachment between mother and child. Suggestions for bottle feedings include behaviors that mimic breastfeeding such as holding baby, positioning of baby, switching sides, and making eye contact. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding they strongly encourage¬†that you¬†feed on demand and respond to baby‚Äôs early hungry cues such as smacking lips, opening and closing mouth, sucking on hand, or rooting. Additionally since sucking is highly calming and organizing for newborns, API also encourages mothers to allow babies to ‚Äėcomfort nurse‚Äô. In other words, your baby might not actually be hungry and need milk, but simply wants to be close to you and nurse.

Solids- The introduction of solids should begin when a child demonstrates readiness cues such as able to sit up without support, an increase in breastfeeding, can pick up food using a pincer grasp, or demonstrates an interest by grabbing at your food. Typically this happens around 6 months of age, but it is certainly okay if your child is not ready for solids until several months later. Ideally the initial introduction to solids is not meant to replace the calories or nutrients of breast milk. Rather it is an opportunity for your baby to explore new tastes and textures. Solid foods are a whole new sensory experiences for babies that can be quite enjoyable and pleasurable for them. Moreover it provides the foundation for long-term healthy eating habits and a positive relationship with food. Mealtimes with baby should be positive and free from stress or pressure. Mealtimes can be a fun, social time for baby to connect with their family members. Optimally foods offered to baby are a nutritionally dense whole food prepared and presented according to baby’s needs.

Weaning- One of my favorite books on this topic is a publication from La Leche League International called ‚ÄúHow Weaning Happens‚ÄĚ. Several years ago a family member happened upon it at a thrift store, purchased it, and gifted it to me. My son was about a year old at the time so I figured the book was a subtle hint that it was time for me to wean him. However after reading the book, I felt strongly encouraged to continue our breastfeeding relationship. The book shares many personal accounts of how weaning happened for various families, under various circumstances, and at various ages. Most of the families in the book practiced extended breastfeeding and some tandem nursed as well. Many of their stories align beautifully with how API views the weaning process. API believes that weaning should be a gradual and gentle process that is started when a child shows signs of readiness. They recognize that breastfeeding provides far more than nutrients to babies; it is a source of tremendous nurture and comfort for little ones. Therefore they encourage families to have a tender, loving approach to weaning.
What has been your experience with feeding with love and respect? Where you able to follow your child’s cue s for breastfeeding, introduction to solids, and weaning?


-Sarah