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healthy pregnancy

Natural Remedies For Nausea During Pregnancy 

 
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Nausea during pregnancy will resolve on its own by the third or fourth month for most people. In the meantime, there are several methods for dealing with it naturally.

Nausea is one of the most common complaints of pregnancy. It seems to be related to the massive increase in hormones to support the pregnancy, and an individual’s unique sensitivity to the physical and emotional changes that result. 

Consider keeping a diary of what makes your symptoms worse and better, to increase your awareness of what to avoid and how you can help yourself. Nausea is often made worse by fatigue, stress, unresolved emotional issues, sedentary indoor living, nutritional deficiencies, inadequate diet, an empty stomach, and offensive odors. Plan accordingly!

Dietary Recommendations for Reducing Nausea During Pregnancy

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A drop in blood sugar from the added work of making a baby can make nausea worse, so it is important to eat small amounts of whole food with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat, at least every 2-3 hours, and eat real, local, organic food products as much as possible. Include in your daily diet small frequent servings of:

  • Protein and fat like nuts, nut butters, seeds, tofu/tempeh, whole eggs, turkey or chicken, beef, lamb, wild Alaskan/Norwegian salmon, and fresh raw whole dairy (ideally sheep or goat).

  • Unrefined complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, oats, kasha, beans, sweet potatoes, squash, and whole multi-grain sprouted bread like Ezekiel. Combine with protein and fat like toast with avocado or sliced turkey, oatmeal in milk, or granola with yogurt.

  • Fresh fruits with protein and fat like pure peanut butter or a handful of almonds.

  • Plenty of fresh vegetables with protein and fat like hummus or cheese.

  • Healthy fat for cooking. Good options are cold expeller-pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or butter.

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Stay away from refined white flour foods and sweets, as they lead to a rapid rise then fall in blood sugar - this actually worsens nausea and causes other symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches, brain fog, anxiety and depression. Avoid letting your stomach become empty or stuffed, and try to separate eating solids and drinking liquids by about 15-20 minutes. Try to eat a small portion of food that you tolerate after vomiting. Eat what agrees with you for now from the above foods, as baby will take nutrients from you. You can replenish when the nausea resolves.

Keep some healthy snacks by your bedside to eat before rising in the morning and going to bed at night. Always carry an assortment of your favorite foods when out.

In general, plain foods are usually better tolerated than hot, spicy, rich, greasy, overly sweetened or processed junk foods. Avoid coffee, alcohol and cigarettes, as they irritate the stomach, in addition to causing health problems for you and your baby.

Hydration is Key

Keep well hydrated by drinking at least 64 ounces of liquids away from food. Good options are:

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  • Pure spring or well water with a splash of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice.

  • Seltzer or sparkling water (plain or naturally flavored).

  • Herbal teas of ginger, peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, raspberry leaf, cinnamon, peach, catnip, lemon balm, anise or fennel seeds with honey, agave or fresh mint leaves to taste.

  • Warm milk with lemon juice or honey as soon as you get up in the morning.

  • A small glass of grapefruit juice before meals.

  • Sipping natural ginger ale throughout the day.

  • Soup broth (vegetable, bone or miso are excellent choices).

If you are vomiting, try to drink a small amount of liquid each time you throw up. One quarter cup of fluids every 15-30 minutes is crucial to keep hydrated.

Try to drink the health food alternative to Gatorade or Pedialyte (which is full of chemicals), called Third Wind or Recharge to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. Another option is electrolyte infused water like Smart Water. Fresh or all natural coconut water is nature’s rehydration drink. Eating watermelon is also great for hydrating yourself and is well tolerated. You can also make your own concoction by combining:

  • 1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp calcium/magnesium powder

  • 1-2 Tbsp honey

  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon or lime to taste

  • 1 qt spring or coconut water.

  • Drink a cup slowly every 1 - 2 hours. Even if you vomit it up, you will still get some and it often reduces the number of vomiting episodes.

Take Time for Self-Care

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This is a very sensitive period. You need to find extra time for your own much needed pampering, and remind close friends and family that you need lots of additional love and understanding.

SELF-CARE STRATEGIES

Soak in a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils of lavender, sandalwood, peppermint, citrus or rose. You can also bathe in a few tablespoons of fresh ginger juice - made by juicing a few inch piece of ginger - or 1/2 cup of grated ginger to the bath.

Get more sleep by going to bed earlier or sleeping later, and taking a nap or frequent rest periods during the day. Allow more time to get out of bed in the morning.

Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Open windows when inside, weather permitting. Every day, try to spend at least 20 minutes outside with nature in the early morning or late afternoon sun. This does wonders!

Engage in regular moderate exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, dancing or swimming for ½ -1 hour 5 days per week. Even though you may not feel like doing this, it helps immensely and you will feel better afterwards.

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Practice the following breathing exercises twice per day (like before rising in the morning and going to sleep at night) and whenever you feel very nauseous or stressed. 

Exercise 1. Simply focus your attention on your breathing for a few minutes. Then, after a normal breath, try slowly squeezing out as much air as possible using the muscles in your chest. Next, allow air to come in naturally and deeply, but automatically. Repeat the cycle for at least eight breaths.

Exercise 2. Take a slow deep inhale, drawing your breath deep into your belly and expanding the inhalation to your fullest capacity. The exhale happens naturally. But let it be through your mouth with an audible sigh of relief, releasing and relaxing all tension. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat this cycle for at least eight breaths.

Exercise 3. Play with the counts of inhaling, pausing, exhaling and another pause before the next inhale to see what feels best for you. Try triangle breathing: inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4, then pause for a count of 4, continuing for 5-10 minutes. Alsp try box breathing: inhale to a count of 4, pause for a count of 4 while focusing on relaxing, exhale to a count of 4, pausing again for a count of 4 and repeating that cycle for 5-10 minutes.


Breathwork with extended slow exhales, such as inhale for a count of 3-4 and exhale for a count of 6-8, tend to be extremely calming as well. Rapid forced exhaling through the nose as in the yoga breath of fire, as well as conscious connected circular breathing through the mouth with full capacity enthusiastic inhale and relaxed quick exhale, is more activating and energizing. I love to guide people in mastering transformative life-changing Breathwork practices not only for healing, but also for optimal health and well-being.

Try to relax with yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation techniques (yoga nidra), visualizations and imagery work. There are many phone apps like Calm and Breathe to help you establish a regular practice.

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Enjoy a light distraction like watching an engrossing drama, comedy or musical, reading a good book, or listening to music that you love.

Get a change of scenery by unplugging from your smartphone or computer and spending a day in the park or at the beach, hiking in a beautiful place, getting a spa treatment, exploring a museum or a local town, going to the theater, taking an art or music class, volunteering for those in need, getting together and connecting with those who support and encourage you, going on a mini vacation with a family member or friend to a place you love.

Natural Remedies for Nausea During Pregnancy

HERBS

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If you are interested in herbs, there are several options to try alone or in combination. Go for high-quality sources like Gaia, Wish Garden or Eclectic Institute, or professional grade brands like those in my online holistic apothecary.

Peppermint. Place 1 or 2 drops essential oil of peppermint in a spray bottle and spray it near your nose periodically. You can also put the drops on a piece of cloth, or in an essential oil diffuser, and smell it as often as needed.

Red raspberry leaf. Take 1-2 capsules or 1 ml tincture 1-2 times per day.  

Wild yam tincture. Take 20-30 drops 3-6 times a day, or 1 dropperful up to every few hours depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Dandelion tincture. Can be taken on it’s own, but is especially effective in combination with wild yam. Take 20-30 drops 3-4 times daily.

Ginger root powder. If no history of 2 or more miscarriages, take 250 mg capsules up to 4 times per day.

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New Chapter’s Ginger Honey Tonic. Can be taken in 1-2 tsp doses as often as needed, as can all natural ginger lozenges, ginger sucking candies and dried crystalized ginger pieces.

Slippery Elm. Can be taken in lozenge form or as a thin porridge, by adding water to the powder and honey to taste.

Umeboshi (sour plum). Can be taken as sucking or chewable candies, and are available in most health food stores.

CBD from hemp oil. This is the new rage, as it relieves morning sickness without the potential risks of the THC component of cannabis on the developing fetus. Results from anecdotal evidence and preliminary research, although sparse (as is common with most natural remedies in pregnancy), are promising. Make sure it is absolutely pure, and from a reputable source who can recommend proper dosing or from pharmacies licensed to dispense it, as it is largely unregulated. It is usually taken as several drops under the tongue.

Fresh homemade herbal teas can work wonders for nausea during pregnancy. Do some experimenting to find what is most helpful to you:

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  • Immerse a tiny piece of fresh ginger, or 1 tsp grated ginger in a cup of boiling water for 5-15 minutes. Strain into a glass and sip up to two cups throughout the day.

  • Dandelion root can be taken with or without the ginger. Add approximately 5 Tbsp dried root or about 10 Tbsp fresh root to 1 quart boiling water. Let it brew for 3-4 hours, strain into a glass canning jar, and periodically sip totaling up to 2 cups per day.

  • Add 1 Tbsp dried chamomile to 1 cup boiling water and steep covered for 10 minutes. Strain into a glass and sip periodically, up to 2 cups daily.

  • In 1 cup boiling water, add a tsp of dried or 2 Tbsp fresh leaves of peppermint or spearmint. Immerse covered for 15 minutes and drink as often as needed. You can make your own mint smelling remedy, by placing fresh mint leaves in a covered container, crush the leaves each time you open it, and smell throughout the day as often as you need.

  • You can add a dash of honey, lemon or lime juice to any of the above teas to taste.

  • Try making ice cubes of strong ginger, peppermint or red raspberry tea and suck on them every few hours.

  • You can make your own mint smelling remedy by placing fresh mint leaves in a covered container, crushing the leaves each time you open it, and smelling throughout the day as often as you need.

SUPPLEMENTS

Take a good whole food all-natural prenatal vitamin like New Chapter, Innate Response, or Vitamin Code. Add an additional supplement of 25-50 mg Vitamin B complex 1-2 times per day, depending on how much nausea, vomiting and fatigue you are experiencing. A whole food or herbal iron supplement can also be taken, after meals as needed if you are anemic. It tends to be well absorbed and better tolerated than the pharmaceutical formulations, especially ferrous sulfate that actually upsets the stomach.

If your symptoms are severe and you cannot tolerate taking supplements, just take 25 mg Vitamin B6 three times per day. If even that is too much and your nausea is accompanied by the great exhaustion of early pregnancy, consider a Vitamin B injection from a compounding natural pharmacy. 

Another option when dealing with severe symptoms is to combine Vitamin B6 with a rather safe over-the-counter antihistamine medication doxylamine, known as Unisom, which is available in most drug stores. Take 1/2 tablet or 25 mg before sleep with 25 mg of vitamin B6. You can take the other half in the morning with your first B6 dose but it may make you drowsy. And do not forget the midday 25 mg dose of B6. The combination of Vitamin B6 and Unisom or the prescriptive version called Bongesta can be phenomenally successful at reducing severe nausea during pregnancy, and is considered the best pharmacological treatment around.

ADDITIONAL REMEDIES

While there are many herbalists and holistic midwives whose books line my shelves, with now a plethora of recipes and recommendations used effectively around the world for countless years all over the internet, Dr. Aviva Romm remains one of my favorite resources for safe effective use of herbs in childbearing. She is an integrative physician, midwife and herbalist who has done extensive research and compiled the most comprehensive, evidence based reference guide I have come across called Botanical Guide For Women’s Health. In The Natural Pregnancy Book she advises a wonderfully effective Japanese treatment if you feel like a bout of vomiting is coming on or if you have been already vomiting multiple times:

  • Heat ½ cup sea salt in skillet for 3 minutes. 

  • Put the salt in a pillow case or other suitable sack.

  • Fold into a rectangular pad or small square and wrap it in another towel if too hot.

  • Apply pack directly to your stomach in your upper right abdomen (not lower belly). 

Wear acupressure wristbands, or Seabands, which place constant pressure on the acupressure points related to nausea. These can be purchased in most health food stores and some pharmacies, have been very effective for some women. Or get regular acupuncture treatments.

Homeopathic remedies are safe and amazingly effective in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. You can consult with a classical homeopath, or refer to books like Homeopathy For Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby’s First Year by Miranda Castro. Some women report much success with Weleeda’s homeopathic combination Nausin (7 – 10 drops four times per day). 

Do not take over-the-counter medications without checking with your health care provider, as many are not safe during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.

Please call your health care provider if you have severe persistent vomiting such that you can not keep anything down for more than 24 hours, you are losing weight, dehydrated, and/or you feel faint, as you may need medication, or even intravenous hydration.

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Final Consideration: Your Nausea May Have an Emotional Component

Mental conflict and emotional turmoil can greatly contribute to nausea and vomiting, as does ambivalence about your pregnancy. Make a conscious effort to work on increasing feelings of forgiveness, appreciation, love, joy, optimism, and healing. Likewise, try to let go of anger, resentment, fear, sadness, and other negative thought patterns that are not serving you. Conscious connected breathing as in Clarity Breathwork is a highly effective way of doing this naturally, without much effort.

Try to avoid things, thoughts and people that agitate your mind and raise your internal tension. Surround yourself as much as possible with calm, centered people, things, sounds and places that inspire, relax you, cause you to feel at ease and restore you to inner peace and serenity.

Talk through ambivalent or troubling feelings with your partner, close friend or therapist as needed. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling if you need help with this, as it is not only helpful to express your feelings with a sympathetic ear, but also to develop skills of self mastery and empowerment. Breathwork however will release issues that can not be resolved through thinking and talking, and shave off years of therapy.

If your nausea is extreme or persists in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you!

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

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Shortness of Breath in Pregnancy

 
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Women often have a heightened awareness of their breathing, have mild breathlessness or feel a slight shortness of breath in pregnancy. This is related to normal conditions of pregnancy, such as:

  • Hormonal changes

  • Added demands on the heart

  • Increased oxygen needs

  • Pressure of the growing uterus on the diaphragm

Shortness of breath after exertion is worse in women who smoke or are not physically fit due to a lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle.  

To keep or get in shape and build your stamina, do an aerobic form of exercise - like brisk walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming - at least ½ hour 5 times per week. If you’re not accustomed to exercise, start lightly and build up slowly. But, listen to your body, modify as needed and avoid overexertion. And, of course, quit smoking right away.

Feeling stressed, so common in the modern world, contributes to shallow breathing and worsens the feeling of being winded and tense. Conscious breathwork is literally key to your salvation. It will transform your life, and can certainly make a huge difference in labor too! 

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If You Experience Shortness of Breath In Pregnancy

There are a number of methods shown to reduce shortness of breath in pregnancy. Try some of the ideas below and find what feels right to you.

FOCUSED BREATHING

Periodically check in on your breathing. If you’re breathing fast, slow it down. If it’s shallow (just from the chest or not a full breath), try to take deeper, fuller breaths down into your belly. Regularly make yourself yawn several times.

Practice one of the following breathing exercises for a few minutes a few times daily. Ideal moments are before going to bed at night, before rising in the morning, and throughout the day. Draw on this exercise whenever you experience:

  • Stress or internal tension

  • Anger or triggering

  • Depression or sadness

  • A break in activity (for example traveling, bathing or waiting in line - let these be opportunities to practice and perfect your skills)

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Three-tiered Breathing. Deep abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing is the optimal form of breathing and an effective natural tranquilizer, especially if you do it often. To train yourself in this way of breathing, get comfortable in a reclined position or sit up straight. Then, place your hands on your belly and concentrate on breathing into them. While doing this, bring your attention slowly into your body from head to toe, observing and releasing any muscle tension. Be mindful of what you are currently seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting, and all the sensations of breathing. Just watch without judgment or attachment. This takes you into the present moment, and is wonderfully relaxing.

  1. Exhale slowly through your mouth with an audible sigh.

  2. Inhale deep into your belly for a count of 4 or 5.  Imagine a pump expanding your abdomen and lower back which causes you to inhale, then allows your ribs to expand with air, then your upper chest to rise towards your collarbone and shoulders.

  3. For a count of 4 to 5, slowly release your breath through your mouth in the same order as the inhale - from abdomen to ribs then upper chest. Let go and relax more each time you exhale.

  4. Repeat this cycle for a total of 8 times or at least a few minutes.

Extended Exhale Breathing. Inhale deeply into your belly as above, for a count of 3 or 4, then double the exhale to a count of 6 or 8. While breathing in this way, focus on internal sensations, surrendering and relaxing deeper with each exhalation. Repeat for several cycles for at least a few minutes.  

Just Breathe by Dan Brule is an excellent book about all types of breathwork to enhance your well-being. There are also helpful phone apps called Breathe and Calm. For more guidance and deeper transformation, schedule an online or in-person breathwork session with me.

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MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS

State-of-mind, high vibration thoughts and intentions (your deeply positive goals and truest, most lofty desires) and spiritual connection can all be significant factors in the quality of your breath, and the results you feel from conscious breathing.

We all need to be very careful about what we say to ourselves repeatedly, as thought is creative and can lead to manifesting our reality. What we say to ourselves - the good stuff and the not so good stuff - we can often make happen. Literally. Never underestimate the power of the spoken word and your inner self-talk.

If a thought supports, empowers and inspires - and leads to good or uplifting feelings - let it flow. If your internal dialogue leads you to feel more stressed, anxious, unhappy, upset, not good enough, victimized, limited, or increases suffering in any way, drop it like a hot potato.

Know you can avoid going down a slippery slope and that you have the power to turn off the spiraling record player of negativity. It takes great personal work to replace those lower vibration thoughts with higher ones that are actually more true and supportive, but regular practice will elevate your life immensely. You can turn those negative, often false thoughts, around to the opposite. Examples could be:

  • I am good enough at …. (instead of I am not good enough)

  • I have the strength to handle this (instead of I have no more strength to handle this)

  • I am a great mother (instead of I am a bad mother)

  • He/She should have done that or that should have happened (instead of they should not have done that or that should not have happened), because it did happen, they did do it, so it was actually meant to happen (without condoning harmful actions that were done by someone)

  • I am loved and cared about (instead of no one loves or cares about me)

  • That was just what I needed (instead of that ruined my day)

Another great practice is to state your desires as if they are already happening, by keeping them pure, direct, to the point, and in the present tense. Examples could be:

  • I am perfect as I am

  • My life is perfect as it is

  • I am blessed

  • I am Divine

  • I let go and let God

  • I am grateful

  • I am joy

  • I am love

  • I am calm

  • I’ve got this

Create your own mantra as your breathe, and really allow yourself to imagine all the details and sensations of how this new thought feels (what it looks, sounds, smells, tastes and really feels like). There are many wonderful books on this topic . A great start is Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements , Wayne Dyer’s Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, or Byron Katie’s Loving What Is.

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Take frequent short breaks throughout the day to reduce inner tension and increase feelings of centeredness and tranquility. Spend time outside in nature as much as you can. Practice meditation and progressive muscle relaxation, releasing all the muscles in your body from head to toe. This is especially helpful if you are nervous about your breathing. 

Also consider doing some Yin, gentle, prenatal and or restorative yoga, or locate your nearest Zen Center. Read Marc Lesser’s Book, Accomplishing More by Doing Less, or any book by Thich Nhat Hanh to learn the basics of meditation and Zen practice. One of my favorites is Peace Is Every Step: The Path Of MIndfulness In Everyday LIfe. 


POSTURE

The way you hold your body can make a significant difference in your ability to take a full breath. 

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Yoga and dance help with this tremendously. Periodically check your posture, especially during the second half of pregnancy. Make sure you are standing or sitting straight using your abdominal muscles, and that your shoulders are down, but not slumped forward.

Sleep with some extra pillows to keep your head or shoulders elevated, or lie down on your side. Wear loose, comfortable clothing so you aren’t restricting your movement or your body’s ability to expand with each inhale.

SELF-CARE

Be sure to take good care of yourself in general. Eat a diet that is healthy and well-balanced including a variety of whole foods and choosing organic whenever possible. Good options are:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Beans and seeds

  • Nuts and nut butters

  • Tempeh 

  • Wild Alaskan salmon

  • Whole eggs

  • Turkey or chicken, beef, lamb, and wild game

  • Whole fresh raw dairy - goat and sheep is best

  • Healthy fats like cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or free range grass-fed organic butter

Drink at least 64 ounces of filtered, spring or well water daily between meals, at least 20-30  minutes before or 2 hours after eating. Add berries, a few squeezes and slices of lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or fresh mint leaves to taste.

OTHER TIPS

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Make sure you are getting enough sleep and rest periods for the added demands of pregnancy. Go to bed earlier, sleep later and/or take daily naps.

Cut back on unnecessary demands if you feel you are doing more than your body can handle.

Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, drugs or tobacco.

Consult an acupuncturist with expertise in shiatsu treatment.

Read my books, which cover additional breathing exercises for pregnancy and birth, and for healing and enhanced well-being. 

Contact your physician or midwife if your breathlessness:

  • Becomes severe

  • Occurs especially during rest 

  • Interferes with your ability to carry out routine household chores

  • Is associated with other unusual symptoms like chest pain or palpitations, severe fatigue or weakness, fainting, or blood tinged sputum 

  • Occurs with signs of an infection such as fever, coughing, or congestion.

  • Is in addition to history of asthma or other respiratory problems, heart disease, or smoking

For acute attacks, pause to rest, breath slowly and deeply, exhaling through pursed lips, and try standing with your hands stretched up towards the ceiling.

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

Fatigue During Pregnancy

 

How to Deal With Fatigue During Pregnancy

Fatigue during pregnancy is a very common experience. Growing a baby is an enormous task and requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy.

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There are a number of factors that can contribute to fatigue during pregnancy:

  • The increased demands on your body, mind and spirit.

  • Lack of quality sleep or rest periods.

  • Overworking yourself inside and/or outside of the house.

  • Short pregnancy spacing, breastfeeding and caring for other children

  • Too much time on computer or cell phone.

  • Inadequate diet.

  • Sedentary living.

  • Unexpressed or unresolved emotional difficulties.

  • Depression or anxiety.

  • Anemia.

  • Acute infection or illness.

  • Under-active thyroid function.

  • Other health problems.

  • And even boredom.

Resolving Fatigue During Pregnancy

Look at the whole picture. Consider what in your life could be contributing to your fatigue, and take common sense measures to take care of yourself.

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LACK OF REST
Get more sleep by going to bed earlier, sleeping later in the morning and/or taking a nap during the daytime. Getting enough sleep is especially essential during pregnancy.

Take frequent breaks or “healing intervals” throughout the day to simply sit down, rest, center and calm yourself. You can do this by sitting quietly with your eyes closed, slowing down your thoughts by focusing on slow deep breathing while gazing internally between your eyebrows.

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Meditation, breathwork, visualization, and yoga nidra/progressive muscle relaxation are all great ways to relax the body. There are many books, audio CDs and hypnobirthing MP3s for pregnancy to help you learn these important life skills, and now there are wonderful phone apps like Breathe and Calm. Make it a regular part of your daily routine to practice them - even just for 15 - 20 minutes.

INADEQUATE DIET
Paying close attention to your diet can go a long way in avoiding fatigue during pregnancy, as your nutritional needs soar during this time.

Make sure you’re drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered, spring or well water daily. Try to drink water away from meals (at least 20-30 minutes before or 2 hours after). Include in your daily diet plenty of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains., lots of protein and healthy fats.

Eat 20-30 grams of protein three times daily such as:

  • Beans

  • Nuts and nut butters

  • Seeds

  • Tempeh

  • Organic whole eggs

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon

  • Turkey or chicken

  • Beef, Lamb and Buffalo

  • Organic fresh raw whole dairy - ideally goat or sheep

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When eating fruit and whole grains, combine it with a protein or fat like avocado, nuts or nut butters, eggs, or a piece of organic cheese. If eating whole-grain carbohydrates makes you tired, reserve them for your evening meal.

Use cold expeller pressed extra virgin olive and/or coconut oil, and butter (goat is best) as your primary fat for cooking.

Eat small amounts several times throughout the day rather than heavy infrequent meals.

Products containing refined white flours and sugars or high fructose corn syrup will give you a temporary energy boost, followed by greater fatigue once the effect wears off. These should be avoided.

Also avoid highly refined processed foods, as these are usually void of nourishment and contain all sorts of chemicals, unhealthy fats, simple starches and sugars that can also make you feel more tired after an initial brief boost in energy.

VITAMIN AND MINERAL DEFICIENCIES

If you are anemic (which is very common in pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters), eat iron-rich foods. Good options include eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and split peas, dried fruit, iron fortified cereals, red meat and poultry, blackstrap molasses, and brewers yeast. Take natural herbal sources of iron, such as Floravital Iron & Herbs - it comes in liquid and tablet form, as needed. There are other wonderful natural remedies to boost iron in my online holistic apothecary.

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If your vitamin B 12 levels are low (common in women who have had several successive pregnancies or are breastfeeding), supplementing with 1000 mcg will be needed and can really make a huge difference in how you feel. It is also in the apothecary.

Also, be sure to take a good all natural whole-food based prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement.

A daily nutrition-rich fresh juice made with a combination of veggies and superfoods like spirulina, kelp or wheatgrass can help you feel more alert and energized. Start slowly with 1-2 tablespoons of the superfoods and build up to 1-2 ounces. Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Superfoods also come in all natural powdered mixes that can be added to your daily smoothie. Note: if you have a lot of accumulated toxins in your body, wheatgrass may cause slight nausea at first as it cleanses your system. This is harmless and eventually passes.

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NATURE AND MOVEMENT
Get plenty of fresh air and adequate exposure to sunlight on a daily basis. Try to spend at least 20 minutes outside with nature in the early morning or late afternoon sun each day without sunscreen. If spending a lot of time indoors, at least open the windows – even and especially in the winter.

Engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week. Good options during pregnancy include swimming, brisk walking, cycling, dancing, or low-impact aerobics. Even though you feel tired, exercise creates energy and does wonders to minimize fatigue, depression and anxiety. Incorporating yoga (especially prenatal, Yin, gentle, and restorative) as a regular part of your daily routine can also be very powerful.

Try to maintain correct posture and body mechanics. Use your abdominal muscles to straighten your upper back and tuck your pelvis in to straighten your lower back. Engage your core by bringing your breast bone and lower ribs and belly toward your back, and bringing your front pelvic bone towards your breast bone. Use your arm and leg muscles instead of your weaker back muscles to lift, carry, pull, and push things.

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EMOTIONAL HEALTH
It is important to be open and honest about your feelings to yourself. Some women find it helpful to keep a journal or diary to increase self-awareness and understanding. Share your feelings with your spouse, close friend or family member. Periodically release pent up emotions with a good cry, followed by a hug.

Move strong emotions through your body. If you are angry or overstressed, play an angry song, if you feel grief, play a sad song, or simply play a track of African drumming and let your body move to the music, while making the sounds you need. Our little ones have their temper tantrums, move and release their emotions so they are not repressed and stuck in their bodies. Then they get up and play. Indigenous cultures dance their grief, anger, joy and celebration in community drum circles. We have much to learn from them. Invite friends and have your own drum circle to express and release emotions - you might just feel so exhilarated by it you will want to do this regularly.

Avoid overexertion and trying to be “super mom” by re-examining your priorities, limiting unessential activities, and learning how to say “no.” Delegate tasks to others and let friends and family help.

Try to allow yourself regular time each day without guilt to do something that you fully enjoy, that inspires and uplifts you. Make it easy and fun. Some ideas are:

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  • Watching a musical, romance, comedy or inspirational drama

  • Reading a good novel

  • Taking a stroll through the park or in a beautiful spot in nature

  • Gardening

  • Going on an outing with your partner or good friend

  • Cultivating a hobby you desire

  • Learning something new that interests you

Add more laughter and play to your life. Many women are surprised to find how health-enhancing and energizing this can be.

Seek out a transformational life coach or, if needed, a professional holistic therapist if the above ideas do not help and you are troubled by psychological distress or emotional discomfort. Suppressed feelings can worsen fatigue as well as cause all sorts of other problems if not properly dealt with.

HERBS AND OILS

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Take an invigorating bath with a few drops of essential oils of peppermint or eucalyptus, lemon, wild orange, grapefruit and/or rosemary. You can add a few drops of these essential oils to a bowl or spray bottle of cool water and splash or spray yourself with the uplifting scents throughout the day.

Nettle is a great herb to be taking in pregnancy as a nourishing tonic. It also has the added benefits of blood sugar regulation, adrenal support, improving nutrient intake, and building iron levels. Make a strong infusion by steeping a handful of dried herb in 1 quart of boiling water for 3-4 hours and strain into a canning jar. Drink 1-3 cups daily (with fresh lemon or lime juice, mint leaf or a dash of honey to taste). A fresh spearmint or peppermint tea can also provide a lift of spirit and energy.

If interested in other herbs to improve energy, combine equal amounts of herbal tinctures of schisandra, eleuthero, and American ginseng, and take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp once or twice per day. Start with the lowest dose and work your way up as needed. Reputable herbal companies include Gaia, Eclectic Institute and Wish Garden.

Minimize or avoid caffeinated coffee. It is addictive, too much is harmful, the energy boost is artificial, and it can be agitating and impair sleep. Many feel more tired when its effects wear off.

Avoid stimulant drugs (including diet pills) and sleeping medications, as most have side effects for you and your growing fetus, and can cause you to become dependent on them. Many substances, such as cocaine, are outright dangerous to you and your baby. You must seek professional help if you cannot stop using them.

OTHER RESOURCES

Homeopathy and acupuncture can both be great for soothing stress and increasing energy. Also, check out Clarity Breathwork and/or read The Journey. - for extremely effective, mind-body, cutting edge methods that have lead to transformational healing for thousands of people around the world.

If you experience any sort of chronic fatigue and exhaustion in which serious causes have been ruled out and none of the natural and allopathic remedies help, consider reading the book “The Mindbody Prescription” by Dr John Sarno, MD, an amazing pioneering physician whose brilliant approach has helped hundreds of thousands of people without drugs, physical measure or surgery.

If your exhaustion is extreme or persists in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you!

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

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Bleeding in Pregnancy

 

Bleeding During Pregnancy - Why It Happens and What To Do About It

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Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can often cause us to freak out and start thinking the worst. However, there are a multitude of less serious and more common reasons for light bleeding at this time, such as:

  • A burst of a tiny blood vessel in the vagina or cervix engorged from pregnancy hormones (especially with local infections, during the friction of sexual intercourse, internal exam or pap smear, and when there are vaginal varicosities).

  • Cervical polyps (often benign growths on the cervix that usually increase in size during pregnancy).

  • Hormonal fluctuations, especially around the time of usual monthly periods.

  • The normal implantation of the fertilized egg within the uterus (occurs 1-2 weeks after conception, around the time of your expected period, and lasts just a few days).

  • Bloody show at the beginning of labor (a welcome event only if your baby is at least 37 weeks, but more concerning if preterm).

Vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy affects approximately 25% of all pregnant women. Less than half of these bleeding women actually miscarry. And once the fetal heartbeat is detected at the prenatal visit or on sonogram, miscarriage is rare and unlikely, especially in a healthy pregnancy where there is no prior history of problems like recurrent pregnancy loss. about 1 in 10 pregnant moms will have some bleeding in the third trimester. More often, the cause of bleeding is never found, the bleeding stops and the pregnancy continues to a happy conclusion.

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Vaginal bleeding during the second half of pregnancy can infrequently indicate potentially serious complications such as:

  • The placenta partially to completely separating from the uterine wall before birth (placental abruption).

  • A placenta that is located close to or over the cervix instead of higher in the uterus (placenta previa). A note of reassurance is that while approximately 45% of placentas are classified as “low lying” during the second trimester, the majority “migrate” upwards far enough away from the cervix by the third trimester, and are not a cause for worry.

  • The umbilical cord first inserts into the fetal membranes, then the exposed blood vessels without the protection of the cord travel to the placenta (velamentous insertion).

When To Call The Midwife or Doctor

You should be evaluated by your midwife or physician any time there is bleeding during pregnancy in order to rule out anything concerning or deal with something that is treatable. Call your practitioner if bleeding is light but lasts more than 3 days, is heavy like a period or a continuous flow (you completely soak through a regular sanitary pad in an hour or less), or accompanied by any of the following:

  • Pain in your pelvic area, abdomen, back or shoulder

  • Rhythmic uterine cramping

  • The passage of tissue or clots bigger than a 50 cent piece

  • Foul smelling discharge

  • A gush of fluid from the vagina

  • Symptoms of a urinary tract infection - like feeling you have to urinate frequently, but only little amounts come out, burning or foul smelling urine, low mid pelvic pain when you pee

  • Fever or chills

  • Decreased fetal movements

  • Weight loss, premature resolution of early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and breast tenderness, or the return of your normal breast size

  • You have a history of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, molar pregnancy, placenta previa or abruption, or other significant health problem

  • You simply feel that something isn’t right

Once A Serious Cause of Bleeding During Pregnancy Has Been Ruled Out

Once you have been evaluated and the more serious causes of the bleeding have been ruled out or dealt with, you should do the following.

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  1. Make sure any issues that can be treated, like infections, MTHFR mutations or low progesterone, have been addressed.

  2. Do what you love, what brings you joy, and use your imagination to make routine tasks more enjoyable - even by turning on the music and dancing while you work.

  3. Take it easy and avoid heavy lifting until a few days after the bleeding subsides, with frequent breaks in a comfortable lounge chair, bed or couch.

  4. Limit non- essentials, delegate and ask for extra help from family and friends.

  5. Stock up on some good books, inspirational podcasts and movies, practice deep breathing and progressive relaxation exercises several times a day.

  6. Put nothing in the vagina (this includes no sexual intercourse) until 1-2 weeks after the bleeding has stopped.

  7. Eat warm foods, drink fresh ginger tea (steep a piece of raw ginger in a quart mason jar of boiling water for several hours), and limit cold and frozen foods

For a friable cervix that bleeds easily, small amounts of bleeding from a subchorionic hematoma, or persistent spotting from placental implantation, eat foods high in vitamin C. Good choices are citrus fruits, berries and dark leafy greens, as well as many other fresh produce. You may need to supplement with 500-1000 mg vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and add vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)  400 - 800 IU daily for a few weeks only, to support stronger placental adherence to the uterus in early pregnancy. Chasteberry can enhance pregnancy hormones, and natural progesterone can be prescribed if levels are low in the first trimester. There are natural supplements recommended like whole food B complex with 2-3 mg l-methylfolate, and at least 400 mg DHA/EPA Omega threes for those with the MTHFR mutation, as well as low dose baby aspirin (81 mg) that can thin the blood enough to help it circulate through the tiny vessels of the early placenta without clotting, and prevent miscarriage if that is the issue.

If You’re Cramping But Not Bleeding

If all more serious causes have been ruled out, and you are simply having a lot of cramping without bleeding, make sure you are drinking enough fluids, and are getting plenty of calcium and magnesium in your diet. Start by eating lots of green leafy and seaweed veggies, ground sesame seeds (tahini), wild caught fish like salmon, almonds, whole grains, and organic yogurt and cheese. Avoid excessive cow dairy intake, coffee and soda, even spinach, which decreases calcium absorption. You may need additional supplementation - at least 400 mg magnesium and 1200 mg calcium daily in 2-3 divided doses; or make your own infusion of nettles and red raspberry leaf tea, using the recipe here.

Also, helpful herbs to reduce cramping are cramp bark, black haw, and wild yam. You can experiment with one of them at a time, or use all together in combination. Take 1 - 5 cc of each tincture every 30 minutes to few hours, depending on how often and intense the cramping is.

If There’s A Threat of Miscarriage

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Women can bleed and cramp and still have a healthy pregnancy. But not all miscarriages can be prevented. Miscarriage is actually pretty common, and rise with age and the more pregnancies a woman experiences. About 10-20% of women with known pregnancies miscarry before 20 weeks. Many miscarry around the time of the first missed period, before they even realize they are pregnant.

Heavy bleeding with cramping, lower abdominal or back pains and/or passage of tissue or fluid from the vagina during early pregnancy usually indicates that a miscarriage is in progress and there is little that can be done to stop it. In most cases, a miscarriage is your body’s natural way of rejecting an unhealthy or abnormally implanted fetus.

Once you know you are pregnant, it is still often experienced as a huge loss and the grief can be intense. I am sorry if that is what is happening and I encourage you to mourn as you need to, tap into your strength, look for the silver lining, and notice how you have grown as you heal.

Other less-common reasons for an isolated miscarriage include infection, dehydration, poor nutrition, severe trauma, and exposure to significant doses of hazardous substances (toxic industrial or environmental chemicals, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and radiation). It is still important to get evaluated, though, to be sure what is going on, and get treatment if needed..

If you have been informed that a miscarriage is threatening, follow the suggestions above for treatment of bleeding, plus:

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  • Drink a small glass of wine or beer, or a shot of whiskey in juice to lessen the cramping at night if interfering with sleep and you do not have a history of alcohol addiction, but alcohol should be used in very limited amounts during pregnancy.

  • Keep well hydrated with plenty of fluids (at least 8-10 glasses of water daily).

  • Light some candles and take relaxing warm baths with your favorite essential oils.

  • Take 200 IU of Vitamin E 3-4 times per day for no more than 3 weeks to strengthen placental attachment and reduce spotting.

  • Take 500 mg of Vitamin C with bioflavonoids twice a day during the crisis period.

  • Do a yoga nidra, mindfulness practice or a progressive relaxation meditation to stay calm inside.  Whenever worrisome thoughts occur, use them as an opportunity to practice being present in the now and doing breathwork. For example, for 5- 10 minutes twice a day, do slow deep extended exhalation breaths (inhale for a count of 3, exhale for a count of 6), while allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel.

  • Tune into what is true for you, and what you really want. If it is your heartfelt desire to continue the pregnancy, let that feeling expand, as that will enhance whatever else you are doing. You can send loving thoughts to your baby and visualize your womb surrounded by love, light and spiritual protection; affirm that baby is welcome in your life, you and your baby are healthy and vibrant, your placenta is strongly attached to your uterus, you are providing safety, security and nourishment to your baby…as well as mama love, a love like no other.

  • You and your partner can place one hand on each other’s heart, the other hand on your womb, and imagine enhancing your family bond. Send love from your hearts to one another and to your baby. Focus on deepening and strengthening your love and connection, especially if there is tension between you. Never underestimate the close relationship of the mind and heart to the body, and the power of love and harmony to heal, and transform...and even prevent miscarriage if the pregnancy is healthy. This can be a wonderful opportunity of healing and transformative for all of you.

  • It helps to love yourself unconditionally and with compassion, to have a clear intention to release all self judgement and blame. Visualize the blame leaving you with each exhalation or melting away from your body, sinking down into the earth beneath you.  

  • Connect to other wise women, in sisterhood - those who uplift, inspire and support you. Have a good cry, a good laugh and a good hug several times a day.

  • It also helps to pray, and as much as possible. Then let go, surrender to what is greater and wiser than us all, the benevolent infinite, and release trying to control what is not in your control. Can we embrace what is, even when we do not understand the whys?

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If you are interested in herbal remedies to help prevent a threatened miscarriage, you can make your own infusion or tincture combination by mixing the following bulk dried herbs or the same herbs in tincture form:

Combine equal amounts of partridge berry, cramp bark, black haw, and wild yam, false unicorn root, and chasteberry, with a dash of lobelia. Take 2.5 to 5 cc of the mixture every ½ to few hours until symptoms resolve, then a few times per day for a week. This mixture can be taken prophylactically twice a day in the first trimester, if you have a history of miscarriage in prior pregnancy. These herbs are said to aid the miscarriage if the fetus is not normally formed, but prevent it if it is strong and healthy.

Most of the supplements and herbal remedies I recommend are available on my customized online holistic apothecary. If you need more personal guidance, I am happy to help. You can set up a consultation with me here.

For extra support in pregnancy and relief of common aches and pains, wear an abdominal binder. Bellefit makes a fine one as pictured above. They also make postpartum support girdles . I have a holistic approach to life, including healing after pregnancy and birthing. Nothing replaces abdominal toning and exercise for restoring muscle strength and tone - which I encourage for all mamas as soon as they feel up to it postpartum. Nothing replaces touch, slow deep abdominal breathing, and a 'love your postpartum body' perspective that I promote.  But I have found many mamas simply feel comforted by this support garment, especially early postpartum and temporarily as needed....to be used without forfeiting abdominal toning and strengthening exercise, breathing well and touch. 

I have found Bellefit supportive garments to help like they use belly binding around the world such as in Indonesia. They do aid in early postpartum healing and provide support many mamas feel comforted by. I deal with human beings and the reality is many postpartum mom's struggle with body image, feel frustrated that getting back to themselves takes longer than expected.

Being into holistic health and healing includes being sensitive to real human struggles - the mind, body, heart and soul of each person and their unique situation. 

Having helped countless women with these issues after having a baby as a midwife, I have found many still love that binding and feel better with this support, and ability to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably and sooner than they would if they went through a C-section or natural childbirth recovery without it - especially when they have to dress up and fit into a certain favorite outfit for a special occasion or wedding not long after having a baby.

For more info on the Bellefit girdle, check out my blog about it here.

 

Have a Great Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)!

Again, you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

Preparing for Pregnancy

 

There are so many things to consider when preparing for pregnancy

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Every momma wants to give her baby the best possible start in life. Preparing for pregnancy will enhance your own health for fertility success, and set yourself up to provide a healthy environment for your baby.

But, where do you start? Taking a natural, holistic approach to preparing for pregnancy includes optimizing your diet, supplements, physical movement and state-of-mind. This is a less invasive, less expensive, and much healthier approach for both momma and baby before even considering the standard fertility treatments.

Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy

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When preparing for pregnancy, it’s best to eat a wide variety of fresh, whole, plant-based foods and adequate protein. Your plate should be beautiful and colorful with plenty of varied vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, some nuts and seeds, seasoned with fresh herbs and spices. Look for:

  • Organic. Free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can damage fetal development, this is the best option for produce. Use the Dirty Dozen as a basic guide. These foods are to be either eaten organic or avoided.

  • Local. Choosing local typically means the food is at the peak of freshness, grown in your locality, maintaining more nutritional integrity.

  • Colorful. The various colors of fruits and vegetable provides differing nutrients. Make sure you’re eating a full spectrum of color to get a well-rounded diet.

  • Unprocessed. Chemical additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, food coloring and genetic modification can all negatively affect your health and your baby’s. If it comes in packaging, it’s probably not the best option.

  • Sugar-free. Sugar is damaging to you and your baby’s cells, and disrupts gut flora; it negatively impacts your pregnancy, and how you feel physically and emotionally. Sugar is found in almost all processed food. Look out for marketing tricks, like using four or five different types of sweeteners so manufacturers don’t have to list it as the first ingredient. Stick with natural sugars like in fruit, and if you must add a sweetener, a tad of pure raw honey or maple syrup is better.

  • Gluten-Free &/or Dairy-Free. Most women feel best when they are gluten-free. Try removing it from your diet for a week and see if you feel better in your mind and body, gain more energy or clarity. Many also feel better off cow dairy, but tolerate goat or sheep dairy products. Try a different week without it and note how you feel.

  • Hormone & Antibiotic-Free. Whenever possible, select the highest-quality organic meats and animal products, including wild fish from non polluted waters. If the animal food you’re eating was treated with hormones and antibiotics, your body and baby will be affected by that. And consider that most farm animals are fed genetically modified (GMO) corn and feed that is highly sprayed with pesticides. Animals who are free to move in the sunshine and graze in the green pastures, as they did for thousands of years before the modernization of the farming industry, produce the healthiest meat, diary and eggs for human consumption.

  • Healthy fats. Your body needs plenty of high-quality fat, especially when preparing for pregnancy. Ideally, you should be eating wild Alaskan or Norwegian salmon at least twice per week as well as healthy oils. Use extra virgin olive oil on cold foods (like for salad dressing) and light sautéing, and coconut oil or organic grass-fed butter for cooking at higher temperatures.

  • Hydration. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fresh spring or filtered water throughout the day. Work your way up to half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds drink 75 ounces of water daily.

Preparing for Pregnancy with Supplements

In a perfect world, we would get all the nutrients we need from our food. But, with today’s industrialization of food and depleted soils, that has become virtually impossible. Additionally, the standard American diet is really empty of needed nutrition and even those of us with the best intentions do not eat all of what is needed for the health of ourselves or our pregnancies. The supplements you need when preparing for pregnancy will depend on your specific situation. Chat with me to find the best supplements for your body.

However, there are a few supplements that every woman should take daily. I take them myself and recommend them to all my clients. Following this supplement protocol has blessed me with feeling wonderfully vital and rarely getting sick - even when a bug is going around my house.

So what’s my supplement magic? I take whole food organic supplements from trusted, high quality, professional grade companies, including:

  • A multivitamin/mineral combination

  • Methylated folate in B complex

  • Calcium, magnesium, and D complex

  • Omega three fatty acids

  • Herbal iron depending on your iron stores

  • Mega-Probiotics that are colon and urogenital specific for women

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My online dispensary is a convenient way for you to purchase my hand-picked, professional-grade, whole food supplements and other natural health products. Ordering is simple by category (listed in the prenatal section), and the products will be shipped directly to your home or work within a few days.

For more details on food and supplements for pregnancy check out my Natural Birth Secrets book, and in even greater depth, my online course.

Exercise for a Healthy Pregnancy and Beyond

Movement is another important aspect of preparing for pregnancy. Not only will a strong, agile and flexible body provide a safer prenatal home for baby, it will help you avoid aches and pains along the way, reduce inner stress, help in labor and even postpartum recovery. The right exercise can also get your body ready to ease your baby into a perfect birthing position.

Ultimately, the best exercise is that which you enjoy, so you stick with it. Vary activities that you love, and incorporate it into your life so it doesn’t feel stressful. Here are some types of movement to consider:

  • Walking. This is a great place to start if you’re someone who currently isn’t getting much exercise. Begin with a leisurely 15-minute walk every day, and build up to 45-60 minutes at a faster pace.

  • Yoga. Yoga will not only strengthen your body and make you more flexible, it’s been known to decrease stress and enhance your overall well-being as well. There are tremendous health benefits to regular yoga practice. There are even fertility yoga classes out there, designed with just this topic in mind! I teach private yoga classes, including yoga workshops for pregnancy and labor, as well as postpartum - which can be done locally or on Skype.

  • Dance. Dancing is such a great way to keep healthy and active! It is so much fun, and is a direct path to feeling awesome without realizing you are also getting a fabulous workout. It relieves stress, helps you feel and move emotions, and creates happy for you, and for your baby; your stress hormones as well as your happy love hormones pass through the placenta to baby....and both are contagious to those around you. Dancing also helps you tap into your sensual or sassy sexy, which is beneficial in pregnancy, labor and life! Dancing in labor uses gravity and asymmetrical movements to ease baby down and out through a wider birth canal. Start by taking dance classes, but you can also just turn on the music regularly and dance like no one is watching. I give group and private healing movement workshops - called Femme!, which is a wonderful experience for both men and women.

  • Weight-training. If you are not called to yoga or dance, back, arm, leg and core exercises help align your body and are great preparation for the uneven weight of pregnancy. Squatting helps prepare for delivery.

  • Pilates. Pilates has a strong emphasis on core conditioning and is also great for mommas-to-be.

  • Swim. It gets you outside, connected to nature and immersed in healing waters that soothes the soul. Swimming and water aerobics are also great ways to be active. In advancing pregnancy, it relieves common aches and discomforts, and pregnant women love the sense of weightlessness they feel in water.

If you’re someone who currently has an intense workout regimen and are having trouble conceiving, consider dialing it back to a lower intensity. Otherwise, moderately moving your body and being active each day is the way to go.

Tapping into Mindfulness and Joy

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Reducing inner stress and living in joy are central to preparing for pregnancy. Inner stress can actually prevent pregnancy. Many of us recognize that we have grown out of alignment with our true natural being and it's time to get back to our original design.... get back in touch with the cyclic nature of our human bodies, our minds, our hearts and our spirits. The thoughts we think and the perspective we carry while preparing for pregnancy are incredibly influential.

Find ways to slow down, unplug and enjoy the journey. Make sure you are well rested, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Practice saying “no” to anything that doesn’t bring you calm and pleasure during this time. Explore ways to bring joy back into the things that aren’t optional. Stay as much as possible in the present moment, one moment, one breath at a time; practicing mindfulness - anchoring into what is going on around you and the sensations within you in the now transforms your life and will benefit your labor immensely. Consider a daily practice of mediation, journaling, and creating any form of art to help your body keep in a calm and joyful state. Decide to live a glorious life; dress and treat yourself like the goddess you are. Focus on what you have to be grateful for and all the blessings in your life. Connect more in community with those you love, and those who inspire you. Clear your body of trapped emotional pain, trauma and internal stress, and transform self limiting beliefs and thought patterns with Clarity Breathwork. Turn negative thoughts into positive affirmations, for example: My body is strong and healthy for pregnancy or I am the perfect age to become a mother; empowering uplifting thoughts are usually the opposite of, and more true than the false stories we typically tell ourselves.

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Acupuncture is a great way to relax and has the added bonus of hormone regulation and improved ovarian function. Many women who had some initial trouble conceiving often get pregnant after receiving acupuncture by a practitioner with expertise in fertility; I have seen it used in conjunction with routine infertility treatments, and have seen successful pregnancies even after several IVF attempts failed.

We’ve discussed a lot of lifestyle factors here. Some might be big changes for you. Don’t let them overwhelm you. I’m a huge fan of the 80-20 rule. Spend 80% of your efforts on achieving optimal habits and allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the other 20% without guilt.

Fertility Awareness

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Learn the signs of fertility so you can make sure you have intercourse during the small window of time when you are likely to conceive, you get the most accurate estimation of pregnancy dating, and you will even know when you are pregnant before you can take a pregnancy test. This is key, and will also provide helpful information as to causes of difficulties should you need professional guidance. I cover this in more detail in my Natural Birth Secrets book.

For further inspiration and optimal health during pregnancy, birthing and postpartum, please make sure to click here to take my online Love Your Birth course, so you can ROCK your journey wherever and however you plan to give birth.