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What's your food vice?  What is your food you feel you need every day, multiple times a day, or multiple times a week that isn't totally nourishing?  No worries - we're going to focus on foods to add for a healthy pregnancy, not foods to eliminate.

It's easy to tell someone what not to do.  It is another thing altogether to provide someone with the information to actually take a positive step forward.  Changing habits, lifestyles, is daunting enough.  Taking away that "thing" can be overwhelming.  We want to build oxytocin for a happy healthy birth, so let's start with a positive approach to choices with these seven foods to add for a healthy pregnancy.

Nettles - Foods to Add for a Healthy Pregnancy

Nettles - one of the most nutritious and healing wild foods available.  Nettels are high in calcium, vitamin A, iron, plant-based protein, fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, folate, lutein and many other nutrients your body needs for healthy function.

This tonic (nutrient-rich) herb can be purchased online and in many of your local health food stores as a tea.  You may even find a patch of this stinging plant in your back yard (wear gloves when harvesting, the sting will go away when it is steeped, cooked, or dried).  Nettles are wonderful for removing proteins from the urine, improving protein digestion, nourishing the liver, and supporting immune function improving atrophied parts of the body systems.

As clinical herbalis David Hoffmann tells us, "When in doubt, give nettles."

Drink nettle tea 1-3 times a day.  Throw nettles in a bowl of soup or make nettle pesto.

Eggs - Foods to Add for a Healthy Pregnancy

Eggs are another one of those complete meals all in one.  Eggs are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Choline, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Copper, Omega-3, Omega-6, protein, lutein and of course many more things your body and baby needs.

Eggs can be scrambled, poached, fried (try a high-heat tolorant oil), baked, soft boiled, hard boiled, deviled....  Add them to a sprouted-grain blend pancake with nut butter and fruit on top.  Add them to a stir fry for texture and flavor.  Put them on a salad.  Pair them with a cup of nettle tea and some fresh fruit.  Put apple sauce on them.  Eat them, love them, share them with your baby's placenta, amniotic sac, and eye health.

Not all eggs are built the same, so be choosy when you can.  Free range eggs (not the same as cage free or organic) provide chickens with the most natural-based living environment to graze on wild edibles both plant and insect-based.  These chickens will be healthier and their eggs will be more nourishing.  In many areas, purchasing a few laying hens for the duration of your pregnancy will prove to be valuable (especially if you've seen the cost of free range eggs at the store).  Befriend a local farmer or find your market for fresh free-range eggs (be sure to ask about their living and eating conditions to be sure).

Fish - Foods to Add for a Healthy Pregnancy

Fish is a great source of protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin B2, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, potassium, and Omega-3 fatty acids.  Your body needs healthy fats.  Your brain needs healthy fats.  Your digestive system eats healthy fats.  In fact, as you start digesting healthy fats, oxytocin is released in higher amounts than if you eat meals without healthy fats.  Score one for the spontaneous labor team!

Stick to the smaller sized fish to avoid high levels of mercury.  But, if fish sticks are all you've got, add them.  Fish is great seasoned in a taco, added to a rice and veggie casserole, or grilled with some seasonal veggies.

Rainbow Salad - Foods to Add for a Healthy Pregnancy

Get all your colors.  Pick whatever fruits you have available to you each week that touch all the colors of the rainbow, and prep a salad as soon as you get home from the grocery store, put it in a glass container, and pop it in the refrigerator.  Yes, fresh picked and uncut fruit is going to be better - but pre-prepped likely means you'll eat more of it.  Do what works.

The colors of your food come from the phytonutrients and other constituents contained in that food.  A lot of food has a little of many of the other colors phytonutrients, but the main color you see will be the main phytonutrient you're consuming.

Red - Pomogranate, Cherries, Grapefruit

Lycopene, Anthocyanidins...etc - Urinary System, Cardiovascular System

Orange/Yellow - Squash, Mango, Citrus

Beta-carotene, lutein...etc. - Immune system, Visual system, Cell Growth

Green - Dark Leafy greens, Kiwi, Avacado

Isoflavones, chlorophyll...etc. - Liver, Kidney & Digestive System, Cardiovascular System

Blue/Indigo/Violet - Eggplant, Blueberries, Blackberries

Resveratrol, Anthocyanidins, Flavonoids - Brain Health, Cardiovascular System

This is just the tip of the iceberg with the nutrients these food color groups contain, but all whole colored foods are vital to whole body health - even the whites, though most are getting many white foods.  Vary your selection, too.  Add variety to not only the types of colored foods you're selecting, but the species within those same food choices that might not be available at just one grocery store.  Mixing these colors up into a salad gives you a quick snack or lunch side.

Avacado - Foods to Add for a Healthy Pregnancy

Avacado is an easy source for healthy fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 as well as, Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and many more.

Avacados can be sliced on a salad or sandwich, seasoned with any seasoning of your choice, blended into guacamole, mixed into some amazing chicken salad, or added to a smoothie.  Remember the importance of healthy fats for digestion, smooth bowel function, brain health, and a boost of oxytocin.

Sprouted Lentils - Foods to Add for a Healthy Pregnancy

Lentils are a great plant-based protein as well as high in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Omega-3, and Omega-6.

While lentils are low in phytic acid when compared to other legumes, lentil digestion and bioavialabilty can still be improved by soaking and then sprouting before consuming.  However, lentils cook super fast, so even if sprouting isn't an option now and then, you don't have to wait hours to enjoy their creamy texture.

Lentils go great in just about any soup or stew.  They're also a great addition to tacos, blended into a dip, or sprinkled on a salad.  You may even enjoy them like cream of wheat in the morning with some cinnamon and raisins or pressed into a patty and grilled for lentil burgers.

 

Now you have six foods to add to your meal planning calendar to play around with and turn them into a new healthy routine.  How will you enjoy them?

Historical Birth Influences - what are they?

So many times, our modern culture focuses on the fact that cesareans are now a choice and the technology and skills have improved.  So many times, birth in the modern world is promoted because we have epidurals and obstetricians and... well, those aspects cannot be denied.  However, I want to focus not on what technology didn't exist throughout the history of birth, but what the historical influences on birth were that actually may have improved the outcomes of birth compared to the modern day.

Historical Influences on Birth - Life

You birth how you live.  It is kind of that simple.  The historical birth would have experienced life in a way that better prepared the body for birth.  Nothing more than the daily actions (and non-actions) of living prepare the body to gestate, birth, breastfeeding and experience vitality in the childbearing years and beyond.  Now, this also means each culture would have seen their own influences of how they live on birth - most having really great outcomes.  Think way back before civilized America.  Too many times early America and Europe-before-America is the comparison to health statistics when people were either living in highly crowded unsanitary conditions or highly secluded conditions with mono-diets full of filler foods.

Historical Influences on Birth - Wild Food

Wild food is hardier.  Wild food germinates and sprouts in the conditions that support its growth the best.  This means they are, typically, growing in optimal conditions being fertilized naturally through forest decomposition and companion plants.  It will thrive in those conditions (or stop growing when it is not provided with them or overtaken by larger plants or invasive species).  A wild food will most often have more nutrients than its store-bought, farmers-market purchased, and even organically farmed counterparts - especially when the comparison is to a mono-culture of plants.  Hunter-gatherer cultures have increased nutrients in their body compared to western cultures, reducing the need for synthetic or whole-foods supplements.  Wild foods are highly diverse.  One wild fruit tree will never be the same variety as another wild fruit tree grown from the seed.  The seeds are designed to carry unique genetic codes to improve the health of the species.  We can relate this to what happens when humans mate with other humans who's genetic structure is similar to theirs - many complications physically and neurologically.

Adding wild foods (not seeds planted in rows in the forest - but foods that grow, seed and spread on their own) is one way we can improve modern birth in the way that a historical birth would have benefited.

Historical Influences on Birth - Movement

Movement was crucial for survival at one time.  This meant, even when someone didn't want to move - they had to from a very early age or they wouldn't eat or have shelter.  They not only had to move to hunt and gather their food, but also to process it.  A food processing movement now takes only the push of a button.  A food processing movement historically would have taken days of labor to not only create a quality tool to process the food, but then to process the food with that tool by hand.  It isn't just the movement that improves the whole healthy of the body, but the significant decrease in processed food due to the movement it took to create a processed food.

The other major movement influence on historical birth was walking and climbing with minimal to no footwear as well as bending and squatting for various needs, such as elimination.  This improved whole body alignment, especially in the pelvis area.  The soft tissue surrounding the pelvis was significantly more flexible and toned (round ligament and lower back pain would have been experienced to a much less degree).  This would have created a significant impact on not only the health and safety of the birth, but also the speed of labor and the birth phase.  While many tribal rituals appear to be barbaric to our modern culture, the daily life of the woman prepared her for this physiological task.  Wallis tells us in The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada that, "a normal labor lasted two hours."  Each culture, of course would have had their differences just like the modern women that sits more than she moves will often experience a longer more physically demanding labor (or deal with symphysis pubis dysfunction).  More whole-body movement prior to childbirth (and pregnancy) typically equates to an easier labor.  Whole body movement does not equate to one style or a few styles of exercise; keep this in mind.

Historical Influences on Birth - Reverence for the Circle of Life (Not Fear)

The heartbreaking aspects of life are the most difficult topics for modern cultures.  I cannot even begin to pretend that I wholly understand what a family experiences through some of these most difficult times, even through various losses I have experienced myself and with my family.  What we do see, however, is that our culture is built on quantity of life and not quality of life.  We do see that the more disconnected cultures become in daily life, the more difficult it is to manage the times where our spirit must be supported from many angles.  Tribal cultures had a deep reverence for not just human life and death, but the place humans have in connection to the earth - giving thanks for everything that is received and thanks (because of understanding) when desired things are not.  The more we fear any of life's experiences, the more we fear birth.  The more we search for one thing or many things to save us, the less we rely on our own actions.  Making choices doesn't guarantee us anything (hospital, home, midwife, obstetrician, unassisted, herbs, medications, faith) - but it does allow us to be an active participant in this experience and better understand, or trust, outcomes when we have participated in the informed decisions of our life.  There can be a lot of healing in accepting that we will never know everything; our beliefs shape our actions and reactions.

Historical Influences on Birth - Birth Normalization

Though many historical cultures used a woman that had experienced many more births and had more knowledge of herbs than the others, most births that weren't unassisted, were attended by the family and friends of a woman who had a natural knowledge of birth and herbs because they were immersed in it from the time they were born themselves.  A young child would have fetched water or an extra set of hands to come when labor had arrived and these women were often mistakenly labeled as a "midwife" causing modern readers to relate that name to what they see in a care provider today.  Being someone that would have learned from their elders and having been immersed in [mostly] normal birth from when they were a babe is quite different than someone who learns western medicine, surgery and birth on your back from mothers that may be very ill-prepared going into pregnancy.  Modern birth is simply not like birth was from a culture that lived a life of survival which naturally developed the body for reproduction.  The historical birth attendant (usually the mother or mother-in-law) provided guidance on herbs and foods to use or avoid, and in many cultures offered regular abdominal massage throughout the pregnancy improving fetal position and maternal relaxation.  During pregnancy, she held space and provided calm energy.  Not much more was needed and in most cases hands and herbs did the trick where it was needed.

We can't address the normalcy of birth views without addressing the awareness historical cultures had on the number of pregnancies they experienced.  More babies would have meant a lot more work for survival of the tribe, so it wasn't common to have more than 2-3 kids in many tribal hunter and gatherer cultures.  Food sources, and even various stress levels, would have influenced the menstrual cycle and affecting fertility too for when natural food sources would have better supported pregnancy.  Additionally, through awareness of their body, physiological breastfeeding, and herbal uses, they would have naturally spaced babies and prevented pregnancy (yes, even more barbaric measures as well) to reduce the number of babies for their culture's needs.  Spacing their babies meant more time for the uterus and body to heal between pregnancies and to be in a physiological space best prepared to handle a pregnancy and birth.

 

just breathe Reflection Journal Prompt - Week 2

 

Reflect: List 6 practical goals for movement and health:

The Oxytocin Method creates actions that improve the biological function of your body - physically, emotionally and holistically to improve the natural hormone needed for spontaneous labor progression and a happy healthy birth.

 

While we can choose to utilize historical approaches to birth, we are also blessed to not have to use all their measures as well.  The biggest influences are our regular life choices that will affect our perinatal experience.  Can you see historical influences on birth that you can adapt to your daily routine which may positively influence your birth?

 

TCM Organ Clock

Sleep is a given, right?  If you don't sleep, you don't feel rested and your day can kind of go downhill from there.  If you wake up in the middle of your sleep cycle, you tend to feel groggy throughout the day and may stress your adrenals with the adrenalin boost caused by unnatural waking.

But, what else is happening when we sleep?  During the most common sleep hours, some of our most important body-support functions are happening.

To read the full post, you must be a member of the FREE Esali Birth Community.  JOIN Esali Birth.

To receive weekly notifications, and supportive student-only tips, for the 10-Week Esali Birth Prep lessons, ENROLL in the FREE Esali Birth Prep Course.

Show me how you #sleepforbirth with the #esalibirthprep on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.

dandelion detox support

Every week we've been building healthy habits and reducing toxin overload.  You're moving well, eating well, and releasing toxins.  The body, every day, is eliminating toxins [detoxing] to improve the function of the body... or at least it should be.

To read the full post, you must be a member of the FREE Esali Birth Community.  JOIN Esali Birth.

To receive weekly notifications, and supportive student-only tips, for the 10-Week Esali Birth Prep lessons, ENROLL in the FREE Esali Birth Prep Course.

Show me how you #detoxforbirth by supporting your body's ability to do so with the #esalibirthprep on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.

I'm sure you've seen videos of the mommas dancing their way through their labors and births.  I'm sure you've found it funny, maybe you even tried it.  Maybe you're one of the ones that found amazing benefits, even just for comfort, from moving your pelvis.  In fact, most of us that have tried this in pregnancy will continue to do this well after the baby is born because this isn't a pregnancy or woman-only movement.  Do you know *why* this is helpful?

Belly dancing was historically done for pregnancy and labor.  As with most traditions, it developed into more entertainment and theatric performace and lost its connection to a way of life.  Let's talk about that connection a little bit.

Birth supporters and advocates are constantly talking about positioning of the body for a smoother birth.  We all know (or should know) that sitting on your bum with you pelvis cocked forward or back lying in labor is 100 kinds of wrong for getting baby out in a healthy and happy way, right?  We may even suggest a chiropractic adjustment or massage often to help align things.  A physical therapist that specializes in women's health will take these treatments a step further and is definitely worth looking into so you can not just treat the symptom but fix the root problem of your discomfort and misalignment; but I want you to take a step further with your care because how you move regularly is how your pelvis and baby are aligned and appointments aren't going to fix the responsibility you have to take care of your body nutritionally and physically.... AND emotionally.

Belly dancing moves the baby.  It moves the baby so that baby can move in the pelvis.  What it also does is move the pelvis, ligaments, and muscles - including the uterus.  If your uterus is tilted from not moving your body enough, your baby is going to be tilted.  If your ligaments (way more than just the round ligaments in the front) are tight, they're going to tilt your cervix and overall cause more pain.  If your body isn't hydrated, your myofascia will be brittle and crispy and no amount of chiro care is going to keep you aligned.  If you're not moving and stretching and overall taking care of your muscles, ligaments, and bones - your body and baby won't be positioned well for birth.  Belly dancing, rather big sensual movements of the pelvis in circles both ways and figure eights and dips and turns and just going with your body massages the ligaments, massages the muscles, moves the pelvis, turns the baby - it does all these things that many adjustments are trying to do, but dancing does it all at once from the inside out!

So take a look at the video above if you haven't already at what your baby might be doing inside that cozy womb while moving your pelvis 5 minutes every 30-60 minutes of the day.

The only thing you have to do is keep moving, and stay well well hydrated so that the myofascia doesn't get brittle.  This is crucial.  Likewise, if you have a desk job...etc., these movements can be done on a birth ball as well.  Of course, this is only one piece of the puzzle and one movement you can add into your daily routine.  There are a lot of other techniques you can use for optimal fetal positioning in pregnancy to not only prevent discomfort now and in labor, but also increase your ability for spontaneous birth.  There are specifics to your situation that change the way these techniques are approached.  You can scour the Spinning Babies website for a few of these tips, and if you're interested in learning more?  Join me in a monthly birth class or for mentoring sessions online or locally.

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