My Holistic, Vegan Pregnancy and the Power of Listening to Your BodyBy Bec Mills
There is something incredibly empowering about growing another life inside of you. I’m 30 weeks pregnant with my first bub, and it is simultaneously the most thrilling and daunting time of my life. Not only do I have a new found sense of responsibility for this little bean, but me and my body have all of a sudden become everyone else’s business. I learnt that no matter how I eat or what I do, in regards to my baby and me, someone will tell me it’s wrong.
The takeaway? Your body and intuition know better than anyone else. Let them be your compass.
Every body needs different things – what works for one person may not work for another. There is a time and place for knowledge and information, but I think the key is to find the balance. Balance between listening to my body and making informed decisions, and trying not to over research and scare myself about everything that could go wrong.
Simplicity is key for me; I move when my body tells me to and I listen intently to myself as far as food is concerned.
I eat a plant-based, gluten-free diet, because it works best for my body and my ethics, and I have found that this way of eating has been quite easy to continue through my pregnancy. I believe that eating this way has helped me avoid morning sickness, swollen feet, ankles, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, drastic mood swings, unnecessary ‘baby weight,’ and other unsavoury “perks” many pregnant women endure. I feel fantastic eating this way, the baby is measuring perfectly, and my blood work is showing great results.
I was never worried about my lifestyle being incapable of supporting a healthy pregnancy, but there were a few things I had to adjust nutritionally, like upping my protein and iron – which I get predominantly from whole food sources like beans, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens, with some added support from high-quality supplementation. A vegan diet also does a lot of the hard work for you as far as avoiding foods deemed unsafe during pregnancy, like deli meats, soft cheeses, sushi, raw eggs and meat. No probs here!
I am a big believer in movement being a vital component in mental and physical health and that has proven to be even more the case during pregnancy. A lot of people shy away from exercise whilst pregnant, but that just ain’t right friends. We’re training for a massive event here! Bigger than any marathon or month-long pilates challenge. Your body and your baby need you to move and you need to be in good shape in order to recover well and quickly. The oxygen flow that movement encourages does wonderful things for your ever-growing body. It helps with plummeting energy levels (it’s tiring work growing a human), clears your mind, calms anxiety, and eases the usual pregnancy discomforts such as stiffness, nausea, and a sore, aching body.
I love to start my day with some sun salutations, a few favourite opening poses, and some hip, lower back and side stretches to wake up my body. I follow this up with lots of goddess squats, which will help me prepare for labour.
At nights I like to wind down with some gentle yin based stretches, breathing exercises and meditation. The beautiful, nourishing deep breath that comes with yoga has been incredibly beneficial in relaxing and creating lots of internal space that is desperately needed with a growing baby compressing all your organs. My yoga practice has been huge for developing a strong connection with my little bean, which is really important to me. Sometimes moving my body just means enjoying long walks on the beach. I’m lucky enough to live near the ocean so I’ve been spending many hours taking in the view, fresh air, sunshine and quiet time, with the added bonus of some gentle cardio on the soft sand.
I hope that this has helped anyone who may be pregnant or thinking about it, to know that it is very possible to achieve a gentle and healthy pregnancy without compromising your lifestyle or beliefs. What’s best for you is generally what’s best for your baby. Love and savour this special time, listen to that infallible mother’s intuition of yours and believe in your amazing body: You were made to do this.
Much love Mamas x