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Healthy Pregnancy

I'd like my pregnancy to be healthy and natural.

Question

I'm in the very early stages of my first pregnancy and -while I'm happy- it almost seems as if I have an illness, with all the tests and scans, etc. Can you give me some guidelines on keeping healthy naturally at this time please?

Answer

Pregnancy is a natural phenomenon – not disease. Over the years, however, it has become a serious business for medicine to monitor.

Today, pregnancy is dominated by a risk-management policy implemented through technology: tests, scans, foetal probes, even gender selection. The main reason for this is that people are scared of the range of potential complications, including pre-eclampsia (formerly known as toxaemia), miscarriage, premature birth or forceps delivery and haemorrhage, as well as birth anomalies and genetic defects. The result is that pregnancy has become rather like a performance orchestrated by doctors, in which the stars - mother, father and baby - have very little say. The mother is driven far away from nature, and intuition, common sense and traditional knowledge have hardly any role.

Here are my tips for a healthy pregnancy:

  • For the first three months, rest as much as possible, especially if you are more than 35 years old. If possible, work from home and ask your husband or partner (or parents if they have time) to help you with housework.
  • lf you get morning sickness, smell a cut fresh green lime when you feel nauseous.
  • Avoid undue exertion throughout your pregnancy: don't lift heavy weights, or do vigorous exercise or stand for long periods.
  • If possible, take the last trimester (three months) off work on maternity leave.
  • Take an afternoon nap. Avoid late nights.
  • Avoid frequent air travel and long flights which may give you jet lag, or any travel which may give you motion sickness.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Ask your husband or partner to give you a neck and spine massage for l5 minutes, once or twice a week. He could use Dr Ali's Lifestyle Massage Oil or dilute 30 drops of lavender essential oil in 100ml of sweet almond or grape seed oil, all organic if possible. Ask him to stroke and rub your neck and back with his finger-tips and the heels of his hands while you either lie on your side or sit on a chair with your head resting on a table (put a cushion on the table if it feels too hard).In addition, I recommend going for a monthly session of professional massage.
  • Eat a healthy diet, with plenty of spinach and broccoli for the folic acid content, aubergine, which is rich in iron, non-citrus fruits, carrot juice, pomegranate juice, cooked liver (organic is advisable), chicken and chicken soup, fish, almonds soaked for 24 hours, wholegrain pasta, yeast-free bread and rice. Be sure to cook food well so that it's easily digestible. Do not worry about weight gain (within reason).
  • Eat your main meal at lunchtime, as heavy foods at night can cause discomfort.
  • Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, with extra folic acid (to help prevent congenital conditions such as spina bifida). I recommend PreNatal capsules by Vega which include at least the recommended daily amount of 400mcg of folic acid.
  • Avoid excess salt, cheese, very spicy foods and mushrooms, also refined sugar and yeast products (these may produce flatulence, causing discomfort and pain in the abdomen), canned or preserved foods (preservatives may be toxic for the pregnancy), alcohol, coffee, and excess garlic or ginger (these may excite the nervous system).
  • Meditate and be peaceful: focus your thoughts on the baby in your womb and send . lots of love. Touch your stomach and enjoy the kicks and flutters. Remember, the baby is sharing all your emotions - the bond is already very strong.

Walk tall, Breathe deep:

  • Try to hold yourself as straight as possible as you walk without exaggerating the lower back arch – let your chest rise and your shoulder blades sink down a little.
  • Also, keep your feet pointing straight ahead, rather than turning out - this helps distribute the weight properly and so reduces the strain on the spine.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent and upwards. At the same time, let the lower part of your spine 'drop': your pelvis will then lift and position itself below the abdomen, so that the baby is properly placed in the womb.
  • Regular therapeutic yoga is extremely beneficial for relocation, circulation and proper development of the muscles used in labour. Simple breathing exercises help to de-stress the mother and the baby.
  • You will find further information in my book. The Ultimate Back Book.
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