pregnancy

The top 5 third trimester problems... and what you can do!

From heartburn, sleepless nights and leg cramps to managing your hunger levels and preventing dehydration in your third trimester, here are some tips on how to combat the most common pregnancy complaints as you head into the home stretch!

5 things I wished I had packed in my hospital bag...

Here are 5 things I wished I packed in my hospital bag the first time I gave birth. Now that I'm packing my hospital bag for my second birth, I am definitely packing these 5 things that are going to make my life a little easier (and more comfortable!).

How Pregnancy Improved My Body Image

pregnant with arabella at 34 weeks

Whether you have been pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, most women fear how their body will change during and after carrying a child. It’s a monumental life-changing event in so many ways. Naturally, most women will look different post-baby (after all, the body is bringing a new life into this world!). Our society has done a great job of feeding the message that pregnancy “ruins” a woman’s body. There’s an obsession with celebs (and even regular folk) who’ve “bounced back” to their pre-pregnancy bodies and look like they haven’t had kids at all. Gossip magazines used to be the worst offenders, and now our Instagram feeds are joining the fun. 

I didn’t realize just how much society’s idea of perfection was affecting me until my first pregnancy, two years ago. In my childhood and adolescent years, I had subconsciously learned to find love and acceptance by looking a certain way and keeping up with the expectations of others. When I became pregnant, these old image demands re-surfaced, and all the unknowns of pregnancy shook me. Would I gain weight that I would then spend my whole life trying to lose? Would I have stretch marks? Acne? Varicose veins? I dreaded the process of getting bigger. All the subliminal messages about women no longer being attractive after having babies started to morph into fears about my husband not liking my look and then altogether not being beautiful. I began acting irrationally in my marriage (convinced he no longer loved me) and I wasn’t enjoying the miracle of being pregnant and becoming a mother. 

A few weeks into my second trimester, I had to be honest with the fears I hadn’t addressed in the first stage of my pregnancy. By not facing my issues, they were robbing me of joy and eroding the trust and love that once defined my marriage. I had to make a stand and defend the self-worth for which I had spent so many years fighting. I prayed and journaled. I spent time reflecting on the honor it was to grow life inside of me. I stopped watching shows on husbands cheating on their wives because that fed my fear that my husband would no longer find me attractive. I chose to put down the magazines and books that portrayed pregnant women as unattractive or spoke of them as if they were half the women they were before having children. I deleted Instagram accounts that made me feel inferior because I didn’t have the same body type. I meditated on affirmations about my inherent worth. I learned to accept my husband’s unconditional love for me and not conjure up scenarios in my head. I surrounded myself with positive images of powerful pregnant women who are confident and radiant in their skin, even with baby weight and stretch marks. I read about those who were happy and secure after having babies. I dare say, women who felt even more beautiful.

Maybe for you, it’s not the process of pregnancy but something else that’s made you realize society has wreaked havoc on your body image. Perhaps enough is enough, and you’re done dealing with the pressure of living up to the “perfect” body. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to sit and be real with those feelings and have a look at what’s feeding the fear and insecurity. Is it your Instagram feed? Is it that friend or boyfriend that comments about your weight? Is it certain TV shows or magazines that place an expectation on you to look a set way? Is it something more profound like a childhood experience or a relationship that tied your worth to your appearance?

As hard and as painful as it was, I’m so grateful I got a chance to confront my feelings so I could be at peace with who I am, pregnant or not. It didn’t happen overnight, but I started to love carrying a child and how I looked. I embraced the journey instead of resisting it, and the fear of the unknown began to have less of a hold on me. Now, two years later, I am pregnant again with our second child. I can honestly say that I am happier and more confident about my body than I ever have been. Sure, it’s not exactly the same as it was before I had my son, but the great thing is, I’m 100% at peace with that. I don’t feel the pressure that I once put on myself to look a certain way.

I’ve found a deep love for my body, and it’s the most liberating feeling to value it for its strength, tenacity, and ability to bring life into this world. Its worth doesn’t come from being a certain size or weight or whether it has stretch marks or not. Despite what society tells me, that’s not what brings me true happiness at all.

Written for Iridescent Women: https://iridescentwomen.com/2018/08/28/how-pregnancy-improved-my-body-image/

Safe skincare during pregnancy

Did you know that what you put on your skin is absorbed into your blood stream in less than 27 seconds? That means the ingredients in your skincare products are absorbed into your blood stream at a faster rate than what you eat!

Paraben-free. Sulfate-free. No mineral oil.

You might’ve seen these buzz words scattered over your skincare products. More and more people are becoming aware that these synthetic ingredients could be toxic (and potentially harmful to a developing baby).

Scientific studies are still under way but ingredients like parabens have been linked to some cancers and have been found in breast tumors. Sulfates have a degenerative effect on your body (they break down cell membranes) and have been found in heart, brain and lung tissue. Mineral oil deposits have also been found deep inside the body, and have even been found in the milk samples of nursing mothers. Their link to cancer is still being investigated.

Clear, make-up free skin 6 weeks after using the True Botanicals cleanser, serum and face oil.

Clear, make-up free skin 6 weeks after using the True Botanicals cleanser, serum and face oil.

To be honest, I didn’t care too much about what was going on my skin until my first pregnancy. Suddenly, I became aware that everything I ate or drank, everything I put on my skin and everything that I inhaled or surrounded myself with, was somehow being passed onto my baby to some degree.

That’s when I started reading the ingredients on my skincare products and found a cocktail of petrochemicals and parabens I didn’t want to be absorbing. 

Why does it matter?

A human being will grow at his or her fastest rate inside the womb. Over 1 million new cells are formed every 4 minutes. All it takes during this phase is an excessive dose of a harmful chemical or toxin and your baby’s development could be at risk.

This is definitely not written to alarm you but to encourage you to be mindful about the products you put on your skin over the 9 months that you are pregnant.

The troubling thing with the beauty industry is that skincare companies aren’t lawfully obligated to list certain chemicals they put their products. In fact, sometimes they don’t even need to list all the ingredients they use. For example, the word “fragrance” on a bottle could mean up 5000 different concoctions including synthetic, preservative, or allergy-provoking substances that you might want to know about.

Plus, some companies intentionally use fragrance to mask the smell of certain chemicals they use so the consumer has no idea just how toxic it really is.

What do I use?

Now, in my second pregnancy, I've discovered fantastic products that are free from synthetic ingredients that could harm my baby’s development. One brand that I’ve discovered is True Botanicals. I love their stuff because they deliver real results and they use only pregnancy-safe ingredients.  

In fact, True Botanicals is the first company I’ve come across that has the pregnant woman in mind. They've designed a special range (called the Hydrate collection) and they don’t use anything that pregnant women can’t put onto their skin.

The icing on the cake is that their products actually work. My skin feels softer and has more of an even skin tone in the last 6 weeks that I’ve been using their products. Despite having acne-prone skin and being worried I would break out during this pregnancy, I haven’t had one pimple. 

My next concern was anti-ageing and they’ve proved themselves there. Fine lines on my forehead have disappeared in the recent weeks that I’ve used their face oil and serum. My skin feels hydrated and well-nourished. Just this morning, I was told that I look ten years younger than my actual age (I’m not sure how I feel about that) – but hey, I’ll take it! 

I'm obsessed with the True Botanicals Hydrate line, especially their face oil and repair serum.

I'm obsessed with the True Botanicals Hydrate line, especially their face oil and repair serum.

What can you do? 

First up, have a read of the ingredients in your cleansers, toners, serums and moisturizers. Have a look for key words that mean parabens, sulfates and petrochemicals have been used. To make it easier, there’s a quick list below.

Next up, I’d encourage you to look for safer options in whatever products that have more of the synthetic ingredients you don’t want. If price is an issue, swap out one product at a time. Natural skincare is becoming more mainstream so it’s becoming more and more affordable to the average woman. Drug store brands I love include Aveeno and the Nutragena Naturals line. 

Try before you buy. If you’re not convinced that natural skincare will work for you, I encourage you to be open minded and try it out first. Some brands like True Botanicals sell samples of their products which you can try out for a few days to see for yourself. 

I'd love to hear from you. What are some natural skincare products that you've tried and loved? Feel free to email me or comment below! x

The most common names for parabens, sulfates and mineral oil in your skincare products.

The most common names for parabens, sulfates and mineral oil in your skincare products.

 

 

 

How to prevent stretch marks with nutrition

healthy diet during pregnancy

About 9 in 10 women develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Despite all the stretch mark creams available on the market today, experts agree that the determining factor on whether a person gets stretch marks is genetics.

Although genetics play a major role, holistic health practitioners will also say that nutrition can be the determining factor. I have to agree. It would explain the fact that I got faint stretch marks on my hips from a growth spurt during high school but I didn’t get any stretch marks during my first pregnancy with a collagen-rich diet (and I’m working on preventing any during this pregnancy).

 

How can food help prevent stretch marks?

First up, your skin is an organ that needs specific nutrients to function at its best. Your skin is your body’s largest organ so just like your heart or liver, it needs nutrients to thrive.

The key nutrient for healthy-looking skin is collagen.

Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissue such as bones, joints and ligaments. Without collagen, our skin would be inelastic, i.e., it wouldn’t be able to stretch. That’s why the beauty industry has long-used collagen in anti-ageing serums and moisturizers. Collagen improves our skin elasticity and without it, our skin is prone to wrinkles, sagging and stretch marks.

Improving skin elasticity from the inside out

I’m all about health from the inside out. Healthy skin is a reflection of a healthy diet and lifestyle. By eating more collagen-rich foods we can improve skin elasticity from the inside out. After all, stretch marks are a sign that the skin is not as elastic (or cannot stretch) at the rate it’s being asked to. 

As a side note, I still use stretch mark prevention creams, along with good nutrition, to prevent stretch marks. Since your skin is your largest organ (and everything you put on your skin is absorbed into your blood stream within 27 seconds), I've been on the hunt for natural stretch mark creams that actually work. I love ThinkBaby's Best Stretch Mark Creams for Pre and Post-Pregnancy list for natural creams that have been tried and tested on moms who've either used these creams and haven't got stretch marks - or moms who've seen stretch marks fade and disappear after using these creams.

Collagen-rich foods

The richest source of collagen is from bone broth. Beef, chicken and fish broth contain collagen from the bones it was cooked from. By slow cooking these bones, collagen is released into the broth. I personally love the taste of broth, so I drink a small bowl of it almost every day. There are a few places around New York you can get broth, but I’ve found that cooking my own is so simple and inexpensive, that I make a batch in the slow cooker almost every weekend.

Broths are also a great base for home-made chicken and noodle or minestrone soups. This is how I sneaked broth into my diet during my first trimester when the thought of broth by itself made me feel ill!

What if you can’t stomach bone broth?

If the thought of drinking bone broth makes you want to gag, try collagen powder. You can add a spoonful in to your sauces, your soups, your smoothies or smoothie bowls for a collagen-boost. Vital Proteins and Dr. Axe have high-quality collagen powders you can order online that are rather taste-neutral and easy to mix into soups, smoothies or even juice or water.

If you can drink bone broth, check out my easy chicken broth recipe that takes only a few minutes to prep and you'll have enough broth to last you a week. In my humble opinion, it’s totally worth the many benefits it can give to your skin and your body (not to mention your baby’s development too).

   Chicken Broth 

COLLAGEN + GLYCINE

 

 

Morning sickness: why you get it & what you can do

morning sickness nausea

 

I am living and breathing this article as I write it. As a wonderful surprise, we found out that I was pregnant with our second baby a few weeks ago, which is exciting because I get to walk in the shoes of other bella mamas and re-visit pregnancy health and wellness for myself all over again.

However, one thing that’s been very different to my first pregnancy, is how sick I’ve been in the first trimester. With my first, I barely experienced any nausea. Although I was tired most of the time, my first trimester wasn’t plagued with trips to the bathroom to be sick.

It’s very different this time ‘round.

The last few weeks have been extremely difficult, physically. I’ve been sick several times a day, exhausted and emotional. So, what better way to harness a horrible feeling than to put pen to paper and talk about morning sickness and how I’ve learnt to combat it.

And just for the record, morning sickness isn’t limited to the morning at all. Women can experience it any time of day and it can last the whole day as well. For me, the nausea lasts the whole day but it’s worse from about late afternoon to bedtime so I’ve learnt to do the most important things I need to do (including take my prenatal supplements) and eat meals during the day, in preparation for feeling ill at night.

 

What is morning sickness?

 

To support a healthy pregnancy, your hormones like estrogen and progesterone have to soar to new heights. Progesterone increases up to 100 times its normal amount and estrogen goes up to 15 times its usual limit. These hormones keep the baby safe and encourage normal development but they’re responsible for everything from sore boobs and vomiting to mood swings and irritability. The first trimester (the first 12 weeks of pregnancy), is when women experience the most hormonal fluctuations. Hormones often level out after week 13 when the placenta (your baby’s life-support organ) takes over producing these hormones and nausea and fatigue often ease up.

 

Why do you get it?

 

One theory is that morning sickness is Mother Nature’s way of getting us to avoid certain toxins in what we eat and drink. Our normal diets are replaced with basic easy-to-stomach foods such as fruit, crackers, bread and soup. At least that was the case for me. I’ve only been able to stomach meat or dairy in very small amounts and the thought of anything fried, overly processed or too sweet, makes me feel sick. As frustrating as it is to not be able to eat all the well-balanced meals as I want right now, I’m trusting that my body knows best and I’m trying to be kind to myself by eating what I can, when I can.

Whether you believe this theory or not, the most important thing in the first trimester (when your baby’s organs are forming), is to avoid and limit toxin exposure. For me, this experience, has made understand the importance of pre-pregnancy health even more, because it’s in that time before you conceive that you can detox your body and build up your nutritional stores. After all, morning sickness doesn’t discriminate. A healthy woman might be faced with a few weeks of nausea, vomiting and an aversion to fruits, vegetables and food she would normally eat, so it's best to be prepared beforehand.

However, if you didn’t get a chance to prepare your body before pregnancy, don’t despair. The best thing you can do now is to get on a good prenatal supplement and limit your toxin exposure by eating organic wherever possible, avoiding processed foods and eating as many fruits and vegetables as you can.

 

What can you do?

If you’re reading this and already battling nausea and vomiting, I feel ya sister! Here is what helped me get through the last few weeks…

 

1.    Take a good-quality prenatal supplement

Despite being as sick as a dog, I’ve taken my prenatal supplements every day. I love taking high-quality brand like Naturelo because I know my baby is getting the essential vitamins and minerals she or he needs in this time. When it comes to prenatals, it’s important to find a brand that uses real folate, and not the synthetic kind that most brands use because there's a real difference. This is especially important in the first few weeks of pregnancy to reduce the chance of birth defects.

 

2.    Have small, frequent meals

I am not a natural “grazer”. I’ve always preferred to have three larger meals and don’t snack much in between meals but I’ve had to adapt and change the way I eat the past few weeks because low blood sugar levels heighten nausea. Now, I don’t go far from my bed in the morning without having eaten half a banana or half a granola bar or half a glass of unsweetened almond milk. Even though I don’t feel like it, I’ll have a few bites of something every couple of hours so I don’t get too hungry throughout the day.

 

3.    Try natural remedies for queasy stomachs

Ginger is an age-old remedy because ginger neutralizes stomach acid. I’ve had a lot of pickled ginger the past few weeks because one of pregnancy cravings has been shrimp and avocado sushi made with brown rice. You can also try ginger tea or a low-sugar ginger ale. Simple soups and plain crackers have also been life-savers for when I’ve felt queasy. In this time, it’s also best to avoid greasy and overly processed food as they put more strain on your digestion.

 

4.    Citrus fruits

Many women report that the scent of citrus can ease nausea momentarily. I also found this to be true and ate half a grapefruit and a couple of oranges each day because I enjoy the scent (and taste!). Lemons in ice cold water has also helped ease the nausea and on really bad days, I suck on lemon wedges because this takes the nausea away, at least momentarily.

 

5.    Load up on Vitamin B6

Research has found that a Vitamin B6 deficiency can make nausea and morning sickness worse. If you can stomach them, try and eat as many foods rich in Vitamin B6, even before nausea and morning sickness kick in. The best sources of Vitamin B6 are turkey breast, grass-fed beef, pistachio nuts, avocado, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds.

 

6.    Try essential oils

Just like the scent of citrus, many women report that citrus or peppermint essential oils can help relieve nausea. I use a diffuser to diffuse grapefruit oil throughout the apartment. I have my diffuser in the kitchen, where I feel the most nauseous because of all the different food smells.

 

7.    Get fresh air and sunshine

It might sound cliché, but fresh air and sunshine, does do wonders for the soul. There were days when I felt so sick, I couldn’t leave my apartment and I just had to be kind to myself and accept that it was that way. But on the days that I could, I would go on a short walk with Elijah. Even if my body felt ill, at least I was feeding my soul with some fresh air and sunshine and that brought some relief.

 

 

 

The 10 most common early pregnancy signs

1.     Missed period

If your period is late, it’s worth taking a pregnancy test. The best time to take a pregnancy test is first thing in the morning, using your first pee of the day. That’s because the test will be looking for elevated hCG hormone levels and the concentration of hCG is highest first-thing in the morning.

 

2.     Sore boobs

Just like your boobs may get sore before your period, hormonal changes may make them sore in the earlier half of pregnancy. With my first pregnancy, I discovered that I was pregnant because my boobs were so sore, I felt like I needed to wear two bras to get the support I needed!

 

3.     Fatigue

Hormones, again, are responsible for the crippling fatigue most pregnant women experience in the first trimester. The hormone, progesterone, soars to up to 100 times its normal amount in a pregnant woman’s body. Progesterone relaxes the uterus and protects the growing baby, but it also acts as a sedative and makes the pregnant woman more tired. If you feel like you can’t get through the day without a nap, or an earlier bedtime, it could be a sign that you’re pregnant.

 

4.     Nausea

Despite the name “morning sickness”, nausea and vomiting can strike any time of day and can last the whole day for some women. With my second pregnancy, my nausea and vomiting was worse in the afternoon until bedtime, so keep this in mind if you expectantly experience nausea and vomiting and it’s not food poisoning or a gastro bug.

 

5.     Light spotting

Light spotting happens for some women when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus wall, where it will make its home and grow into a fetus from there. Light spotting happens around the time you would normally get your period. The only difference is that the bleeding won’t be heavy enough to fill a pad or tampon.

 

6.     Cramping

Just like light spotting, some women experience cramps when the fertilized egg implants itself onto the uterus wall. These cramps feel very similar to your usual period cramps. With my second pregnancy, I experienced these cramps and thought my period was on the way. However, it didn’t come and sure enough, I was pregnant!

 

7.     Change in your cervical mucus

If you’ve been tracking changes in your cervical mucus for ovulation and fertility, you’d be familiar with how your cervical mucus changes around the time you’re ovulating. It’s thicker, almost the consistency of runny egg white. This mucus will change to become clear and thin, almost disappearing before your period comes. However, if you’re pregnant, your mucus will stay thick and white. That’s because this mucus is part of your body’s way of protecting the growing fetus from bacteria and microbes that could otherwise enter through the vagina.

 

8.     Food aversions

Just like nausea, food aversions are a common early pregnancy sign. If you experience a sudden dislike for a food (or smell) you’ve always loved, and you can’t explain the dislike, it could be a sign that you’re pregnant. One of the tell-tales signs for me in my first pregnancy, was my sudden dislike for the smell and taste of bacon (which I ate a few times a week prior to pregnancy!).

 

9.     Cold-like symptoms

During the earlier half of pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is naturally lowered to protect the baby from being rejected by the mother’s body. Pregnant women are more susceptible to colds and flu and it’s not uncommon to wake up with a stuffy nose or a sore throat or to have cold symptoms like a runny nose and sneezing throughout the day.

 

10.  More emotional

The hormonal rollercoaster is real. Just like hormonal changes can bring on PMS before your period, hormonal changes during pregnancy can you more emotional or irritable, especially during the first few weeks of pregnancy where hormone levels are escalating each day. It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to be more teary and emotional... I know I certainly am during pregnancy!

Pregnancy cravings & healthy weight gain

donuts in bed

Before I was pregnant, my biggest perception about pregnancy was that pregnant women got uncontrollable cravings for pizza and ice-cream at all hours of the day. I thought that those cravings would control you for the nine months that you were pregnant and that you had no choice but to give in and eat exactly what you were craving.

What I learnt through my own pregnancy, was that firstly, every woman is different and secondly, you can turn your cravings into healthier options, at least most of the time.

Some women crave pizza and others crave watermelon. Other women, like myself, crave cheese burgers but can't stand the thought of cupcakes (for some reason, anything too sugary made me feel sick).

While I indulged most of my cravings, I always looked to how I could turn them into healthier, more nutritional options when I could.

When I craved cheese burgers, I would order burgers on a whole-wheat bun – or skip the bun if whole-wheat wasn’t available and indulged in a few French fries instead.

When I craved Mac n cheese, I would make my own version using brown rice pasta, and throw as many vegetables in there as I could. I would also use organic cheese.

When I craved something salty, I would buy roasted and salted almonds before reaching for the potato chips.

When I craved chocolate, I would have some raw cacao truffles that I had stored in the fridge or freezer. These cacao truffles are made with ground walnuts so they’re packed with fiber, protein and Omega 3 fatty-acids that will benefit both you and your baby. They’re also sugar-free and naturally sweetened with dates.

So how can you make your cravings healthier?

Can you choose whole-wheat?

Whole-wheat grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat flour, whole-grain oats, barley and faro, have fiber and protein in them so they slow the absorption of glucose (or blood sugar) into your body. This is key to weight management and healthy hormones because a spike in blood sugar means a spike in insulin, which signals your body to store excess glucose as fat.

Can you choose whole-wheat dough for your pizza or whole-wheat bread for your grilled cheese sandwich? Better yet, can you sub in quinoa or buckwheat instead of grains because both quinoa and buckwheat are protein-packed seeds and not grains.

Can you cut the sugar?

Just like excess carbohydrates, excess sugar causes a spike in the hormone insulin and signals your body to go into fat-storage mode.

Can you bake it with half the amount of sugar or make an alternative with natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or dates? Check out my recipe for sugar-free raw cacao truffles for a sweet treat or a mid-afternoon pick me up.

Can you have it with protein?

Protein slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream to prevent a spike in insulin. Protein can also keep you full for longer because it takes your body longer to digest it.

Can you have your pizza with a serving of grilled chicken and veggies on the side? Or a handful of raw almonds or shredded coconut with your serving of ice-cream?

Can you limit the portion size?

If the above options aren’t available, can you limit your portion size so you’re not over-indulging in a pint of ice-cream or a whole pizza to yourself?

There will be days when you will be very hungry during your pregnancy, but filling up on protein, vegetables and whole-grains instead of the empty calories found in processed food, has nutritional benefits for you and your baby.

And if you focus on eating real, nutrient-dense foods the majority of the time, when you do get a craving for something not-as-healthy, you can indulge in a single-serving of it with no worries.

Raw cacao truffles

PROTEIN OMEGA 3 + FIBER

Real vs fake food

doughnuts

Knowing the difference between real and fake food is the best place to start when making healthier choices during pregnancy, or in life in general.

It’s a lot easier to define what fake food is, so let’s start there.

Fake foods come from a factory. You can’t find them in nature. Think, Doritos, potato chips, candy bars. They’re considered fake because they have little nutritional value but are high in calories that can easily be converted and stored as fat, if they’re not used for energy.

Fake foods are often packaged and have long ingredient lists with ingredients that are hard to pronounce. I would save these foods for an occasional treat but avoid them on a daily basis because the worse thing about these foods is that theyre addictive. They can taste good, fill you up for a short period of time, but they'll leave you wanting more a few of hours later.

On the hand, real foods look exactly how they would in nature, from the plant or animal they come from. Think, fruits and veggies, fish, eggs, lean meat, nuts and seeds. These foods deliver nutrients, without the empty calories that you find in processed or “fake” food, so excessive weight gain during pregnancy is less likely. Eating an abundance of real food during your pregnancy – or before you get pregnant – is key to optimal nutrition. My goal is to make these foods the basis of my every day diet.

Then you’ve got your foods that float somewhere in the middle.

These foods do exist in nature but they’ve been somewhat processed to look the way they do when they end up in your kitchen, like bread or hummus. In the case of bread, flour has been milled and baked to form bread. In the case for hummus, chickpeas have been mashed with tahini, lemon juice and salt to form hummus. These foods can still be considered a whole food thats been minimally processed.

What makes these foods beneficial or not, is the question, what else has been added?

Has sugar, artificial flavors and preservatives been added to extend its shelf life and make it taste better?

Does it have hidden trans fats to make it taste fresher?

Or has it been overly processed so theres little nutritional value left?

In the case of rice crackers, rice cakes and most cereal bars on the market today, they’ve been so processed that none of the fiber or nutritional value from the grain remains. These products are sold as healthy but it couldnt be further from the truth. Instead, you’ve got calories that are low in nutritional value, but high in simple carbohydrates and sugars that can be easily converted and stored as fat if they're not used for energy.

Why does it matter?

Real food delivers real nutrients that your body will happily receive and use to support the little life growing inside of you. Real foods are nutrient-dense, with a higher nutrition to calorie ratio, compared to packaged foods. Your pregnancy weight gain will more likely to be slow and steady, and within the normal range.

On the flip side, if you’re always eating processed foods to satisfy your hunger, you’re more likely to put on excess weight because these empty calories don’t deliver real nutrients. When you eat fake foods, you might feel full for the moment but you’ll find yourself hungry for more, shortly afterwards. You might find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle of eating fake food, getting hungry shortly afterwards and doing it all again. 

What you can do today

Have a look at what you’re eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner and your snacks in between. Are your meals from real food ingredients? If not, what can you do to change them, so that they are? If you’re having a bowl of cereal or a cereal bar for breakfast, can you change it to a bowl of wholegrain oatmeal and berries? Can you have a pre-made frittata muffin instead of an energy bar if you’re rushed for time? It all starts with one small change at a time. You’ve got this, bella mama!

Broccoli cheddar frittatas

PROTEIN + CHLOLINE

Why self-care is good for you and your baby

self care during pregnancy

I believe that taking care of your baby begins with taking care of yourself.

I love the “oxygen mask” example where you can only be helpful to others, once you’ve put on your oxygen mask and you’re breathing first.

I know that as women, and as mothers, we so often get consumed with the needs of all those around us before we even check to see that we’re breathing first. Maybe you, yourself, are feeling over-worked, over-stressed or stuck in bad habits that you can’t seem to break?

Take heart, it’s never too late to get into a routine of healthy self-care.

No matter where you’re at, I encourage you to start getting into a routine of self-care during your pregnancy so that those routines will ground you throughout motherhood, especially when things get crazy and unpredictable.

What does self-care look like to me?

For me, it’s looking after my body with nourishing foods. It’s taken me years to learn it, but I know I know I feel my best when I’m eating well and looking after my body in that way. I like to indulge in a treat every now and then, but choosing healthier options most of the time, makes me feel better and happier too.

To achieve this, I know it means taking the time to buy real, fresh food and preparing healthy meals that will nourish my body. I try to meal prep as best as I can, so I have simple meals ready to go when I’m tired or busy. I know I can’t have junk food in the house because it’s too tempting for me, especially when I’m tired or bored.

When I used to work in an office, I learnt that I couldn’t keep chocolate or chips in my office drawer. It would be too tempting to me, and I’d always choose junk over a healthier option because it was just there! 

Nowadays, when I do feel like something indulgent, I have to make a healthier version of it myself. Or I have healthier options like my trail mix ready to eat when I feel like a sweet treat.

Self-care also means being intentional on what I feed my mind with. For me, it means unfollowing the social media accounts that don’t make me feel good about myself or the life that I live. Maybe you can relate?

When I was pregnant, this was extremely important. I went through a time when I was convinced that my husband would no longer find me attractive because I was pregnant. Even though this couldn’t have been further from the truth, I had to be intentional about what I fed my mind, not just my body, during my pregnancy.

I focused on filling my mind with positive affirmations about pregnancy, the power of motherhood and the beauty of bringing life into this world. I found that, just like our bodies, our minds respond to what we feed them...

What does self-care look like to you?

It honestly could look like anything that’s going to look after your mind or your body.

Maybe it’s time spent doing something what you love to do but you don’t get to do often, like a relaxing bath, a foot massage or a night to "unplug" and just Netflix and chill?

Perhaps, it’s breaking not-so-healthy eating habits, like replacing soda with unsweetened seltzer water or switching out white bread for whole-wheat?

What’s one thing that you can start doing during your pregnancy to look after you?

I encourage you to start getting into a routine of healthy self-care. It may seem unnatural at first but if you start by doing one kind thing for yourself today, and then another tomorrow and another the next day… before you know it, it will be second nature and both you and everyone around you will be breathing just fine ;)

ALMOND FLOUR PANCAKES

PROTEIN FIBER VITAMIN E