Article by: Jane Sandwood, Freelance Writer
We all need to find an appropriate balance in life. It’s especially true if we want to reap the benefits of a healthier, happier lifestyle. An intense physical regime is nothing without a vitamin-fuelled diet, a conscious connection with our spiritual self and a focus on making time for the things and people we care about most. Essentially, what we all need to aim for is a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
Pregnancy, in particular, is a time when finding the perfect balance becomes even more important. The decision to carry a life inside of us for nine months is perhaps one of the greatest decisions we’ll ever choose to make. It’s the wake up call we need to readdress where we place emphasis in our lives and to consciously work towards giving our body what it needs and deserves. So, how should we go about creating this balance?
Exercise and Muscle Building
Let’s begin by being perfectly clear. Pregnancy is not the time to be exercising in a way that your body is not familiar with. If you didn’t jog regularly before pregnancy, you really shouldn’t begin jogging every day for half an hour now that you are. But, it is important to commit to some kind of exercise routine. It’s a particularly good idea to find a way of building muscle during pregnancy.
Pregnancy makes it more difficult for women to build and maintain muscle strength and while there’s plenty of time after birth for new mums to get back into shape, labour is often less arduous when pelvic floor muscles are strong. Great care must be taken however when performing any kind of exercise that places strain on the abdomen, with some exercises completely prohibited.
Going for walks, gentle stretching, a water class for pregnant women and the occasional use of light weights to help keep leg and arm muscles in good shape will really help to keep you feeling fit until your baby is born. It will also help you to control excess weight gain at the same time.
Food For Fuel
There’s always a new-fangled diet making an impact on the masses, but the very best nutritional advice, particularly for pregnant women, is to find balance with every meal. That means lean proteins, whole grain carbohydrates, plenty of fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids and lots of water to keep you hydrated.
If the body receives all of this on a daily basis, your digestive system will get what it needs to function, you’ll have the energy you need to get through the day and you’ll be supplementing your brain and other organs with everything they need to stay sharp and healthy for longer. Having said that, there are some foods that pregnant women should avoid. These include unpasteurised cheeses, raw meat and fish, more than six ounces of tuna a week (as it has high levels of mercury), and caffeine.
Relieving Unpleasant Pregnancy Side-Effects
While pregnancy is an incredible experience, it can also bring with it a number of health issues, some more complex than others. Not all women suffer from the same complaints and it’s very common for women to live through totally different experiences from one pregnancy to the next. No child is like any other and so no pregnancy is comparable to another either.
Backache, changes to your skin’s natural condition, insomnia and cramps are just some of the minor ailments that pregnant women can experience, particularly as they get closer to the birth. Massage and a range of other complementary therapies can help alleviate the pressure placed on your spine, reduce your risk of cramping and improve the quality of your sleep; particularly as your tummy gets bigger and laying down becomes more uncomfortable. Indeed, there are many ways in which holistic and natural treatments can make both the pre and postnatal experience even more incredible.
The Benefits of Massage, Acupuncture and Aromatherapy
There are three holistic treatments worth considering during your pregnancy.
1. Massage. Massage therapy offers a particularly effective response to water retention. Many pregnant women during the third trimester suffer from swollen hands and ankles caused by weakened muscle mass. Massage treatment that works its way into the lymph zone has the ability to soften tissues, increase circulation and reduce fluid collection.
2. Acupuncture. According to the British Acupuncture Council, pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness, high or low blood pressure, constipation, back ache or varicose veins might want to consider acupuncture as a natural alternative to traditional Western medicine.
3. Aromatherapy. Particularly effective in helping pregnant women break the disruptive pattern of insomnia, the suggestion is to place a few fresh drops of essential oils on your pillow before bedtime. Lavender, camomile and ylang ylang tend to work best. (Note: only recommended during second and third trimesters).
(Click to watch video by Chi Yu: Omedeta Maternity Care – therapies for mums-to-be and new mums)
Little Beauty Treats
There’s also nothing wrong with taking the time to treat yourself to a few beauty treatments. Your skin, hair, hands and feet need just as much attention as your diet, your muscles and your vital organs. A monthly investment in something to make you glow on the outside is another step towards finding the perfect balance needed during this very special period of your life.
Essentially, it’s all about harmony. Get some exercise, enjoy the final few months at work, eat well, read something to stimulate your brain, sleep soundly, spend time catching up with friends and invest in a massage or two to release the strain on your back when necessary. Share your time evenly across all tasks and make yours a holistic approach to health and happiness. You’re in the process of creating another human life, after all.