Registered Nurse, Jeanne Faulkner, author of "Common Sense Pregnancy" and host of the podcast "Common Sense Pregnancy and Parenting," stopped by with sage advice to help pregnant women and new mothers have a happier and healthier new year.
As we celebrate the holidays and plan for the New Year, there are three areas of life that I want pregnant women and new moms to focus on that are guaranteed to make them healthier and happier:
Your health, your education and your community
1)Your Health - Whether you're pregnant, a new mom, or not pregnant yet but thinking about it, focusing on three basic tenets of health is simple and key.
What you eat and drink
oWomen who eat poorly, gain too much or too little weight or don't get adequate nutrients through the foods they eat have higher rates of complications related to pregnancy, birth and the post partum period than women who are well nourished.
Eat good food. Don't overeat. Drink water. Don't eat junk.
How much you move
oWomen who are physically fit have healthier hearts, lungs, blood vessels, placentas, and stronger immune systems.
Women who don't exercise are more likely to be overweight, have higher rates of complications like high blood pressure and even depression and anxiety. 30- 60 minutes
How much you rest.
oSleep, breaks, naps, downtime, and stress reduction techniques are essential for mental wellbeing, physical growth and healing, If you're pregnant and not getting enough rest, your immune system is compromised as is your body's ability to repair cell damage and minor injuries.
When you're setting resolutions or intentions, It can be overwhelming to say, "I'm going to totally overhaul my diet, exercise every day and always, always get 8 hours of sleep." It's too much. Instead, I recommend women Pick One thing every day to give their full focus. When you wake up in the morning, decide whether you're going to give your diet your main attention or you're going to get some exercise or you're going to take breaks throughout your day or get enough sleep. You'd be amazed how often, when you choose to upgrade the quality of one, the other two tag along.
2)Your Education - There's a lot women need to know if they're going to manage their own health to be at its best during and after pregnancy. They need to know what's physiologically normal during pregnancy, what's routine during prenatal care, labor and delivery and what isn't. When women know what their body is doing during pregnancy and when they know what's going on during prenatal care, they're better equipped to participate in healthcare decisions. Modern day maternal healthcare is FULL of choices that many women don't even realize they have. They just do whatever their healthcare provider tells them to do, whether they need a medical intervention or not or whether it'll improve or change their health or the health of their baby. That leads too many women accessing higher risk healthcare than they may need, getting too many non-essential medical interventions that may inadvertently cause them harm. But when women know what's going on, because they've read, listened, studied and done their homework, they can participate as full partners in their own healthcare experience. I call that being pregnant like a boss, knowing they're in charge.
I recommend women give themselves as full an education as possible about all things pregnancy and reproductive health related from a range of resources. Your hospitals' prenatal education class may not be enough. One book or website may not be enough. One birth philosophy may not be enough. Make a commitment to read, learn and study as much as possible on a wide range of topics. Learn about standard hospital procedures AND home birth. Hypnobirthing and epidurals. Include your partner and family and talk about what you're learning.
3)Your Community - We're always talking about how to have a healthy and thriving baby, but not talking enough about how to have a healthy, happy well-supported, thriving mother. It takes a village to support a mother. I want women to focus on growing and nurturing their communities this year. I want them to create tighter bonds, grow friendships with people going through similar life events, cozy up to family members, friends and colleagues who can be your support system while you're going through this huge transition in life. People who have strong communities and family bonds are happier people and the big, hard job of raising the next generation is easier and a whole lot more fun.