Pregnancy and childbirth are perhaps the toughest challenges the female body goes through.  Many of us are guilty of wanting to quickly get back into pre-pregnancy clothes and embark on diets to support this, but, is this approach right?

Nutrition needs for mum after birth are equally or arguably more important than in pregnancy.  Nutrition in the early days post birth may help support the healing process and replenish lost nutrients.  It may help with energy levels and is also important in those wishing to breastfeed (this uses hundreds of calories of energy each day)…..and eating well might even help shift a few pounds naturally!

There are 3 main macro nutrients that we need after birth and these should make up the bulk of our meals.  These are carbohydrate, protein and fat:

  • Complex Carbohydrates are essential for energy. Good sources of carbohydrate rich foods include root vegetables and wholegrains (oats, rice, wholemeal pasta etc). These should make up around 25% of each of your meals
  • Protein is essential for healing and repair and is vital to help your body to produce breast milk. Good sources of protein rich foods include lean meats, fish, beans, pulses, eggs, quinoa and dairy products.  These should also make up around 25% of each of your meals
  • Good Fats are essential to health. They are important in brain health, for hormone regulation and are a vital component in breast milk.  Good sources include oily fish, cold pressed unheated olive oil, avocado and nuts and seeds.  A small amount of these daily is plenty – around 25g of nuts is a portion!

The rest of your diet should be made up from fruits and vegetables.  These provide you with essential quantities of fibre to help keep your digestive system working well and to provide you with all the vitamins and minerals that are needed for the body to work optimally such as iron, magnesium, vitamin C, B vitamins etc.  You are aiming for 5 different coloured vegetables and 2 different fruits every day.

The foods that are best avoided are the processed foods that don’t give us nutrients.  These are foods like crisps, biscuits, cakes, chocolates and sweets.  They are likely to make you feel more tired.

Drink plenty of water.  Breastfeeding can be dehydrating but even if you aren’t feeding, hydration may help boost energy levels and help the digestive system.

Lastly, don’t under estimate the important of sleep  –  you’ll be tired and sleep deprivation negatively impacts our appetite hormones…go grab a powernap instead of that coffee and cake!

Janet Padfield

Pregnancy Yoga

How pregnancy yoga can enhance your pregnancy and Birth

Yoga promotes mental and physical wellbeing and balance and is particularly helpful during pregnancy which is a time of great transition and uncertainty. Guidelines recommend doing gentle exercise during pregnancy as a way of coping with the challenges of being pregnant, and as a means of building strength to deal with the rigours of labour.

Pregnancy yoga is appropriate exercise but also offers much more in terms of breath awareness, birthing postures, visualisation, meditation and relaxation which help enhance a woman’s experience of pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Perhaps the most fundamental benefit of practicing pregnancy yoga is learning the ability to really relax. Pregnancy can often be a rollercoaster of emotions and taking time out to relax will make the experience of pregnancy more enjoyable as well as providing an optimal environment for your baby to grow.

Regular relaxation also helps alleviate fatigue before it becomes incapacitating, as the breathing practices central to pregnancy yoga have both an energising and calming effect on the nervous system. Training yourself to relax during pregnancy will make it much easier to take this with you into labour.

Particularly helpful is to use the pauses between each contraction to deeply relax so you can recharge, conserve energy and let go of any tension that may have built up during the contraction. As you move through your labour if you remain relaxed, you will be releasing endorphins which are the body’s natural pain relief, and prevent the release of stress hormones which can slow labour down.

Physically, pregnancy can be a challenging time as the bodies of both mother and baby are constantly changing. Yoga postures can help to ease common pregnancy ailments such heartburn, lower back pain, poor circulation and leg cramps. The pelvic floor is also specifically addressed in a pregnancy yoga class and through deep breathing and exercises it is prepared to become a ‘birthing muscle’, by increasing its elasticity. It is important that as well as having strength it is also able to let go.

Many of the postures and techniques which are practiced during a pregnancy yoga class are helpful to encourage your baby into a good position for a straight-forward birth. By regularly practicing positions which will be helpful during labour, when the time comes to give birth they will be second nature so you will naturally gravitate towards them.

Pregnancy yoga develops breath awareness and teaches techniques which help to maintain a sense of calmness and wellbeing during pregnancy and labour.

The balanced state of mind which yoga creates teaches both focus and surrender, which gives the ability to respond calmly to the demands of the moment. This is essential during a contraction to enable you to breath into it rather than tense up, and run away from it and as a result you won’t become overwhelmed.

Learning to focus during pregnancy is an invaluable skill to take with you into labour and while yoga does not guarantee a quick and easy delivery it does make it easier for you to withdraw internally to an instinctive world which enables you to accept and adapt to whatever happens, and go with the experience calmly.

By Jennie Phenix, mum of two young children.

Pregnancy Yoga & Mummy and Baby Yoga
Relax, boost energy, relieve aches & pain, prepare for birth

Connect with your baby, rebuild core strength safely

Classes in Burnham & Marlow

Private and small group sessions available

Jennie Phenix on 07954 578 439 email

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