The best piece of advice I was given before I became pregnant with my first baby with regards to health and fitness was, ‘how you go in, is how you come out’.
I’m not an overly fit person, but I have run in the odd fun run and keep pretty active most days. I eat as healthily as I can – time and organisation is a big part of it for me – and I try to steer clear of fatty, processed and fast foods as much as possible.
But I still had the odd Zinger burger, drank diet coke and ate probably too much bread and pasta. And before children my default setting was ‘on the couch’ not ‘up and active’.
After my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I decided to change my health and fitness for the better. I stopped eating gluten altogether, and replaced it with gluten free bread, gluten free pasta, brown rice and quinoa.
I started eating more eggs – way more eggs! In fact, I made sure I had at least one egg a day, and replaced all my low fat/fat free dairy with full cream. Full cream milk, yoghurt, cream, ice-cream and cheese. And I stopped eating margarine and replaced it with butter.
I started eating kale, drinking green smoothies, stopped drinking alcohol altogether, ate nuts in between meals, increased my water intake, stopped the Diet Coke and ate popcorn as a snack. I tried to have something green with every meal and ate half an avocado a day.
I walked as much as possible, went for power walks or jogs every other night and took the stairs instead of the lift. I got off the train one stop early, swam on weekends – being in water is amazing for your joints and muscles and you feel so weightless – and went outside in the sunshine as often as I could – even in winter.
I was determined to make my body as healthy as I possibly could: to be in the healthiest shape to conceive and grow a baby. Having a miscarriage was a wake-up call to me – regardless of the reason for it, I had to do as much as I could to prevent it happening again.
My incentive every day was to try and conceive a healthy baby, and allow them to develop and grow in the best possible environment.
When I fell pregnant I was convinced it was because of my new lifestyle. I had minimal morning sickness and no other side effects apart from general tiredness the whole pregnancy. I even did a 10km fun run, albeit in the early stages: I felt that good.
I didn’t get any headaches or migraines, only had some mild leg cramps and put on 9 kilos. All three of my pregnancies have been more or less the same, but this most recent one I was more tired (running around after a 2 and 3 year old will do that!)
All my babies were born naturally without any pain relief and within a week I was back walking to the park, pushing the pram up hill, climbing stairs and actively playing with my girls again. They are all very healthy, have had no health issues – touch wood (apart from reflux) and recover from coughs and colds pretty quickly.
For me, it’s all about the whole lifestyle, not just what I eat. And even more so now, because it’s about setting a good example for my family.
Initially, it’s not convenient and it’s not easy, but my advice is – just get organised. Get serious about being active, only buy fresh and healthy food, make time to prepare healthy meals and decide that’s the way you want to live. As they say, your body, and your baby, will thank you for it.
Because how you go in is exactly how you come out!