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Redefining Motherhood

Expectant Mother
Living in Expectation

In the previous post, the following was said, "It's time we redefine motherhood and redesign our approach to maternal care."

And now I have to wonder; what does that even mean? Pregnancy and motherhood is a deeply personal journey. How could anyone standardize maternal care? WE CAN'T! That's the point. Motherhood is a process.

So when I say redefine motherhood, let me clarify my meaning; let us redefine our approach to motherhood. If you are over 30 years old and considering having a child, may I respectfully submit that gone are the days when you can afford a pregnancy surprise. I want us, women of America, considering having children after the age of 30, to approach pregnancy with aggressive intentionality.

Prenatal Preparation

Before Motherhood Season

The Cleveland Clinic recommends starting the preparation process at least a year or six months before becoming pregnant. However, even three months (90 days) of preparation goes a long way.

Some examples of goals would be: Repair Bodily Function, Reduce Stress Levels, and Improve Nutrition. What does this look like?

Repair Bodily Function:

Endocrine Disruptors

Suppose you live in the United States of America. In that case, you will struggle with at least one of the issues on this list: stress, body fat, impaired immune function, or nutrient deficiencies, which means you are a strong candidate for carrying a form of estrogen dominance. Estrogen is a hormone, and hormones are the messengers of the body. They send signals and directions to every system, maintaining your body's operation. Your endocrine system balances hormones, requiring certain levels to function correctly. Hormone imbalances happen, and many women struggle with hormonal dysfunction:

Health Problems Associated with Hormone Dysfunction:

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • Bloating

  • Rapid weight gain

  • Breast tenderness

  • Mood swings

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Irregular periods

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Migraine headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Brain fog

  • Fatigue

  • Hair loss

High estrogen levels can develop naturally, but too much estrogen can result from certain medications, diets, or other health conditions. For example, when learning about birth control, my teachers insisted that you should not be on hormones for longer than 4-7 years at a time. Why? The reasoning behind the advice was simple: birth control's job is to create an inhospitable environment in your body. This means your hormones and body are kept in a heightened state over a long period of time. And I was taught to reward my body with rest, consider it a hormonal sabbatical.

Another prominent form of endocrine disruptor is found in our cookware. We see them in nonstick cookware (Teflon), aluminum cookware and pans, and even certain deodorants. Pesticides, plastics (BPA & DEHP), and phytoestrogens (estrogen found in plants) all cause disruption of the ovaries and testes. By learning what these chemicals are and where they can be found, you can do your best to avoid them and protect your fertility. All of these products introduce chemicals, plastic, and heavy metals into our bodies.

How do we remove heavy metals and chemicals from our bodies? Remember, we are focused on small changes. So start simply! You can transition to only using copper, stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, or glass cookware.

Lifestyle Switch

Reduce Stress Levels

Our mental health balances how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. To be at your best, you need to feel good about your life and value yourself. Everyone deals with worry, anxiety, fear, or stress. However, learning how to cope with these emotions is a lifelong learning process. If you struggle daily and start to isolate, or notice performance issues at work or in relationships. Talk with your healthcare provider about your feelings and treatment options. Therapy is one solution, but there are more options. You could strengthen your relationships with friends and family for support. You may need to change your physical environment to refresh (this could look like changing your room, moving to a new city, or even dying your hair).

But most importantly, prioritize rest. When we are not well rested, it affects our bodies' ability to process stress. The changes can be slight: physical changes like skin breakouts or rashes, autoimmune disorder flare-ups, decreased libido, insomnia, or sleep apnea. Improper or inconsistent sleeping habits have been shown to reduce brain function, contributing to increased depression. Focusing on getting adequate hours of sleep and treating any symptoms of depression or sleep apnea with a medical provider can help reverse the damage done to our brains. Leading to dramatic improvements in brain function!

We cannot avoid our problems, but when we set aside the time to consider the stressors in our life and brainstorm ways to reduce them, we bring relief to the pressure being experienced. The key is to start small and acknowledge that every little step makes a measurable difference in our health.

Physical health and activity are not only about reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. The focus is on mobility and aging well. However, we also know that exercise is excellent for reducing stress (stress heavily impacts fertility) and ensures a healthy blood supply and oxygen supply reaches all body parts. We should be intentional about our physical and nutritional health to decrease our risk for serious pregnancy complications and protect our endocrine system. Eating whole foods and staying active allows our entire body to perform optimally.

Improve Nutrition

Lifestyle changes are different for everyone. For most of us, it is our nutrition. We need to increase our access to organic sources of vitamins and minerals. We do this by eating various foods regularly (trying new foods), increasing our consumption of leafy greens, and emphasizing nutrient-dense foods.

Have you heard of hyper-nourishment? This term, coined by Brooke Goldner, M.D., is focused on maximizing nourishment, providing our cells with the raw materials needed to function appropriately for healing. Our body is naturally programmed to heal itself. When we reduce or even eliminate our consumption of toxic foods, we limit the creation of illness and provide the building blocks for healing.

Hyper-nourishment is the practice of over-supplying the body with the most nutrient-dense foods, giving the body everything it needs to increase the rate and totality of recovery from disease rapidly. It includes eating a large amount of raw plant foods like greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Eating foods in their natural and whole state maximizes the delivery of the nutrients in the food without damaging the enzymes destroyed by cooking.

Dr. Goldner's protocol encourages people to aim for at least eight cups of raw greens and vegetables daily. The results have demonstrated increased energy and vitality among those with severe diseases and success in reversing pain and inflammation. Considering each stage of pregnancy creates a unique inflammatory environment internally. Approaching fertility with the least amount of inflammation present in our bodies would be optimal for a mother's health and an infant's development.

The problem is that most people need to develop their tastebuds for healthy eating. To curate a more expansive palate, I will not recommend avoiding all toxic foods. Instead, focus on optimizing your health through addition. Start exploring your likes and dislikes, and then you can add nutrient-dense foods (ex., different types of leafy greens) to your diet.

Hyper-nourishment has dramatic results because it combines the power of avoiding all toxicities (food, environmental, etc.) and flooding the body with healing foods. So, if you are a smoker, drink alcohol regularly, eat a lot of processed foods, or consume recreational drugs. Start to wean yourself from dependency. We want to give the body a break from constantly processing toxins. This will encourage a more hospitable environment for creating and growing a baby while achieving vibrant health for the mother.

Changing your lifestyle, even the slightest change, could make a difference during your fertility journey. Becoming the healthier version of yourself may assist in resetting your endocrine system, lessening our communities dependency on hormone therapy and invasive fertility treatments. But most importantly, making the switch supports the healing process before asking our bodies to commit to more strenuous work.


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