Oh, the excitement of the past seventeen weeks… and the trickiness that comes with keeping a secret, until my bulging belly tells a story I don’t need to. And no, it’s not just that I have had my hand in the cookie jar. There is a new addition to the faithful family busy growing within. A special rainbow baby that will hopefully be earthbound at the end of October.
I always believe in keeping it real, raw and natural, so, I have decided to share some snippets in a series of my current pregnancy with those interested in natural options for top health during this special time.
But first I want to share this thought with you. Having a baby is always something I took for granted. It was blissful naivety (and to some part, arrogance) to believe I was one of “those women” who would just “pop” them out. I had a textbook conception and pregnancy with my son, now five. It’s also been incredibly easy for all the woman in my family to conceive and carry to full term, so I had no real context to the struggle many of our sisters endure in trying to have children.
That is until my first miscarriage hit after my honeymoon in April last year. I was shocked and angry. I fell into a despair I struggled to make sense of. But then I picked myself up, with a fresh scar inviting a deeper pool of empathy and a greater awareness of stories around me. We started trying again. I fell pregnant again quite soon. After an awful anxiety during those first few weeks, I got full marks for our first scan. We heard and saw a strong, healthy heartbeat. But soon after I had another silent miscarriage and started bleeding at 11.5 weeks. And oh the drama – I chose to avoid surgery and so opted to miscarry at home and unfortunately got unlucky. I ended up suffering such severe blood loss causing me to pass out and stop breathing. A blood transfusion, surgery and a few days in the hospital later, I emerged with yet another emotional scar compounded by much confusion to the fact that once again the life story I had envisioned for myself, seemed to be going in a direction not scripted by me. It was hard and very painful. But I found much liberation (after some healing) in integrating on a deeper level the flow and peace that comes from surrendering and realising we are not in the driving seat.
I wanted to start with the less comfortable details to this pregnancy with the intention of acknowledging those who have scars of their own when it comes to creating the family of their dreams. Miscarriage, infant loss and infertility affects so many of us (and often silently). I want to acknowledge this and say that if you carry scars, I feel you and I see you.
It took me about 7 weeks after all the blood loss to feel that I was not carrying around a sack of potatoes and so the first practical topic I’d love to address is our iron stores. (And look, these are my experiences only and my intention is to share them as they are.)
Natural conception and pregnancy tips
Iron and conception
Our iron affects our ability to conceive and to thrive. Yet so many women walk around with taxed iron reserves. I became intimate with my iron and haemoglobin levels after they fell so dangerously low. Luckily, I was also very blessed to find a range of products that helped me recover so much quicker once I started using them. I have been a vegetarian of varying degrees since I was 16 years old, have done a spell of raw veganism and am still trying to cut out animal by-products completely. And I lost a tremendous amount of blood in the past six months, so my doctors and I are constantly amazed by how healthy and quickly my iron levels were restored when I started using Mineralife Iron.
Iron is quite tricky to absorb and so it really helps to invest in a good iron supplement – one that you know the body can absorb. The product claims that it is “prepared from a pure elemental source, using water-soluble minerals and purified water to allow for fast, effective absorption. It is 100% vegan-friendly and free of any synthetic ingredients.” My experience really backs up this claim.
Selenium and pregnancy
I also started taking a dose of Mineralife selenium every second day because this mineral helps with healthy red blood cell levels as well as fertility and healthy baby birth weights. I do know that my selenium levels also recovered quickly and whilst I will never know for certain, I do believe this was good support for when we conceived again. Brazil nuts are an amazing natural source of selenium, so eat handfuls of those on the go.
What else really works for me about the Mineralife supplements is how easily they can be taken with some water. The iron especially is almost tasteless.
The first trimester
And lastly – I want to touch on the first trimester.
Some have it so easy and oh I envy you, but I am not one of those. “Vomiting Veronica” would be an apt nickname and given that I have gone through 3 first trimesters in the past year, I now feel I am a pro when it comes to the products that do and don’t work in support of all nausea and vomiting.
Nausea combatting tips
The best piece of advice I was given was to keep my blood sugar levels as stable as possible as I noticed I would most often start getting sick if my stomach got too empty – ie. in the mornings.
So, I keep snacks at the bed, which I eat during the night and I don’t get out of bed until I have had a piece of fruit in the morning.
I was recommended to take B6 – as it helps with nausea too and so with my third pregnancy I started taking theViridian Magnesium Citrate with B6.. I noticed a difference within about 5 days.
In terms of supplements, I would highly recommend the Metagenics Wellness Essentials Pack for Pregnancy as it has everything you need in one pack (but please note each individual pack comes in a plastic covering which is less than ideal especially for those striving for a zero waste lifestyle). Personally, I was too nauseous to even attempt taking this until about 2 weeks ago.
Instead I found the Metagenics Folapro which has very high levels of an active form of folate* (800 mcg.) Plus it comes in a very small tablet that is practically tasteless so it actually stayed down.
I also swear by the virtues of adding the following to as many meals as you can to boost your diet with these essentials. They all work well in smoothies, soups, salads and in anything roasted.
- nutritional yeast (a natural source of folic acid
- hemp seeds (complete protein source)
- black cumin seeds (great for immunity)
- sesame seeds (high in calcium and zinc)
Hydration and stretch marks
Lastly, I am very disciplined about using a stretch-mark oil every day. I feel this plus a high water intake during pregnancy and also good omega supplementation are your best bet in preventing stretch-marks. But no matter what, if they come, these marks of “love” deserve to be loved.
And there you have it folks! Next month I’ll start looking at foods other practices to support a healthy second trimester.
(* folate is a fertility booster and a key nutrient for healthy foetal development and it is recommended that it be taken in the first trimester especially.)
To follow my personal journey in navigating a natural pregnancy, follow me on Instagram for more regular updates and along the way insights.