Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy pregnancy, to protect the health of the mother and the healthy growth and development of the baby. Proper nutrition is more important to the outcome of the pregnancy than preparing for the delivery, more than a good physician, even more than avoiding medications during labor.
During pregnancy a woman needs to consume daily: 1 quart of milk (or other dairy product,) 2 eggs, 2 servings of meat or other high protein food, 1 or 2 servings of green leafy vegetables, 2 or 3 slices of whole wheat bread, etc., 1 or 2 servings high vitamin C foods, 3 pats of butter or other fats, other fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, and salt food to taste. Don't be afraid to gain weight; rather, worry if you don't gain enough!
Why is good nutrition so important? Women who are well-nourished are much lower risk because their bodies have been given all the tools they need to safeguard against many complications. Probably the 3 most dangerous complications which can occur during pregnancy and childbirth can either be greatly decreased or completely eliminated through good nutrition.
Toxemia - Through the use of good nutrition in pregnancy, including salting food to taste, Dr. Tom Brewer has been able to all but eliminate the occurrence of the life-threatening condition metabolic toxemia of late pregnancy.
Hypovolemia (low blood volume) - Women who have been well nourished throughout their pregnancies, and have consumed adequate liquids and adequate salt will experience a drastic increase in blood volume. This provides that by the time she goes into labor she has 25-50% more blood volume, reducing the chance she will go into shock from loss of blood.
PROM - Premature rupture of membranes is another potentially dangerous complication which can be much less a threat if you are well-nourished. Well-nourished women can grow much stronger and healthier membranes which are less likely to rupture prematurely. It also may be important for women to avoid mercury (from shallow water fishes), aluminum (from cans, cookware, antiperspirants, etc.), and pesticides, as they are all suspected to weaken the bag of waters.
Exercise is an important factor in maintaining your good health during pregnancy and is also a great way to help you avoid a lot of unnecessary pain in labor. This exercise is broken down into 2 categories.
Regular physical exercise - It is important to get some kind of exercise every day so that you will have the stamina it takes to labor and give birth. Walking is an excellent way of getting this exercise and almost everyone can do it.
Pregnancy exercises - These exercises taught in Bradley classes are designed specifically to tone and condition the muscles you will use to give birth. These exercises also aid in minimizing many common pregnancy discomforts.
Most activities can be continued safely during pregnancy if you are careful to use common sense. Avoid lying on your back, excess pressure on the kegel muscle (jogging or bouncing), and too much stress on your body, including keeping your pulse and core temp in a normal range.
Harmful Substances to Avoid
Drugs are at the top of the list. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on drugs, there is no drug, whether over the counter, prescription, or food additive, which has ever been proven safe for an unborn baby. Smoking: Be aware that being around residual smoke is also dangerous. Alcohol; aluminum; mercury; chemicals, including some household cleaners, pesticides, and environ-mental pollutants; caffeine; artificial sweeteners, including nutrasweet; additives and preservatives. Junk foods and processed foods often contain potentially dangerous substances like monosodium glutimate and they also fill you up so that you no longer feel hungry and can't eat a full day's pregnancy food requirements.
As with everything you take into your body, for every procedure which deviates from the natural process, you must first weigh its benefits against its risks before you can make a responsible decision.
Ultrasound - The National Institute of Health has warned that ultrasound should not be used routinely. Ultrasound devices include doptone (for listening to the baby's heartbeat), ultrasound scan, and the external fetal monitor.
Vaginal exams during pregnancy - According to a study released by the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, U.S. Hospital, Royal Air Force Lankenheath, U.K., pelvic exams in pregnancy increase the risk of premature rupture of membranes.
Rest and Relaxation
Most women need extra rest during pregnancy. This is an important time to be good to yourself. You should also avoid excess stress; cut down on your day-to-day responsibilities and take precautions so that you are not under too much stress. It is also very important that you feel good about your labor and birth plan, including your choice of birth place, birth team, etc. Educate yourself by taking the Bradley classes and by reading the books listed on the back page.
Relaxation is the key to the Bradley Method and can be very helpful even for women who have not practiced much prior to labor. But it is the couple who has faithfully practiced and really mastered the relaxation techniques taught in class who can realize fully the incredible benefits of deep relaxation in labor.
You can't prepare well for the many challenges you will face in labor if you don't know what to expect. Many women become high risk during the course of their pregnancies because of lack of information or misinformation. You may come for a free "Early Pregnancy Class" any time after you learn you are pregnant. And when you are in your 5th or 6th month, you may begin the 12- week series of Bradley classes.
Books to Read
Click here for a comprehensive list of books to read during your pregnancy!