Thursday, January 10, 2013

Paleo Pregnancy - First Trimester Recap and Paleo Living Magazine Subscription Giveaway!

As I sit on the couch with my ever-growing belly, reflecting on the first few months of my pregnancy, I definitely have some mixed feelings. It was a miraculous blessing to learn we were going to bring a baby into this world, but I felt less than stellar for most of those first few months...that detracted a bit from the whole glowing, miracle on Earth thing. Today, I want to share my reflections on my diet, exercise, energy levels and overall feelings during the first trimester. But first, a little background...

Kevin and I made the decision to have a baby (as if one has total control over these things) in November 2011. I threw out my remaining packs of birth control and by Christmas, I was pregnant. A few days after learning I was pregnant, though, we lost the baby. It was very early in the pregnancy, but that did nothing to ease the pain. We had already started to think of ourselves as parents and all of the changes we were about to endure. It was difficult for both Kevin and myself, but after letting ourselves have some time to grieve, we knew we still wanted a baby and decided to try again.

Over the coming months, my cycles never returned to normal. 35 days, 45 days, even 60 days - there was no rhyme or reason, which really made me think about the birth control I had been taking for the past ten years. Maybe my body's natural cycle is not a perfect 28 days. I was putting these unnatural hormones into my body for so long, just to make my life more predictable, with no thought to the real effects they could be having. I know some of the irregularity could be a result of the miscarriage, but after having the time to really think about it, I know that I will not be ingesting those hormones again. We avoid hormones in the food we eat, why would I willingly take a little pill every morning just to pump my body full of them?

Fast forward to the third week in September 2012. I took two pregnancy tests with lines that were fainter than faint. So we went the digital route and there was no guessing there, it flashed "Pregnant" loud and clear within a few short minutes. We were beyond excited, but it was hard not to worry that the past would repeat itself. I so badly wanted this baby to be healthy and with each passing day I tried to accept that it was out of my control and feeling anything but happiness and excitement wasn't going to get me anywhere.

What WAS in my control was how I cared for my growing baby. By that time, Kevin and I had been following a Paleo way of eating for over a year and I was so grateful that we were giving our baby the chance at a clean, nutritious, whole foods diet from the very start! I am really glad that we made the decision to eat this way before we ever made the decision to have children. Once I learned I was pregnant, I thought even more about what I was putting into my body because it wasn't just affecting me, it was also affecting my baby's development. I spoke with my midwife about my Paleo diet and she let me know that as long as I was eating a wide variety of fruits, veggies and protein that my baby and I would be getting all the nutrients we need. That was easier said than done, however, when morning sickness reared its ugly head in the sixth week...

I ate practically like clockwork - almost every hour, on the hour. Keeping a bit of food in my stomach was one of the only things that seemed to help the sick feeling. The mere thought of most of my favorite foods made me nauseous so I ate the same three or four weird meals and snacks for weeks. An example: Trader Joe's broccoli and carrot slaw mixed with salsa, sun dried tomatoes and cut up Applegate Farm's hotdogs. I ate this almost daily. Now, I can't even look at those hot dogs. Hey, at least it wasn't a quarter pounder with fries and a milkshake! 

My constant nausea, along with the extreme exhaustion, also had a major impact on my workouts. I just did what I could, though, and tried not to beat myself up over it. I worked out in the evenings when I couldn't drag myself out of bed at 5:00am and if I missed a workout because I wanted to sleep, I knew it was what my body needed. Before hitting the gym, I talked to my midwife and she advised me that anything I was doing before pregnancy I should be able to do while pregnant without any problem. I could continue to run, swim, even CrossFit. She told me to listen to my body and find modifications when certain movements became uncomfortable. My body didn't change too much in the first trimester, so I didn't modify much. I took a lot of breaks, drank a lot of water and worked out at a pace/intensity that felt right for me.

During the first trimester, I also experienced some pretty intense cravings. Don't ask Kevin how many times I have asked him if we can just order pizza one time or if he ever wants to have one DQ Blizzard before the baby gets here because he has probably lost count. Luckily, he is super supportive and gave me the strength I needed to resist those cravings when they came a knockin'. I did come up with some a passable swap for vanilla ice cream and one of my biggest cravings has been eggs so that one is good to go.

After speaking with my midwife and other moms or moms-to-be, I learned that the first trimester is all about one thing...survival. You may not be able to eat your favorite foods, workout like you used to or peel yourself off the couch to clean the house, but there is a light on the other side of the tunnel. Just do what you can to get through - you still have plenty of time to take care of yourself and your little one. Now that I am into my second trimester, I am full of energy and my appetite is most definitely back on track.

What I did love about the first trimester was that first ultrasound when we were able to see and hear our baby's heart beating. I loved seeing my growing belly and hearing the heartbeat again at every doctor's appointment. I love being able to share this journey with everyone in hopes that it will help other future mommies out there! 

An unexpected surprise was the opportunity to write about my pregnancy in Paleo Living Magazine!! My first article was about surviving the first trimester while sticking to my Paleo approach to eating. I plan to continue writing for them throughout my pregnancy (and hopefully beyond) to let others know that it is possible to resist the mac n' cheese and feed your baby nourishing, whole foods that promote optimal development. You can check out Paleo Living Magazine on Facebook or click here to sign up for a monthly subscription and read the full article. 

Paleo Living Magazine was kind enough to give me a few FREE 3-Month Subscription codes to give away to my readers.

If you would like a code, just leave me a comment in this post and be sure to include your email address. I'll email you with the link!