Reproductive Health / Functional Medicine:

6 basic principles for a healthy lifestyle during your pregnancy

The 6 basic principles, initiated by Paul Chek, are based on creating a balance between yin and yang. The yin principles consist of diet, hydration and sleep, while the yang principles consist of breathing techniques, positive thinking and movement. The 6 basic principles for a healthy lifestyle are described in more detail in my previous blog series: Introduction, Diet and Fluid Balance, Sleep, Positive thinking, Movement and Breathing Techniques and Discussion.

This article should be seen as a complement to these, as there are some factors in addition to the principles that are important to consider during pregnancy. In fact, there is little difference between being pregnant and not being pregnant when it comes to building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Of course, it would be great if the 6 basic principles were already initiated in your life before you got pregnant, but it's never too late to start living healthier.

Diet

You don't have to follow a special diet just because you're pregnant. It is perfectly possible to follow the advice given in the article on diet. This advice applies to everyone. However, it is important to remember that as a pregnant woman, you are the one who builds up the one(s) living in your tummy with the food you eat. For me, this means I think twice about whether the food I eat is good for us.

There are some foods that you should avoid during your pregnancy, such as raw meat, some fish, unpasteurized dairy products, etc. What is ok to eat changes frequently and different countries have their own recommendations on what is ok. Which in itself is questionable. Why is it ok to eat soft boiled eggs in Sweden but not in the US right now? So I urge you to keep up to date on what is applicable when you are pregnant and also to be critical and do your own research as to why some foods are on the list and others are not.

Fluid balance

You don't need to drink more just because you're pregnant. The most important thing here is to follow the general advice given in the article on fluid balance.

Sleep

This basic principle is probably the most difficult to follow when you are pregnant and/or already have children. Disrupted sleep cycles cause a high level of stress in your body and when you can't control your sleeping habits yourself, your body can't repair itself either. It is therefore particularly important that you try to get as much rest as possible during the day. Rest does not replace lost sleep, but it is the best option to reduce the increased stress level created by lost sleep.

Breathing techniques

Good and effective breathing techniques during labour will help you to relax more easily, which in itself can make your labour easier. Even during your pregnancy, it is important that you learn to breathe the "right" way. There is more information and good breathing exercises online and I also recommend you to attend a pregnancy yoga class, where breathing is a major focus for your well-being during your pregnancy.

Positive thinking

It's a universal truth that you can't take care of others if you can't take care of yourself. This becomes even more important when you're pregnant, so focus on taking care of yourself and question the way you think and live before your baby comes out into this world. It will be so much easier to take care of the baby if you have already started to take care of and question yourself and your values during your pregnancy.

Movement

During your pregnancy, your body is exposed to more physical stress than it usually is. Pregnant women experience rapid and dramatic increases in oestrogen and progesterone, as well as changes in other hormones. These changes not only affect mood, they can also create that special "glow" around a pregnant woman, aid in foetal development, and alter the physical impact of exercise and activity on the body.

The increase in body weight is usually the primary reason why the body cannot tolerate the same level of exercise as it did before. This is true even for well-trained, elite and professional athletes. The increased size of the uterus and instability around the joints and ligaments can also cause discomfort for the pregnant woman. The whole posture is affected during pregnancy. Your breasts get bigger, your tummy changes from flat or concave to very convex, which affects the way your back looks. Gravity shifts forward and can lead to changes in balance.

Due to rapid dilation of blood vessels and increased stress on the heart and lungs, a pregnant woman produces more blood and must be more vigilant with exercise than a non-pregnant woman. During pregnancy, the amount of air transported in and out of the lungs increases by almost 50%. During the second trimester, the heart works 40% harder than before.

Given all these changes taking place in your body, I want you to really listen to your body's needs and limitations, I also encourage you to find the form of movement that suits you during your pregnancy. Walking at a leisurely pace, stretching, tai chi, qigong and yoga are good examples of what works great during this special time in your life.

Discussion

Apart from the 6 basic principles, there are of course other factors that influence and are important for you to consider. I am thinking in particular of your environment, friends and family, work, finances and so on. However, my feeling is that it is easier to deal with problems and circumstances in your environment that affect you if you first build up your health from within using the 6 basic principles. These are timeless and will always need to be considered to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Conclusion

It's easier for your child to be healthy and adopt a healthy lifestyle if you've already made your choice. Children don't do what we ask them to do, they do what they see us do!!

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