Practicing a healthy lifestyle has always been important to me. Once I became pregnant with my daughter Shane (who was born Tuesday, June 21!), I was even more focused on eating the right things, getting plenty of exercise and rest, and taking care of my body. Here’s what I did to help ensure that I had a healthy, fit pregnancy…
1. Eat plenty of protein and healthy fats. I am a nerd for Adelle Davis, a nutritionist who published the book Let’s Have Healthy Children. She focuses a lot on protein, with the idea that protein is the building blocks of the body and when you’re pregnant you’re literally building a body. So, I drank protein shakes with flax seeds, meat and eggs — in every form possible. Hard boiled eggs put food into the mental category of “fuel” for me and I have relied on them a lot! From my viewpoint, being healthy comes from a diet that focuses on getting enough nutrition, not focusing on cutting out various things.
2. Make sure to get plenty of rest. When I had to shoot 14-hour days, I got enough rest by basically being antisocial and going to bed as soon as I got off work. Generally I was tired enough that it didn’t seem unreasonable to keep that schedule. Work was really fun and social and creative so I didn’t really feel like I was missing out socially. So shutting down after work and then getting up at 5 or 6 was actually okay.
3. Get plenty of exercise. Before I got pregnant I was big into cycling and then that got awkward real quick! I felt I had to turn my knees outward to get around the bump. So, the elliptical machine and walking on the treadmill saved me. On our Babymoon in Hawaii, we also went swimming and hiking every day. At some point I got the idea that the fitter I was, the easier labour and delivery would be. So, while it was definitely not as gung-ho of a fitness routine, I felt it was important and added to my confidence leading up to the delivery.
4. Stretch often. At a certain point it became so difficult to put on my own socks and shoes! You have to stretch out your hips so you can get your knee all the way up your side! I found it helpful to do very slow squats and hang out at the bottom to stretch out my hips, both for pregnancy survival and for delivery preparation.
5. Minimise caffeine. Man, I missed coffee. But I diluted Bai drinks with water, by a lot – I swear, probably 1 to 10. Since I decided to pretty much avoid caffeine during pregnancy, my sensitivity to caffeine went way up. So I’d put just a little splash of the drink in water for flavor and I’d feel like I’d gotten caffeine to be able to go to the gym and exercise.
6. Manage stress. To be honest, life during my pregnancy wasn’t that stressful. I’m a Scientologist, so with Scientology I’ve been chipping away at the things that aren’t me, and strengthening the qualities that I like about myself. Turns out I’m pretty calm! So that helped me stay grounded. Exercise and my husband’s support helped as well. My husband admired me for being willing to be active, even when I was really close to delivering. I’d hear him telling somebody, “You know, she kayaked out to this island,” when I was 8-months-pregnant. He was proud of me! But obviously he had an awareness of not wanting to push beyond anything I wasn’t comfortable with.
7. Practice breathing exercises. A friend gave me a great book called Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and I also practiced the relaxing breathing exercises it describes, which helped me stay calm during labor. I am grateful to every woman who shared her birth story or video online, becauseI got to see how joyous and pleasurable giving birth could be and decide how I hoped to view my own experience as I was going through it. It was awesome!
So, I approached my pregnancy as training time for labour and delivery. I viewed labour and delivery as a sporting event. It essentially is! It’s a physical challenge you rise to meet. Before that race, eat right, work out, get sleep, study and learn all about it. And then I got the idea of exactly how I hoped my birth experience would go. And though I couldn’t have planned it exactly how it happened, the experience lived up to every hope.
More from Erika Christensen:
Photo: Erika Christensen/Instagram