Some of the worst pregnancy symptoms arise from the gut. From nausea to constipation and bloating, it’s enough to knock you to your knees. As an ObGyn, I’m not immune to these symptoms myself but after navigating them through 2 pregnancies and helping countless other women do the same I know that minimizing these symptoms in pregnancy starts long before conception.
Take a Probiotic
A probiotic is a capsule or a food product concentrated with good bacteria for your gut. While there is emerging data that probiotics may help prevent pregnancy conditions like gestational diabetes, more research is needed before we can definitively discuss both the risks and benefits of probiotics for pregnant people. Personally, I take probiotics while pregnant but this is something every pregnant woman should discuss with her own doctor.
What is clear, however, is the benefit to healthy non-pregnant individuals. A robust and healthy gut microbiome is an excellent way to prepare and optimize your body for pregnancy.
Plenty of Fiber
Are you ready to talk poop? I know, there is nothing more sexy than fiber! But seriously, fiber is so important for a healthy and comfortable gut. Fiber pulls water into your colon allowing for the creation of soft, easy to pass poops. This helps prevent constipation, a very common and awful pregnancy symptom, AND protects your pelvic floor. Pregnancy alone puts a lot of stress on your pelvic floor, leading to symptoms like urine leakage and vaginal prolapse. One of the other major risk factors for pelvic floor dysfunction? Chronic constipation. Make fiber a part of your routine before you get pregnant. I like to add organic ground flax seed and organic acacia powder to foods and beverages to give them a supercharged boost.
Another way to deliver healthy bacteria to your gut and optimize your gut microbiome is through fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut.
The mind-body connection is undeniable, especially when it comes to the link between stress, anxiety and our gastrointestinal tract. Having ritualized ways you combat the inevitable stresses of life is a key component of preparing yourself for a healthy pregnancy. If you need help with stress management my Preparing for Pregnancy Workbook is a great place to start.
Get proper sleep
I’m a little obsessive when it comes to sleep. In my book, it is the most important element of self-care. Sleep is essential for every function in your body, including your gut. At the end of pregnancy, proper sleep is associated with shorter labors, increased chances of a vaginal delivery*, and lower risk of postpartum depression. It’s not easy to sleep well in pregnancy, which is why it is so important to prioritize and develop healthy sleep habits today.
A healthy pregnancy starts long before conception and a healthy gut does too. If you are considering or trying to get pregnant and want to learn about optimizing fertility and pre-pregnancy health my Free Preparing for Pregnancy Masterclass is an amazing resource.
Lee, Kathryn A., and Caryl L. Gay. “Sleep in Late Pregnancy Predicts Length of Labor and Type of Delivery.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 191, no. 6, 2004, pp. 2041–2046., doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2004.05.086