Monday, October 4, 2010

Why You Need to Create a Balanced Healthy Harmonious Pregnancy

Two new books delve into an issue I have been educating women about for almost 20 years: “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives” by Annie Murphy Paul and “More than Genes,” by Dan Agin, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago. They explain what current science and studies tell us about the effect creating a balanced healthy pregnancy has on your baby later in life. Actually they are looking into the connection between an unbalanced, unhealthy life style during pregnancy and the outcome for your baby later in life. Several studies have shown how your baby's weight at birth can have health effects for him or her in midlife. Now their is evidence that suggests pregnant women exposed to stress, pesticides, junk food, poor nutrition, illness and other factors may have a life long impact on their children's health and mental abilities. Childbirth educators, doulas and midwives have been telling expectant moms this for years.

Long before we had scientific studies to prove this it just made sense to me. Why? Because of what we know once your baby is outside your uterus about the long term health benefits of giving your baby the ideal nutrition it needs through breastfeeding. Your breastfed baby has less chance of ending up with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or asthma. As an adult he or she has a reduced risk of getting diabetes, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as, having a healthier cholesterol level the rest of their life. To top it all off breastfed babies have higher IQs. So if feeding your baby exactly right after they are born has all this impact it only makes sense to me that feeding your baby well when they are inside you must also have an impact. Actually I believe it may have an even greater impact because of the magnitude of the creation process going on in utero. You are building your baby one teeny component at a time and the complexity of the finished project is miraculous. You are setting up their nervous system, their hormonal system, their brain and the chemical balance within it, as well as digestion, respiratory, circulatory and eveything else. We know that as an adult a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise and low stress impacts all of the interconnected body systems I just mentioned and greatly improves our chances of living a long productive life. How can it not have a profound impact on your baby in utero.

Part of me hesitated to post about this because I hate laying guilt on mothers. But another part of me said if this information could encourage just one pregnant woman to make some life changes that would impact her baby for life it was worth more maternal angst. Get healthy before you conceive. Or the minute you know you are pregnant start making choices that will benefit you both. If you need information or support in your quest for a healthy pregnancy contact me about joining my Healthy Beginnings class series.

To learn more about this issue: Nicholas Kristof's op ed piece in the New York Times.

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