Vitamins... OMG if you're a woman these days you're often BOMBARDED with adds, blog posts and displays in your local Whole Foods trying to sell you the next greatest thing vitamin that will cure all that ales you, help you have an effortless, glowing pregnancy, recover, lose weight, have the perfect baby, cure said perfect baby from crying and throwing your sleep out of whack, then oh yea, take this to help you sleep. Shessh.
By far, the most common question I get from women, and a few of their lovely partners, is, what are the best prenatal vitamins and why? What are the most important nutrients to help nourish a fertile body and support a healthy pregnancy? What vitamins are important to help you recover postpartum and help as create 'uber awesome' breastmilk? Well, I'm going to answer all of these question over the upcoming months starting with that super important vitamin A and going all the way to good ol' Z (for zinc)
But first....indulge me in a ramble. By far, the most important nutrient you can support health and wellbeing is is vitamin "L".... that's LOVE. I know, I know, it's a bit cheezy, but I am a grain free granola crunching midwife after all. Seriously, the best thing you can do for your body and mind is invite love into your life.
Self love, is the BEST! Self love goes way beyond self esteem, although, self esteem is a lovely side effect of caring for yourself. I talked about the importance of having gentle loving kindness for yourself when you're healing from either a miscarriage or a traumatic birth experience on Part 1 of my episode with the Balanced Bites Podcast a few weeks ago.
Self love is an important part of self care. Loving yourself means honouring and respecting the AMAZING body you have. I'm not talking about taking a selfie of yourself flexing at the gym, although, truth, I've done this with no apologies. I'm talking about recognizing just how powerful your body is and respecting all that it does for you. This means being kind to yourself, no matter what. When we forget to be kind, it's easy to start sabotaging the essence of a healthy body through self judgement, shame and unrealistic ideals. In other words, if we lose the joy in caring for ourselves, we don't feel happy. Not feeling happy or satisfied can actually manifest themselves physically in your body. Your stress hormones, including cortisol, can go up, your digestion suffers, the way you assimilate the nutrients from a healthy diet is effected and even your gut bacteria can be altered! If these aren't reasons enough, think about how it feels to be sad or anxious all the time. Not really a space or place I want to live in. An unhappy mind is not healthy.
How do we step out of these patterns ? First, simply recognizing negative self talk or habits. Remember that saying in the 80's or maybe it was the 90's, "knowing is half the battle" .... GI Joe said that, but anyway, seriously, that is the first step. Once you've gotten some awareness you can actually take some steps towards positive action.
Meg's tips for inviting more self love into your life
1. Whenever you feel your mind slipping into a negative pattern, recognize it. You don't need to judge it, just witness it....sit with it and simply let it be. Have a touch of gentle loving kindness for yourself.
2. Actively change your thought pattern and LISTEN to your body. Once you've recognized that negative self talk, say something positive to yourself that opposes it. For example, you might be 2 months pregnant. You're also a gym junkie. You workout not only because it makes you feel good but also because it helps you feel in control of your body. You haven't been able to work out for days and you finally have a chance but man...you're soooo tired. You start an inner dialogue that tells you to get your lazy butt off the couch and get to the gym or else you're going to get 'soft'. Now is the time to change those thoughts. Your pregnant! Give yourself a break. Honour the amazing things you're body is doing....that's why it's so tired. Think to yourself, what would feel most nourishing? A nap? A walk outside? A bit of yoga?....listen to what it says in reply.
3. Make sure to take time every day to practice some form of self care. For me, it is usually 10 mins of meditation in the morning or evening or a touch of restorative yoga. It can also mean cooking yourself a healthy meal, getting a massage, going for a walk in the woods, watching Real Housewives, whatever! Just do something that honours your space and nourishes your sense of LOVE for yourself.
4. If you're struggling breaking these patterns or find that your going through something traumatic, like a birth trauma, get help. Reaching out to a clinical therapist can work wonders in many circumstances. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you. It means you are human!
Taking care of yourself and practicing self love is the BEST thing you can do and the BEST vitamin out there. It has the benefits of making you a better woman, better mother and better lover. Give yourself a dose every damn day.