Nutrition and Hypnobirthing: you may be wondering how these two are linked. A well-rounded diet packed with quality foods is an essential piece to the practice of hypnobirthing.
If you are familiar with hypnobirthing, you know that daily relaxation practice is one of the most important parts of preparing for a gentle, conscious birth. The rainbow relaxation CD and birthing affirmations are often used as relaxation tools for a pregnant mom to take herself deep into her body, connecting with her baby and preparing for the incredible journey of labor and birth. As a woman settles into her daily relaxation practice, an orchestra of hormones and neurotransmitters are called upon. At the very foundation of these substances is the type of foods a woman chooses to eat.
Hormones and neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that send signals in the body. They come into play both in relaxation and times of heightened stress. These compounds are built from the fat and protein we eat and their chemical reactions are able to happen only with the aid of certain essential micronutrients (think vitamins and minerals). Our bodies rely on adequate intake of healthy fats from foods such as pastured animals, eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, wild fish, and coconut; we also need quality proteins from beans and lentils, nuts, the animal foods mentioned above, and whole grains such as quinoa and steel cut oats. Furthermore, eating nutrient dense foods such as green leafy vegetables, seaweed, and sprouted grains is a great way to assure you are getting plenty the vitamins and minerals required to allow your hormones and neurotransmitters to carry out their work.
Now you know fat, protein, and certain micronutrients are needed for the production of chemical messengers in the body. But, how do you favor the relaxation compounds? Much of this is related to the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Minimizing sudden spikes in cortisol in our daily lives sets the stage for quality relaxation time. Here are a few tips:
1) Eat a good breakfast that includes a substantial amount of protein. Examples include 2-3 eggs with whole grain toast and sautéed greens, a bowl of steel cut oats with chopped nuts, fruit, and coconut oil, or chicken sausage with potatoes and veggies. Be sure to eat breakfast within one of hour of waking so your blood sugar does not dip too low in the morning as this can cause cortisol to spike and starts the day off with a rush of stress to the body.
2) Eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Most pregnant women find they need to eat frequently to avoid nausea, excess fatigue, headaches, or dizziness. Be sure to include protein with each meal and snack. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread. Again, cortisol plays a role here.
3) Eat a snack close to the time of your relaxation practice. This will avoid any interruptions due to hunger and fuel your body to produce the hormones and neurotransmitters so essential to your practice.
4) Deep breathing. This is great to incorporate throughout the day, not only while practicing hypnobirthing techniques. This reminds a woman to stay connected to her body and her baby and allows for relaxation to be woven into the day’s rhythm.
For more information and ideas about how to eat well during your pregnancy, visit the Three Sisters Midwifery food blog at nourishingthemother.com