14 Jun The Pregnancy Culture – Interview
Have you got questions as you’re getting closer to the big day? We’re interviewing Caitlin Murphy from The Pregnancy Culture for some expert tips and advice for you, including:
• Preparing to have a caesarean birth
• Advice to mother feeling depleted after giving birth
• Diet tips leading up to birth
You do a lot of content about limiting toxin exposure during pregnancy. How important is this and what would be your main advice to women on this subject?
I do, yes! Through my own health concerns I started to learn the importance of reducing our toxin load. I believe it is important for women to be mindful of their toxin exposure, but to not let it overwhelm you. There is so much to consider during pregnancy so if this isn’t an area you want to focus on that is absolutely okay!
Unfortunately toxins are around us everywhere and although we cannot eliminate them, we can drastically reduce our exposure. Certain chemicals have been linked to reproductive health concerns, reduced sperm and egg quality, hormonal imbalances, headaches, asthma, allergies + so much more. Research has revealed that a number of chemicals have been found in fetal cord blood. This highlights that what we eat and/or put on our body is absorbed through to our baby.
When reducing your toxin exposure, my advice would be to start eliminating things slowly, one at a time. It can become overwhelming so take the journey at your own pace.I am still making changes and have been on this journey for 2-3 years. Change takes time.
What is your advice to mothers feeling depleted after giving birth? What are some practical tips you would recommend them implementing?
Postpartum depletion is unfortunately very common. Societal pressure to ‘bounce back,’ sleep deprivation, diet lacking in nutrients, lack of support and already being in a depleted state in pregnancy are just a few factors that can contribute to postpartum depletion.
I would recommend some of the following tips to reduce the risk of postpartum depletion:
Go at your own pace and take things slow. Did you know ancestral practices honoured an extended period of healing and adjusting for women following birth? Female relatives and females from the community, would nourish the woman with ceremonial foods, nurture her, and relieve her of all responsibilities. We should learn from our ancestors and accept help. Please do not feel guilty for resting, rest aids recovery. Take this time to bond with your newborn and adjust. Be kind to yourself.
Gather a support network: Whether that be family, friends or even a doula. Ask for help and establish boundaries. Start a meal train by asking a friend or family member to organise nutritious meals. This will relieve you of cooking responsibilities and allow you to focus on rest, recovery and bonding with your newborn.
Eat nutrient dense meals: Processed, nutrient-poor foods make up a large percentage of the typical diet these days. Don’t get me wrong, chips are fine every now and then and what I call soul food, but try to opt for: Warming foods: Bone broths, soups as well as warming spices: turmeric, cinnamon, ginger are all great for the digestive system. Don’t be afraid of fats- ghee, organic grass-fed butter, avocado, coconut etc! Collagen and glycine are excellent sources of protein and can aid recovery. Probiotic rich foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi are all incredible for your gut microbiome and feeding the good bacteria.
Food preparation in your third trimester/maternity leave is key for your postpartum period. Proper nutrition will aid your recovery. When you are feeling sleep deprived or lacking the motivation to cook you can just pull out a meal from the freezer and heat it. This will minimize the need for processed or convenient foods which typically lack nutrition.
Sleep: What can you do to ensure quality even if you are waking throughout the night? No caffeine past noon or at least a few hours prior to bedtime, minimise using electronic devices right before bed, exercising regularly, but not in the evening hours close to bedtime, consider meditation or yoga to relax the nervous system, consider magnesium/adaptogens before bed time, ASK FOR HELP: Whether that be from a partner, family, friends, doula etc.
Get your bloods done and see your health professional if you are not feeling yourself. You shouldn’t accept feeling tired or depleted as your new norm.
What foods do you recommend women incorporating into their diet as they get closer to giving birth?
Red raspberry leaf tea
6 dates a day! Research shows 6 dates a day can improve cervical dilation, increase likelihood of going into spontaneous labour, reduce likelihood of induction of labour and also has some evidence for reduced intervention such as caesarean or instrumental birth. Just be mindful of blood sugar levels. Dates contain high levels of sugar (63g sugar in 100g dates). This can rapidly raise blood sugar levels and lead to energy crashes and heightened cravings. Therefore, dates are best eaten with protein and healthy fat. Dates may not be appropriate for those with gestational diabetes, blood sugar irregularities, those who have tested GBS+ or have experienced yeast infections during pregnancy. This is because sugar feeds yeast and unfavourable bacteria.
Glycine (collagen and gelatin): During pregnancy, glycine needs increase beyond what our body can supply. The only way to keep up with this demand and to minimise deficiency is to obtain glycine from the diet. Glycine is an amino acid and an important component of collagen (making up an estimated 1/3 of collagen). Glycine is important for baby, but is also important for expecting mothers. Did you know, your uterus at term contains 800% more collagen than in a non-pregnant state? Food sources of glycine include: Bone broth, gummies, hydrolysed collagen powder, gelatinous meats.
Electrolytes are required for effective muscular contractions of the uterus. They also help to regulate pH levels, blood pressure and minimise the risk of dehydration. Coconut water is great for electrolytes. Otherwise I have a labour aid recipe on my Instagram @thepregnancyculture
Iron rich foods: For example: Beef liver, sardines, beef, fish, lentils, quinoa. Iron rich foods will help to ensure your ferritin stores are optimal going into labour and birth. This is important due to blood loss = iron and hemoglobin loss. If you have no dietary requirements or preferences, try to opt for heme iron where possible due to increased absorption by the body.
What is your main advice for women preparing to have a caesarean birth?
It is okay to feel nervous or apprehensive prior to your caesarean, this is really normal!
A few tips that may help you feel more prepared include:
– Ask your health professional lots of questions in the lead up (your partner included if needed). This will help put your mind at ease.
– Gain an education and understanding of what is involved in a caesarean birth: This will lead to reassurance and knowledge of what to expect. For example, understanding you will have an indwelling catheter inserted, an IVC for access to your veins, intravenous fluids running to help with hydration and blood loss.
– It is important to know that vaginal bleeding is normal. This catches a lot of women off guard.
– Take the pain relief as the anaesthetic will slowly wear off. It is important to have pain relief on board for when this happen.
– It is really normal to have limited movement on the first day
– Push on that buzzer for your midwife to help you. That is what it is there for!
– Asking for help in the early days following the birth of your baby is really important to aid in breastfeeding (if that is something you wish to do) as well as small walks around the room.
– Pack nutritious snacks
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