Physical health and exercise are important to me.Supplementation during pregnancy and after the birth of my son helped me to deliver a healthy baby, breast feed and maintain my fitness regime.
For any woman, there are few greater joys—or scarier moments!—in life than receiving the news of your first pregnancy. In my case, after the initial excitement passed, my mind quickly turned to how I would be able to maintain a healthy level of fitness for myself and my baby.
Staying fit facilitates a more comfortable, smoother pregnancy and postpartum recovery. It was possible, not only with exercise and a nutritious diet, but also with natural supplementation designed to enhance my overall gestational health.
It’s essential to take vitamins during pregnancy but also for a few months postpartum. Natural health products will boost your immunity as well as assist in your baby’s neonatal development.
A high quality prenatal multivitamin like New Chapter’s is an overall essential supplement. It includes iron and folate to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
Another crucial supplement is omega-3 with concentrated EPA and DHA, which promotes the baby’s brain and eye development. It’s also important for your joint lubrication and cardiovascular health.
Finally, about 5,000 IU/day of D3 drops will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and help with the baby’s bone and hormone development. In my case, green tea EGCG extract helped to increase antioxidants and control my blood sugar levels.
It was important for me to continue breastfeeding while keeping up my exercise intensity. At first I was apprehensive about the effect of lactic acid buildup in my milk, but my concerns were ill founded. My baby never did reject my milk because of the taste, even while breastfeeding or pumping shortly after a workout.
When my son was born I briefly struggled with a low milk supply and several cases of a breast infection called mastitis. I learned that with a proper lactation supplementation I was able to keep up my milk production and prevent mastitis.
Also, by pumping milk I retained the flexibility to keep a consistent exercise routine because I was not reliant on personally feeding on demand. Pumping milk also reassured me that my milk was being completely emptied, which lowers the risk of infection.
When I developed mastitis I did a lot of research on natural preventive remedies. The main ingredients that cleared up my recurrent plugged ducts were lecithin and vitamins C and E. Research is not clear why lecithin works though it may have to do with decreasing the viscosity of the internal milk.
I continued to take natural sports supplements during and post pregnancy to help build and maintain muscle mass. It was important for me that these supplements were as natural as possible in order to prevent any risks of it affecting my milk content.
Before exercising, both while I was pregnant and post pregnancy, I took 5g of a natural-based branched chain amino acid (BCAA) containing leucine, isoleucine and valine, as well as glutamine sweetened with stevia. BCAA improves muscle density and aids recovery. Glutamine is also a conditionally essential amino acid. It’s needed especially when you’re pregnant to help prevent muscle tissue from breaking down under conditions of stress.
After having my baby I added 1,000mg L-carnitine and 1,000mg tyrosine to my pre-workout supplements to increase the amount of fat burned during exercise. It totally helped me drop that baby fat!
L-carnitine can also promote muscle endurance through better delivery of nutrients and oxygen to working muscles, along with helping to improve recovery after exercise. Adding the amino acid tyrosine can help reduce postpartum depression by relieving fatigue. It is also a stress regulator.
Immediately after exercising, pre and post pregnancy, I take about 30g of protein powder. I use the purest protein like 100% New Zealand Whey sweetened with stevia. Your body most effectively absorbs protein after a workout. Protein powder is a key supplement to help build and main- tain muscle mass. I usually add another 5g of glutamine and 5 to 10g of BCAAs to maximize training results.
From my own personal experience as a physically active new mother, I know that supplementation is crucial to pre- and post-pregnancy nutrition, especially when breastfeeding. Natural health products are an important part of staying fit. They contribute to an increased metabolism, muscle building and performance.
In fact, I was able to step back on stage as a national fitness competitor only five months postpartum. I have proven to myself that I was able to achieve my fitness goals and care for my infant son—my number one priority.
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Author: Ashley Pacht is a fitness guru, bikini champion, marathon runner and contributor to Optimyz Magazine.