We often tell mothers to treat their bodies well while pregnant, but what about women who are trying to conceive (TTC)?
This article from MayoClinic.com has some great information about getting your body ready for pregnancy, but there is so much more to consider!
In my mid twenties I was the take-out queen. I ate frozen pizza at least 3 nights a week, and delivery or drive-thru the other 4. Cooking was a rarity that occurred on special occasions, and I thought the lettuce that came on my burger was a sufficient vegetable substitute. For breakfast I’d have a roll with sausage, egg and cheese, or a bagel topped off with cream cheese – if I had breakfast at all. I’d drink 3-4 cups of black coffee throughout the day, and eat a ton of sweets. I didn’t think that I was doing that much harm to my body, because on the outside I looked healthy. Oh, and did I mention I smoked?
As a part of my spiritual journey, I learned to take better care of my body. I started cooking more often, and even brought my own lunch to work. Bringing healthy snacks saved me from the drive-thru by giving me something to eat on the way home from work, and the temptation to stop became easier to resist. And then I discovered free-range and organic food…although I continued to smoke. Quitting was a tough battle to fight.
Now, when I cook, just about every meal has at least one vegetable, and often it’s a leafy green. I stopped shopping at big chain supermarkets so my sweet tooth wouldn’t cry out for attention at the turn of every aisle. I would say that 90% of what we eat in our house is organic, we don’t keep soft-drinks around, and the majority of our sweets are homemade. It’s definitely not easy to eat healthy in African-American communities; not because people don’t want to, but because there are simply no healthy choices available. Fruit stands are sometimes far and few between, and those that exist often have fruit of sub-standard quality. Grocery stores don’t sell free-range or organic, and there are more fast-food joints (owned by outsiders to the community) than bookstores or libraries. I was the fast-food queen in my twenties, because that’s all that I knew. If I didn’t have a car, I would be stuck shopping at major chain supermarkets that are within walking distance with very little choice for whole foods.
Why am I ranting about supermarkets and diet? It all goes back to what we learned as children: you are what you eat! Eating healthy, staying hydrated and getting exercise are key to getting our bodies ready for the miraculous task waiting ahead. If you’re TTC, the planning is so much more than charting fertility and falling in love with baby names. The healthier you are, the better your conception chances. The healthier you are, the healthier your pregnancy and subsequently your baby. Don’t wait until you find out that you’re pregnant to get your body together; do the research and holistically prepare.
When my wife and I decided to start TTC, I became meticulous about my diet. I’m not the biggest fan of pills, so I do admit to not being so great about taking vitamins. However, I use herbs and try to eat well to give my body what she needs. Here’s what I eat just about everyday to give you an idea:
Breakfast – oatmeal & almond milk
Snack – fruit
Snack – mixed nuts
Lunch – Soy yogurt & granola, or left-overs, and fruit
Snack – fruit
Dinner – starch, poultry or fish & vegetables
and TONS of water throughout the day.
and I quit smoking!
Not so bad, huh? It just takes a little planning to treat your body well. There have definitely been days when I rushed out of the house without enough snacks to get me through the day, and reasoned that stopping for fries wouldn’t be so bad (that is, until I read this article about fast-food decomposition). But, most days I’m pretty on point. With perinatal mortality rates where they are in the United States for Black women, we can’t leave anything to chance. It’s never too late to get it together, but please get it together.