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Living a healthy life isn't just the foods I choose to put into my body but the adventures I live. My days revolve around being outdoors. I am so fortunate to live in the beautiful Bay Area where I have adventures waiting in any direction I choose--the beach, snowy mountains, hiking trails and lakes. Being active is easy when I live in such a beautiful place that just calls me to explore.
As a Newborn Care Specialist and Postpartum Doula it is my responsibility to educate sleepless parents on the fundamentals of sleep, support new parents with infant care, emotional and physical recovery, as well as bonding and soothing techniques. Oftentimes, I work with parents who are stressed and overwhelmed. In today’s hectic world, one of my recommendations for staying calm is to go outside - the grounding effects of being in nature is one of the best ways to stay healthy and positive.
Being out in nature became my medicine throughout my pregnancy. However, it wasn’t an easy process. I struggled with unexplained infertility for years before getting pregnant. I saw several fertility specialists and went outside my network for second and third opinions. I changed my diet, added extra vitamins, workouts, “fertility” smoothies, acupuncture and meditation to my life. I finally felt like I had found a routine that was working for me.
Then I stared IVF. I was ordered by my doctors not to exercise for weeks and months at a time. My body was so confused and crazed from all the fertility drugs pumping through my blood and the emotions that came with them. I lost a sense of control over myself and wasn’t sure how to regain that feeling of being in tune with my emotions. IVF hijacks your life. My day no longer revolved around my perfectly planned healthy meals, exercise and work. My life orbited around blood draws, doctors’ appointments, medications, daily shots, and uncomfortable procedures.
When I finally got pregnant and was cleared to begin exercising again around 6-8 weeks, I was terrified. I felt so out of shape from the past year of hormone shots, lack of exercise and weight gain. I was nervous that anything strenuous would cause me to miscarry. I experienced morning sickness and could hardly keep saltines and water down. I lost 8lbs in my first trimester and thought to myself, “How could I possibly find a way to exercise when walking down the hall to the bathroom or a simple trip to the grocery store was leaving me short of breath and ready to climb back into bed?”
I started feeling better at the start of my second trimester. I was throwing up less, had more energy, and for the first time in months, was eating because I was hungry, not out of necessity to give nourishment to my growing baby.
I started taking my dog for evening walks after work and spending more time outside. I realized that this “grounding” feeling of being outdoors was the thing I needed most to feel like myself again. Even in the rainy and cold months of winter, I enjoyed the sweet smells of the wet grass and my bundled up strolls beside my husband. When I stayed home binge watching Netflix on the couch, my morning sickness and unsettled feelings returned. If I went outside, those feelings went away almost instantly.
During my journey, I have learned just how unique each woman and her pregnancy is. Some women can continue going to CrossFit, some are ordered on bed rest. I had to give myself permission to listen to my body and allow this time to slow down and not feel guilty that I wasn't doing more.
Now that I am further along in my pregnancy I am slowly getting back into a new modified exercise routine. I am still taking it slow, allowing myself the indulgence of breaks and modifications. With summer quickly approaching, I spend as much time outside as I can, enjoying each day and listening to what my body is telling me. After all, I am growing a human inside me.
This article was written by Heidi Lovens, Certified Happiest Baby on the Block Educator (CHBE), Postpartum Doula, Newborn Care Specialist and Certified Placenta Specialist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in educating sleepless parents on the fundamentals and importance of sleep, supporting new parents with infant care, emotional and physical recovery, bonding and soothing techniques.