The WHOLE-istic approach to a healthy pregnancy and postpartum recovery – 5 Foundations

In your journey towards optimizing your body through corrective exercise – as you prepare to carry a child, deliver a baby, and adjust to your postpartum body – keep in mind that wellness is best met with a WHOLESOME approach that I like to call The 5 Foundations of WHOLE-istic Health and Wellness.

“Incorporating de-stressing techniques, reducing household toxins, remaining well-hydrated, eating natural foods, and moving daily are significant action items that every pregnant woman can immediately implement.”

James Goodlatte
founder of Fit For Birth,

The 5 Foundations to WHOLE-istic Health and Wellness


BREATHING: Concentrated, well-intentioned deep breathing is one way we can aim to reduce stress in our lives. We breathe 20,000 – 25,000 times per day. We literally cannot survive without breath.

Breathing in takes in oxygen to keeps our cells functioning. Breathing out removes CO2 and toxins. Our breath is responsible for many different rhythms throughout our body, it plays a big role in triggering either our parasympathetic (think healing, digestion, rest) or sympathetic (stress, fight or flight) nervous system.

While we can’t directly manipulate the lungs, we CAN manipulate the diaphragm, which is responsible for opening your lungs, massaging your internal organs, and assists in keeping you stable and upright. It is one of the muscles of our inner-abdominal unit.

Breath is at the top of the list of foundations for obvious reasons… So when thinking about optimizing our body’s functionality – we better make sure we are strengthening and priming the muscles responsible for this critical system that keeps us alive.

Start to think of this parachute-shaped muscle like a pump… It contracts when you inhale – flattening out and pushing the ribs out and up, giving space for the lungs to open and fill. As you exhale the lungs flatten and the diaphragm returns to its parachute shape, which turns on the rest of the “inner-core unit” – the transverse abdominus, inner and outer obliques, and the multifidus along your spine, along with muscles of the pelvic floor. Think about these muscles working in a rhythm every time you breathe in and out.

Together we will strengthen and connect to all of these muscles through various breath and movement exercises.


MOVEMENT: How do you get from A to B? You move. You move your limbs to push against this earth. You use the muscles inside your limbs to push against your bones and connective tissue. Some muscles have a primary role in basic movement and mobility and some muscles have a secondary role. It is critical to keep moving and to train all of your muscles to keep them operating at an optimal level. Everyday movement will help to build and maintain strength, improve and maintain balance and flexibility, and keep your joints and bones healthy.

There are more than 600 muscles in the human body.

Movement keeps our muscles and our heart strong. Movement allows to keep up with our basic needs… like finding food and shelter and taking care of our families. If you stop moving and turn to a more sedentary lifestyle, the sooner you contribute to your decline of health and wellness.

Movement can be as simple as walking, stepping up or down, bending, twisting, pushing, and pulling.

The same ideas should apply for pregnant women. It is common for society to look at pregnancy as a delicate time for women. But the truth is, our bodies were designed to grow babies. Our ancestors spent much of their time moving to gather food and water, find shelter, and to keep up with all their basic needs – which sometimes meant climbing mountains, crossing rivers, growing food, etc…!

Movement can improve the way moms feel during their pregnancies. Strength training is only going to help as you “add to the weight vest” that is your baby growing inside of you! It is not the time to shutdown and stop moving… Movement is going to encourage a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby! It’s going to help with the challenges of labor and delivery…. Building your endurance is going to help you deal with what can be lengthy hours of delivering your baby… Or the long days of a very pregnant belly!

Labor: Mom’s first marathon! Women spend hours and hours training to run a marathon – which lasts 4.5-6 hours for the average female runner. Labor lasts approximately 24 hours for the mom’s first pregnancy… and most women spend less than 12 hours preparing for that labor… typically in Lamaze-style classes. Isn’t it time to start thinking about preparing and training our bodies to labor and deliver a baby?

There are so many good reasons to move during pregnancy – it can help with first trimester fatigue and nausea, encourage baby to get into the right position as you get closer to delivery, and help with your recovery after delivery.


NUTRITION: We all need to eat, the question is, what are we eating? What chemicals are entering our bodies and are we meeting our nutritional needs properly?

During pregnancy, nutritional requirements shift – caloric and water needs increase, substances like alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs must cease, and, due to our modern Western diet and other factors, there becomes a need for prenatal vitamins.

Weston A. Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, detailed his global travels studying the diets and nutrition of various cultures… He concluded that aspects of a modern Western diet (white flour, sugar, and modern processed vegetable fats) cause nutritional deficiencies that are a cause of many dental issues and health problems… including pre-determined chronic illnesses and sometimes malformations in the infants of pregnant women.

This is an important time to limit processed foods and refined sugars and to maintain a diet of whole fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains – as close to natural as we can, free of pesticides and processing chemicals… Along with plenty of water.

Sufficient water intake during this time is especially important and increases with each trimester, especially if you are exercising and depending on your environment. For nursing moms, water intake is also important to maintain a healthy milk supply and to promote healing.

During all phases of life, proper nutrition and water intake are essential for immune response and healing.

Speak with your care provider if you have any concerns about your nutrition and water intake.


LIFESTYLE: We are exposed to toxins on a regular basis… whether it is from the pesticides in or on the foods we eat to meats filled with hormones and GMO corn and soy to some not-so-great ingredients in beauty products that get absorbed through our skin. We are constantly exposed to EMFs from cell phones, wi-fi, and Bluetooth throughout our homes, in our vehicles, and in places of business. All of the aforementioned can disrupt our circadian rhythm and sleep quality… which contributes to stress in our daily lives.

There are many ways you can improve upon the stressors in your life. Some examples of this include: Limiting cell phone use, keeping your phone and other devices off or put away an hour or two before bed, keeping your cell phone out of your bedroom at night, limiting EMF radiation with EMF blocking products and devices, taking stretch breaks throughout your work day, staying active and taking time for mind-clearing exercises. Speaking of mind-clearing, this brings us to the last foundation… just as important as all of the others: Thoughts.


THOUGHTS: Your mind is a powerful thing. Your thoughts can influence your day, your health, and even your unborn baby.

An excerpt on thoughts from Get Fit For Birth: 

Experts and evidence suggest that positive thinking can shape the body, heal internally, and even nurture a healthier child during pregnancy.

A pregnant woman’s thoughts have a physical connection to her unborn child. “Everything the pregnant mother feels and thinks is communicated through neurohormones to her unborn child, just as surely as are alcohol and nicotine,” says Dr. Thomas Verny, whose books, professional publications, and founding of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) and Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, have established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on the effects of prenatal environment on personality development.

Medical dictionaries define emotion as a mental and physical state, referring to the hormones and other molecules associated with emotion. Deepak Chopra, M.D., further bridges the gap between the mental and physical state when he writes, “Thoughts that we feel are called emotions.”


The article continues…


On the flip side of the emotional-stress spectrum, something else occurs. Verny says, “Positive maternal emotions have been shown to advance the health of the unborn child.” He continues, “Thoughts which infuse the developing baby with a sense of happiness or calm can set the stage for a balance, happy, and serene disposition throughout life.” Deepak Chopra agrees: “When you feel joyful, your body produces natural pleasure chemicals called endorphins and encephalins. When you are peaceful and relaxed, you release chemicals similar to prescription tranquilizers.” Without stress, your baby’s nervous system works smoothly. When you’re calm and centered, your baby is able to grow peacefully,” says Chopra.


Taking time to clear your mind for a few minutes each day can have a profound affect on your health and well-being. In Mom Belly Fitness, we aim to take a few minutes at the end of each session for some mind-clearing and relaxation exercises to ensure mom has a few minutes to herself and her thoughts.


As you may have picked up going through each of the foundations – they are all interconnected. When you have negative stress in one part of your life, it is more than likely going to affect other foundations of your life.

An example of this would be: A high stress job can cause a shift in your breathing which will put a strain on your alignment, digestion and immune system. Sitting and not taking many breaks to stand and stretch will cause stress to parts of your body which may cause muscle imbalance, weaknesses, and pain. And all of these things can lead to negative thoughts, depression, and fear… Consider the 5 foundations mentioned above to provide yourself with an optimal, nurturing atmosphere for you and your baby throughout pregnancy and motherhood.

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