What you need to know if you are preparing for MOTHERHOOD

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Motherhood- A Holistic Approach Pre and Post Conception

Being a mother is both a gift and a blessing. This role is an honor and divine creation. The process of procreation is so delicate and beautiful. Once conception occurs in a woman’s body, the rest of her pregnancy is taken care of by the subtle love and energy of the Higher Spirit. Have you ever sat back and been amazed at how carefully and precisely the infant develops in 9 months in the womb? From the beautiful creation of cells that come together to form the brain, ears, eyes, heart and all the organs, glands and bones that it needs to live and thrive. It truly is a miracle and a gift from above. What amazes me is that this process happens in the perfect time without the need for human interference. The mother does not need to think about creating all these tiny body parts for her child. She does not have to feed her child or make sure he/she sleeps. The one responsibility God gives a mother is to ensure that she foster a healthy environment in which the baby can grow. What does this environment look like? I will share with you my beliefs based on books by Dr. Northrup, Louise Hay and from my clinical experiences and innate wisdom.

  1. A healthy, fertile environment must be TOXIN-FREE. Most women need to detoxify the body before pregnancy and I do highly suggest this. Part of the detoxification process is ensuring that the body is clear of things like:
  • The Birth Control Pill– stop for at least 3 months before conception
  • Smoking (Tobacco and Marijuana) or any other Drug- stop for at least one year before; this includes being around people who smoke- 2nd hand smoke is just as harmful.
  • Alcohol– remove for at least 3 months before conception
  • Caffeine– remove for at least 3 months before conception
  • Remove CHEMICALS AND JUNK FOOD: Remove saturated fats, trans fats, aspartame, fast food, packaged food, artificial dyes, pesticides, chemicals, preservatives and even suspected Food Allergies (we can test for this in my clinic) for at least 6 months and continue as a part of your lifestyle.
  1. Ensure that you have all the VITAMINS and MINERALS you need to keep you and baby healthy and flourishing. There is a strong cultural belief in society that the mother should sacrifice everything for the sake of the child. A lot of women with this belief will not take vitamins because they figure the baby will take what they have leaving them depleted and this is ok. It is NOT ok. This can lead to a lot of negative health consequences like thyroid disorder, weight gain, post-partum depression, anxiety and more. How is a mother to care for her child, if she cannot care for herself? You can ensure that you are getting adequate doses of minerals by taking a good quality multivitamin. I meet a lot of women who take Materna and I will mention that it is not the highest quality vitamin out there. Most women who take this one-a day vitamin feel very nauseous; hence they stop. Overloading the body with vitamins all at once (one a day) can upset any stomach, as if the hormones in pregnancy aren’t enough. I recommend all women take a high grade Prenatal for at least one year before pregnancy. The vitamin I suggest is dosed one per meal to ensure easy digestion and absorption. (If you want to take a test to see your mineral content, we can do this in my clinic with a hair sample)
  2. A healthy environment is one that is STRESS-FREE: Did you know that when a woman is pregnant and experiencing stress, less blood flows to the growing fetus? Chronic stress can starve a child of essential nutrients. Did you also know that the stress hormones that circulate in a woman’s body can also circulate in the fetus? Can you imagine giving birth to a baby who is already stressed? We have been cultured to believe that until a baby is born, there is not much to do but wait and go for ultrasounds and take some vitamins. WRONG! With this awareness, do your best to manage your stress. It is easier to find healthy ways to cope with stress NOW before you decide to birth a being into this world. I believe this is why acupuncture works so well in my office because it gives women a chance to relax, understand their stresses and let go of any negative emotions.
  3. Get to a HEALTHY WEIGHT: Women who are overweight increase their risk of complications during pregnancy and may have more difficulty conceiving. Most women I meet who are overweight (I was there once too) tend to have a negative self- image, low self-esteem and poor lifestyle habits. If having children is a necessity then let that motivate you to take the right steps to lose weight. (I offer a lot of support in this area so reach out) The healthier you become in mind, body and spirit, the healthier your child will be. Did you know that a child born to a mother with an eating disorder will be more likely to develop one themselves?
  4. Remove TOXIC EMOTIONS: I am referring to the emotions of fear, guilt, sadness, anger, hurt, shame, jealousy, judgment. Imagine creating a pure innocent baby in that toxic environment. The mental/emotional aspect of pregnancy is often overlooked but it must not be. The only way to release negative emotions is to become aware of them and take the appropriate steps to resolve the thoughts and beliefs that tend to accompany the emotion. In your marriage/relationship, if you are having arguments, having a baby is not going to resolve the arguments. Resolve the issues before you have the child. This may take time, but it is so essential and freeing. Forgiveness is really the only way to release your past and move forward.
  5. Be prepared to BREAST FEED: Breast feeding your baby is one of the surest ways to cultivate a healthy loving environment in which baby and mother bond and the baby feels safe and secure in her world with her needs being met. Not only that, milk from the breast is the cleanest (if your diet is also clean). Breast fed babies tend to have a healthy weight and decreased risk of allergies and asthma among many other conditions. I know some women who try really hard to breast feed but are unable to produce enough milk. If this is the case, don’t hold emotions of guilt or anger. Let it go and know you tried your best.
  6. Practice unconditional SELF LOVE and SELF ACCEPTANCE: This is a must and not only will it help you to conceive, it will help you foster a healthy environment for your child to flourish. Did you know that the more you love yourself, the more people feel loved by you. How amazing is that? You wouldn’t want to withhold love from your child, so don’t withhold it from yourself.  I ask that you look back on your childhood and explore the relationship you had with your mother. What was it like? Did you wish it was different? If so, what would you change? Try to emanate those qualities that you feel would have provided you with a more loving foundation in which to build self esteem and healthy values. Most people report that they wished their mothers were more loving and supportive and less controlling and judgmental. Children are very perceptive and soon enough they will start to look and act like you. Be the best version of you for you and baby.
  7. Assess your DESIRE to have a child. Be honest with yourself. Are you ready? Are you scared? Do you feel pressured? Have a heartfelt conversation with yourself, God and also with your partner. Some people decide to have a child because it is what society puts pressure on if you are female and over 25 years old. Some people have a child out of fear because they believe that if they reach a certain age they won’t be fertile. There is a lot of information floating around about infertility but don’t let that scare you. Please don’t let this fear get into your beliefs, because trust me, your beliefs affect your physical body. If you cultivate healthy thoughts, self love and nourish yourself emotionally and physically you are well on your way to becoming a mom!

If you would like more support, whether it be nutritional, emotional or best ways to relax and detox, reach out and send an email to [email protected]

I also perform Acupuncture in my office for fertility and relaxation.

Warmly,

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Dr. Jen Cisternino, ND

[email protected]cisternino.com

416-301-3477

www.drjencisternino.com

What Motivates Dr. Jen to stay healthy and fit?

profile picDr. Jen answers the question: “What motivates YOU to stay healthy and fit?”

A common question that I am asked by my patients is: “What motivates YOU to stay fit and healthy? It is a personal question, but one that I don’t mind sharing for the greater good. I love how most people think that I workout and practice yoga daily, I eat a vegan diet, never indulge in a treat and sing kumbaya with my friends and family (ok I made the last one up, but you know what I mean). I am truly flattered, but I am human, people! I live a normal life with daily stresses. I try to exercise 3-4 times a week, and do my best to eat whole foods that nourish my body, with a few indulgences every now and again. I am not perfect, but I always strive to do better. I decided to get a little vulnerable and share the answers to this question because I think it is important for you to understand me and what drives me to stay healthy and fit. Maybe you can relate and connect with some of my biggest motivators.

Motivator #1. My Patients/Followers. Yes, that is you! I believe whole-heartedly in the motto “practice what you preach”. When I spend countless hours each week blogging and posting content on social media or advising people in my office to eat well, manage stress, exercise etc., it acts as a reminder for me to do the same. It is not always easy to do but I strive to be a good role model for all of you. I am authentic by nature and what you see is what you get. I also understand that if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of others. So thanks to all my patients, near and far, you motivate me as much as I motivate you.

Motivator #2. Self-Love. This was not something that came easy for me and it is something a lot of people struggle with. A lesser known fact about me is that beginning in adolescence and into my teenage years, I suffered from a condition called anorexia nervosa and in later years, binge eating disorder. Both of these conditions result from a lack of self love. In fact, it was an act of neglect, abuse and hate for my body. It wasn’t until I started my Naturopathic Education where I learned how to love and appreciate myself. I was taught self-care practices and how to prioritize my needs and wants.  I want to clarify that self- love is not arrogance or boasting about one’s self; instead, it is the love that feeds the body nourishing foods, allows for rest, ensures healthy activity, talks positively to one’s self, is forgiving and creates safe boundaries in relationships. Once you have this love, all your choices and actions will come from this, including being positive and living more healthy. Start slowly by choosing one activity a day that demonstrates self love. It could be ensuring you have 3 meals a day or getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This may sound silly, but I give my patients a self-love journal to fill out each day. It holds them accountable and acts as a gentle reminder to think about themselves a little more. It amazes people how little they care for themselves. Try it yourself for one week. If you want a great read pertaining to love and self-love pick up Loveability by Robert Holden. I highly recommend it.

Motivator #3. My Future Goals: Although I understand that focusing too much on the future is not a good thing; however, in regards to the motivation aspect, this keeps me focused on my health and fitness priorities. My goals for the future are to have a healthy family. I want to be a healthy mom who can play an active role in my children’s life and their children’s lives. I love to travel and would love to travel with my husband with no limitations. I want to live life to the fullest in all stages of my life. I don’t want to exist or merely survive on this planet, I wish to THRIVE! This means that I must care for myself NOW. My glimpse into the future every so often keeps me motivated each present day. I create a vision board each year and although it changes, there is always a picture or vision of good health, fitness and vitality. If you have not made a vision board before, (one of Oprah’s favourite things to do and she claims it works!) give it a try!

Motivator #4. My Positive Mindset/Attitude: This takes practice and on-going effort, but when mastered, you can do anything! In the past, I had a very negative attitude towards my health and my habits reflected that.  I was very restrictive with my dieting and calorie counting. I saw food as the “enemy” and was scared to eat it. I would compensate by exercising excessively and would feel guilty if I didn’t exercise, especially if I ate “bad” food. Does this sound familiar to anyone? The best part is, through all this I was not reaching my fitness goals of losing weight and was straight up miserable. I entered a vicious cycle of regret, guilt and blame. I realized that my negative attitude was not helping me achieve the goals I wanted. So I slowly started to change my attitude. It was only when I changed my thoughts to be more positive was I able to lose weight (40lbs!) and keep it off. This did not happen over night. How did I do this? I started by forgiving myself for all my self-destructive habits. This is very hard, but essential in keeping a positive mindset. I then started working on enjoying things in moderation with NO GUILT. Yes, weight loss and weight maintenance can happen with a cheat meal every now and then, but only if there are no negative thoughts and emotions around it. I admit, I sometimes eat chocolate, ice cream and Ketchup chips (my salty indulgence). This is seldom, but when I do, I have no guilt. Imagine that! What a freeing experience. Research shows that “skinny” people have a different mentality than overweight individuals. Skinny people do not obsess over food. They eat when they are hungry and they do not have emotional attachments to the food they eat. I urge you to lose the negative thoughts, the “all or nothing” approach because it will not help you lose weight and keep it off. Instead, keep your thoughts positive and have an attitude that you can do anything.  If you slip up, forgive yourself and be positive you will do better.

There you have it! My top 4 motivators for staying healthy and fit. If you would like more of where this came from, sign up for my newsletters to be sure you don’t miss out and you get the goods in your inbox.

www.drjencisternino.com

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Dr. Jen Cisternino,ND