Sunday, November 29th, 2009

How to Detox & Get Healthy for Pregnancy

I’ve been asked many times about what I did to detox and get my body, mind, and spirit healthy for pregnancy. I’m happy to share my plan. It’s lengthy though, so get yourself a nice green smoothie or green juice, sit back and relax as you read through it all. Please keep in mind this necessary disclaimer… I’m not a midwife or a physician, and anyone thinking about getting pregnant should consult one of the aforementioned professionals to discuss your options. We are all different and we all have different toxic loads, experiences, ages, fitness levels, environments, etc. I will mention that a midwife is more likely to understand detoxing and using foods, supplements, etc for helping with pregnancy preparation over a medical doctor. So, with that out of the way… here is what I did.



The Timing
I started the process during the early part of summer (2008). My husband and I had the intention of cleaning our bodies and home for about 6 months before actively trying to conceive. I became a little antsy so we started trying a little sooner, to no avail, but in hindsight, I’m glad our baby waited a little longer so that my body had plenty of time to clean out (6-12 months is recommended).

It was important at the offset to get a good handle on my monthly cycle. I was pretty regular, but timing is everything when it comes to conception, so knowing your body is very important. One way I did this was with the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor. There are old-fashioned (tried and true) methods such as taking your temperature every day (immediately upon waking). I did that as well, but with my goofy sleep schedule, it proved hard to do. On the advice of a good friend, I bought the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor to track my cycle. It was really cool. I simply peed on a stick every morning, inserted the stick into the device, and received a reading for my daily fertility. It was fun, especially when I saw the little egg symbol meaning that it was the right time to try if we were ready. Be warned, it’s not an inexpensive gadget (neither the monitor nor the sticks you must continually replenish) but I decided it was worth it.

The reason I started using it early was because it can take a couple of months to “learn” your cycle, and because I was dying to know if an egg would show up. (Whew! It did!) I had a lot of confidence in the monitor already, because the Amazon reviews were terrific. Some tips I learned along the way: 1) make sure you use the first pee of the morning and 2) pee for a full three seconds on the stick (count 1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi, 3-Mississippi).

My History
It’s true that I’ve been vegan for about 6-7 years and I’ve been all Raw (or High Raw) for the past 4-5 years. It’d make you think that my body was already ready for a baby. But, my journey to healthy eating had not happened overnight. I had been pretty clean for a long time, but it took some extra work to get to the uber clean place I am today. For example, a year ago: I would drink a cup of coffee from time to time. I took the occasional over-the-counter drug when my period cramps were too intense. Some of the cleansers in my house were environmentally friendly, but not all. (That was a work in progress.) Perhaps the worst offender was that I was coloring my hair every 4-6 weeks. I was using some hair and body products that were eco-friendly, and some that weren’t. I had amalgam fillings in my mouth. I ate mostly organic, but it hadn’t always been like that. And, the years before getting into Raw, I was on heavy medication for migraines and painful headaches. I had no idea how thrashed my liver was from that. Not to mention, from my bodybuilding days, I had taken loads of energy supplements and eaten tons of animal products, which I’m sure had heavily taxed my adrenal glands, kidneys, and liver. From this long history of toxic exposure and potential build-up, I had no idea how long it would take my body to clean out once I cleaned up my diet and environment.

Fast forward to my deliberate pre-conception house and body overhaul… I got rid of every source of toxicity that I could. Today, this means: eating all organic foods except for the few occasions we go to a restaurant where they don’t offer it; totally green cleaning products for our house; totally green makeup, hair, beauty, body care products; an expensive visit to the dentist to have my amalgams removed; and an extremely clean Raw vegan diet, including brief periods of juice fasting to cleanse my body even more. I’ll touch on each of these in a moment. But first…

The Start of My Plan: Creating a List

This picture depicts a little list that I had taped to my kitchen cupboard to remind myself of the many ways I was going to get my body and home super healthy and clean for pregnancy. That list was written way back when we started, and it evolved over the course of our attempts to conceive. However, it was a great exercise to start somewhere. The list included some important nutrients I wanted to make sure I was including in my diet, the sources I planned on getting those various nutrients, as well as some details about overall cleansing plans for my body and home.

My Home Environment

As much as I could, I removed synthetic chemicals from my home. I aired out our place daily to mitigate the effects of continuous outgassing from carpet, paint, adhesives, and other chemicals used in home construction. I used only environmentally friendly cleansers, many of which I made myself (blog post here about the green cleaners I use).






My Beauty Regimen

I stopped all toxic body care and stopped coloring my hair (blog post here about my decision to go natural after having been blond for 20-some years - I will eventually put up a brunette picture as soon as I have the time to get one taken – you’ve already seen my videos with my brown hair). I only used products that had great ratings on the Skin Deep website for body care/makeup, or products where I could read and understand all of the ingredients. Some of my favorite companies are listed in this blog post. I’d like to add Morrocco Method (hair and body) to that list as well as 100% Pure (makeup, body care – some of their products are vegan and some vegetarian… I stick with the vegan ones).

Heavy Metal Detox – Amalgam Fillings Removed
I did a heavy metal detox for one month where I consumed a liquid nanized supplement after having my amalgam fillings removed. Having my amalgams removed was one of the first steps in the detox, getting healthy for pregnancy process. I did not want any mercury to leak into my breast milk if I could help it. I don’t know how long it takes for heavy metals like mercury to leave the body, but I had to keep in mind that I had the fillings in my mouth for many years, and they were no doubt leaking over time. Plus, with the actual removal of them, there was a chance that some leaked during the procedure (so it’s never too early, even if you don’t intend to have kids for years). In addition to the liquid nano supplement, I did the following to help remove the metals: exercised (sweating plays an important role for helping detox), taking chlorella tablets, consuming cilantro in smoothies and green juices, and I generally relied on my overall healthy diet (including some days of juice fasting to accelerate the process).

My Diet In General

I spent a lot of time planning my diet. For example, when I wanted extra protein I included beans, lentils, greens, hemp and rice protein powders, etc. To strengthen my liver, I added ground milk thistle seeds that I added to shakes for a set period of time. I wanted to get enough selenium, iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C, so I consumed Vitamineral Green (which is, by far, my favorite green powder) and Fruits of the Earth fruit powder, as well as obtaining other specific nutrients with things like Brazil nuts, greens, and fresh produce. (Note: I do not consume the Vitamineral Green or Fruits of the Earth now that I’m pregnant, but I plan to resume after delivery.) UPDATE {2/9/11}: I am still not taking Vitamineral Green because I’m breastfeeding. I am taking Greener Grasses by the same company.

I consumed plenty of fresh organic green juices, green smoothies, soups, salads, home grown sprouts (see my video on how to grow your own sprouts here), fresh produce, homemade sauerkraut (see my video on how to make your own sauerkraut here), hemp and sprouted rice protein powders, other Raw foods like veggie pastas, lasagna, desserts, dips, etc. I also made sure to consume healthy Raw fats such as chia seeds, avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, flax, etc. You know… a super healthy Raw vegan diet.



I consumed occasional cooked vegan foods (more during the colder months) including lentils, beans, brown rice, oatmeal, steamed veggies, non-GMO tofu, miso soup, and an occasional veggie burger or burrito, etc. I made sure to keep my diet balanced and not consume too much of any one thing at one time. For example, I rotated my greens and produce (easy to do when you eat seasonally). I basically made sure that my greens “took turns.” One week I bought spinach, and the next week I made sure to consume more kale or swiss chard. Another week, I upped the romaine in my diet, and another week I had more cilantro and parsley. And so on.

A healthy detox and diet plan isn’t just about what I added to my diet. It’s also about what I eliminated from my life. For example, I stopped ingesting any caffeine, even in tea or chocolate… no, this was not easy! I no longer had the occasional glass of organic, vegan wine. I stopped all medications. For menstrual cramps, I used a heating pad and, frankly, just endured the pain, especially on the first day. I used ice on my head and neck for headaches, and enjoyed calm, warm baths. It was not always easy, but I took some comfort in knowing that women have done just fine for thousands of years without modern pharmacology and its accompanying toxicity and unintended consequences.

Supplements
Some of my supplements changed over time (for both my husband and myself – remember… he needed to be healthy, too. You need strong swimmers to get to that egg!).

Kristen’s Supplements
  • vegan DHA
  • Vitamin B-12
  • pre-natal vitamins
  • chlorella
  • wheat grass tablets
  • spirulina (didn’t take much of this, I’m taking it more now though)
  • milk thistle (did this for a little over a month)
  • Vitamineral Green powder
  • Fruits of the Earth powder
  • raspberry leaf tea
  • probiotics
  • Vitamin D
  • And… I made sure to consume foods that gave me plenty of zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, b-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, and protein.
My Husband’s Supplements
He mainly followed my lead with the supplements I took above, but I added more for him, especially over time as we learned that some of our struggles with conceiving had to do with his sperm health. In general, we tried to get as much as we could from the whole foods in our diet, but I wanted to make sure we were getting everything so we covered all of our bases by adding supplements. For my husband, I added maca, extra vitamin C, vitamin E, his own multi vitamin, acetyl l-carnitine, pycnogenol, and beta-carotene.


Exercise
I’ve always been a gal who makes exercise a priority in my life, so this wasn’t something I suddenly added. But it’s important, so I wanted to mention it here. My exercise routine always changes. Sometimes I do outdoor activities like hiking, walking, etc., and sometimes I go to the gym where I do different forms of cardio as well as strength training. I’m a firm believer that having a healthy, strong body that can handle weight training and cardio is going to really help me when I’m giving birth, as well as helping me lose weight after birth. (I’ve never really been one to do yoga, although I suspect it’s wonderful.)

With respect to physical activity, it’s not a good time to try new things when trying to conceive. It’s important to remember once you’re actually trying to conceive (meaning it could happen any time), that there is a two-week period after ovulation where you won’t know you’re pregnant. During these two weeks, it’s pertinent to “act as if” you’re pregnant just in case. So, during this window, trying new things with your body isn’t necessarily the best time. However, if you’re smart and planning things out in advance, like 6-12 months prior to conception, then it should be fine to add something new to your routine, such as yoga if you don’t normally do yoga.
Mental Health, CDs, and Deep Breathing
I’ve never been one to meditate much. I wish I were, but it’s always been a little tricky for me. However, I realized soon after trying to conceive that having a calm mind was essential for conception, at least for me. So, I took the time to deep breath during various periods throughout my day. I would simply take a few minutes and breath deeply, listening to my breath and thinking of nothing else. That was very calming. I also bought some fertility meditation CDs and listened to them when falling asleep at night, before a daytime nap, or in my dressing area while getting ready in the morning. I am very fond of the CDs that came with my hypnobirthing book and that my hypnobirthing instructor gave me. They are actually aimed at helping women who are already pregnant, but I loved that aspect of it despite my not being pregnant yet. It helped me visualize actually being pregnant, which was fun, therapeutic, and likely to help my odds. I also purchased these visualization CDs.

Trying to conceive is a beautiful thing. It really is. But, for me, it didn’t come without a little anxiety as each month passed without success. Meditation was very helpful for me, and I’m so glad I included these tools in my pregnancy tool box.


Research, Research, and More Research
I wrote a blog post quite some time ago, when I knew that my husband and I would eventually want to start a family, in which I discussed various aspects about birth, raising children, etc. I knew there were things I needed to research before getting pregnant. I’m not a last-minute kind of person, I like to be prepared, so I was looking into this stuff well in advance. I’m so glad I did because there’s a LOT of information to cover. In that post, I briefly touched on:
  • Home birth (there are many considerations for the birth itself – location, midwife, doula, birthing classes, water birth, etc)
  • Circumcision
  • Vaccination
  • Breast feeding,
  • Homeschooling, and our
  • Raw vegan diet
What I didn’t bring up in that post, but I am now also researching and planning to do:

In future posts, I will share what I’ve researched and experienced.


Midwife & Doula
Part of my research was finding a midwife and doula with whom I wanted to attend my birth. I did this months before we tried to conceive because I knew that once I was pregnant, time would fly and I’d have my hands full with a million details. It can take time to find the perfect midwife and doula.

In my case, I actually went with the first midwife I interviewed because I liked her well enough. But, over time, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions via email and found that perhaps we weren’t quite as good a fit as I previously thought. She was a lovely, capable, skilled woman, but I have certain ideas about my home birth experience and I decided that I should probably try to find another midwife who was a better fit. Fortunately, I did just that. Through the advice of my amazing wonderful lovely doula, I found a midwife who fits my needs exactly. Because I had both of these women picked out well in advance of being pregnant, I was able to tap into their expertise when we were trying to conceive, which was extremely useful. (I will be sharing a post later detailing who these women are and why they’re so amazing.)

Now, I’m sure my first midwife candidate would have done a fine job, but had I not begun this process early, I probably would not have had the opportunity to make a course correction and find somebody with whom I felt truly comfortable. So the moral of the story is to start your research well ahead of time.

Conclusion
I’m so glad I took the many months I had to research and learn everything I wrote about above, and I’m still researching lots of things:
  • Vitamin K shot at birth
  • Which prenatal tests I want or don’t want
  • Post-natal eye treatment for baby
  • Which birthing classes to take
  • Newborn screening (drawing blood to test metabolic processes)
  • Finding a pediatrician that I’m happy with, who is knowledgeable and friendly toward my High Raw Vegan diet, my breast feeding plan, and supports my informed consent and personal decisions regarding whatever I want to do with vaccines)
The time to begin ALL of this is before getting pregnant. Waaay before getting pregnant… months, or even years… because it takes a lot of time, attention, and is the only way to make informed decisions without feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or pressured to yield by default to the constant advice that suddenly comes from just about everyone you talk to, whether or not they share your health values or life philosophy. At times like this in particular, I find that having done a lot of research beforehand really equips me to have that discussion, or sometimes tactfully avoid it altogether.

Furthermore, it’s smart to start early because you have no idea how you’ll feel once you’re pregnant. I have spent many weeks ill with all-day “morning” sickness and it’s kept my butt on the couch for days on end. The last thing I would’ve felt like doing during that time was reading books, especially dense books with topics like vaccinations and home birth. I also wouldn’t have felt good enough to interview midwives or doulas. Therefore, I’m grateful that I had that all figured out well in advance.

That pretty much covers everything I’ve considered and done prior to getting pregnant as well as a few things I’m still doing now that I AM INDEED PREGNANT! YEEHAW!!!!! I feel deep down into my bones and cells that my baby is growing inside an extremely healthy body and I’m so proud of that.

One last note: The purpose of this post was to discuss what I did to detox and get healthy in preparation for pregnancy. Once I became pregnant, I maintained some of the practices, but I also changed some. What I’m doing now that I’m pregnant deserves its own future post (or two or three).

Similar Posts:

~
Friday, November 20th, 2009

New Juicer Comparison (video)- Green Star vs Breville vs Hurom

by Kristen Suzanne in Breville, Detox, energy, green juice, video, weight loss

Having green juice (a.k.a. Plant Blood) on a regular basis is very important for my family. We love it! It’s invigorating. It’s filled with easy-to-assimilate nutrients. It’s powerful. It makes the cells in my body boogie-down as if they were listening to Earth, Wind, & Fire! Like the vegan version of being a vampire, I feel absolutely super-human when I’m drinking it.



Fresh fruit and vegetable juices can do wonders for your body, spirit and mind. They can help cleanse your body and detox. They can fill you up with energy because you’re giving your digestion a rest with the removal of the fiber. They can help make you feel like you’re on top of the world (at least that’s what they do to me when I drink them). And for sure… a number of people use fresh organic juices as a part of their weight loss routine. I know that after I give birth, and breast feeding is done, I’ll be using a green juice weight loss program to help me lose the pregnancy weight.

A while back I posted about the two juicers that I have in this post. But, I have a new addition to my family that is worthy of discussion. In the following videos I discuss the pros and cons of each juicer (Green Star, Breville, and Hurom), from my perspective. And, I show you one of the juicers in action.


For great juice recipes, check out my book and ebook, Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Smoothies, Juices, Elixirs, & Drinks.

I’ve recently added another juicer to my family of juicers… check out the updated review here.

Similar Posts:

~
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Pregnancy Prep: Remove Amalgam Fillings…Check!

by Kristen Suzanne in Detox

On Monday I had my amalgam fillings removed because the mercury that amalgam fillings release can be a dangerous toxin for a fetus. Moreover, dental amalgams are a source of mercury that can be found in breast milk. Yikes! I’m not taking any chances… so, out they went.

Now, I really like my dentist, and going to the dentist (in general) has never been my favorite thing to do. You know how public speaking is the number one fear for most people? Well, that’s a piece of cake (Raw Vegan) for me. Going to the dentist…well, that’s another story. As a result, even though I’m confident in my dentist’s abilities and modern equipment, I’m now taking extra precautions and kicking up my detox a bit post-amalgam-removal with loads of vitamin C rich Raw Vegan foods and and Heavy Metal Nano-Detox.

UPDATED NEWS (updated 7/7/08): US ISSUES HEALTH WARNINGS OVER MERCURY FILLINGS

On to today’s Raw Vegan food:
Ultimate Meal doctored with freshly ground organic milk thistle seeds, Vitamineral Green, and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder. (I’m still full from it hours later!)
Later today
I’ll enjoy a huge leafy green salad topped with cucumbers, carrots, hemp seeds, and a delicious avocado dressing (going to be so good!)
.
Women’s Balancing Tea
Harvest Blend Soup
Lots of water

And… I’m sure I’ll be nibbling on some goodies late tonight since we’re continuing our marathon of Alias dvds (we’re on season two).

Daily Conversation Question:
What makes your generation unique?

Similar Posts:

~
Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Detox – Don’t Be Afraid… Be Free!

by Kristen Suzanne in Detox, vegan

One of my favorite experiences when going Raw was the cleansing and detox aspect. Not everyone agrees with me on this. Sure, it can be a painful experience for some people. I was no exception. I had my share of headaches, pain, snotty nose, skin rashes, lethargy, and horrible pimples (my face suddenly looked like sandpaper with all the little bumps). I instinctively knew it was detox. I felt enormous relief and satisfaction at seeing it expelled from my body, while also experiencing gratitude for being smart enough to eat healthier (especially now that I saw what I was carrying around inside).

Frankly, I was a little shocked that my detox was as tough as it was. I had, after all, been vegan for about 2 years when I started incorporating more Raw. Wasn’t that enough? Apparently not. Hhmmmm…I guess I needed something stronger (Raw vegan) to shake loose the abundance of toxins I ingested prior to my vegan lifestyle (protein shakes for competitive bodybuilding, overloaded amounts of caffeine, prescriptions, cholesterol, conventionally grown produce full of pesticides and herbicides, and meat (even though it was grilled, broiled, or poached made no difference, it was unhealthy).

Bottom line – My detox was liberating, exhilarating, arduous and glorious. It was worth it. I felt free!

Goddess of Truth
I make my highest ideals real by my actions.
Use this thought when you notice that you or someone else is not living up to the standards you have set. Forgive them and yourself for this and appreciate the fact that you noticed. We must be agents of the changes we want to see happen in our world. Realize the truth of the old saying, “A good example is the best sermon.”
~Gifts of Goddess Affirmation Cards by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

Similar Posts:

~