The Holistic Nurse: Having a Healthy Pregnancy

I have a special treat for you all today…

In the spirit of a pregnancy-focused April, The Holistic Nurse is featuring a special interview with Caitlin Boyle. Caitlin is the founder of the international Operation Beautiful movement and blogs at Healthy Tipping Point. She is also the author of Operation Beautiful and has two more books coming out this year. She and her husband Kristien (who was featured on The Holistic Nurse in January) are expecting their first baby this June!

 Caitlin’s story is so personally inspiring to me, and I have found myself glued to her blog throughout her pregnancy journey. As someone who hopes to have a baby in the near future, I really admire the decisions she is making. And I thought readers of the Holistic Nurse series would appreciate her perspective on what it means to have a healthy pregnancy.

How have your activity levels changed since becoming pregnant? How has your nutritional intake changed?

I went from running 10 – 15 miles a week and swimming occasionally to walking 2 – 3 miles once or twice a week, swimming twice a week, and going to prenatal yoga.  Even though my activity level is down, I’m maintained my caloric intake around what it was before because I need the extra energy for baby-growing. I’m also focused on eating as much whole, organic foods as possible, although I do have more treats, too.

What has surprised you about being pregnant?

I was surprised that I didn’t get sick. I always thought that everyone got morning sickness, and while I had a few ‘hungover’ weeks, I never threw up and generally feel normal, although a bit more tired.

What qualities are you looking for in an OB/GYN or midwife? Do you have a personal preference between the two?

I switched to another OBGYN who has midwives in the office that deliver babies if the patient is low-risk.  I chose to switch because my other OBGYN was very pro ‘Western’ medicine and pushed some testing, vaccinations, and pharmacological drugs on me during the initial few weeks of pregnancy. Based on my research, I felt like many of her choices as a doctor were unnecessary and ‘over medicating.’  spoke to my new OBGYN and she said she wouldn’t have asked me to take antibotics at that point, for example.  I haven’t seen my midwives yet but I do think that is my preference, given that I continue to be low risk.  I want a OBGYN or midwife who is open to holistic healthcare and does not feel the need to medicate every symptom to death.

Are you planning to write a birth plan? How detailed do you plan to make it? What are some “non-negotiables” of your birth plan (if you have any)?   

I’m planning to write a birth plan and a baby plan to detail how I’d ideally want birth and post-birth to go down.  My number one goal is a healthy baby, but my secondary goal is to avoid unnecessary medical intervention and drugs, including an epidural.   I’m not exactly sure what it will look like yet, however.

On your blog you discuss the concerns people expressed about announcing too early and then miscarrying (you touched on this in your “Baby Details” post). Can you share why you think it is important to talk more openly about miscarriage?  

Although I have never experienced miscarriage, it is something that has happened to so many people that I know that I can’t help but wonder why, as a society, we are so silent on the issue.  I imagine that miscarriage is very hard on a woman and she shouldn’t feel alone just because the subject is taboo.

What worries/concerns have you had during your first pregnancy? How have you dealt with any baby-related anxiety?  

I experienced bleeding and cramping during my first few weeks and subsequently had a lot of baby-related anxiety. One day, I decided that I was just not going to stress out over things that weren’t happening yet. I educate myself and try to make decent choices, but I’m going to sip wine every now and then and occasionally lay on my back and whatnot.  I’m not extremist or the ‘perfect pregnant woman’ – I think trying to be that would personally do me and the baby more hard than good.  Reading The Panic Free Pregnancy has really helped, as well.

What does it mean to you to have a “natural birth”? 

To me, it means without contraction-inducing drugs or an epidural.  I’m okay with being induced via a membrane sweep if I go past my due date.

The big philosophical question: What does it mean to you to have a healthy pregnancy?  

I think many women focus too much on the physical side of pregnancy and lose sight of the emotional aspect as well. There is so much research that suggests being calm and stress-free during pregnancy is pivotal in shaping a relaxed, happy baby. I have accepted that I am not in control of many things and that all I can control is the way I react during this experience. I think it’s important to find balance.

Are there particular books, blogs or websites that have been particularly helpful to you and your husband?  

I highly recommend the following books:  The Panic Free Pregnancy, Origins, and Birthing From Within.

You can read more about my pregnancy journey at http://www.healthytippingpoint.com/pregnancy.

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