The glucose tolerance test, or glucose challenge, is the test to screen for gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is something you want to be noticed because it can lead to high birth weight, more intervention during birth, and a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later. For the baby, he can have difficulty regulating his own blood sugar after birth.
For the glucose tolerance test you consume a sugary beverage, usually Glucola, and have you blood sugar tested about 1 hour later.
There can be false positives. The best way to avoid inaccurate results is not to take the test on an empty stomach and to slightly increase your carbohydrate intake the day or 2 before the test. This is especially important for women who eat very clean or low carbohydrate diets. Your body is not accustomed to processing a lot of sugar and is more likely to over respond in the release of insulin.
To avoid gestational diabetes, exercise moderately each day (see your walking calendar), eat lots of vegetables, and reduce sugar in your daily diet - let your sweet be fruit and whole grains.
Calcium is necessary for baby's strong bones and yours. If you are not a milk drinker, try these substitutes. If you do drink cow's milk, choose organic, grassfed cow milk. If you are taking calcium supplements, do not take them with iron supplements or high iron foods like red meat. The calcium will reduce the body's ability to absorb the iron.
Equivalents to one cup of milk:
1 1/3 oz cheese
1 cup yogurt
½ cup canned salmon with bones
1/3 cup cottage cheese
2 ½ oz. sardines canned with bones
3 tablespoons ground sesame seeds.
Yin yang is the balance between rest and activity. The balance of doing and being is what we are aiming to make our habit during the nine months of gestation so that it will be second nature when baby arrives.
Our work becomes more fluid when we have rest interspersed. Caring for our newborn will be easier when we balance it with rest. Pregnancy will fly when we allow ourselves rest and restoration time.
During your pregnancy following the Aphrodite program you will learn this balance. It will make your pregnancy easier, it will lower stress related complications, and it will allow your body to repair from the wear and tear of life and pregnancy -- and you will get things done with more ease and speed.
When you noticed you are too hurried take some time out for evaluation. Ask yourself:
I love the Ted Talk by Shonda Rhimes on play (another word for rest). I watch it frequently when I feel I need to refocus. Watch it here https://www.ted.com/talks/shonda_rhimes_my_year_of_saying_yes_to_everything?language=en
Healthy mommy equals healthy baby. The healthier the mom, the better off the baby. We at Aphrodite Project know that environmental toxins stress the body of mom and baby. Also, your skin is the largest organ in the body and can absorb substances from the outside into the body and the blood supply. We want the body absorbing things that can help it like magnesium from epsom salt or relaxation pheromones from lavender.
During pregnancy, take stock of all the products you use on your skin, hair, and body. As much as possible “green” them up by choosing toxin free products since you absorb up to 60% of everything you put on your skin.
Clean beauty products can be found at Sephora; Target is carrying more and more clean products including deodorant and toothpaste. Online sources like Credo and Follain offer a carefully curated collection of clean makeup, face products, and body care.
Ingredients that you should avoid are listed in detail here https://credobeauty.com/pages/dirty-ingredients
Beauty Products from Your Kitchen
Sunflower oil is readily absorbed into the skin and supports skin elasticity, combats irritation, calms redness. Add lavender or frankincense essential oil to enhance the benefits of sunflower oil. You can also use it on your hair to prevent breakage.
Coconut oil penetrates deeply into the hair. It is heavy so a little goes a long way and a thorough shampoo is necessary afterwards.
Grapeseed oil or olive oil
Mix ingredients together to desired consistency. Start with a 1:1 ratio.
Mashed avocado and yogurt.
Mashed banana and honey.
Bed rest is prescribed limitations on your movement to preserve the health of the baby and mom. Occasionally, a woman is put on full bed rest with her movement completely curtailed and work stopped. Other times, it is a modified lifestyle including less activity and movement outside the house with frequent rest periods. Either way, abide by bed rest for yourself and the baby. Most often bed rest is temporary.
When in a period of activity restriction, be sure to continue healthy eating habits and hydration. Also, stretch frequently to loosen your muscles and tendons. Try to do activities you find relaxing, to recharge and fortify the body.
Bed rest is most frequently required to:
As your pregnancy progresses, taking good care of your legs will make you more comfortable and better able to sleep. Use the tips below to rest and renew your legs.
Edema is the retention of fluid in the ankles, legs, and sometimes feet and hands. It is a normal part of pregnancy; however read below for signs that the swelling indicates a medical emergency called preeclampsia. And it is always a good idea to notify your doctor or midwife if you experience swelling.
Steps to Alleviate Swelling
If you have any of the signs below, see your midwife or doctor. Have her assess you for preeclampsia. If you do not have one, go to the emergency room. This is a life or death condition. It is imperative that the healthcare provider takes you seriously. See article on preeclampsia.
Warning signs of preeclampsia:
Stretch marks are a part of pregnancy. Your skin is asked to accommodate an ever growing uterus. However, how you eat and hydrate will be the prime factors determining how your skin responds to pregnancy. Check out the Aphrodite Eating Principles and aim to drink a gallon of water a day.
Ways to Minimize Stretch Marks
You can have sex when you are pregnant. Your libido changes throughout your pregnancy - for most women it is highest in the second trimester. Sex will help you connect with your partner, relieve tension, and pleasure floods you with good endorphins.
Let your intuition guide you in sex. If you sense discomfort, try something different. However, do not fear that it will hurt baby - amniotic fluid and the cervix protect the baby. After an orgasm, you may feel Braxton Hicks contractions which are completely normal. If you have light spotting after sex, it is most likely from small blood vessels in the vaginal canal and cervix. The blood supply to your pelvis increases with pregnancy and the tiny capillaries can sometimes break. If bleeding seems unusual, see your caregiver.
If you are at risk of preterm labor or are on bed rest, check with your medical advisor before having vaginal or anal sex.
Dry brushing is a fabulous way to care for yourself and honor your body during pregnancy. It relaxes you; stimulates the release of toxins and excess fluid; and helps minimize stretch marks. Stimulating the skin post pregnancy will also help the skin tighten faster. Here is how you do it.
To dry brush:
Constipation, headaches, pelvic pressure, leg cramps, hemorrhoids, edema, low amniotic fluid, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, nausea, and difficulty sleeping can all be helped by bathing with epsom salt and essential oils during pregnancy.
Aim for 1-2 epsom salt baths a week. Add 2 cups of epsom salt to the water, swirl the water until you create a vortex, and soak for 20 minutes. Keep the water temperature warm, but not hot - avoid temperatures above 102F.
Baths help relieve edema by pulling excess salt from the body. Benefits of Epsom salts are: reduced inflammation, constipation relief, soothing of muscle aches, and immunity support.
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate - the magnesium is absorbed into the skin to: help the body release harmful toxins; regulate over 300 enzymes in the body; and positively act on the circulatory, digestive, and muscular systems.
Epsom salt is safe during and after pregnancy. It is inexpensive and can easily be found at any drug store or supermarket in the first aid section (Target, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart all sell epsom salt.)
Adding essential oils will add to the healing and relaxation from the bath. Add 10-20 drops to the bath water. When purchasing essential oils try to get wildcrafted or organic oils.
Suggested essential oils:
Lavender is always a good essential oil to use because it reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation. It also soothes the skin which can be itchy as the belly expands. It helps manage morning sickness.
Chamomile is good to soothing the skin and decreasing inflammation. Also alleviates nausea.
Lemon oil can be used to reduce edema, ease moodiness, and make you happier. It is super if you are experiencing swelling in your feet and ankles. Use 10-20 drops per bath.
Geranium helps calm the nerves and relax the body. Great for relieving headaches.
You can also add 1-2 cups of baking soda in the second and third trimester to soothe irritated and itchy skin.
Self Care is essential at all stages of your life, but ESPECIALLY during pregnancy. Carrying a child is a sacred task that demands everything from you. You have to be strong to do it. We make ourselves strong by caring for our body,spirit, and mind. One key component of this is self care. When you are pregnant self care is not optional.
Each trimester you will have an Aphrodite Project Self Care Program. Taking care of you will make you healthier, lower stress, and help your body make the baby. Stress interferes with normal pregnancy. Aphrodite Project Self Care Program encourages you to do activities that reduce stress - this puts you on the side of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
See videos and print out weekly workout program here.
8-12 hours daily, see article Sleep the Magic Elixir for more info on sleep.
Treat yourself to cleaning up your makeup and skin care products. As you finish your products and repurchase choose items that are non-toxic and effective. See shops such as Target, Sephora, Credo, and Follan for products and ideas.
Baths to Soothe Pregnancy Changes
Hopefully, you have already begun taking baths. As you grow larger, baths will relieve pressure from the weight of the uterus and will nourish skin being stretched dramatically. See Relief through Bathing.
Great for the skin. Your skin needs extra pampering now. Dry brush everything, but belly. Shower or bathe. Then apply sunflower or sesame seed oil to your entire body. Make circles as you work the oil into your breasts and belly.
Begin this practice 5 minutes a day to destress you. You can meditate at any time during your day. Simply be still and focus on feeling your breath move in and out of your lungs. You don’t have to do anything else. Don’t worry about thoughts. Just breath. If you can slow your breath down. That’s it. For more on meditation see the videos and recordings. There are many meditations to choose from to guide you throughout your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is as much a physical as well as a spiritual experience. There is a lot of trust and many unknowns to sort through. The Book of Questions, a section of your journal pages, helps you do this.
In the Book of Questions you write down questions you have - practical questions as well as spiritual questions.
Here is a sample excerpt from my Book of Questions to help you understand.
Will my labor be fast?
Should I get my hair done before labor?
Did I choose the right birthing coach?
Will I know what to do?
Is Jacob the right name?
Will I want to go back to work?
As you see the questions can be various and there is no need for an answer. In forming the question, I am opening up myself to receive the answer and I am offering a type of prayer to receive the answer. As your pregnancy progresses, you will be shocked how the answers will come naturally and with ease.
Begin to talk to the baby if you haven’t already. She knows your voice and can hear it. Tell baby about your life, your day, your happiness in caring for her. You can also sing nursery rhymes and tell stories to your child. Begin to connect your child to the community and family by telling stories of your past - you are welcoming this child into a place of love.
This is a great time to direct your pregnancy mantras at you and baby. To understand what mantras are read “What’s a Mantra.”
“You are growing with ease.”
“I welcome you and nourish you.”
“I love and protect you.”
“Everything is provided for you to grow healthy.”
As you use mantras and speak to baby, place one hand on your belly and another on your heart. Visualize the love connection between the two of you. Visualize what it will be to meet this child. Allow yourself to be aware of the acts of love we do daily with our hands. This same love is felt by baby as you rest your hand on your belly.
In the 1st trimester you began a daily quiet time. If not, refer back to the article here.
As a reminder: Aphrodite Project is all inclusive and pushes no religious philosophy. For simplicity, we will use the term Spirit or God throughout the site.
Three Practices of the 2nd Trimester
Mantras for the 2nd Trimester - see article What is a Mantra?
Month 4: I welcome and nourish you
Month 5: I love and protect you.
Month 6: You are growing with ease.
Relaxin, the hormone softening your muscles and ligaments to grow with the baby, also relaxes the sphincter which separates your stomach and esophagus. When the sphincter does not fully close, digestive juices splash back into the esophagus causing heartburn and acid reflux. In addition, as the baby grows, he pushes the stomach upward making heartburn and acid reflux increase.
Ways to Alleviate Heartburn and Acid Reflux
As the baby grows, the nutritional demands of the baby increase, calling for more maternal blood production anywhere from 30% to 50% more - more iron is needed to create more red blood cells. Most pregnant women are advised to take iron supplements as a precaution. Anemic women must increase their iron even more during pregnancy.
The effects of low iron:
Natural ways of getting iron are more powerful than supplements because the body can more easily absorb the iron coming naturally. Here are four ways to ensure you get the most iron from your food.
1. Cook with cast iron pans
Foods absorb iron from the pan and you ingest it - the same iron as that in our bodies. The more acidic the food, the more iron increases. So add lemon or tomatoes to what you are cooking to increase iron amounts. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 100 grams of spaghetti sauce went from an iron level of 0.6mg to 5.7mg after being cooked in a cast iron pot.
2. Eat vegetables with red meat
Vitamin C boosts the body’s absorption of iron in red meat. Vitamin C is found in dark leafy greens, cabbage, citrus, carrots, berries, bell peppers, melons, pineapple, and onions.
3. Avoid iron cancelling foods
Tannins found in tea, coffee, and cocoa interfere with iron absorption. Calcium found in calcium supplements and dairy products inhibit iron absorption. Also phytates in beans and whole grains decrease iron absorption.
4. Eat more
Dark chicken meat, red meat, liver (pate counts), canned tuna in water (no BPA in the can).
During pregnancy you will encounter many cravings. There are the stereotypical pregnancy cravings of pickles, ice cream, and spicy foods. We each will have our unique cravings which are actually signaling what our body needs. To eat for two, crack the craving code.
This craving code cracker is very useful postpartum to create a satisfying, nutrient rich diet that will help you shed baby weight.
Print out the Craving Code here.
Providing the building blocks for baby’s development is front and center now. The baby is growing at a rapid pace, your blood supply is almost doubling, her brain and nervous system as well as bones continue to form and develop. The most important need now is for you to choose foods that are tasty, satisfying, AND nutritionally powerful. Read the article: Eating for Two.
2nd Trimester Eating Goals - the Power Foods
More information read:
Eating for Two
The Dirty Dozen
What Doesn’t Need to be Organic
During the second trimester:
The baby during the 4th month:
The baby during the 5th month:
The baby during the 6th month:
Hydration is more important during pregnancy than in normal life (the exception here is when you nurse - you need even more water. The water is going into amniotic fluid, increased blood volume, the baby, and ridding the body of toxins and waste.
Drinking 8-10 cups of water is the Mayo Clinic recommendation. You can best gauge if you have enough by the color of your pee. It should be pale yellow.
Your 8-10 cups can be water, decaf tea or coffee, milk, nut milks, green juices, herbal tea, flavored drinks, seltzer. Sodas do count as hydration, but the sugar, sugar substitutes, and additives in them are not good for baby or mom. Fruit juices should be taken in moderation. They contain a lot of sugar which can cause excess weight gain and insulin resistance which leads to gestational diabetes.
If water get boring, add fruits or herbs to the water or a splash of fruit juice.
For some, morning sickness becomes worse until the 20th week and for a small number of moms it will continue throughout the pregnancy. This condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum. It is not dangerous, but you should carefully monitor your diet with your healthcare provider to make sure you are getting all the necessary nutrients.
It is helpful to keep a log of what you eat, how much, and were you able to keep it down. This will give a clear picture of what you are consuming. Also, it will aid in pinpointing any sensitivities. Noting the time of your meals is helpful also.
I unfortunately experienced this in all of my pregnancies. To help yourself thrive despite it, get plenty of rest, stay well hydrated, and eat nutrient dense foods. Also, upping your self care, exercise, and spiritual practices will keep you focused and positive as you move toward your birth.
Julia Erickson, the founder of Aphrodite Project, is a wellness authority who uses food, meditation, and movement to create extraordinary health and wellness. Julia's practice is focused on helping women thrive and heal from chronic disease. She is also mother of seven.