How did 9 months shape you?

October 12, 2010

18 week ultrasound

When your mom was pregnant, was she happy? What was her health like? Was she on medication? Did she eat broccoli? Did you ever think about how her experience in those 9 months created you and your unique characteristics?

This weekend I heard an awesome segment on NPR about Annie Murphy Paul’s new book, Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.

It made me wonder about my little boy (shown above at 18 weeks) and all that he is experiencing. He goes to yoga with me, eats what I eat and hears my voice all day long. But does he take in the sounds of the TV I watch? Does he feel when I try to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy leggings?

I mean, yeah, we already know we shouldn’t smoke or drink heavily during pregnancy. We’re supposed to stay calm and not lift heavy things. All of that can affect the baby. But what else?

What were you exposed to in your very first environment?

Was your mother obese? Did she gain a ton of weight during her pregnancy? According to the interview, you may have been taught eating behaviors in the fetal stage. What about environmental toxins? In medical research, women who were exposed to the most air pollutants had babies with the highest levels of those pollutants in the umbilical cord. The result was subtle changes in DNA that can lead to cancer.

Don’t worry, there’s also some excellent news:

They’re currently testing (in animal fetuses) if injected compounds from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can provide lifelong protection against cancer. And guess what? It’s working! So, hey expecting moms – eat your broccoli! Kale, collards and cauliflower work too.

In addition, there’s evidence that a diet of whole grains, fruit and veggies can lower chances of food allergies in your baby. I’ve heard this before – that with each generation of processed, refined food, allergies and chronic disease becomes more common. But can you reverse it with a shift in your diet starting now? Looks like yes you can!

What I heard in this interview was validation that a woman’s health before and during pregnancy are of utmost importance. And we already knew that, right?

So if you are newly pregnant, trying to conceive or there’s even just a glimmer of hope in your eye that one day in the coming years you’d like to have a baby, here’s what I recommend:

1. Join me for my upcoming program, Building a Baby Ready Body.
You’ll get your diet and lifestyle in tip-top shape to encourage fertility and optimize your baby’s environment from Day One. This is a guided program, complete with an e-book, recipes, meal plans and 24/7 group support.

2. Check out Annie Murphy Paul’s new book.

3. Listen to the NPR interview here.

Oh, what’s that, you personally don’t see yourself having kids anytime soon, or ever? That’s cool. Why don’t you do our culture and healthcare system a favor by passing along this information? Thanks!