Holistic options and guidance for newly pregnant members of the Life Force Association, or anyone looking for sources they can trust.

Natural Mama: Holistic Approaches to a Healthy Pregnancy

By Julie Peterson

Healthy pregnant woman lying in bed holding belly

During her first pregnancy, Sarah Wallace, a former registered nurse in Atlanta, was chronically anemic. “I was so tired I would fall asleep while I was eating dinner,” she says. That pregnancy resulted in a baby with a low birth weight. Fortunately, Wallace learned more about nutrition and wellness. Her now 4-year-old has caught up to the growth charts and is thriving, and her next pregnancy went smoothly.

No matter how pregnancy is counted—280 days, 40 weeks or three trimesters—mama and baby share blood, nutrition and air for the duration. “Taking a holistic path before and during pregnancy is about embracing the nature of our bodies and committing to maintaining all aspects of wellness during this journey,” says Nancy Peplinsky, founder of the Holistic Moms Network, based in Caldwell, New Jersey.

Nutrition for Two

The right foods nourish the growing baby, the placenta and the mother’s increasing blood volume, maintaining the mother’s body during the complex mission. Whole foods rather than processed are best. The Whole 9 Months: A Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start, by integrative obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) Jennifer Lang and dietitian Dana Angelo White, makes it easier to select the proper nutrients along the way and provides ways to deal with nausea and cravings.

Choose organic foods when possible to reduce exposures to pesticides. If organic isn’t an option for every food, The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, from the Environmental Working Group, can be downloaded and taken to the market. Either avoid foods on the “Dirty Dozen” list or go organic for those items.

A high-quality prenatal vitamin fills nutrition gaps. Wallace saw a difference between her first and second pregnancy by switching brands. “The first time, I took generic prenatal vitamins. With the second pregnancy, I found whole-food supplements. I never got that exhaustion, and my second baby was a healthy weight,” she says.

“Research has shown that healthy nutrition during pregnancy improves outcomes for mom and baby, while unhealthy food choices can lead to premature childbirth, high-risk pregnancies and poor developmental outcomes in children,” says Peplinsky.

In addition to clean food, it’s important to reevaluate body care products and household cleaners for toxicity. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has linked personal care and cleaning product ingredients to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive disorders, neurotoxicity and cancer.

Body Love

Kristen Burgess, in Fife Lake, Michigan, creator of the website NaturalBirthAndBabyCare.comteaches classes for moms-to-be. “[Exercise] helps your blood volume increase, brings plenty of oxygen to your baby, increases your stamina and endurance for labor (which is an athletic event), and perhaps best of all, keeps you feeling great,” she writes in her blog.

Options such as stretchingwalking and prenatal yoga can be soothing for mom and baby. Burgess also advocates prenatal belly dancing to raise the heart rate “while bonding with your baby and relishing your beautiful pregnant form.”

Happy mom bending down holding healthy toddler after holistic pregnancy

Peplinsky notes, “A holistic approach to pregnancy also embraces integrative therapies such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and chiropractic, which may assist in reducing stress, minimizing physical discomfort and joint pain, while improving overall life quality for mom and baby.”

Support Along the Way

A healthy pregnancy includes assistance. In the U.S., most women choose an OB-GYN, with just over 9 percent of 2017 births incorporating a midwife to support the mother before, during and sometimes after birth. A midwife is medically trained and, depending on state law, may offer gynecological examinations, birth control counseling and prescriptions. On her own or as an assistant to a doctor, she coaches the mother during labor and assists with the delivery, which may be in a home, birthing center or hospital. The American College of Nurse-Midwives, in Silver Spring, Maryland, offers a midwife locator.

Another option is engaging a doula that focuses on emotional support for mom, her partner and the family during pregnancy and birth. During labor, she may offer massage, encouragement and breathing coaching. While doulas only provide non-medical care, they can offer evidence-based resources to inform decision-making. There is a database to find one at DoulaMatch.

There are also books and apps to provide week-to-week details on pregnancy. Genevieve Howland, a childbirth educator in Destin, Florida, and author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, offers a weekly article at Mama Natural about what’s going on with the developing baby and mother.

“Being a holistic mom is about connecting the mind, body and spirit, and approaching wellness with all three in mind,” adds Peplinsky. “The more we listen to our instincts and our needs, the more our health improves during childbearing and afterwards.”

6 Things You Can Do to Have a More Holistic Pregnancy

Being pregnant is truly one of the most beautiful, wonderful (and hard) experiences you’ll have in your life — and if you’re there right now, we are so incredibly excited for you.

However, being pregnant also means that you pretty instantly become a vessel for advice to just be thrown at you.

(Who can relate?)

Some people will tell you that you HAVE to use a certain OB/GYN, some people swear by midwives. Some mamas love to co-sleep, some will tell you all about sleep training. Some people drank wine throughout their pregnancy, some tell you that you shouldn’t touch anything but water.

Some doctors will tell you that you can’t do one thing, some doctors will tell you that you can. One doctor might tell you you need a glucose test, some might let you opt out. Some doctors will let you keep using your night serum, some tell you to drop it.

It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming. It’s messy. It’s incredibly hard to cut through the noise and choose what’s right for you and for your little one.

But it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. All that matters is you, your health, your little one, and their health. Everything else you can figure that out as you go.

To do your best to have a holistic pregnancy that makes you feel good and comfortable is something that you get to decide for you and your newborn.

What’s a holistic pregnancy?

Holistic is actually one of my very favorite words, and I like it so much because it really helps to encompass a whole-body-and-mind-AND-baby approach to life, wellness, and pregnancy. When you have a holistic approach to your pregnancy, you can prepare your body for the birthing process, connect with your baby while they’re in the womb (and even before), and reduce stress on your body and in your mind.


Having a holistic pregnancy is great for so many reasons, from managing stress and helping you take a more natural approach to the experience all the way to feeling rested and well and individualizing your own care outside of a traditional, hospital setting.


6 Things You Can Do to Have a More Holistic Pregnancy

If you’re looking to have a more natural and holistic pregnancy, there are a number of things you can do to approach it that way. First, make sure you connect with your provider and explain your desire to lean into your pregnancy from a more natural, holistic approach — and, if you feel like your provider isn’t going to be supportive of that, stand up for yourself and look for one that will be.


Remember, this is you and your baby. Not your OB/GYN’s, not your mom’s, not your best friend’s. Trust in yourself, trust in your intuition, and lean into it. It’s a beautiful, beautiful journey. Here are 6 things you can do to have a more holistic experience during pregnancy:


  1. Eat whole, natural, nourishing foods: While I’ll never tell you that you can’t dive into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when you want, there is no discounting how important eating well is while you’re pregnant. By putting a focus on whole foods into your diet while you’re pregnant, you can manage symptoms and support your baby’s development at the same time. Drink as much water as you can, and include foods like leafy greens, antioxidant-rich berries and fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins, and whole grains. (Psst… if eating is hard for you while pregnant, smoothies are your best friend.)
  2. Relax. Seriously: Being pregnant can make you anxious (helllooo, Google — stay away from it!), but this isn’t good for either of you and isn’t going to lead you towards a more holistic pregnancy. While I know relaxing can sound easier said than done, taking the time to intentionally do it — it changes everything. By working to activate the parasympathetic nervous system through things that bring you peace and stimulate your creativity and relaxation, you can help yourself and your babe.
  3. Do what feels good: If you’re focusing on living a healthy lifestyle, it can sometimes get really frustrating to be pregnant — especially if you’re not feeling well or having a hard pregnancy. The key? To move your body in ways that make you feel good. To talk to people in ways that make you feel good. To live life in ways that make you feel good, even if it doesn’t meet your expectations. It’s okay. You have to give yourself grace during pregnancy, but also remind yourself that intention and extra care is more helpful than you can even imagine.
  4. Focus on the mind —> body —> baby connection. The connection between your mind and your body is always important, but so is taking time to intentionally connect with your baby, too. Take the time to truly connect with yourself and your baby throughout pregnancy (I love journaling, meditation, and even just taking long drives), and make it a non-negotiable. When you can truly connect with your spirit and tune into your body, you’ll be able to approach your pregnancy from a more holistic point of view — and connect with your baby from the inside out.
  5. Consider (safe) alternative therapies. During pregnancy, it’s a good idea to avoid any non-essential medication and treatments wherever you can (though you shouldn’t beat yourself up over anything you do need to take). Luckily, there are many holistic therapies and supplements available to you while pregnant, and from red raspberry leaf tea to tone the uterus all the way to acupuncture, prenatal massage, and aromatherapy, you have so many options.
  6. Get regular chiropractic care. Chiropractic care during pregnancy is one of the most important tools you have at your disposal while you’re carrying a child (and after) for two main reasons: for aligning your body and baby to prepare the pelvis and body for birth, and for calming and balancing your nervous system and your baby’s nervous system.


*Chiropractic care is meant to help you relieve stress on you and your baby’s nervous systems, and is also so helpful for adding alignment and comfort into an often uncomfortable period. In addition, it can help to set up babies for calm and balance, too. Chiropractic care isn’t just for moms, though — it’s also essential for the little ones post-birth. At Thrive Family Chiropractic, we offer a complimentary exam and adjustment for newborns because we feel so strongly about this.