There’s no denying that pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body. Every trimester, we are pushed to unprecedented levels of endurance. Recently, the science proves this. Research shows that growing a baby is akin to competing in an Ironman. That’s right. All of that to say, growing a baby is no easy feat. And although we are capable of enduring the pressure, pain, and growth of pregnancy and childbirth, that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing. Often overlooked, a strong immune system is key for both a healthy pregnancy and postpartum recovery. Nourishing your immunity is key for both your growing baby and your own well-being. Both are equally important. Everything from adequate calories to protein, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals are essential. In the spirit of staying well during flu season, we’re diving into immune support during pregnancy.
If you’ve come across this blog post and are struggling to conceive, are newly pregnant after miscarrying, or are experiencing other fertility woes, you are not alone. Trust the process and remain hopeful. Respecting your body’s journey is more important than ever. I see you. My heart goes out to you.
Effects of a Weak Immune System in Pregnancy
So, what happens if you have a weakened immune system during pregnancy? A couple of things. First and foremost, if your immune system is weak, you’re making it easier for infections, toxins, and germs to enter and thrive. In turn, you may end up having the flu more times than usual. Secondly, you’ll be even more tired. Tiredness is common during pregnancy, but if your immunity is low, then you’ll experience a more exacerbated feeling of fatigue. Speaking of fatigue, morning sickness is very common during early pregnancy. Like tiredness, morning sickness can take a turn (for the worse) due to a weak immune system. At the end of the day, a healthy mother-to-be supports a healthy fetus. Therefore, immune support during pregnancy is worth prioritizing.
Begin by lowering your daily stress
When it comes to immune support during pregnancy, we want to look at both lifestyle and nutrition. But pregnant or not, many of us walk around in a constant state of stress. And the worst part is, we don’t even realize it. Rather than utilize the right bodily processes, we run on adrenaline. This toxic cycle also diminishes fertility, sleep quality, blood sugar balance, and immune health. To help you get to a place of zen during pregnancy, below are simple tips to lower daily stress.
1. SET BOUNDARIES
If you’re a people-pleaser (like me), begin by setting healthy boundaries. You’ll begin to avoid certain people, tasks, and experiences that currently cause stress. While it takes practice, standing firm to what you will (and won’t) allow into your life is game-changing. In doing so, your stress levels will naturally lower. Highly recommend this book to help you get started.
2. NOURISH YOUR BODY
Inadequate nutrition is often one of the largest—and most common—stressors on the body. Hello, dysfunction, illness, inflammation, and pain. But it’s a two-way street: lack of nutrition causes stress on the body, but other stressors also burn through important nutrients to keep things humming along. This often manifests in our moods, digestion, hormones, thyroid, joints, and immune system. Consider swapping some of your go-to packaged foods with whole, minimally processed alternatives. You’ll automatically lower stress in your body.
3. ESTABLISH SUPPORTIVE HABITS
On a scale of 1-10, how connected are you to your body’s needs? Being out-of-touch means we won’t realize that our habits are doing more harm than good. If that rings a bell, it’s time get curious and identify some habit shifts. This might mean dropping that diet that’s causing stress—once and for all. Or maybe, you need to get in the habit of starting your day off in a slower, more peaceful manner. At the end of the day, in order to understand what is working for us, we have to pay attention to what isn’t. Especially during pregnancy, we have to acknowledge how our body responds to the demands we place on it (and the stressors we encounter).
Tips to Boost Immune System When Pregnant
In the body’s effort to protect your baby, pregnant women endure a weakened immune system. Fortunately, you can give your immune system a boost (without harming the little one growing inside you!) via healthy foods, exercise, and supplements. Below are a few of the best immune-boosting foods and lifestyle remedies for expectant mothers.
Surprise, surprise—sleep is essential for a strong immune system. During pregnancy, sleep is especially important for lowering your risk of pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. Here are eight ways to improve your sleep during pregnancy. Be sure to limit these foods before bed to aid in digestion.
Please consult your healthcare provider or OB/GYN before making changes to your supplement routine during pregnancy.
Vitamin D: This very important nutrient is linked to everything from bone health to enhanced immunity. Vitamin D aids in calcium and phosphate absorption, keeps bones strong, helps balance hormones, and is critical for immune health. But vitamin D is especially critical during pregnancy. More on this, here.
Herbal immune boosting tincture: This expertly formulated herbal tincture provides active support of the immune system while pregnant or nursing. It assists in healthy lymphatic movement and cleansing. This tincture is certified organic and the herbs are wild-harvested. The reviews speak for themselves!
Probiotic: A recent study shows that probiotics can significantly improve the symptoms of pregnancy-related nausea, vomiting and constipation—as well as support the immune system.
Fish oil: There are plenty of reasons to take fish oil during (and after) pregnancy. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, shown to decrease inflammation in the body— in turn, aid in immune support during pregnancy.
Garlic and Citrus
Fresh garlic and citrus: while it may seem odd to put these two together, they are powerful when combined. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and citrus fruits are known for their cleansing abilities, which mainly come from their phytochemicals. Together, garlic and citrus can help ward off sickness. Crush 1-2 cloves of garlic, and leave them alone for 15 minutes. Mince, mix with honey, swallow and chase with fresh orange juice. During pregnancy, this is easier to stomach after a meal.
We know that loading up on fruits and veggies (especially those in season!) is key for immune health. After all, foods rich in antioxidants provide the building blocks for immune support. That said, don’t neglect quality protein. Not only does your body need it for energy and strength, but it’s crucial for your baby’s brain development. If you consume animal protein, consider adding bone broth to your repertoire—or, chicken soup! There are so many benefits to bone broth. It boost energy, nourishes your blood, and restores adrenal function (affected by stress). Plus, it can protect your intestinal barrier. Not only is the small intestine the primary site for nutrient absorption, it is also the first line of defense in our immune system.
Last but not least, when you’re sick with a virus, proper hydration can help the skin and mucous cell membrane act as a barrier to prevent bacteria from entering the body. It can also help decrease nasal irritation when coughing, sneezing and even just breathing. During pregnancy, emphasize soups, and see if you can add grated ginger and garlic to your bowl. Try to avoid processed sugars / sugary drinks as these can deplete and suppress your immune system.
Beyond food and supplements, strengthen your immune system via a good night’s rest, regular exercise, and reducing synthetic chemicals in your home. And remember, your mindset plays a huge role in your health and the health of your baby.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.