Tending to your immune system is one foundational way you can support your body as it prepares for, grows, births, feeds, and nurtures your baby. During pregnancy, your immune system adapts so that it can protect both you and baby.
Despite lots of shiny packaging in health food stores and vitamin aisles, there is no quick fix to transforming your immune system. It’s a system, after all. This means there are many parts working together over time to support your body in defending against external invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and toxins. Read more about the science of “increasing immunity” here.
Below you will find various ways to tend to your immune system, both as ongoing maintenance and during times of sickness. If you’re into reading research this paper discusses the complexities of immune function during pregnancy– an area of research that is very much still in progress.
*Please note that this blog is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; Sweet Child O’ Mine is sharing general information about the immune system. As always, please consult with your medical provider with any questions you may have regarding this information and/or your medical condition.
Ways to Tend to Your Immune System
- Practice handwashing and masking. During COVID and beyond, regular, thorough handwashing is crucial. Continue masking during virus season– double masking is now the recommendation for COVID.
- Prioritize sleep and rest. This can not be emphasized enough. We know that uninterrupted sleep can become a thing of the part during the childbearing years, AND the brief naps, the moments when you lay down and just close your eyes, the resting on the couch can add up. We especially recommend taking a break from screens!
- Enjoy immune-supportive foods. There are several naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that can support immune function. Find some great recipes here if you enjoy time in the kitchen.
- Hydrate. Keep the water flowing because water keeps your systems flowing!
- Take probiotics and vitamins. Talk to your care provider about which vitamins are a good fit for you. Your body’s needs are different during the different childbearing stages, and it may be helpful to supplement with vitamins.
- Engage in joyful movement. Regular movement contributes to healthy immune function, as it increases blood flow, reduces stress and inflammation, and can strengthen antibodies. If you’re open to it, try new types of movement– walking, swimming or water aerobics, prenatal yoga, dancing, and so on. Bonus: Move with a loved one or a friend in your pod. Joyful movement + connection = double boost!
- Become aware of your stressors + develop tools for coping. We could write a whole blog on this one because we know it’s complex. In short, as you identify the areas of your life that are contributing to greater stress, we invite you to explore tools for processing. Check out the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle for simple, practical ways to complete the stress cycle, which can be an invaluable part of your self-care.
- Be mindful of your mental health. No need to look with a magnifying glass, but we do suggest that mothers become aware of mental health concerns that can arise prenatally and during postpartum. Know who your support team is and practice asking for help.
Sweet Child O’ Mine Is Here For You
Your team of midwives is here to support you in caring for you and your baby. We care about your health and wellness in a holistic way. During prenatal and postpartum visits we will talk about many of the ideas addressed in this blog, and, of course, if you have additional questions, we are here for you!
If you are currently building your birth team, we would be honored to be a part of your team; reach out and let us know how we can support you!