Ali and her husband live in Connecticut with their 1-year-old daughter, Sophie. Ali runs a health coaching business and works with her husband at a local consulting company. Cooking healthy foods for herself and her family is a top priority in her life. You can find out more about Ali at her website: Intersection Coaching. Do you have a Healthy, Happy Pregnancy story to share? Email us at mamas@whole30.com.

In Ali’s Own Words: Pregnancy and Postpartum

I wasn’t eating strictly Whole30 before getting pregnant, but at least 75% of my food is home-cooked and very much in line with a Whole30-inspired lifestyle. A few years ago, I followed the Whole30 for about 18 months to heal gut issues and allergies and became a health coach and cookbook author to share what I learned.

I was lucky to have an extremely positive experience with my pregnancy. I did have one month during the first trimester where I felt sluggish and nauseous every day, and the only thing I could eat (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) was a bagel. I hadn’t eaten bagels in so long prior to this, but I listened to my body and did what I needed to do to feel OK.

After my month of bagels, I felt stronger and healthier emotionally and physically than ever before in my life. I feel so grateful that my pregnancy was so positive, and I enjoyed taking long walks and doing gentle yoga up until the day I went into labor.

I gave birth 4 weeks early after a very disappointing experience that included being induced with significant medical intervention (which I didn’t want).  This brought a lot of challenges such as difficulty breastfeeding, challenges with gaining weight, and jaundice. I was very unprepared for all of this after such a seamless experience being pregnant.

My biggest issues postpartum were the baby blues. I never could’ve expected the significant amount of depressive thoughts and overwhelming feelings I experienced during the first 10-15 days postpartum. Because she was premature, I had unbelievable challenges breastfeeding my daughter. She had issues latching, staying awake, and gaining weight. I had to breastfeed 12 times a day for a whole month, and the struggles I endured through that month were more than I could have ever imagined.

If I could do something differently, I would speak up more when I had strong feelings about something instead of swallowing them for the benefit of others. I would limit visitors if they were making me overwhelmed, and I wouldn’t apologize so much for my feelings. Everyone experiences things differently, and I would like to think I could be more true to myself and not need to justify my actions.

Why I love the Healthy Mama, Happy Baby Program

When I wanted to get pregnant, it was extra important to me to be as healthy as possible prior to conceiving, so I was immediately drawn to the Healthy Mama, Happy Baby program. I wanted to join a community of mamas who could relate to the desire for a holistically healthy pregnancy. I liked the idea of getting access to all of the resources as well as the community within the Facebook group.

My favorite part of the program was all of the online resources. I would LOVE to see these resources for postpartum as well*. I realize now that I am a mom that first-time moms spend unlimited hours thinking about pregnancy and birth, but rarely have the same level of emotional or physical preparation for life after the baby arrives.

*Editorial note: We hope to add a postpartum module to our program in the future, but in the meantime, make sure to check out the ever-expanding archive of resources for mamas in all seasons on our blog.

My Advice for Other Mamas

The biggest advice I have for other mamas is to put less pressure on yourselves and remove ALL expectations. Having a child is so many things: joyful, life-changing, and miraculous but also overwhelming, challenging, and exhausting.

I had such unrealistic expectations around the immediate postpartum experience and put so much pressure on myself with the breastfeeding, taking care of everything myself, and always putting on a good face for visitors. I have learned that there are a lot of raw emotions and feeling related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum life, and what women really need is the ability to be honest about those feelings and never feel judged.