Motherhood is a life-changing experience that impacts all aspects of life, including work, relationships, identity, and emotional well-being. Regardless of how good you feel, motherhood adds a layer of stress to life. This is especially true regarding the nutrition and emotional well-being of a mother and growing child – without proper support, the challenges of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.
Mothers spend most of their time with their newborn and. While this is expected and can be a positive experience for most, mothers need communication with other adults, which involves talking and active listening. Health Coaches are impactful to mothers’ mental and emotional health by providing that outlet and comfort. Just having a Health Coach at the receiving end of a venting session or breakdown can make a mother feel understood and validated, which goes a long way in the motherhood journey.
Pregnancy Coaches vs. Health Coaches for Expecting Mothers
A pregnancy coach or pregnancy health coach is a trained professional who has experience and education in a variety of subjects relating to pregnancy and childbirth. A pregnancy coach may be trained in:
- General nutrition and prenatal nutrition
- Prenatal fitness
- Childbirth preparation
- Postpartum health
Although specific services will vary between coaches, pregnancy health coaches generally work with clients to provide guidance through pregnancy, including how to make a birth plan and select a healthcare provider, and address common pregnancy-related physical and emotional concerns like sleep issues, nausea, soreness, and anxiety related to childbirth and parenting. Many families feel overwhelmed by pregnancy and the impending addition to their households. Pregnancy coaches serve as a guide, sounding board, and expert resource for getting expecting parents through the nerves that come with pregnancy.
While pregnancy coaches focus solely on pre- and post-natal wellness, Health Coaches may work with anyone in any stage of their lives, regardless of age or sex. Health Coaches may choose to focus their practice on those experiencing pregnancy, but often they offer many more services as well.
Health Coaches provide clients with a safe, supportive space to explore their health issues and goals. They encourage clients to focus not just on the dietary aspect of their health, but other areas of their life that can provide fulfillment and nourishment, such as the quality of their relationships, satisfaction with their job/career, how their home and environment make them feel, and even their connection to a spiritual practice. These areas are what we at IIN refer to as “primary foods,” and ensuring the health of each area is imperative to overall health.
In general, Health Coaches empower clients to learn what makes them feel good, not just what they’ve been told is “healthy.” They guide clients toward sustainable diet and lifestyle changes by equipping them with the mental and emotional tools to achieve great health, such as how to find the foods and lifestyle practices that work for them.
Nutrition before and during pregnancy
For mother and baby, optimal health starts long before conception and continues well after delivery. Expecting moms are no longer eating only for themselves! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following key components of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Gaining appropriate weight, which depends on each individual
- Supplementing with relevant and timely vitamins and minerals
It’s recommended that new mothers consume an additional 340 calories per day starting in the second trimester, and slightly more in the third, for a healthy pregnancy. Calories should come from a mix of protein, carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and healthy fat. In addition to more nutritious food intake options, providers might recommend prenatal supplements to ensure both mom and baby are meeting all nutritional needs.
Providing emotional and mental health support
Because the journey to motherhood involves not just physical but also mental and emotional changes, Health Coaches can be a wonderful support system for new moms. They can:
- Guide new moms through pregnancy stages by supporting them with accurate research and referring them to outside experts as needed.
- Support pregnant people as they experience mental, hormonal, and physical changes by providing not only a safe space to address concerns but also diet and lifestyle guidance to help ease any discomfort.
- Work with expecting mothers on how to navigate and control cravings through nutrition as well as self-care practices.
- Create a plan for what to do after the baby is born, such as how to keep up with nutrition goals or carve out time to take care of their own well-being.
What pregnancy health coaching looks like in practice
When my friend was pregnant with her son, I guided her through ebbs and flows. In my coaching program, I have five components that I refer to as the pillars of harmony. These include self-care, functional nutrition, physical movement, stress management, and mind-set renewal. Before even talking about food, my friend and I discussed each pillar based on her current life assessment and were able to come up with a new mission and vision for her life. The action steps we took were pivotal in her transformation.
As we delved deeper into self-care and nutrition education, my friend unearthed her passion for coaching. Upon the conclusion of our program together, she understood she mattered and was powerful. She stepped out with faith and became a Health Coach, realizing she desired to be the best version of herself to educate expecting moms on living healthy lifestyles through steps and actions she took along her journey.
As a Health Coach who works with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, my friend now teaches realistic ways to improve their babies’ health. Studies have shown that connecting high-risk postpartum people with health coaching programs can reduce diabetes risk and improve well-being.
As my friend took the step to be a Health Coach, I saw the shift in her self-love and love for others. She was excited to educate other moms and further fuel their passion for healthy living. It became a domino effect, and some of her clients went on to become Health Coaches, too! I have watched these moms use the tools and resources acquired in IIN’s Health Coach Training Program to motivate and encourage others to create healthier habits during pregnancy, improve efficacy, and reduce the risk of health problems.
Health Coaching Beyond Motherhood
Whether a first-time or seasoned mom, taking care of yourself is essential. What you feed your mind, body, and spirit is essential to a healthy way of life. Health coaching is an avenue for transformation, as both a coach and client. The possibilities are fruitful and endless!