I really loved conference as always. How is it that the messages are for such a general audience but feel so personal at times? I wanted to share a few thoughts I had while listening to “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence” by Elder Jorge Klebingat of the Seventy.
He began by asking a few questions in relation to how we would feel approaching the throne of God. Would we shrink or approach with confidence? He followed this up with six suggestions that can help restore and strengthen our spiritual confidence.
I would like to expand on the second suggestion to take responsibility for your own physical well-being. This is the excerpt from his talk,
Your soul consists of your body and spirit (see D&C 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should “regard our body as a temple of our very own” and that we should “control our diet and exercise for physical fitness” (“We Are Children of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 87; Liahona, Jan. 1999, 103).
President Boyd K. Packer has taught “that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character” (“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character” [Church Educational System fireside, Feb. 2, 2003], 2; speeches.byu.edu). Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.
Diet and exercise are two factors that can affect fertility (source). The childbearing process is physically and spiritually demanding. I don’t think we will stand blameless before God if we put ourselves and our babies at risk because we were not willing to take care of our physical bodies. I imagine we will give an accounting of how we valued and used our gift to give life.
The truth is we should be preparing our bodies to make and carry life long before we are even pregnant or thinking of being pregnant. Each woman is born with the eggs that will become their children. They are essentially carrying life all of their days. We are creating temples. We have a responsibility as co-creators to be in the best health we can be to carry life and sustain it. What quality of food/materials would you use to build a temple?
I put together six ways we can physically prepare for birth. In doing so I, like Elder Klebingat, hope “to edify and not to offend.” If we are humble we will discard what we don’t need and put into action what we do need to change. Please keep in mind that this is not medical advice. You should discuss any of these suggestions with your caregiver.
- Before you are even pregnant or thinking about it, take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid and a supplement with omega 3. There are a lot of brands to choose from and not all are created equal. I am not going to recommend a specific one other than tell you to look for one derived from whole foods. A prenatal made from whole foods is more easily digested and used by your body. Some people recommend skipping the prenatal and eating a balanced healthy diet. For most people it is not likely that your diet will supply you all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Our body needs replenish vitamins and minerals through diet and supplements. Growing babies depletes the body’s stores of vital minerals. I didn’t realize how deficient my body was in magnesium until I started taking magnesium. I feel that I was able to carry my baby longer this last pregnancy because I had built up my mineral stores. It is not enough to assume your baby can just take everything from your body it needs. Your baby cannot take what is not there. This kind of attitude can put you and your baby at further risk.
- Avoid unnecessary over the counter or prescription drugs. All drugs cross the blood brain barrier of your baby and can affect their development. Some drugs are more concerning than others. You can be prayerful in your approach discussing the pros and cons with your caregiver and then taking it to the Lord.
- Take care of your teeth. You are more likely to have problems with your teeth and gums when you are pregnant so any issues you may have now will only be magnified if you are not taking proper care of your teeth. For more information see this post.
- Begin exercising or keep exercising. It was harder to force myself to exercise while I was pregnant and tired but I know I felt better for doing it. Research shows that women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to experience complications specifically gestational diabetes. This link contains tips for exercising safely during pregnancy.
- Learn exercises to prepare your body for birth. Some examples are kegels, squatting, tailor sitting, pelvic rocks, relaxation, etc.
- Nourish your body. Eat a balanced diet. Choose quality foods. I am not going to give a specific diet to follow but keep in mind the Word of Wisdom and other references to food in the standard works when deciding how to best nourish you and your baby with food. Keep a journal of what you eat. Look for patterns and ways you can improve.
The Lord knows we are not perfect and honors us for continually striving to do better. Do not guilt yourself for past mistakes. I love the promise Elder Klebingat closes with,
Brothers and sisters, . . . acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life. No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.
Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings. I testify of a loving Savior who expects us to live the commandments. I testify of a loving Savior who is so very anxious to bestow His grace and mercy. I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction. I testify of a loving Savior who is anxious for your “confidence [to] wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Further reading from the Gift of Giving Life:
Spirit-Mind-Body Connection page 220
Constant Nourishment to Body and Spirit page 236
Choice & Accountability page 140