Our monthly email reached you yesterday and part of our updates announced that I am pregnant. I thought this would be an opportune time to share a very brief introduction to pregnancy nutrition and some of my personal experiences thus far.
Pregnancy Nutrition 101
Sometimes we are able to plan for babies and other times they come as surprises. Either way, nutrition can and does play a vital role at every stage before and after pregnancy. From maintaining optimal menstruation, to the newly conceived human embryo implanting in the uterus, all the way through development and birth, and finally with recovery and breastfeeding (not to mention the proper nutrition needed to maintain the mom’s own optimal health while these little tikes grow up). Although the body can compensate well at times for inadequate nutrition, these are great reasons, especially for surprise babies, to be practicing healthy nutrition in our general day to day lives.
A few great pre-pregnancy guidelines:
1. Start prenatal supplements three month’s prior to conception
One of the most important reasons to prevent neural tube defects. The neural tube develops within the first month of pregnancy and later becomes the brain and spinal cord. Adequate folic acid intake helps prevent neural tube defects when a woman may not even know she is pregnant.
For general nutrition to maintain adequate folic acid, include in your diet foods that naturally contain folic acid like leafy green, beans, and citrus. Here is a helpful list from March of Dimes. 1
o Fortified breakfast cereals (look on the label to see if the cereal
has been fortified with folic acid)
o Black beans
o Peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy)
o Orange juice (from concentrate is best)
o Enriched breads and pasta
o Romaine lettuce
There are MANY specific nutrients that are vital to pregnancy. Read more about them here or better yet, talk with your dietitian at Creating Peace with Food for more information and for creating an intake plan that is right for you. 2
2. Maintain adequate nourishment by fueling yourself every 3-4 hours throughout the day until bed with balanced meals and snacks.
This will help normalize your blood glucose levels which will help decrease nausea, referred to as morning sickness. It is also helpful to learn this rhythm of meal preparation and eating to maintain energy in general. This is a healthy practice for all people.
1. Maintain prenatal supplement intake and nourishing yourself every 3-4 hours
2. Foods to avoid 3:
o Undercooked meat, poultry, eggs
o Raw fish and shellfish
o Fish with higher levels of mercury like shark, swordfish, king
mackerel, and tilefish (see more on fish here) 4
o Smoked seafood (safe when cooked)
o Deli meat (heat until steaming)
o Unpasteurized milk products (especially beware of soft cheeses
unless clearly labeled that they are made with pasteurized milk)
o Large quantities of Vitamin A
o Caffeine (a small amount can be okay but it depends on the
person. See here for more information and talk with your doctor
or meet with us for more information)
o Unwashed produce
3. Other than the avoids mentioned above, an array of whole foods will nourish you and your baby well.
These are not the only areas that affect nutrition and pregnancy though. Our Creating Peace with Food Meal Plan tailored for you is perfect for adequate nutrition for you and for your pregnancy. Working with us is a great way to cover all of your bases, have a consistent and reliable reference point, and learn how to change behaviors needed to maintain adequate health before, during, and after pregnancy.
Some meaningful experiences and some interesting areas I did not expect:
o Morning sickness does not mean morning only.
o Nausea can actually be a very good sign of a healthy pregnancy.
If you don’t have morning sickness this does not mean something
is wrong and on the other side of the spectrum, severe sickness is
not healthy for pregnancy. We can work with you to determine
what is normal and what is not.
o Miscarriage occurs more often than I thought: 15-20%5 among
women who know they are pregnant. Great sensitivity is due to
mom’s and dad’s related to miscarriage. Also, the inability to
conceive deserves great sensitivity as well. The chance of getting
pregnant under the age of thirty is about 25-30%6 each month.
This leaves a lot of room for not being able to get pregnant too.
o You may not like many vegetables for a time! All the more reason
to have an adequate base provided by a prenatal supplement and
by a well rounded diet before conceiving.
o If I knew that I would develop a hefty distaste for coffee, I
probably would have known I was pregnant a few weeks
earlier than when we found out.
o Cravings may not be like what you see on movies and you may
not really have them.
We look forward to assisting you in your family nutrition journey through pregnancy, motherhood and fatherhood, and family life.
Information referred to in this blog: