Nutritional Support for Pregnancy

Life has been pretty exciting lately. Major highlight: my best friend of over 2 decades is expecting! It’s such a trip. I’ve had other friends have children over the last decade or so, but nothing has felt quite like this. We grew up together, shared so many experiences together, and have become so close. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been about it, and it’s inspired me to post some tips for all the mamas-to-be out there. During your pregnancy, eating healthy is more important than ever, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Nutrients

  • Quality Protein: Most women need around 80 grams of protein every day for a healthy pregnancy. It’s literally the building blocks for you and your baby.
  • Healthy Fats: Consuming adequate fats is absolutely vital to baby’s organ and brain development. Also a fat-rich diet will help to reduce stretch marks!
  • Vegetables and Fruits: Vegetables and fruits have a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are helpful during pregnancy. Eating a varied diet including lots of green leafy vegetables can also help raise Vitamin K levels.
  • Water: A woman’s blood volume increases during pregnancy, and her body needs to supply fluid to replenish the amniotic fluid the baby is in. Drinking enough water (around a gallon a day) can help fight off morning sickness and also helps prevent constipation and make sure mom and baby are properly hydrated.
  • Probiotics: Best obtained from fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha. Babies are born with a sterile gut and rely on mom’s bacteria to get them going. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. We are only cracking the surface as to what our bacteria does for us (help digest food, create nutrients, send messages to our nervous system) . There are some major medical conditions out there (autism being one of them) that are linked to poor gut bacteria.
  • Omega-3s, DHA, RHA– Adequate good fats are absolutely essential for baby’s development. You can find them in cold water fatty fish like salmon, fresh tuna, or sardines, as well as chia, flax or hemp seeds. It can be hard to to get enough from diet on a regular basis, so you may want to supplement with Cod Liver Oil which also contains vitamin A & D (find a reputable brand).
  • Folate– Well known for its preventative effects against spina bifida and other developmental struggles, folate is another important supplement. Some foods rich in folate are lentils, broccoli, avocado & dark leafy greens.
  • Iron– Anemia can cause serious complications during delivery, and is easy to prevent. You can take a high quality supplement or try cooking with cast iron pans, eating red meat/grass fed liver, beans, pumpkin seeds, molasses and dark leafy greens to help optimize iron levels.
  • Vitamin D – Important for development, you can supplement or get it through sunlight, red meat, fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese, or egg yolks.

Foods

  • Chia & Hemp Seeds: Great sources of Omega 3, fiber, fat, and protein. Will also help keep your colon cleared out, making room for your baby/reducing discomfort.
  • Berries (especially blueberries): Rich in antioxidants, which are important during pregnancy because they reduce oxidative stress. They’re also low in sugar – Bonus!
  • Leafy Greens: Lots of what you need is packed into these foods. They’re rich in folate, easily digested fiber, high in antioxidants, calcium, iron, and much more.
  • Avocados: High in healthy fats, fiber, B-vitamins (including folate), calcium & potassium
  • Lentils: High in protein, fiber and iron!
  • Pumpkin seeds: High in B-vitamins (especially folate), calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and much more!
  • Sauerkraut: A tablespoon or 2 daily would be a fantastic source of probiotics.  It’s high in fiber, as well as vitamin A, C, K, and B vitamins. It’s also a good source of iron, manganese, copper, sodium, magnesium, and calcium, in addition to contributing a moderate amount of protein to your diet. It’s super easy to make too!

A quick word about supplements

Supplements are not regulated. Many of them are synthetic/unnatural and so the bio-availability is highly questionable. It’s always better to get your nutrition from real, whole food. But life is not perfect, I get it. I take fish oil daily, B vitamins when life is extra busy and multi-vitamins when I don’t make the best food choices. If you decide to supplement, please take a moment to research the brand you’re buying from; don’t buy blindly.

Nutrition Aside..

It’s important to do whatever you can to embody wellness as you start to prepare for the arrival of this tiny human. Some suggestions would be:

  • Take the time to make space (mentally, emotionally & physically)
  • Prioritize sufficient down time & relaxation
  • Get a massage (or give yourself one)
  • Check out some prenatal yoga classes
  • Connect with your baby (touch your belly, talk to them)
  • Download the “I’m expecting” app, which provides you with info on what stages your baby is at, and what food is a comparable size (My friend’s is currently the size of an onion!)
  • Build your support system. Friends and family (bonus if there’s someone who’s been through their own pregnancy, Midwives, and Doulas. Here are some Doula packages my friend Elizabeth Foster offers.

Last but not least, take it all in and enjoy the journey! What a beautiful thing it is to create life♥