This is for all of you out there who are looking to get pregnant or are pregnant. It’s even for those of you who are supporting someone who is pregnant! If you are at the end of your pregnancy or have just given birth, you may want to check out this blog post instead!
I harp about nutrition a lot, I know. I believe it’s more important than making it to the gym. If you are planning on carrying a baby, it’s equally as important and there are many things you need to know, which can be daunting at first because every month of pregnancy is different and can vary drastically!
Today, we’ll go over what to eat (or avoid) when pregnant and how and why supplementation is so important to you and the babe. If you’re interested in learning more, read on! ↓↓↓
What to eat
Pregnant or not, we are all eating fairly similarly. There aren’t many things that you cannot eat when pregnant, and hopefully, you don’t have to change your diet too drastically in order to give birth healthily, avoid diseases like Gestational Diabetes (not always possible), or have a healthy baby.
It’s common to hear of “odd” food cravings like pickles with ice cream or Hot Cheetos dipped in Yogurt, but more often than not, pregnant women will eat the same things they ate before they became pregnant. They may even loosen up their restrictions (if they had any) because they know they are eating for two!
It’s important to eat well while pregnant because your baby depends on the nutrients being received from you! A balanced diet is essential in reducing health risks. These risks include:
- Fetal/infant mortality
- Intra-uterine growth retardation
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Birth defects
- Poor brain development
- Risk of infections
There isn’t really a list of foods you SHOULD eat, however, some foods will be recommended to you by your doctor or nutritionist because of their vitamin and mineral content. That doesn’t mean you can’t have Cheetos or Oreos.
Here’s why you need a balanced diet of Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein
These 3 macronutrients are essential to a healthy pregnancy, making the incorporation of them into a mother-to-be or new mother’s dietary regimen extremely important to both her and her baby. They are the building blocks of life.
Not only do Carbs fuel our day-to-day activities, but they also promote healing during and after pregnancy and provide fiber to lower the chance of constipation. Complex carb sources (breakdown slowly and provide energy over time) instead of simple carb sources (breakdown quickly and provide quick energy bursts)
If you aren’t already including Fats in your diet, please start! Pregnant or not, they are essential to your immune system, help regulate hormones, and they provide energy, and help build many fetal organs and the placenta! Babies need healthy fats for proper development of the heart, eyes, brain, nervous and immune systems, during both pre and postpartum. Most importantly, fat helps you absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Lastly, if you want to grow healthy fetal, breast, and uterine tissue during pregnancy, consider including lots of Protein (animal or plant-based). Protein can also increase blood supply and is needed to grow and repair muscles and other tissues, which is why you need it during and after workouts, as well.
What to avoid
You’ll want to avoid the following in order to give your baby the best chance of a healthy birth:
- Cured/Deli meats
- Artificial Sweeteners
- High-sugar or overly-processed foods
- Swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish (cooked or raw – due to high mercury content)
- Soft Cheeses
- Raw or undercooked animal foods (meat, seafood, eggs)
Have pregnant women consumed these in the past and been fine? Absolutely. But please avoid these, as they could severely affect you or your child during childbirth and in the child’s most important developing years.
Why do I need to supplement?
Not only do you need to take care of your own body’s needs, but now you’ve got a little one growing inside you who needs nourishment, as well.
Along with the essential macronutrients mentioned above, you may also want to consider throwing in some micronutrients into your prenatal regimen. These vitamins and minerals are required in order for your body to ensure that baby is getting all they need.
What to take
Many doctors may suggest you take a Prenatal multivitamin. When you decide to try to conceive, it’s a good idea to begin taking a daily prenatal vitamin right away. Ideally, you should start prenatal vitamins at least one month before pregnancy, and certainly during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the baby’s development is at its most critical point.
Here are some other vitamins you may need:
- Folate and folic acid – to prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine + supports general growth and development of the baby
- Calcium – to build and strengthen bones and teeth while helping the circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems function normally
- Iron – to help red blood cells deliver oxygen to the baby
- Vitamin A – to form healthy skin and eyesight + help with bone growth
- Vitamin C – to promote healthy gums, teeth, and bones
- Vitamin D – to help build baby’s bones and teeth + help promote healthy eyesight and skin
- Vitamin B6 – to help form red blood cells + help the body use carbs, fats, and proteins
- Vitamin B 12 – to maintain the nervous system + to form red blood cells (necessary) – especially important for those who are Vegetarian or Vegan
Always consult with a doctor regarding specific quantities for the vitamins and minerals listed above. Everyone will react differently to supplements and I do not know your specific dietary needs, so I will not be listing how much of each you need to consume.
What to avoid
There are lots of herbal supplements that you may have been taking before getting pregnant that need to be avoided while pregnant. Here are just a few:
- Dong Quai
- Saw Palmetto
- Turmeric (in large quantities)
- Excessively high doses of:
- Vitamin A, B6, C, D, E
If you’re taking these supplements, in addition to your prenatal vitamin, discuss your total dosage with your OBGYN provider to ensure you’re within a safe range.
Weirdly enough, although you are technically eating for two, you are not providing your child with everything it needs. The one thing your baby won’t encounter in the womb is microbes. Most babies get their first big dose of microbes at birth while traveling through the birth canal, then pick up more while breastfeeding. Early microbes help shape their immune system, digestive system, and even their brain.
Whether you’re focusing on eating a healthier diet, introducing probiotics or supplements to enhance your nutrition, or moving more often, these are all important things to keep in mind as your baby grows with you.
I’ve also written another blog for those who are about to give birth or have just given birth here!
Have you made any of these changes or have you found your body was already following many of these steps before you got pregnant? How much of your pregnancy do you think is due to you eating well and supplementing properly? Let me know in the comments below!
Interview with a mom-to-be:
- Acknowledging that your body will change and you do not have to feel ashamed to say it. Not everyone will be ok with this change in the body (mentally or physically)
- Birth Mom Buds www.birthmombuds.com
- Black Infant Memorial www.blackinfantmemorial.com
- Compassionate Friends www.compassionatefriends.org
- Exhale: an After-Abortion Hotline www.4exhale.org 1-866-439–4253
- Glow (for babylost mothers and fathers) www.glowinthewoods.com
- Griefwatch (for perinatal loss) www.griefwatch.com
- Grieve Out Loud www.grieveoutloud.org
- Georgetown University – Emotional Healing after a Miscarriage: A Guide for Women, Partners, Family and Friends
- March of Dimes www.marchofdimes.com/Baby/loss.html
- Miscarriage for Men www.miscarriageformen.com
- Miscarriage Matters www.mymiscarriagematters.org
- MISS Foundation www.misschildren.org
- Pregnancy Loss Directory www.pregnancylossdirectory.com/
- Return to Zero Return to Zero Center for Healing
- RESOLVE through Sharing www.bereavementservices.org – for providers
- SHARE Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support www.nationalshare.org
- Solace for Mothers (Birth Trauma & Recovery) www.solaceformothers.org
- Star Legacy Foundation – support groups www.starlegacyfoundation.org/support-groups
- Tears Foundation www.thetearsfoundation.org
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as rock climbing, hiking, listening to podcasts, or playing Board Games with friends. She is constantly working towards finding natural solutions to live as long as possible, inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.