My goal in writing this post is not to make you become obsessed with eating all the right foods for a perfect pregnancy diet, but to understand the importance of doing your best to eat wisely and with a purpose… to nourish and build the new little life growing inside of you, which needs plenty of minerals and vitamins to get the job done well.
I also want to let you know that there is no “one size fits all” system here when it comes to nutrition for pre-conception, pregnancy and nursing. Every mama is different and needs to be willing to listen to what her body needs, not what everybody else says she needs. Of course, there is a balance in asking for help and knowing what you need.
After my first was born, a friend showed me the Weston A. Price Foundation’s diet recommendation for pregnant & nursing mamas. Which I’ve applied during my 2nd, 3rd and now 4th pregnancy. I do not follow their plan 100%, but look at it as general guidelines. These recommendations are very helpful but every mama has individual needs… I like how Shannon over at Nourishing Days said it on her post about her pregnancy diet last year.
So for me, drinking fresh milk and eating lots of eggs & veggies & fats (butter, coconut oil, etc.) has been what I need for this pregnancy. But you might need more meat and seafood to get what you need for your pregnancy. Make sense?
Preparing Your Body For Conception
To start off, I wanted to encourage those who are not pregnant yet or in between babies to consider the importance of nourishing your bodies now to clean it up and build up nutrient stores for the future baby.
When I first introduced My Pregnancy Notes Series… I wrote how it is vital to prepare your body to make a new life before conception, not after. With most pregnant mamas, what we eats becomes a very common topic… what we are craving, can’t get enough of, can’t stand to eat and/or can’t keep down. Unfortunately, it is not common to talk about what we should be eating to prepare our bodies for a baby to move in for 9 months, right? Most will try to start eating better after they become pregnant, but that should start before the baby moves in.
To learn more about how you can start preparing, I want to refer you to a great post written by Donielle of Naturally Knocked Up. This is her specialty and what her blog is all about… fertility and preparing for conception. You can even purchase her book “Naturally Knocked Up” to have all her information from her fertility classes in your hands!
My diet was nowhere near what it is now when I was pregnant with my first baby. I didn’t start becoming aware of what I ate and eating healthier until after I found out I was pregnant. If I were to go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would’ve started preparing my body long before I became pregnant. My first pregnancy started me on the road to educating myself on what a wholesome diet really should be and I saw the difference during my second & third pregnancy (and now fourth!).
What You Need for Each Trimester
Here’s an overview of what nutrients are vital through all 3 trimesters for you and your growing baby:
- First Trimester – At the beginning stages, Vitamins A & D are needed for proper organ development. These can be found in butter, eggs and seafood.
- Second Trimester – During this time calcium & protein are vital for good bone and muscle development. Great sources of these nutrients are fish, poultry, meat, milk, cheese and eggs.
- Third Trimester – This final stage is so important because this is where brain development is happening. Omega-3 fats are vital and the best source is fish, but if you can’t get fish or afford it, then get some good cod liver oil to supplement instead.
High in iron, protein, B Vitamins and omega-3 fats… grass-fed beef is great for the pregnant mama and baby! I want to highlight the importance of getting iron through this food source because iron helps to carry oxygen to the lungs as well as move blood through the body. Did you know that a pregnant mama’s blood volume increases about 50%? The increased blood flow nourishes the placenta, which is vital for the baby’s growth. That’s why it is important that you get plenty of iron through beef or organs. You could take supplements, but they are harder for the body to digest and utilized.
When buying beef… grass-fed is your best option. Conventionally raised beef cows are fed high amounts of grain, which is not their normal diet, therefore subjected to high doses of antibiotics and various hormones to help them along. These antibiotics will effect your gut health and the hormones can mess with your own hormones, which are delicate to begin with. That’s why buying grass-fed beef is important for the long-term health of you and your baby!
Superfood #7: Raw Milk
The topic of raw, unpasteurized milk & cheese tends to trigger some interesting responses from people. I have been drinking fresh (I like to call it that better than ‘raw’) dairy since Naomi was born (6 years now!) and have not had a problem with it. In fact, both my hubby and I are lactose-intolerant… which means pasteurized diary is a no-no for us.
Did you know that fresh milk is a complete food? Yes, it is a great source of Vitamins A, B, B12, C & D, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, all 22 essential amino acids, healthy fat, good carbohydrates and over 60 fully intact & functional enzymes. This kind of fresh milk simply does not need pasteurization because it is basically perfect the way it is! Clean, free-range & grass-fed cows or goats produce milk that have higher nutritional value than factory milk (even organic factory milk!). Those who are allergic or lactose-intolerance (like myself) can enjoy fresh milk without risk of irritation or the embarrassment of stinky gas. It is full of healthy bacteria, enzymes & vitamins that are lacking in regular store-bought milk (organic or not). The calcium found in fresh milk is easier for your body to absorb and use to build strong bones needed for your growing baby! Pasteurization denatures the calcium and everything else, making it more difficult for your body to absorb and digest.
It is vital to know your source when buying fresh milk. Not all providers have the same standards. It is recommended that your get your milk directly from the farm, giving you the opportunity to see the cows, check out their health & environment and be able to ask the farmer what they feed their cows during the winter months when fresh grasses are not available. They should only be fed alfalfa, timothy grass or other pasture greens… not grain feeds as that can endanger their health.
I totally agree that pasteurization is necessary for commercial milk production because at most places, cows are not properly cared for. They are commonly fed GMO soy-based feed high in protein, which they are not designed by nature to digest. As a result of poor diet and often unclean living conditions, these cows are given antibiotic treatments to keep them from getting sick. But antibiotics are known to lower milk production, so they are given growth hormones to help produce enough milk to keep the farm profitable. Does that sound like healthy milk to you? Plus, the life span of a commercially raised cow is 4 years while a naturally, grass-fed raised cow is 12-14 years!
What do you believe is a “superfood” for you? What did you eat most when pregnant & nursing?
Linked up at Simple Lives Thursday
Do you actually eat organ meats? How do you prepare them?
Marillyn Beard says
Oh yes! Our favorite is heart… rich in B vitamins and higher in protein than regular beef. It also has a slightly sweeter taste. I grind it up in my food processor and mixed in a little ground beef with some spices to make homemade breakfast sausages. Delicious. Heart is really easy to hide in ground beef… I’ve used it for spaghetti, chili, hamburgers, etc… With Liver, I simply cook it in LOTS of onions and garlic. That’s basically the best way to enjoy liver. If you google it, I’m sure you will find some simple recipes for liver. We don’t eat kidneys though or stomach (can’t get past the flavor, ugh). Tongue is also great, but I think people say it is more of a muscle than an organ… so soft and fantastic slowed cooked in mexican flavors for tacos. Mainly, heart and liver is what we eat.
Another excellent article! I am enjoying this series sooooo much. Although
I am 48 yrs old and will not be having any more children I am learning so much.
I wish I would have read this 22 years ago!!!!!! I guess I will just pass this information on to future family members. 🙂 Thanks for this helpful post. Blessings. Karen
Marillyn Beard says
Thank you Karen! I am glad you are enjoying the posts and passing them on. Blessings, Mare
I just found your blog earlier this summer (I think the first post was the Berkey giveaway) and I love it! I don’t remember how a stumbled to your place on the web, but I’m glad I did. I’m loving this series too. Our first baby is 18 months and I’ll be referencing this again when baby 2 happens. 🙂
I love this list of foods, and maybe I’ll get over my fear of organ meat. 🙂 I have grass fed liver sitting in my freezer right now.
Marillyn Beard says
Deanna – do eat that liver!! Thanks for ‘stumbling’ into my blog!
Novak Jim says
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Sharolyn Newington says
It is so great to read this and agree so whole-hardheartedly. ‘Nourishing Traditions’ recommends similar foods, but public midwives and doctors are very conservative about what to eat during pregnancy. Thanks as well for the reminder of the importance of beginning before conception. So true and important. Funny that raw milk is so controversial. I will continue to drink it too! (Do you feed your babies and children raw milk and raw egg yolks etc?)
Marillyn Beard says
Hello Sharolyn! Thank you for reading this post. Yes, I do feed my kids all of the above and have seen many benefits from it!
L.K. Moore says
Hi there! Curious what advice you have for mamas like me (preggo with number two) that always seem to have a pregnancy-long aversion to meat and eggs. Also, hubby and daughter drink goat milk, but after nursing, I have a mental aversion to another animal’s breast milk so I drink coconut… Pregnancy seems to turn me into a picky toddler (food-wise). We eat mostly very healthily otherwise, lots of organic, whole and kosher foods…
Marillyn Beard says
Hello L.K.!! Hmm, well that’s a hard one because the protein and amino acids in meat are very important for overall health of you and baby. What about taking dried liver in capsules? You can buy those and take it along with your supplements if you are taking any. Also, could your husband make you a smoothie with coconut milk, fruits and egg yolks? What about ice cream? Hiding eggs in things would be a good way to get the protein you need.
Coconut milk is a good alternative to milk, but be sure that it is PURE coconut milk. Other kinds are filled with thickeners that are not good for the gut and can prevent proper absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Laura Schuerwegen says
really liking what I read here! Greetings from Authentic Parenting
Marillyn Beard says
Thank you Laura!
Zara Houlker says
I am so interested in this blog/writing thing you have going on!! I live in New Zealand so alot of the commercial talk of animal feed etc is very foreign to me…thankfully. I want to know more about raw milk? And how you have said you drink it even though you are lactose intolerant? My son is 2 and lactose intolerant and currently on soy milk, i breastfeed him until 14 months and then tried him on normal dairy/milk which was a no go…am wondering if he would be ok to try on raw milk???? How do you supose i go about it?
Marillyn Beard says
Hello Zara, Thank you! In regarding raw milk… you should have plenty of access to fresh, raw milk in New Zealand. You should have your son drink raw milk instead of soy milk… the soy will mess with this male hormones and cause early puberty. He would be totally fine to try on raw milk… my kids have drank raw milk since they weaned themselves off of breastmilk.
The reason why I can tolerate raw milk is because there is lactase that is vital for proper digestion of the lactose. Lactase is very heat sensitive and one of the first to be destroyed during the pasteurization process.
You can simply give him a little bit every day and see how he does with it. Then increase it if he is tolerating it just fine.