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