Thursday, July 18, 2013

Nutrition in Pregnancy {A Birth Circle topic}

Nutrition is arguably the most important element of prenatal care. So why is nutrition so important? Because you're growing a human- cells, bones, muscle, fat, brain. To grow a baby you need adequate blood supply to support your body's added effort, to be physically prepared for birth and to support the placenta that is responsible for nourishing the baby. 

The Brewer Diet is based off of the concept of supporting this extra blood supply that begins to double at 8weeks and has increased by 50-60% around week 30.  Dr. Brewer recommended an average of 2700 calories per day, a well balanced diet inclusive of each food group, as well as 75-100grams of protein. The protein is what builds and supports the necessary blood supply. The key to achieving this intake of protein is not supplements, rather whole foods. Eggs, lentils, beans, milk, meats, cheese ~ all of these are excellent sources of protein.

Calories are subjective; each person is different. If you don't count calories in your every day life, how are you to know what the extra 200-300 calories, recommended by mainstream sources like APA, really means? Instead of focusing of quantity- how much weight you're gaining, how many more calories you're eating- focus on quality. Eat more whole foods, being sure to include all of the food groups according to your personal dietary preferences, avoiding food additives, pesticides and excessive sugar. If counting calories is your thing, consider your lifestyle and what number pregnancy this is. Eat well to be well. The important factor is balance. [Quite often a sugar craving is related to dehydration or a lack of protein.] So let's talk about the importance in each food group.

Protein is essential not only in maintaining a healthy blood supply but in the strength of your uterus as well. Adequate protein in your diet is to an easier labor as training is to an efficient marathon run.

Fats support the growth of the baby's brain and promote a good start for breastfeeding. Indulge in full fats when pregnant; cook vegetables with butter to best absorb their nutrients. Enjoy peanut butter, avocados, full fat milk and yogurt. Raw milk has even more fat that homogenized whole milk but of course it is important to know your source. Full fat yogurts are great for vaginal health as well.

Probiotics and fermented foods support good gut flora and prevent infections such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast and group b strep.  Some examples of fermented foods are kefir, kombucha and yogurt.

Too much sugar can contribute to unhealthy bacteria levels as well as stress the fetus; sugar is best in moderation. Try and focus of healthy sugars when you do consume and more organic and balanced options, such as fruits or coconut ice cream with nuts. Cutting out white sugar and white flour in your third trimester may decrease your risk of tearing.
Minerals are essential in your diet, even if you're taking a prenatal vitamin. Sea salt is an excellent source of these minerals, including iron which your baby stores up during the third trimester. Good salt levels from natural, unprocessed salt also keeps your fluid levels and blood pressure under control.

Calcium, whole grains and vitamins are essential to a balanced diet. Eat well to be well.  Eat small portions often; this can also maintain a healthy blood sugar level without extreme highs or lows. Avoid artificial ingredients.

Other helpful foods

include papaya for heartburn and ginger for morning sickness. Indulge in red raspberry leaf tea and dates in
your third trimester, which may be beneficial for your labor.

For more in-depth information, enjoy this --> podcast <--

The usual suspects

AAP recommends avoiding certain fish due to mercury levels; sushi, soft cheeses, raw eggs/meat and lunch meat due to bacteria.

Other Birth Circle topics:
Pregnancy can be a wonderful part of the Journey of Life. Did your care provider mention the importance of nutrition to you? What changes did you make to your diet?

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Contact info

Jennifer Valencia | Labor & Postpartum Doula | 928.300.1337


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