Women who are pregnant tend to put all of their focus on the right nutrition for their growing babies, and they put less of a focus on their needs. Of course, you can understand why they would do this. Their unborn child is the most important thing in the world. Of course what most women forget is that without being in fantastic health themselves, the baby will drain all the goodness she can and leave you in a terrible state for many years to come!
We all know that pregnancy is demanding on mom and it can have a profound nutritional effect on her during and after the birth. The baby will draw on all your reserves as these nutrients are vital for their growth. If mom doesn’t consume enough nutrients to balance both the needs of the baby and hers, she will feel more tired during the pregnancy and suffer even more afterward. A new mom can feel the effects of depleted nutrients for a good couple of years after her child is born and there have been cases where mothers with children as old as ten are still affected. Even if you aren’t pregnant, this advice could be good for you prior to getting pregnant or if you are going through infertility treatment.
As we age our digestion get less efficient, so even if the mother is eating a healthy, natural and well-balanced diet, she may not be absorbing enough from those foods. Add stress, lack of sleep and medications like painkillers and antibiotics then it’s easy to see how even after your body gets back into shape, you may not feel as vital and healthy as you did before pregnancy.
Let’s take a look at some of the vitamins and nutrients you need to ensure your baby, and you are the very healthiest you can be. We have included a guide to how much you should be consuming. Obviously, there are some vitamins which you cannot consume while pregnant, or you should only consume in small quantities. Vitamin A is a good example. Too much vitamin A such as liver can be dangerous for your unborn baby and can lead to congenital disabilities. However, you can reintroduce these into your diet once you have finished breastfeeding.
Don’t assume that the products we are suggesting are expensive. Where possible it is good to go with organic produce, however, if you simply cannot afford to, then just make sure you wash your vegetables well and try to find out where your meat comes from.
Even if you just go organic for the duration of your pregnancy then go back afterward, you will be giving yourself and your baby the very best start in life.
As will all changes to your diet, especially if you are pregnant, it is crucial to speak to your doctor and let them know what you are doing, monitor any changes in the way you feel and if something doesn’t feel right then get medical advice without delay. However the information we have given you here should be positive for all mothers and babies, just avoid anything you may have an allergy too.
Iron – Cannot be absorbed without sufficient Vitamin C
It is not unusual to become iron deficient in pregnancy and after. Be careful about taking cheap or pharmaceutical iron as this can cause constipation and nausea. The more natural liquid form is easier on the stomach. You can also squeeze lemon juice onto greens, red meat or any iron rich food and this will increase your absorption. Minerals can also compete for absorption, so take mineral supplements apart from each other –
I.e. Calcium in morning and magnesium at night. Iron and zinc should be taken separately too.
Here are some fantastic Iron rich foods which you can eat during and after pregnancy: Molasses, red meat, dark meat from chicken and turkey, mussels, sardines, eggs, Mackerel, and seafood.
You should be very careful when handling raw food, especially chicken and meat; this is vital in preventing listeria outbreaks. Any food poisoning is terrible for you and your unborn child.
Plant sources are not so easily absorbed but are still important: Beetroot, Spinach and all dark green leaves, Tofu. Lentils and beans, tomato puree, figs, dates, Watermelon, raisins, prunes, pumpkin seeds, whole grains.
Other minerals are:
Magnesium – essential for all aspects of health but vital for healthy bones, healthy muscles, energy, and stress.
Good sources: Green vegetables, nuts, and seeds, figs, whole grains, avocados, raisins, basil, mint, parsley, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, barley, oats, dairy, and fish.
Calcium – Vital for healthy bones but should not be over consumed, so if you are eating dairy and lots of green vegetables, you don’t need a supplement.
Trace minerals – a healthy diet and proper digestion should supply all you need, however adding a green drink, or kelp and use pink Himalayan salt should provide your requirements for trace minerals.
Protein – Eating enough protein could be the single most important thing you do for pregnancy and post pregnancy.
Protein requirement in pregnancy is weight in kilos x 0.8g then add 25g so if you’re 60kg x 0.8g = 48g + 25g = 73g of protein per day.
Protein post pregnancy is weight in kilos x 0.8g then add 10g while breastfeeding and recovering.
Protein for overall health weight in kilos x 0.8g. If you do a lot of exercises, then you may need to revise this.
Example Foods: organic eggs = 6 g protein, 4 oz Chicken Breast = 26g protein
Protein should not be overeaten; it can create a high acidic environment within the body and put a strain on the kidneys.
Oily fish is important but should not be overeaten during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The high oil content allows dangerous heavy metals especially methyl mercury to accumulate in the fish. Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel and whitefish can be eaten in moderation, but tuna, swordfish, king mackerel and other large oily fish should be avoided. During breastfeeding these toxins are passed into the baby.
Vitamins – can be depleted during and after pregnancy and are vital for growth and energy.
B Vitamins especially folic acid or folate are critical for pre-pregnancy to build up reserves and for the baby’s development.
B Vitamin supplement – take in the morning as can be too stimulating at night and cause sleeplessness. B Vitamins are vital for nervous system and energy – a deficiency can have an effect on how mothers feel.
Vitamin C gets depleted easily, especially when the body is stressed and tired. Keeping blood levels of Vitamin C up during pregnancy and post pregnancy supports immune function, tissue health, and energy. It also supports hormone health. Use the buffered form to take higher doses, as ascorbic acid can cause loose stools.
500mg capsules of buffered Vitamin C can be taken 3-4 times throughout the day in pregnancy and more post pregnancy if you feel you need a boost to your immune system.
Foods high in Vitamin C: Broccoli, cabbage, red peppers, sprouted seeds, berries, organic strawberries, lemons. Many fresh fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C especially the organic varieties.
Vitamin D is vital for immune health and healthy development of bones. Many women are low in this substance which is a hormone. You can get tested for Vitamin D deficiency. It is not found in many foods and is only in Dairy if it has been fortified. The best way to get Vitamin D is to be in the sunshine. During the winter you can take a supplement in the form of Vitamin D3.
Fats & Oils – It is important to consume enough healthy fats during pregnancy, breasting and later.
Omega3 is missing in our diets, or only in small amounts. As it is not advised to eat a lot of oily fish during pregnancy or breastfeeding, You can take a highly purified fish oil supplement and use a good Flax oil. Some nuts like walnut, or organic eggs or even hemp seeds can contain Omega3 but in small amounts. Other oils that contain Omega 6 and 9 are Olive Oil, Avocado Oil; Cold Pressed Coconut Oil, Organic Sunflower, Organic Rapeseed oil as well as nuts and seeds. (image credit)
Eat nuts in moderation during pregnancy. These fats are critical for healthy cell membranes, brain and nerve development, and function in growing fetus and children.
Also, Flax oil essential for mom’s brain (which we all know falls apart post birth!) Fats and oils are important for helping to balance blood sugar and give sustained energy – do not cut out fats to lose post pregnancy weight! Omega3 oils make sure that cholesterol is used correctly in the body and helps stop the blood from thickening.
Carbohydrates – Important for energy levels, using a variety of grains/root vegetables and fruit in moderation should help keep your energy levels up and support getting back to a healthy weight after having a baby. Cutting right back on gluten-containing foods like wheat or eating bread and pasta very occasionally can also help with weight loss and water retention.
Good carbs: Rice, oats, quinoa, root vegetables, fruit
Foods to avoid
Pink meats, smoked foods, highly processed foods, high sugar foods, damaged fats (overheated, hydrogenated or old fats) too much animal fat
(Dairy, fatty meats) Too much bread and pasta (Try different grains like Quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, arrowroot, Kamut)
Alcohol – once you have stopped breastfeeding, drinking alcohol is very tempting, but do so in moderation and allow your body to recover from the huge trauma that is pregnancy and birth.
Make sure you are looking after yourself as much as your baby, and then you will be a healthier, happier mom!