Eating a well-rounded and wholesome diet is particularly important before, during, and after pregnancy. Since I’m currently pregnant with our second baby, I am especially mindful of eating nourishing, holistic and delicious foods throughout the process. I would like to share some key foods and nutrients that are essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
High quality protein. I eat mostly an organic, plant-based diet containing protein-rich foods such as soaked ancient and spouted and whole grains, legumes such as lentils and beans, and nuts and seeds. I occasionally eat pasture raised or backyard grass-fed organic eggs, grass-fed Greek yogurt and wild salmon. If you eat meat, consider high quality sources like organic grass-fed beef or poultry, pasture or backyard eggs, and wild, sustainable seafood low in mercury.
Green veggies. Rich in folate and high in many other nutrients such as calcium and iron, green veggies also help prevent constipation that can sometimes accompany pregnancy. Spinach, kale, broccoli, peas, asparagus, artichoke and brussels sprouts are all great choices. I also add liquid chlorophyll drops to my water bottle throughout the day. Truly a wonder food, chlorophyll rebuilds and replenishes red blood cells, is highly alkaline, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Healthy Fats. Quality fats are absolutely vital for baby’s brain development, organ and tissue growth, and mother’s milk production. Avocados and nuts are my favorite healthy fats. I also cook with grass-fed pasture butter, olive oil and coconut oil which is another great source. Did you know coconuts are the only food containing high amounts lauric acid, which is one of the compounds in breast milk that aids the body in fighting infection? Important stuff! You can also add chia, hemp or flax seed oil to your favorite smoothies.
Fermented foods. Abundant in probiotics, which are key during pregnancy. Babies are born with a completely sterile gut and they culture their beneficial gut bacteria by what they receive from mother when passing through the birth canal and from breastfeeding in the months afterward. Probiotics also help to avoid illness and constipation during pregnancy, and may reduce the risk of Group B strep. Consuming fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, daikon and kimchi during pregnancy also helps the body to process other foods more easily, which results in better nutritional absorption for yourself and your growing baby.
Omega 3s DHA/RHA. These necessary fats are essential for baby’s brain development and guards against inflammation. These are especially important during the third trimester when brain development is at its peak. Fermented cod liver oil is a good choice for those who don’t follow a vegetarian diet. I add a few drops of O-Mega-Zen3 + EPA Liquid to some freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning. It also comes in capsule form for those who don’t have trouble swallowing pills.
Vitamin D3. Recent research suggests that Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of many pregnancy-related complications including gestational diabetes. It is important for baby’s bone and hormone development and helps support mother’s immune system during pregnancy. Breastfed babies may be able to obtain Vitamin D from mother’s milk if she is getting more than 5,000 IU per day. I prefer to optimize Vitamin D levels by eating mushrooms and by getting outdoors in the sunshine for 30 minutes a day. When I can’t, I take D3 Serum drops by Premier Research Labs.
Magnesium. Most people are deficient in magnesium. Severe magnesium deficiency can lead to poor fetal growth and preeclampsia. Proper magnesium levels also help tissue growth and recovery during pregnancy and may help baby receive more nutrition through the placenta. I usually drink a cup of Natural Calm an hour before bedtime, but it can be difficult for many people to absorb when taken orally, especially for those with sensitive tummies. A wonderful alternative is Magnesium Bath Salts or Transdermal Magnesium Oil. In total, a pregnant woman shouldn’t exceed 600 mg from all sources unless severely deficient.
Folate. Folate is the bioavailable, natural form of vitamin B9 found in a variety of plant and animal foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin, often found in supplements and fortified foods. The body is more adept at using folate and will regulate healthy levels by releasing excess through the urine. Folate is crucial for fetal development and prevention of against spina bifida and other developmental issues. A plate full of dark leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, kale, turnip greens and romaine lettuce can provide you with almost all of your daily needs for folate. Folate-rich fruits include papaya, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, banana, cantaloupe and strawberries. Other high sources of folate include beans, peas, lentils, avocados, seeds and nuts.
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This article is intended for informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for seeking the advice of a qualified nutritionist or health care provider.