Waiting those 2 minutes for the results to show up on your prego test can feel like a lifetime! It took us almost 2 years to get pregnant and I cannot express in words what I felt when I saw that definite second line on my pregnancy test.
Alright, so you’re pregnant…. Congratulations!
This little baby is growing in your tummy and it is time to be extra careful and conscious of what you put in your body. This baby is totally depending on YOU to give it what it needs to grow healthy and strong.
In fact, there are many societies that spend 6 months or longer eating this special diet to prepare their body for pregnancy. So it’s not only a pregnant diet but a very good fertility diet!
Unfortunately prenatal health is filled with conflicting advice. In fact, I don’t even remember my doctor directing me to do anything special. Pretty sure she just told me to eat healthy. Unfortunately “healthy” means different things to different people.
My husband’s dad once said that he wasn’t drinking soda anymore . . . in reality he just started drinking diet soda. Apparently diet soda isn’t soda? Healthy eating is getting more and more confusing.
Did you know that according to a 2013 CBS report, the US has the highest first-day infant mortality rate in the modern world? I found that insanely shocking. The report attributed our high infant mortality rate to low-quality prenatal care and premature births.
The diet of pregnant women can be a controversial subject. No mother wants to be told that maybe because of her diet during pregnancy that her baby has issues. However, evidence is growing that a mother’s diet not only affects the child as a baby, but can affect her family for generations (epigenetics).
Sally Fallon (from the Weston A. Price Foundation) states in her book Nourishing Traditions that “modern research has shown that nutrition in fact affects the expression of the genes, and poor nutrition can so adversely affect genetic expression that ‘defects’ persist for several generations.”
I’m not a doctor, so consider this the requisite disclaimer that you should talk to your doctor before starting a new diet, especially when pregnant (hopefully a holistic doctor who understands the value of a nutrient dense whole food diet).
Here’s a great list from the Weston A. Price Foundation called the Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers
- Cod Liver Oil to supply 20,000 IU vitamin A and 2000 IU vitamin D per day, which is provided by 2 teaspoons high vitamin cod liver oil
- 1 quart (or 32 ounces) whole milk daily, preferably raw and from pasture-fed cows
- 4 tablespoons butter daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows
- 2 or more eggs daily, preferably from pastured chickens
- Additional egg yolks daily, added to smoothies, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, etc.
- 3-4 ounces fresh liver, once or twice per week (If you have been told to avoid liver for fear of getting “too much Vitamin A,” be sure to read Vitamin A Saga from www.westonaprice.org)
- Fresh seafood, 2-4 times per week, particularly wild salmon, shellfish and fish eggs
- Fresh beef or lamb daily, always consumed with the fat
- Oily fish or organic lard daily, for vitamin D
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil daily, used in cooking or smoothies, etc.
- Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages
- Bone broths used in soups, stews and sauces
- Soaked whole grains
- Fresh vegetables and fruits – organic if they are on the dirty dozen
IMPORTANT WARNING: Cod liver oil contains substantial levels of omega-3 EPA, which can cause numerous health problems, such as hemorrhaging during the birth process, if not balanced by arachidonic acid (ARA), an omega-6 fatty acid found in liver, egg yolks and meat fats. Please do not add cod liver oil to a diet that is deficient in these important animal foods. It is important to follow our diet for pregnant mothers in its entirety, not just selected parts of it.
Yeah . . . some of that stuff you probably haven’t even heard of and have probably been told not to eat during pregnancy. Let’s dig in.
Cod Liver Oil
What really makes cod liver oil so cool is the fact that it has tons of your vitamin A and vitamin D in all of its complex glory working together. It’s also a good source of DHA which is important for brain development.
Many soon-to-be moms read that vitamin A is bad to take during pregnancy because too much can cause birth defects. This can be traced back to a 1995 study from Boston University. However, that study used synthetic vitamin A from sources like multivitamins and fortified breakfast cereals – not from natural, healthy sources.
Sure, vitamin A does become toxic at levels of 100,000 IU per day… which is equivalent to seven pounds of butter or 309 egg yolks. HA! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
We know that vitamin A plays an important role in providing protection against chemicals like nasty pesticides and other toxins found in the typical American diet. Without vitamin A, organs will develop abnormally because it is the captain in charge of signaling your baby’s stem cells to form into organ cells.
Knowing this stuff makes me think that having vitamin A in my diet is extremely important to my little baby! And more importantly making sure that vitamin A is being taken in tandem with its BFF vitamin D. They are like yin and yang, needing each other to work to their highest potential.
That’s the amazing thing about a good source of cod liver oil – you get vitamin A and D and you don’t have to worry about getting too much of one without the other.
Some benefits of cod liver oil include smarter children, reduced risk of type 1 diabetes, and my favorite… having fatter babies! Who doesn’t love a fat baby?!
Here’s a great article outlining which brands of cod liver oil are the best (be warned, some brands can actually cause more harm than good, so do your research!).
Despite what the government advertises, raw milk is extremely safe and healthy.
I know that adopting raw milk in your diet can be a hard thing to swallow because of the price or the stigma attached to it– but at the very least switch to whole milk, preferably organic.
Raw/whole milk provides us with calcium, which is essential for strong bones, teeth, and proper nerve function. Milk also provides phosphorus, B6 and B12, vitamin C, cholesterol, and CLA – with raw milk containing these nutrients in ever higher quantities.
Milk really does the body good. I LOVE it! When we run out of raw milk I feel like my world is spinning out of control . . . ok not really, but close.
Our ancestors ate butter at rates much higher than we do – yet we’re fatter, more diabetic, and die MUCH more from heart attacks.
In fact, saturated fat and cholesterol are two of the most important things that a developing baby needs! The only reason that we believe butter is bad is because the companies that created margarine and Crisco convinced us it was bad… so we would buy their stuff.
Grass-fed butter is a good source of vitamin A, D, K, and E as well as selenium, copper, zinc, chromium, and iodine. All of that is needed for development of your baby’s body and brain. Most importantly, it contains arachidonic acid which is essential for healthy skin, intestinal integrity, and brain function.
Go ahead and smother and cook your food with butter! Your baby will thank you for it.
I’m sure that any of you who have tried to eat healthy were told at some point or another that you shouldn’t eat egg yolks because they had too much fat and cholesterol. Have you ever had just the white part of the egg? It’s kinda gross, not gonna lie.
Egg yolks not only are tasty but they are a HUGE source of choline. Choline is essential for brain development, especially in forming synapses. Every time you have a light bulb moment a new synapse is formed.
Choline = Smarter babies!
Cholesterol is an important nutrient that forms all our hormones and cell walls. No cell walls would NOT be good – picture a giant, gelatinous blob.
Eggs from pastured chickens that are out in the sunshine, eating their natural diet of bugs and such are best. Don’t pay extra for those “cage free” chicken eggs because the FDA has a funny definition of what “cage free” means.
Oh liver . . . the bane of my existence.
It really isn’t the best tasting stuff no matter how you cook it up. We found it best to grate it and mix with ground beef in a 5 to 1 ratio and put it in our spaghetti (that’s the only way I can stomach it).
I personally only eat grass-fed liver because I know those cows are a lot healthier than their feed lot cousins – and produce healthier meat.
Liver is super-duper healthy for you and in many cultures is considered a sacred food. It’s one of the most nutrient dense foods we have (meaning we don’t need a lot… yay!).
Liver is an excellent source of vitamin A, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.
Vitamin K is good for forming baby’s skeletal structure, teeth, blood, and brain. In fact it helps ensure your baby has proper facial development so their little teeth can come in straight. Yes! Braces are NOT the norm!
Seafood is another bane in my life… not a fan.
The warning against eating seafood while pregnant is warranted because some fish do contain high amounts of mercury and other toxins. But if you choose your seafood wisely you will not have that problem. Tuna and Swordfish in particular tend to have high concentrations of mercury while commercial freshwater fish like catfish can have pollutants like PCBs. We mainly eat wild caught salmon and shrimp for our seafood, our tuna in moderation.
One study showed that “women who ate 12 ounces or less of seafood per week were almost 50% more likely to have children with low verbal IQ scores compared with women who exceeded this amount.” The children of the women who ate less seafood also were more likely to have social, behavioral, and fine motor problems.
Oily fish in particular have high amounts of vitamin D which helps balance out the high levels of vitamin A in the liver. Remember they’re BFFs and need each other.
Bring me some steak! Mmmmmm!
Meat is a rich source of protein, iron, and zinc, all needed for building baby’s body, blood and brain. Meat fats provide important minerals, fatty acids, and the anti-cancer substance CLA. And, like butter, meat fats provide arachidonic acid (AA), so important for neurological development (11% of the brain is AA), gut integrity and rash-resistant skin.
Ideally, your meat should come from naturally raised, grass fed animals. Cows eating corn is like us eating McDonald’s for every meal – their bodies weren’t made for that and produce less healthy cuts of beef.
I really cannot say enough about how awesome coconut oil is! Have you ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the dad sprays everything with Windex because it’s like some miracle juice? That’s how I feel about coconut oil.
We use coconut oil A LOT in our cooking. PLEASE throw your canola oil (aka the oil of death) out the door. Or light it on fire, I hear it’s good for that.
My favorite source to buy is Costco because it’s super cheap AND it’s expeller pressed and organic. Shoot, what more could a girl ask for?
Coconut oil has been shown to increase your energy and metabolism, as well as bolster baby’s and your immune system with its anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.
It also helps prego women with morning sickness, heartburn, constipation, and stretch marks! See what I mean by the miracle juice? I used it on my sore nipples when breastfeeding and it worked awesome! TMI?
Lacto-Fermented Condiments and Beverages
What in the world does that mean? Lacto-fermented?
Lacto-fermentation is a process that preserves food by feeding on sugars and starches to produce lactic acid. These foods have lots of enzymes and good bacteria which all together will help your digestion.
Why is this important? A LOT of reasons, but the main one is to create a healthy gut. You will be amazed at how many diseases stem from bad gut health. Babies also inherit the gut health of their mother.
Foods like sauerkraut (not preserved with sugar or vinegar), buttermilk, and yogurt are lacto-fermented. We made kefir (fermented milk) and kombucha (available in health food stores!) while I was pregnant.
Homemade bone broth is super easy to make and it’s ten million times tastier than any store bought broth! All you have to do is buy some bones from a butcher (or leftover bones from a whole chicken or bone-in roast), throw it in the crock pot with water and vegetables, and let it cook for a day or so.
Bone broth is rich in gelatin, helping your baby grow strong bones, tendons, and connective tissue. Gelatin is also great for your hair, skin, and joints!
Bone broths also provide building blocks for your baby and your placenta. Furthermore, eating too much meat without supplementing with bone broth and leafy greens can also cause disruptions in cellular communication!
Whole Grains, Legumes, and Nuts
The reason grains are under such scrutiny is that improperly prepared grains can cause more problems than solutions.
With fast-rising yeast, busy schedules, and companies packaging ready-made meals, people don’t want to take the time to properly prepare these foods.
However,when grains, legumes, and nuts are properly prepared, they are easily digested and are a great source of nutrients.
Plus, I mean, carbs. Soooo good.
Fruit and Veggies
Pretty much the only advice I got from my doctor when I got pregnant was to eat more fruits and veggies. Good advice, but in light of everything I’ve laid out here today, woefully inadequate.
Most of us know that fruit and veggies are great sources of folate, vitamin C, fiber, and many minerals. The nutrients in fruits and vegetables are absorbed better with healthy fats like butter. When you cook up that broccoli make sure you smother it in butter! TASTY!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged… DON’T! I know how it feels but honestly one step at a time sista. 😉 I’m certainly not perfect (HELLO LIVER?!) but let’s face it, for the next several years I’m either going to be prego, breast feeding, or trying to get pregnant so… yeah there’s no getting away from this super healthy diet. Not that I would want to eat any differently anyway, right?
My baby is evidence that this diet does wonders. Ryker was a whopping 9.6 pounds when he was born and was back at his birth weight at his first doctor appointment. He has not gotten sick at all and he’s 4 months old. He hardly even gets a diaper rash! He’s a beautiful chunkster baby with an extremely happy demeanor and is hitting his milestones right on time.
Good luck and congratulations!! It is totally worth it!