One of Baby’s Building Blocks – N is for Nutrition
by Michaela Pershe
Birthright of Pittsburgh Volunteer
When most people think of a diet, the most common thing that comes to mind is a strict regime of foods you can’t eat — usually with the end goal to lose weight. The purpose of a good prenatal diet, however, is not to lose weight and it is not super restrictive. Rather, diet in the pregnancy context refers to the types of food that are better for you to eat to support baby’s health and growth as well as your own!
It’s easy to brush off prenatal nutrition by thinking: “Oh, I’m eating for two now. I’ll just double up on calories.” However, the amount of calories you consume doesn’t matter as much as the quality of foods that you eat. As the baby is busy growing inside of you she/he needs nutrients from your body to be healthy and strong before delivery. Without additional food nutrients from your diet, or nutritional food choices, the baby will extract the nutrients from your body and you will feel more tired, weak and out of sorts because your body doesn’t have sufficient vitamins and nutrients to keep you going as well.
One of the most important early beginnings when you are pregnant is to start with a good prenatal vitamin. There are so many on the market, it may be difficult to choose one so first consult with your obstetrician on the best recommendation for you based on your health needs during your pregnancy.
Magnesium and Vitamin C are both crucial to good fetal development, as well as folic acid. A natural, plant-based prenatal vitamin might be the most helpful and healthful because it contains natural ingredients instead of sugars and artificial fillers. You can distinguish between these and other prenatal vitamins by looking at the ingredient list and searching for those that show real food, such as “oranges” or “cherries” instead of the “Vitamin C” listing. The more nonspecific the prenatal vitamin listing, the more likely it might be derived from an artificial or overworked source. Again, it is always recommended to first ask your doctor for names of dependable brands of prenatal vitamins to take at one of your appointments. Your doctor should assist you in selecting prenatal vitamins.
Another great way to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy is to look at the types of food you are eating and move more towards “whole” foods, instead of ones that are processed or come prepackaged and pre-frozen.
Healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins are all crucial to providing energy and vitamins to both you and your baby. Some examples of healthy carbs include: sweet potatoes, wild or brown rice, carrots, oats, quinoa and whole wheat. A slice of Ezekiel toast is loaded with healthy carbohydrates and nutrients and can be a tasty alternative when served with eggs and/or Greek yogurt!
Healthy fats include: avocados, olives, peanut butter, and coconut oil. Healthy protein is a crucial building block for bones, muscles and blood. Good sources of protein include, eggs, chicken, turkey, sprouted or soaked lentils, split peas, beans, homemade bone broth and whole fat dairy products, such as yogurt, kefir or aged cheese.
As always, a good mixture of raw and cooked fruits and vegetables contributes very much to your overall well-being!
If you followed a certain diet or lifestyle before pregnancy, speak with your doctor about healthy ways you can maintain your routines during pregnancy. Most importantly, you should also always speak to your doctor or care practitioner about any kind of diet or foods you want to eat during pregnancy to make sure it is safe for both you and your little one.
Good nutrition is important throughout your life, not just when you are pregnant. However, it is especially important when your body is growing and supporting another little person and when you are ready to deliver. It is crucial for your own health and your baby’s development so you both can be stronger and healthier.
- The Mama Natural: Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland (pages 19-31) 2017 Edition.
About the Author
Michaela Pershe is a professional nanny, birth doula and volunteer at Birthright of Pittsburgh.