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A healthy pregnancy and delivery depends on the pregnant mother getting what she needs nutritionally. Developing a baby and naturally delivering a baby is an amazing, complex process that will draw on the strength of every mother. To insure that you will be at your best physically, mentally and emotionally it is very important the new pregnant mother understands what her body will require so that both she and her child will be healthy at the birth and beyond.
When a woman is pregnant, her body will produce approximately 40% more blood to support the womb/placenta where the baby is growing. Her nutritional intake may increase to reflect this and other changes taking place in her body. She will also produce hormones that often make her feel nausea, and she may not feel like eating one moment, but crave food the next! This is normal and also a good sign that her body is producing the necessary hormones needed to support the fetus.
The Quality of Food is Very Important
In this world of convenience and fast foods, it is very hard to find good quality foods that aren’t full of fillers and chemicals. The first step is cooking from scratch in your kitchen avoiding cans, packaged and processed foods. I found that by just avoiding canned/processed foods, people eat better! It can be overwhelming to attempt to do everything all at once so just deciding that you will buy your foods fresh, unprepared and the way “Mother Nature” made them and cook them in your kitchen, will be a big improvement if that is not what you already do!
There are many things that must be considered when looking for “quality” foods. “Natural” and “Organic” is not the same thing so be careful and ask questions where you shop. Some meats can be labeled organic but they supplement the grass with feed that is not! Organic “processed” is not the same as organically raised! Fresh organic vegetables and fruits, high in antioxidants are very important. It must be labeled “organic” and just because it was grown in your community does not mean it is organic! So many people say they go to the farmers market in town assuming that these vegetables are free of chemicals and pesticides. Many grocery stores now have a section specifically for organic. Let the owner know you appreciate the organic foods!
Meats and Protein
Meats- look for “natural” meats free of hormones, antibiotics and vaccines if possible!
- Beef: What is fed to the cow may also make a huge difference in the quality of the meat. Many people are buying a cow from the local farmer to raise and graze, where they have complete control over what that cow is fed. Cows are meant to eat grasses…not grains!
- Lamb: Sometimes organic lamb is brought from Europe where they are naturally grazed. Read the labels and ask the butcher about the source.
- Chicken: Free range, fresh- air and sunshine chicken with no hormones, antibiotics or added fillers to fatten up the chicken! Look for a local chicken farm or shop at the local organic food store. Try to get eggs from this same source. Due to public demand, many grocery stores are now providing organic eggs.
- Fish: Wild caught ocean fish is far better than farm-raised or lake fish. Lakes are much polluted and the farm raised fish have been given artificial diets, coloring and grains. When pregnant, avoid fish high in mercury. Fish high in mercury are shell fish, shark, king mackerel, swordfish, orange roughy, tuna, sea bass, Bluefish, grouper and mackerel from the Gulf.
Organic and fresh will be the best source of nutrition. Canned vegetables will offer less nutritional value due to processing. It is best to eat what is in season if possible but with the distribution of vegetables from around the world all year, we can enjoy a huge variety even in the winter. Get a variety of dark, green leafy vegetables and bright colored vegetables .
Eat a Variety of the Following:
- Leafy Lettuces
- Greens: Swiss Chard, Kale, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, etc.
- Fresh Parsley
Make sure to eat a large variety of vegetables because each has it’s own unique sources of vitamins and minerals. Try to eat as many raw as possible so that the enzymes are not destroyed by cooking. Enzymes are needed for digestion. The 2 most contaminated vegetables from chemicals are spinach and potatoes.
Always eat fresh if possible and if not available, look for frozen organic fruits. Canned fruits often have added sugars and are processed. Beware of artificial colors and sweeteners.
Some Excellent Choices:
- Grapes, red or green
Make sure to eat a large variety of fruits because each has it’s own unique sources of vitamins and minerals.
Water is necessary for every function in the body. The quality of water is very important. All tap water is polluted and many municipal sources add fluoridation, a toxic chemical. Some well water or spring water may be safe, get it tested to see what may be in it. Local municipalities offer testing for free but I recommend getting a high quality test kit that may cost a little but worth the price. Whole house water filters are a great investment in health for everyone in the family. Hydration is very important while pregnant because every detoxing organ depends on water and now you have a child within that will develop healthier if you detox well.
In addition to water, here are some great liquids that are healthy options for you:
- Kukicha Twig Tea: High in Calcium and very light taste.
- Bacha: High in Calcium and very light taste.
- Chamomile Tea with Vanilla
- Raspberry tea with a little Stevia
- Fresh lemons (6) in gal. water and Stevia
- Whey Beverages with protein, minerals and vitamins
Note: Fruit juices are very high in sugar and should be consumed in small quantities, especially if you have any underlying Candida/yeast problems. Apple juice is the #1 yeast producing juice.
In my opinion, the only dairy products I believe are healthy to consume anytime are made from raw, unprocessed milk. Any dairy product that is not made from raw milk will be processed, may be high in bovine growth hormones, antibiotics, vaccines and offer little or no nutritional value. (If concerned about calcium, find foods high in it like broccoli, lima beans, all leafy greens of the cabbage family, kale, mustard greens, turnip tops, salmon, most meats and grains). I do not feel that dairy must be part of the diet to be healthy but most Americans are used to drinking milk and eating yogurts and cheeses. If raw is difficult to find, I can recommend a source for you, just send me an email from the website.
Healthy Oils & Fats
- Fatty Acids: Eating healthy oils high in fatty acids is very important for function for both mother and baby. These fatty acids are found in large amounts in olive oil, palm oil, fish and flax oil.
- Saturated Fatty Acids: These are found in large amounts in fats and oils that are solid at room temperature like butter, lard and coconut oil. When heated, they will melt.
- Other Healthy Oils: Cold pressed, (not heat processed) safflower, sunflower, almond, and organic peanut oil and coconut oil are good oils.
- Organic Coconut Oil: Is the best oil to cook with as it is completely saturated and NO trans fats can be made from it.
- Sesame Oil: For certain individuals’ sesame oil is excellent as it can inhibit the formation of arachidonic acid, which is a fat that is major precursor of inflammation.
- Avocados: These are a great source of healthy fats.
Legumes and Beans
Beans are a wonderful source of protein that can be used as often as wanted. Always try to get beans from local health food store and organic if possible.
Soy Beans are not recommended! They are highly toxic, can cause thyroid and hormone problems. The soy in this country is not the same soy used in the Eastern culture. You will find that soy is a filler in many processed foods so read labels.
Nuts and Seeds
High in Calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, selenium, omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, and many other nutrients, nuts and seeds should be a part of your daily diet. They are readily available in organic food stores, easy to carry around and snack on thru ought the day. There are too many benefits to mention in this article but everyone who can eat them, should.
- Brazil Nuts
- Hazel Nuts
- Macadamia Nuts
- Flax Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Mila Seeds
Note: Some people are allergic to nuts or seeds or have bowel conditions that are irritated by nuts and seeds
Due to a busy life-style, many people are juicing for lunch or breakfast. Juicing is a wonderful way to get pre-digested nutrition and fast delivery without destroying essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes. I would not recommend a pregnant woman skipping a meal but she certainly can supplement juicing or include it in her normal routine.
There are dozens of great books on juicing but a general rule of thumb, always start with organic products….do not concentrate the chemicals in regular foods into a juice! Start with several greens, (romaine, parsley, kale, beet) and mix a carrot, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and for a little sweetness, an apple, pear or other fruit. (Some people do not like to mix fruit and vegetables; I personally enjoyed the fruit flavor added).
Drink it within a few minutes to get the most benefit. The juice will start to break down and lose nutritional benefits in time.
You can also add protein powder, flax seed, Mila seed and other supplements to the juice.
Small Meals Throughout the Day
Eating small meals several times thru out the day, snacking on healthy nuts, seeds and veggies will help the mother’s blood sugar remain stable. It will be a constant supply of foods for energy and will ensure that she is providing her body and the baby what is needed. Cravings are usually the body wanting something needed in that food source, but not always!
As a mother of 5 children, I believe the delivery of my children was hard work that required me to be well rested and nutritionally sound. With a few of my children, I was in labor for 2-3 days…it was the hardest work physically I have ever done! I had 4 of my 5 born at home with midwives and all natural. I would not change a thing! Natural birth is beautiful and hard work but gives the most rewarding gift as the result! The health of mother and baby will be determined by how well she protects her child from toxins and how well she nourishes her body.
May you have a healthy, wonderful, enchanted pregnancy and may the birth of your child be a blessing you will cherish forever. This article is for educational purposes only and is suggested for healthy people. Everyone has different nutritional needs and not everyone can eat all of these foods. If you are diabetic or have other health conditions, you will have to consider all. Some are sensitive to foods and allergic to others. If you have any questions, consult your nutritionist, physician or midwife.