Pregnancy is a nine month journey... It is a time in your life to feel happy, excited, serene and joyful. However it is also quite normal to experience anxieties about the birth and worrying about whether you are nourishing yourself properly, exercising, keeping, calm, positive, loving thoughts and emotions within your being.
Pregnancy lasts 39 weeks or nine months from conception and is looked at in three stages.
Health & Nutrition During Pregnancy
To ensure that your baby develops in a healthy environment, you should keep your body as fit and well nourished as you possibly can. Do not think in terms of devising a special diet for pregnancy, it is more to do with eating a good variety of the right foods which are those that are rich in the essential nutrients.
The amount of weight put on by women in pregnancy varies between 9 - 16 kilograms, with the most rapid gain usually between weeks 24 and 32.
Don't "eat for two". Some 46 percent of women gain too much weight during pregnancy.
Diet During Pregnancy
You ARE What You Eat therefore Your Baby Is What You Eat!
What You Eat affects your baby's future. What you eat in the following nine months can impact your baby's health, as well as your own, for decades to come.
A good diet is vital to health during pregnancy, and to the normal development of the baby. The time to pay attention to diet, and if necessary change it for the better, is several months prior to conception and not when pregnancy is confirmed.
During the critical early weeks the normal, healthy development of the embryo depends on the mother's state of nutritional health and also her toxic state.
Mineral and vitamin imbalances which would probably go unnoticed in a child or adult can have a disastrous effect on the developing baby.
This is because the cells in the embryo are growing at such a rapid rate, causing an exaggerated response to any harmful influences.
A natural, organic, whole food diet is the only one which will adequately serve during pregnancy.
A high quality diet is needed to maintain your own health and the best possible conditions for the baby to develop.
As our environment becomes more polluted and the soils more depleted of nutrients, going 100% organic, if possible, is the best thing you can do for oneself, and for a developing fetus, and last but not least; the environment.
Pesticides, herbicides, and other forms of pollution interfere with the metabolic pathways of many nutrients and thus indirectly interfere with the development of the immune, endocrine, and neurological systems.
Eating as many of our foods in their live, raw form preserves 70 to 80% more vitamins and minerals, 50% more bioactive protein, and up to 96% more bioavailable vitamin B12.
Grains, nuts and seeds are the most potent health-building foods of all. Eaten raw or sprouted if possible (some grains need to be cooked), they contain all the essential nutrients for human growth, sustenance, and ongoing optimal health.
A well balanced diet is based on whole cereals and grains (brown bread, rice, pasta, buckwheat, rye, oats), nuts and seeds, pulses and beans, fresh fruit and vegetables, pure unrefined oils such as cold pressed olive oil, with some fish and eggs if required.
Fruit and vegetables are all excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and trace elements provided they are eaten in the right way.
They should be fresh, either raw or quickly cooked, steamed or stir-fried, and preferably consumed immediately after they are harvested.
Salt is needed to maintain the extra volume of blood, to supply enough placental blood, and to guard against dehydration and shock from blood loss at birth, (except in cases of kidney and heart problems) Suggested form of salt is Himalayan Pink Salt.
• Form the basic building blocks of all our body tissues, cells, hormones, and antibodies.
• Food must fuel the growth of the uterus, which can grow to 30 times its original size over the nine months gestation period Add the development of breasts, placenta, development of breast milk, the baby's body.
Proteins are divided into complete and incomplete:
Complete proteins contain significant amounts of all the essential amino acids, you find them in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and soya bean products.
Vegetable proteins are incomplete and contain only some of the essential amino acids. Some vegetarian sources of complete protein are: buckwheat, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and almonds.
Plant proteins are easier for our bodies to digest and produce less toxic waste than animal proteins. The fiber in plants also has a very beneficial effect on the bowel; it ensures healthy bowel movements and the correct bacterial population in the gut, and prevents the buildup of putrefactive bacteria produced by excess animal proteins.
Eating meat and meat products also carries the risk from chemical and hormonal residues found in intensively reared animals. Also soya beans or soy products are mostly genetically engineered, hence it is wise to stay clear of them.
Pregnant women need about 60 to 75 grams of protein a day.
The best and cleanest sources of protein are green vegetables, spirulina, seeds (hemp, flax, sesame, poppy, sunflower, chia, quinoa, amaranth ).
Real strength and building material comes from:
• green - leafy vegetables, seeds and superfoods. They contain all the amino acids we require.
Essential Fatty Acids are vital to :
• the development of the baby's nervous and immune systems. They build the cell walls in all our tissues, and so that trace elements and fat-soluble vitamins (A,E,D, and K) can be absorbed.
• EFA's are needed to make adrenal and sex hormones, and to maintain a healthy population of bacteria in the gut.
• They are also essential to the normal development of the fetus's brain: 70 per cent of all EFAs go to the brain.
The Best Fatty Foods include:
Avocados, Borage Seed Oil, Raw Cacao Beans (Chocolate Nuts), Coconut oil/ butter, Flax seed and its oil, Grape seeds, Hemp seed and its oil (cold pressed), RAW Nuts of all types (cashews must be soft to be truly "raw"), Nut Butters (almond butter is excellent), Olives and their oil (stone pressed or cold pressed), Peanuts (must be certified aflatoxin free), Poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds and their oil (cold pressed), Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini (sesame butter), or even better if you can get hold of it at a health food store unhulled tahini (an alkaline fat, high in calcium), Young Coconuts (young Thai coconuts are available in the US at Asian markets), Coconut milk, coconuts (mature).
Superfoods are foods with extraordinary properties. Usually they contain all essential amino acids, high levels of minerals, and a wide array of unique, even rare, nutrients. I have included the superfoods in the nutritional tips below.
Some prominent superfoods to include:
1) Himalayan Pink Salt - offers 84 minerals exactly identical to the elements in your body.
2) Spirulina (a spiral algae consumed for thousands of years by indigenous people in Mexico and Africa)
-It has the highest concentration of protein on Earth. 60%
-It is also very high in Iron, and many other vitamins and minerals.
-It is one of the highest sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) on the planet. Only mother's milk is higher.
-It is recommended to take more Spirulina during breastfeeding because of the GLA.
-Spirulina is very high in human-active B12.
3) Blue-Green Algae (Klamath lake algae wonderful brain food). It is high in protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals and enhances the immune system.
I value it in pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and lactation for its enhancing effect on brain function.
4) Bee Pollen (wild pollen, not orchard pollen, should be used and should come from ethically harvested sources where bees are treated respectfully. Bee Pollen is nature's most complete food) All amino acids, immune system, brain, eyes.
5) Flax, Sunflower, Chia, Sesame and pumpkin seeds are the best to use. Flaxseeds are excellent and the highest vegetarian source of omega-3-essential fatty acids, important for the immune system, nervous system, and brain development. I recommend one to two tablespoons daily of the uncooked and unheated oil or three to six tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds. (Use a coffee grinder). You may also grind the other above mentioned seeds and add them to salads, and fruit salads.
6) Wild young coconuts (not be confused with white Thai coconuts found in markets, wild coconuts are one of the greatest foods on earth. The coconut water and soft inner flesh are strength enhancing, electrolyte-rich, mineral-rich, youthening and invigorating. Great in smoothies.
Here Are Some Nutrition Tips that will help you both:
1) Get Enough Folic Acid. 400 micrograms (mcg) daily. Folic Acid reduces chance of birth defects such as spina bifida. Especially in the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.
2) Best Food Sources of Folic Acid are: RAW Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, beet greens, beet root, chard, asparagus, and broccoli. Starchy vegetables containing folic acid are corn, lima beans, green peas, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, artichokes, okra, and parsnips. Oats are high in folic acid as well as whole wheat brown bread. Many fruits have folic acid such as oranges, cantaloupe, pineapple, banana, and many berries including loganberries, boysenberries, and strawberries. Also fresh sprouts such as lentil, mung bean sprouts are excellent sources. REMINDER: Folic acid is available from fresh, unprocessed food, which is why it is so common a deficient in our culture's processed, cooked food diet.
3) Eat Your Fish. Getting enough DHA (found in abundance in seafood and flaxseed) is one of the most important things you can do for you and your developing baby's health. DHA is the omega-3 fatty acid that can boost baby's brain development before birth, leading to better vision, memory, motor skills and language comprehension in early childhood. Eat at least 12 ounces a week of low-mercury fish, or take a DHA supplement such as Krill Oil.
• Avoid large, predatory fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. (As big fish eat smaller fish, the larger, longer-living ones accumulate more mercury).
• Seaweed and Cilantro remove heavy metals and radioactive isotopes from the tissues.
4) Avoid Alcohol - The main risk of consuming alcohol during pregnancy is the development of "fetal alcohol syndrome" (FAS). mother.. NO AMOUNT IS SAFE. AVOID TOTALLY.
5) Avoid Caffeine: In high amounts causes birth defects and still births, miscarriages and premature delivery.
6) Avoid Drugs - As far as possible all orthodox drugs should be avoided during pregnancy, especially in the first three months. Consider natural alternatives and visiting a medical herbalist or nutritionist prior to conception.
FOODS THAT MAY CAUSE INFECTIONS
Although the chance of contracting one of these rare infections is limited, you will reduce this likelihood even further if you follow the basic guidelines given here.
Listeriosis - caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, this is a very rare infection. Its symptoms are similar to flu and gastroenteritis and it can cause still birth.
Toxoplasmosis - usually symptomless (apart from mild flu symptoms), this can cause serious problems for the baby. Caused by direct contact with the organism Toxoplasma Gondi, it is found in cat faeces, raw meat, and unpasteurized goats' milk. Soil on fruit and vegetables may be contaminated.
Salmonella - Contamination with Salmonella bacterium can cause bacterial food poisoning. This doesn't usually harm the baby directly, but any illness involving a high temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration could cause a miscarriage or preterm labour.
HERBS TO AVOID DURING PREGNANCY.
Herbal remedies are for the most part quite safe to be taken during pregnancy; some are useful alternatives to drugs both in chronic illness and acute minor problems such as may arise during pregnancy. It is still preferable to take NO MEDICATION whatsoever in the first three months, unless there is a specific problem that needs treatment.
There are many Herbs which should never be taken in pregnancy - their emmonagogue or oxytocic properties may, in large amounts, cause uterine contractions and thereby risk miscarriage: I will only mention a few as there at least twenty on the list.
Nutmeg Myristica Fragrans
Thuja Thuja occidentalis
Calendula Calendula officinalis
Sage Salvia officinalis
Thyme Thymus vulgaris
Marjoram Origanum vulgare
Lovage Levisticum officinale
Rosemary Rosmarinus Officinalis
Rhubarb Rheum sp.
Herbs that are safe to eat to take in culinary doses but not as a medicine during pregnancy include:
celery seed, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and saffron.
If you are aware of any health problem which may compromise your general health, it is important to seek treatment. A Health and Wellness Counselor may help you, to bring you back in balance and to good health through, detoxing, healthy eating and living, create a proper diet suited for your condition, advise natural remedies, herbs, wholefood supplements and organic cosmetics.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !