Tend Your Garden Well

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I love this quote from Ina May Gaskin. It is a subject that can be missed in the prenatal care. But as the quote says you need a nutrient rich soil to grow healthy plants. Why should this be less important when it comes to nutrition and babies.  What do you know about nutrition?  What are your nutritional needs in pregnancy?

Nutritional Needs of Pregnant Woman

With the growth of baby your stomach has been pushed up further and not much room for a big meal. This means that every bite counts. Eating small meals throughout the day instead of three larger meals.

Non-pregnant vs. Pregnant

Calories
1500-2000 to 2300-3200

Fiber
8-15 g to 10-15 g

Protein
45-65 g to 75-90 g.

Calcium

Your needs are greater in the second half. Insufficient calcium will lead to your body pulling it from your bones to nourish the growing fetus. Baby’s teeth, bones are forming and calcium helps with muscle and heart function, blood clotting and nerve transmission. Sources of calcium include milk, yogurts, cheese, if vegan then make sure you take in extra soy products and nuts and dark leafy greens.

850-1200 mg. to 1200-1600 mg.

Iron

You need 30 mg to 60 mg of iron when pregnant. Iron builds blood cells in mother and fetus. Anemia is when your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. Anemia also can occur if your red blood cells don’t contain enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color. This protein helps red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If you have anemia, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. As a result, you may feel tired or weak. You also may have other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or headaches.

Because iron is not absorbed efficiently, more is needed to make it more available. So most women are usually prescribed an iron supplement. Not all can tolerate this. The supplement I recommend that is non-constipating and won’t make you nauseous is Floradix (a plant-based iron supplement) (I am not affiliated with).  It can actually help with constipation.

Nutrient-rich foods to prevent deficiencies:
Eggs
Fish
Poultry
Organ meats (organically raised; these foods are really more like medicines)
Milk products
Red meats
Nuts and seeds
Whole grains
Wheat germ
Yeast
Molasses
Seaweeds
Leafy green vegetables
Other nourishing choices to consider is the use of herbs. The #1 choice for nourishing women’s health in general and especially in pregnancy is red raspberry leaf tea. This has been shown to tonify the uterus and it is said if drunk daily in pregnancy will assure a healthy labor. Stinging nettles is another great choice. You can make a tea with this or use it as a green in soups. This is high in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium and iron. Stinging nettle is used in many pregnancy teas (and women’s health teas in general) because it is a great all-around pregnancy tonic. Rosehips are another great choice because it is high in vitamin C which is key for absorbing iron well

Fiber

Fiber is important because the digestive system slows down. So to avoid or relieve constipation drink plenty of water besides milk and herbal teas and eat high-fiber foods like whole grains(Ezekiel 4:9 bread) (not affiliated with this brand), fruits, and vegetables.

Morning Sickness 
Another challenge to staying nourished in your pregnancy is morning sickness.  Though it’s name implies it only occurs in the morning, this can last throughout the days. If you find you can’t keep down water or food then speak with your care provider immediately because you could be dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)       Hyperemesis gravidarum is a more serious condition that will require the care of a physician.  Morning sickness is actually helped with good nutrition choices.  Vitamin B6, C, E and extra magnesium and potassium can lessen or relieve morning sickness.  Red raspberry, peach leaf, tea, peppermint, and ginger root teas can help with nausea.  Avoid fatty foods, junk food, and obviously  alcohol. Upon awakening eating dry toast and crackers has been shown to stave off nausea. Snacking on carbs or protein throughout the day.

Nourishing yourself with the goal of giving  baby the best start is possible. It’s a delicious and fun adventure when you explore your choices armed with nutritional knowledge. If your still unsure seek out the assistance of a nutritionist  knowledgeable in the needs of pregnant women. Speak to your care provider or midwife. Your friendly neighborhood doula (hi there) will have some insights as well. If unsure ASK!  We are all to eager to help you have the best pregnancy you can.  I hope you have a happy and nourished pregnancy.  Have suggestions for eating well in pregnancy?  Please share in the comments.

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