Guest Post by Donielle Baker from Naturally Knocked Up
As a blogger that writes specifically about natural fertility and preconception health, people normally figure I’m pretty “natural” when it comes to pregnancy as well. And I am! My last two pregnancies I spent a lot of time figuring out natural remedies and taking care of my body to try to prevent different ailments.
For me, this means I really pay attention to the foods that I eat so that I can nourish my body in the best way possible. Because while a raw/whole foods based prenatal and other supplements can be good “insurance”, nothing beats a solid foundation of nutrition. And if you’ve worked at nourishing your body in the months before conception, you’ve got a good supply of nutrient stores to draw on during pregnancy.
Whether or not you were preparing for a baby before you got pregnant, or those little pink lines were your first snap to reality (as in “oh no! I need to eat better!), there are plenty of ways to get a lot of nutrients into the body during pregnancy. Some of the most important nutrients are going to be fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K2 as these help the development of the baby as well as help maintain proper hormone balance.
But sometimes, no matter how much we prepare our bodies beforehand, or how strongly believe in eating only wholesome and good foods, our hormones can start making us feel a queasy. Nauseous. Or downright ill.
And when this happens, sometimes we resort to eating something just to eat something, though it’s less than perfect. Or we’re so tired that we just can’t make another meal and our husbands bring us take-out. (Am I the only one that has a husband that doesn’t cook much other than hot-dogs?!)
When this happens, I have a few tips for getting in the nutrition you need without compromising too many of your healthy eating ideals.
I often find that being able to drink something instead of eating it, helps to calm my stomach. It’s also a great way to get plenty of nutrients without having to spend too much time in the kitchen. Make sure to use plenty of rich and colorful fruits and vegetables and try to use more veggies than fruit so that you’re not just drinking a large glass of fruit sugar.
While I’d never recommend a juice fast during pregnancy, a glass per day, or at least a few ounces with meals can definitely help you increase your nutrient intake. If you’re able to, also try to eat something that contains some good fat as our bodies absorb nutrients better when we also consume fat. (Plus, an unrefined fat is super great for baby’s brain development!) So grab a slice of quality cheese or a handful of nuts if you’re using juice as a snack or tummy settler.
Another fantastic way to get in a lot of nutrients, and is usually easy on the pregnant mama’s stomach, is smoothies. For me in particular it was frozen smoothies. I found early on that ice cream helped calm my stomach, but when I began to see that eating it so often would mean buying a gallon a week just for myself, and knowing how horrible all that sugar was for both me and my baby, I decided that a frozen smoothie would work just as wonderfully. Plus it was giving me so many more vitamins and minerals than a sweet treat.
You can add many different types of fruits and vegetables to a smoothie, whatever suits your taste buds, and I’d also recommend putting something probiotic in there as well (yogurt, kefir, or even a probiotic capsule). The extra probiotics will help your gut health, making sure you’re absorbing the nutrients you eat. They also help strengthen the immune system, something that needs a bit of a boost during pregnancy.
Other great, nutrient-rich smoothie add ins are:
- nuts (great for healthy fats, almonds are also good sources of vitamin E),
- chia seeds (omega 3′s)
- supplements (many pregnant women have a hard time swallowing pills – this solves that problem)
- berries (rich in anti-oxidants)
- coconut oil (healthy fat)
Many women seem to have the opposite problem I do during pregnancy, it seems they can’t tolerate cold foods. But when heavy or dense foods are difficult to get down, one great thing to turn to is broth. And if it tastes good, yet the smell of it cooking bothers you, try putting it in a crock pot and placing it in the bathroom, garage, or even out on the deck in nice weather.
To make a rich bone broth, take either the leftovers from a roasted chicken or buy quality grass-fed beef bones from a local butcher and let them simmer in a pot, or crockpot, for 24-48 hours. During the last 12 hours or so, add in at least one whole onion, a handful of chopped garlic cloves, and a few carrots and celery stalks, along with plenty of unrefined sea salt. (side note – both the onion and garlic have wonderful immune boosting properties if you allow them to be chopped and exposed to the air for 15 minutes before cooking.) Using the bones is a great way to help a pregnant woman heal and build tissue.
If the smell of meat bothers you during pregnancy (it does in many women during the first trimester) or you have made the decision not to eat meat, you can also make a vegetable broth. My herbalist friend Lisa recommends using mushrooms like Shitake, Chaga, Reishi, Maitake, and herbs such as Nettle, Red Clover, Raspberry leaf as well as vegetables. Of course, always check with your health care provider on the safety of specific herbs for your body. If you consume eggs, you can also add the egg shells to the broth for additional calcium; if you have access to properly raised and pastured chicken eggs. And you can add all of this to a bone based broth as well.
Drink the broth hot in a mug, use it as a base for soups, or cook your beans or rice in the liquid.
Eating well during pregnancy may be difficult at times when you’re not feeling the best, but with just a few minutes of prep work you can get the nutrients you and your baby need. As an added bonus, it may also help you get through pregnancy and post partum with fewer issues. Or if you’re one of those women others covet because of the ease in which you sail through pregnancy, these tips for adding nutrients in to your diet still apply!
photo credit: lizdavenportcreative