Is Your Body Nutritionally Ready for Pregnancy?
During pregnancy the old saying "you are what you eat" turns into "your baby will BE what you eat". It is crucial that your body is "fully stocked up" on all the nutrients that a baby will need through out pregnancy. A growing fetus needs different amounts of different nutrients at all times of the day to grow and develop all the various organs and tissues at varying speeds at any specific time, that we are made of. To give your baby the best possible health that you can, it's important to eat super healthy and take a prenatal multi vitamin supplement before, during and after pregnancy through nursing. In addition to facilitating proper development these nutrients can also avert side effects of chemicals and toxins we may be exposed to through the environment and household products.
To make a healthy baby, a pregnant mom does eat for 2, sort of. She only needs 500 extra calories a day (that's only 2 large bananas) if she's exercising, but double to triple of many nutrients. (Only 350 calories if she doesn't exercise). It's difficult to fit that much nutrition into a couple of bananas (let alone a doughnut...) so it's vital that you eat nutrient dense foods.
Anything you eat with empty calories (white flour, rice, sugar, pasta, processed foods, soda, fried foods) will not only NOT help your growing baby, it will hamper your baby's development and can cause many problems, from mild to as sever birth defects from malnutrition, as well as add to your hip circumference. The wrong foods can cause gestational diabetes and/or hypertension that can lead to preeclampsia, premature delivery and it's devastating effects on your baby's future health, not to mention your own physical, mental and financial health.
I am sure you're aware of the need for Folic Acid and thanks to the March of Dimes most of our grains are now fortified with Folic Acid. And thanks to Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, many corn products are now fortified. This fortification has lowered the birthdefects of spina bifida by almost 30% and in addition lowered the general population risk for heart disease and cancer. However, studies have shown, that taking supplements are more effective than eating fortified foods. Probably because Folic Acid does not work alone. Just like you can't bake a cake with just flour, Folate has a few helpers like; vitamin B6 and B12, choline, iron, protein, vitamin C, selenium, zinc, etc...to help make red blood cells that carry oxygen through the blood to the baby for proper growth and development.
Protein is of course crucial, as we are made of protein. If you find yourself short or in need for extra protein (pregnancy doubles your protein needs) a protein shake could come in handy. Make sure to consume enough ANIMAL protein (meat, fish, fowl, eggs etc..) as a vegan diet can cause birth defects. Especially in boys (penile defects and/or shortened perenium). Plant foods lack completely in vitamin B12 (without B12 red blood cells can't be produced, and a baby can't grow), and do not supply you with sufficient B6, iron, zinc, protein (all are Folate helpers) or brain developing cholesterol and fish oils. However, as important as supplements are, they are not and must not be substitutes for a well balanced nutritional intake while pregnant. Vitamin B12 must be consumed thorugh foods, as foods still contain many phytonutrients and enzymes we have yet to discover and/ or make into supplements. They are important for our health in ways we don't yet understand.
There are many other nutrients that are equally as important such as:
- Omega 3 fatty acid fish oill for baby's brain development and stabilization of moms
- moods to help prevent depression.
- Vitamin C for the immune system and absorption of most other nutrients.
- Vitamin E as an anti oxidant and for skin, nails etc....
- Iron is often needed as most of us are deficient and prenatal needs triple.
Calcium is crucial even as Mother Nature may triple our calcium absorption during pregnancy to ensure a sufficient supply for the baby, however, if your calcium intake is insufficient your baby will literally eat off of your bones, possibly leaving you with osteoporosis later. If you are getting leg cramps or heart burn you need extra calcium and/or magnesium. Actually all people but especially women need extra calcium from childhood to ensure lifelong bone strength.
Don't forget to get your vitamin D from 10-15 minutes of daily unprotected sun shine on your skin (put sun protection on your face, but leave an arm or two without it for 10 minutes). Your body's natural vitamin D production is vital for proper calcium absorption (foods and supplements help, but not as well as a little sunshine) as well as is daily weight bearing exercise. Infact, without D and exercise, no amount of calcium will help your bones. Vitamin D is also turning out to really be the "Happy Sunshine Vitamin" preventing depression and most diseases from colds, the flu to cancer, as almost all nutrients rely on sufficient D for proper absorption.
ACIDOPHILUS - Probiotics
Acidophilus helps with digestion, calming of the stomach flora and may help with constipation. If you've consumed a less than a super healthy food intake, Milk Thistle may help clean and detoxify your liver and kidneys. If you end up with a cold while pregnant a little extra vitamin C, D and E helps, which is about the only safe cold remedy you can take while pregnant. No drugs, not even Tylenol. Headaches may be reduced by a concentrated calcium powder or tablet supplement, as well as for any gestational insomnia and leg cramps. My moms swear by it.
Be careful when selecting a prenatal vitamin or other multi vitamin for pregnancy and make sure it only gives you 5000 IU's or less of vitamin A (more can cause birth defects) . Beta carotene is OK.
Avoid most herbs while pregnant, such as gingko biloba, ginseng, echinechea, golden seal, licorice root (in many herbal teas) , St. John's Wort, Valerian, Kava etc.... If you are trying to conceive apparently St. John's Wort may harden the eggs shell making it difficult for the sperm to penetrate. Other foods that may hamper conception in some women are: wheat, gluten, sugar, and caffeine.
I shouldn't have to mention this, but in my not so humble opinion: DON'T even consider smoking, alcohol or drugs while pregnant, as it is nothing short of CHILD ENDANGERMENT! -
Once your beautiful bundles of joy(s) have been born, your nutirional needs increase again beyond pregnancy needs. Your baby is now outside in the real world and getting much bigger than when inside of you. Continuing your prenatal vitamins, a nutrient dense diet, and avoiding chemical esposures of all kinds (processed and fried foods, drugs, alchohol, smoking etc...) is crucial for your nursing baby that is now even more demanding of your nutrients. Never forget: your baby will be, what you eat (or don't ). Almost everything you consume transfers through your breast milk now as it did through the placenta during pregnancy. With most of your nutrients being transfered via breastmilk to your child, this is an even more important time for you take your prenatal vitamins throughout nursing. The high levels of Omega Fatty Acids in my Healthy Baby Vitamins were specifically designed for baby's brain development and to help prevent postpartum depression.
Together with daily exercise you will get your body back to normal and feel so much better so much faster.
Click here to order your Healthy Baby Complete Prenatal Vitamin Packs