"Better nutrition leads to healthier babies. It's as simple as that."
- Doug Odom, M.D.
General health and well-being:
I am a huge fan of Andrew Weil, M.D. of the Arizona Center of Integrative Medicine and highly recommend the center's free online pdfs for dietary tips and maintaining mental health. Also, I encourage you to take one of the online workshops and review the multiple recipes created by my favorite nutritionista, Meghan Telpner. Meghan and her crew run a blog called Making Love in the Kitchen, which focuses on healing foods, meal prep and nutrition - download their booklet written for healthy breakfasts. Here is another booklet by the Weil Lifestyle, which includes easy recipes for general health.
Pre-pregnancy and the first two trimesters:
Folate, a water-soluble B vitamin, helps your body build healthy cells. Studies have shown that for women of childbearing age, taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day can reduce the risk of having a birth affected by a Neural Tube Defect, such as Spina Bifida, by up to 70%. Consider taking a good prenatal vitamin recommended by your maternity care provider and ask about ingesting concentrated fruits, grains and vegetables for added insurance.
Though you should maintain a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy, nutrition is especially important during the third trimester. Consider using Dr. Brewer's Pregnancy Diet or purchase the book listed above, Eating For Two. During pregnancy, there are certain foods to avoid but generally food is safe for most healthy, soon to-be-mamas. Also, at AskDrSears.com many recipes and ideas are listed along with tips and guidelines for pregnancy nutrition.
Postnatal / Breastfeeding:
Eat and drink to satisfy your thirst and appetite, but aim to take in about 500 additional calories per day, for a total of about 2,700 calories daily (discuss your personal nutritional needs with your doctor). Your body stores up fat during your pregnancy to provide the extra calories needed for milk production so factor in the weight of your breasts (about 3 pounds) when setting your postpartum weight loss goals. There's no need to go on a special diet while breastfeeding your baby - your extra weight will shed. Focus on making healthy choices to help fuel your milk production by eating a variety of whole grains, as well as organic fruits and vegetables.
Cow's milk is the food that causes most problems with sensitivity and allergies for babies (and mothers). Dairy was made for calves, not for human babies, and many infants are sensitive to it. Cow’s milk is the first food you should work on eliminating - it may take up to 2 weeks to remove the milk's protein (casein) from your diet to end the fussy behavior.
- Try lactation cookie bars to increase milk production. Yummy!
- Not eating organically? Wash your fruits and vegetables to reduce exposure to pesticide residue. A recipe is posted here complete with a video tutorial.
- Sign-up to receive veggies, fruits, eggs, meat, and more delivered to your door on a weekly basis.
- Special considerations for edema (swelling), diabetes, and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure).
Eating and Drinking During Labor and Birth
In the 1940's, Dr. Mendelson reported that during general anesthesia, there was an increased risk of the stomach contents entering the lungs and potentially could lead to severe lung disease or death. Since the 1940s, obstetrical anesthesia has changed considerably, with better general anesthetic techniques and a greater use of regional anesthesia. Cochrane reviewed 3,130 women during labor in 5 studies and determined women should be free to eat and drink in labour, or not, as they wish. Read more here.