Thanks for stopping by and please share this article with your friends of child-bearing age whom you know are expecting or trying for a baby! There's a load of information out there, and even from seemingly credible sources, can be untrue! What unnecessary stress for new moms and moms-to-be to have to go through... let them channel all that energy into making their tiny human while I identify some of the most important things I think they should know!!
After all I've researched, and inherited from other moms and dads, here are my top nutrition-related tips for a healthy conception and pregnancy:
1. Prepare that baby house early!
I mean YOU, mom-to-be! It's never too early to start eating healthy in hopes of having a healthy baby and successful conception. Clearing out what is not needed from the diet and eating enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, sources of calcium, and supplementing about 3 months prior to conception with a prenatal vitamin and omega-3 is a great idea! Dads can benefit from a healthy diet pre-conception too, and getting you both on the same path will help mama to keep to her health goals!
2. You are NOT eating for two... :) but make sure to support a healthy weight gain with healthy snacks!
Baby and mom only need about 350 extra calories in the second trimester and 450 in the third, as well as 300 to 500 extra calories during breastfeeding. Your body will probably tell you if it's physically hungry unless you run into a lot of nausea or vomiting. Wait for the actual physical hunger if you are caught up in the cravings! This baby wanted carbohydrates, and I wasn't saying no to treats, but the knowledge that what I ate, baby ate, was enough to keep me from overdoing it. If you're having trouble with cravings and healthy weight gain, reach out to a specialized Registered Dietitian!
3. Do some extra meal prep while you feel great!
I had good weeks and bad weeks of motivation to make healthy meals throughout pregnancy, either due to business, slight nausea, or hormone swings that slightly affected mood and tiredness, so having things prepared in the freezer was a big help! It helped me to get into the habit of preparing lots so that right before baby is due, I'll have lots of prepped meals in the freezer for when the biggest tasks of the day are resting and caring for baby.
4. Eat a variety of healthy foods and antioxidant-rich spices (if you can tolerate it with increased risk of reflux).
Baby will be getting a taste of what you eat right around the half-way point of pregnancy through swallowing amniotic fluids, so make an extra effort to eat different flavours and especially your veggies so that it comes to enjoy the foods you do, and a wide variety of healthy foods! If you have trouble with reflux, make sure to eat small and frequent meals instead of larger ones, and avoid high fat foods, spicy foods, and eat just enough protein for your body weight (about 0.9 grams per kg of body weight, or 0.45 grams per lb of body weight).
5. Remove hormone-disrupting toxins from your home and environment.
Avoid smoking, frequently walking through smoking areas, and heavily air-polluted areas. Take a look around the home for sources of phthalates (plastics, solvents, personal care products), parabens (in cosmetics and personal care products), BPA (in some canned food tins and plastics), and other dioxins (build up in animal products, especially the higher up on the food chain we go). Read the last paragraph of a recent summary from the Danish Environmental Protection agency on endocrine disruptors below, and see page 6 or the same article referenced below for the effects of the chemicals we know of today:
"It is not possible to avoid all exposures to endocrine disruptors (e.g. exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls] in food), but for certain substance groups it is possible to limit the exposure, for example by avoiding propyl- and butylparabens in cream and sunscreens, OMC (Octyl methoxycinnamate) in sunscreens, triclosan in deodorant and toothpaste, nonylphenol by washing new clothes and phthalates in various consumer product as well as in dust." -
6. Educate yourself! And reach out for help before you need it.
I didn't know what I didn't know about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infant feeding until I learned from the experts! Thanks to a few weeks in maternal health during my training, and a background of nutrition education through all life stages, I had an idea of what to feed baby. There is lots to know about troubleshooting with breastfeeding, weight gain, and infant feeding! Get help from a maternal health nurse or a certified professional about maternal health, baby's health, and managing everything from conception to raising a toddler on a healthy diet!
Happy child-bearing and child-rearing!!
Andersen et al. Exposure of pregnant consumers to suspected endocrine disruptors. Miljøstyrelsen 2012. https://www2.mst.dk/Udgiv/publications/2012/04/978-87-92903-02-0.pdf