06 Oct What to Eat When You’re Expecting: Nutrition for a Healthy and Holistic Pregnancy
When it comes to prenatal care, first and foremost is ensuring the health and wellness of both mom and baby. Good nutrition is the foundation for having a healthy, natural pregnancy, easy (ish) childbirth, postpartum recovery, and of course, your newborn baby’s health and development.If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, now is the time to begin treating your body and yourself as if you were your own baby.
Prenatal Nutrition for a Healthy Baby and a Happy Pregnancy
We’ve all heard how important it is to start taking prenatal vitamins even before getting pregnant—and not just for that oh-so-shiny hair, glowing skin and strong fingernails (definitely a bonus).
The truth about prenatal nutrition is that we should focus less on one-a-day vitamins and more on consistent, whole-body nutrition, even before conception—and guess, what dads… that goes for you, too! Research shows that the dietary choices you make now impact the developing egg follicle that will be released in 3-4 cycles from now. That’s 90-120 days we have to be improving and optimizing our nutritional status! What an opportunity!
As a mom who just happens to be pregnant with my second child, I am always thinking about prenatal nutrition and how I can have the healthiest pregnancy possible – for me and my little one. As a holistic health practitioner, I am constantly researching how I can help my patients have healthy, natural pregnancies. So when I say I am passionate about helping women on their pregnancy journeys, you know I mean it. I’m living it every day.
And what I have found out, over and over and over, is simple: a healthy pregnancy begins at home with proper nutrition, which I will go over in detail, today. And then, at the end of this article, you will see three charts that give an overview of the macronutrients, vitamins and minerals critical for the formation and health of your baby – and for you, mama!
But before we tackle those ten-dollar words, here are a few tips and tricks for optimizing your prenatal nutrition based on my research and experience.
Eating Healthy During Pregnancy: Tips and Tricks
Take a deep breath, mamas. While there is a whole lot to learn about prenatal nutrition, and it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, your pregnancy is a time to enjoy the incredible journey you are on, and to embrace the love and support of your family and friends.
When it comes to prenatal nutrition, I’ve put together some tips to make it a little easier and a whole lot tastier.
- Water Intake: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my patients say they don’t love water. I get it, and I am here to say water can taste good! Adding different fruits and herbs to your water not only makes it taste delicious but you’re also getting added nutrition:
- Berries, cucumber, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, pomegranate and strawberry
- Herbs like mint, rosemary, ginger and basil
- Organic vs. Conventional Fruits and Vegetables: I am here to tell you it’s OK to buy conventional fruits and vegetables as long as they don’t fall under the “Dirty Dozen” list of highest pesticide foods
- Farm Fresh Eggs: If you love your morning eggs, it’s important to make sure you buy organic, pasture-raised eggs and ensure they are fully cooked before consuming them
- Cheese: I am not a big fan of too much dairy for pregnant women; however, it’s not on the no-no list of foods — make sure cheese (and any dairy) is organic and pasteurized to prevent contamination
- Meat: All meat should be organic, grass-fed and free-range to reduce toxins
- Fish: If you plan to include fish in your prenatal diet, it should be wild-caught—specifically salmon, rainbow trout, mussels—up to three servings per week
- Processed Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates: There is little-to-no nutritional value in processed foods, and therefore, should be very limited for pregnant women (It’s important to note that refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar imbalances) — reducing the risk of developing gestational diabetes can be achieved by making smart choices in the early months of pregnancy
A Guide to Prenatal Vitamins and Supplements
If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, you may feel overwhelmed and confused when it comes to vitamins and supplements.
The best prenatal nutrition comes from getting your nutrients from dietary sources first.
It’s true, mamas! Nutrients are better used and absorbed when consumed the way they are found in nature.
That said, if you need extra nutritional support, here are my recommendations based on research, quality testing, and my experience in practice.
Targeted Prenatal Supplementation
- I highly recommend choline separately if not included (choline is absent from most prenatal vitamins; less than ten percent of pregnant women achieve target choline intake levels)
- Iron is often needed, but some women may need an iron-free product (may need to have bloodwork done to determine)
- DHA: Critical to your baby’s brain, eye, and nervous system development
- DHA will ALWAYS be found in a separate soft gel or capsule
- Vitamin D + K2: K2 is essential for bone growth and central nervous system development while Vitamin D3 is needed for immune support, blood sugar support, bone growth and many other development roles
- Most do not contain high enough doses of Vitamin D
- I recommend having these levels tested at some point to determine the appropriate dose
- Magnesium: Plays a critical role in immune, muscle, and nerve function efficiency. Taking magnesium while pregnant may decrease the risk of chronic hypertension and premature labor. Some studies suggest magnesium may reduce the risk of complications like fetal growth restriction and preterm birth.
- Most do not contain high enough doses of magnesium
- May want to increase dosage for symptom relief of cramping, constipation, stress, insomnia, etc.
Daily Building Blocks for Baby’s Development
The information I am sharing here is based on the minimum daily requirements for pregnancy. Please keep in mind, you may need additional supplementation or dietary intake of specific nutrients based on lab testing, which is something I can help you with at Nurture Chiropractic and Family Wellness.
Purpose and Function
|Water||100 oz||Filtered water stored in glass, fresh fruits and veggies||Every physiologic function for all cells!|
|Carbohydrates||175 g||Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains||Usable energy for mama and baby|
|Protein||71 g||Nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, eggs, organic dairy products, meats, wild fish||Growth, cell division, immune function|
|Fat||500 mg||Nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, wild fatty fish, organic eggs||Makes cell membranes, hormone synthesis, all growth and development|
|Fiber||28 g||Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains||Feeds good gut bacteria, keeps stool soft and bulky, prevents constipation|
Prenatal Macronutrient Guidelines
If you’re pregnant or hoping to conceive, prenatal vitamins can help fill any gaps.
Purpose and Function
|Vitamin A||770 mcg||Carrots, sweet potatoes, mangos, kale, cantaloupe, iceberg lettuce||Organ development, fat metabolism, vision, healing and tissue repair|
|Vitamin B6||1.6 mg||Sunflower seeds, bananas, prunes, avocados, chickpeas, pistachios||Brain development, immune system function, ***reduces nausea***|
|30 mcg||Mushrooms, avocados, berries, eggs, raw sunflower seeds, swiss chard||Metabolizing carbs, fats, protein, healthy hair and skin, immune function|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||600 mcg||Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards), whole grains, legumes||Prevents birth defects (especially of the nervous system), cell division|
|Vitamin B12||2.6 mcg||Tempeh, nutritional yeast, spirulina, organic eggs, wild-caught fish||Brain/nervous system development, needed to absorb folate and choline|
|Vitamin C||85 mg||Strawberries, papaya, broccoli, Brussels, bell peppers, guavas||Healthy skin and connective tissues, collagen synthesis, immune function|
|Vitamin D||600 IU||SUNLIGHT, organic egg yolks, fatty fish, sardines||Bone and teeth development, immune function|
|Vitamin K||90 mcg||Avocado, kale, collards, mustard greens, Brussels||Blood clotting, synthesis of protein in bones, plasma, and kidneys|
Prenatal Vitamin Guidelines
If you need extra nutritional support, here are my recommendations.
Purpose and Function
|Zinc||11 mg||Raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), wheat germ, almonds, collards, cocoa, oysters||Protein and DNA synthesis, optimal immune function|
|Choline||450 mg||Soymilk, tofu, quinoa, broccoli, eggs, scallops||Brain development, neurotransmitter synthesis, prevents neural tube defects|
|Iron||27 mg||Lentils, dark chocolate, cooked spinach, dried peaches and prunes, blackstrap molasses||Hemoglobin synthesis to transport oxygen|
|Copper||1000 mcg||Sesame seeds, cashews, soybeans, shiitake and crimini mushrooms, turnip greens||Collagen synthesis, cofactor to incorporate iron into hemoglobin|
|Selenium||60 mcg||Shitake and crimini mushrooms, asparagus, sardines, brazil nuts||Antioxidant protection, normal thyroid function|
|Magnesium||360 mcg||Raw spinach, squash, soybeans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, avocados||Healthy bowel function, muscle relaxation, bone health|
|Calcium||1000 mg||Fortified almond/soy milk, broccoli, tofu, bok choy, organic dairy products||Healthy bones and teeth, cardiovascular function|
|Phosphorous||700 mg||Soybeans, raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), scallops, sardines||Musculoskeletal system function and formation, hearth rhythm|
|Iodine||220 mcg||Sea vegetables (kelp, arame, hiziki, kombu), scallops, cod||Thyroid hormone production|
|Potassium||4.7 g||Beet greens, lima beans, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, spinach, bok choy||Maintains normal blood pressure, kidney health, electrolyte/fluid balance|
Prenatal Mineral Guidelines
Nurture Chiropractic and Family Wellness is Here for You
At Nurture Chiropractic and Family Wellness, we understand the importance of prenatal nutrition as the foundation for a healthy, natural pregnancy, easier childbirth, postpartum recovery, and your newborn baby’s health and development.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about prenatal nutrition, please reach out to Dr. Erin, who loves to talk about everything pregnancy and baby! Click below to schedule an appointment today.