Thanks for joining us for Pregnancy Week! Start here with Part 1. Some of this material originally appeared in a slightly different form in our Fall 2010 catalog.
Our Food Doesn’t Always Cut It
Ideally, you would get all your nutrients from food, but that is just not possible these days with our nutritionally-depleted soils and food supplies, busy lifestyles, and other deficiencies. That’s why the wonderful resources of Beeyoutiful are invaluable if you’re preparing for one of life’s greatest joys and hardest tasks.
Both parents should take a multivitamin that’s derived from whole sources, and is easily absorbed to work within the body to help build and restore nutrient reserves. SuperMom and SuperDad are excellent multivitamins which also feature “bonus” nutrient-packed ingredients such as spirulina and chlorella. (Bear in mind that dad contributes on the front end to the baby’s health, so he needs to take his vitamins to build his own immune system well in advance of conception.)
In addition to the multivitamin, Folate is a must. A sufficient level in both parents decreases the rate of several genetic problems, including spina bifida and Down Syndrome. SuperMom and SuperDad each offer 400 mcg of Folic Acid, but most midwives and health practitioners advise 800 mcg per day for women anticipating pregnancy so you’ll need to boost that nutrient separately.
Many times during pregnancy, due to insufficient diet, increased demand, and absorption issues, iron levels can drop into a range that is dangerous for both mom and baby. If you reach delivery without enough iron, it can lead to low blood levels and the need for additional interventions as well as increased recovery times.
Floradix® Iron + herbs is a safe, low dose, organic liquid iron supplement. It contains highly soluble iron gluconate as well as herbal extracts, whole food concentrates and co-factors Vitamins B and C. The addition of Vitamin B and C aids your body’s ability to absorb the iron and better utilize it once absorbed. Best of all, it is easy on the stomach and non-constipating, making it helpful for pregnant and lactating women.
Cod Liver Oil is one of my newer personal favorites that I wish I’d taken it prior to all my pregnancies. Cod Liver Oil provides the EPA and DHA required for proper brain development. I suggest using Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil along with Butter Oil because it also provides Omega 3 fatty acids and good amounts of Vitamins A, D, and K. These three crucial vitamins work together to help build strong bones, maintain the cardiovascular system, keep skin clear and healthy, balance the clotting factors in your blood, reduce the chance of diabetes, strengthen the immune system, and myriad other great benefits. Since these are fat soluble vitamins, it is also vital to take them with a meal containing a moderate amount of healthy fats for proper absorption.
Heading Off Morning Sickness
One of the most-dreaded parts of pregnancy is morning sickness and it often lingers as a “what if” when we are considering having a little one. While the babies are worth every second of agony, there are definitely things we can do that might help protect us or at least lessen the intensity. Take comfort: I had severe morning sickness with my first three pregnancies, to the point of needing to be medicated throughout, but by my fourth and fifth pregnancies I was managing well with several natural remedies instead.
Maximizing your nutrient-dense foods and thus nourishing your system is the foundation, but often our diets need a special boost. Two nutrients in particular seem to impact morning sickness the most.
Magnesium plays crucial roles in managing cortisol and blood sugar and even impacting hormones. When we are deficient in magnesium, our body is not able to properly maintain these other areas, leading to what we call morning sickness. Usually having optimal magnesium levels prior to pregnancy will help this. (For more information on magnesium deficiency, click here.)
We need to add B Vitamins, particularly B12 and B6, because they aid our body’s ability to absorb magnesium. Having daily intake of food rich in Vitamin B is a great place to start, but if your body has difficulty converting it to a usable form, you may also want to consider using a methylated form of both folate and B12 instead.
Putting it All to Use
To make sure your body can actually use the foods and supplements you’re giving it, you’ll need to do all you can to keep your digestive system working its best. Even if you are blessed with an iron-clad stomach, you’re likely to have taken antibiotics sometime in your life, or have been exposed to toxins that could wreak havoc on digestive flora. Here are two key ways to help build a strong digestive tract.
Probiotics, taken daily, rebuild good intestinal flora which will pass to the baby growing inside of you. It also protects against harmful bacteria. And here’s a big plus I wish I had known during my first stomach-churning pregnancy: daily use of probiotics such as Tummy Tuneup can help decrease nausea while pregnant.
Digestive enzymes are crucial because enzymes are the tools your body uses to extract nutrients from food. Most people are deficient in enzymes and unable to use well what their food offers. Without sufficient enzymes, many people experience fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, food cravings, and various stomach complaints. Eliminating these problems before pregnancy will help you feel better during pregnancy. And it will help maximize the nutrient building blocks available to help grow your child’s body.
Red Raspberry Leaf is an invaluable herb for women of all ages, but specifically for pre-pregnancy. The leaves are known to increase fertility in both men and women, prevent miscarriage and hemorrhage, and decrease morning sickness. Many midwives agree that Red Raspberry Leaves are safe to take throughout your pregnancy, but some advise against use during the first trimester, so (as always!) check with your preferred health care provider before continuing any supplement during your pregnancy.
A Matter of Timing
The plans I’ve shared here should be started six months to a year prior to pregnancy, if at all possible. Certainly, if you are experiencing specific health concerns such as thyroid dysfunction, extreme fatigue, chronic infections or illness, etc., it would be best to get control of your health immediately, whether or not pregnancy seems to be in your future. Whether through diet modification, adding supplements, or working with a naturopath, the more you work to build your health now, the less effort will be required to restore it in the future, and you’ll reduce the chances of passing on chronic problems to your children.
Whether your first or your tenth, pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in life! Every baby brings a wealth of expectations, joys, and new experiences. As you contemplate bringing a life into this world, I hope you can learn a little from my early bad choices and the subsequent better ones. The most rewarding result of my better choices has been the noticeably better health enjoyed by my third child, who is by far healthier than my older two.
Join us tomorrow for Part 3 when we’ll talk about exercise and rest during pregnancy.
Mary Ewing has been with Beeyoutiful for six years (through three pregnancies!). She enjoys exploring life with her husband and five children as they cook, garden, play and dream of homesteading. Her interests include traditional cooking, learning about herbs and essential oils, and traditional art forms such as sewing, crocheting, knitting and smocking.