Birthsong Childbirth Education & Support Services

Nutrition & Health

Nutrition & Health
by Jennifer N. Ayers-Gould, BA LPN ICCE

Staying healthy during pregnancy is of optimal importance since you are no longer only concerned about your own wellbeing, but also for the new life growing inside of you.  Everything you put into your body has a direct effect on the baby you are creating.  It isn't always natural or easy to follow a healthy diet when you are suffering from nausea, vomiting, food aversions, cravings and general malaise.  While it is usually wisest to listen to your body and follow its cues, you must also follow your head and make your dietary decisions based not only on desire, but on knowledge of healthy choices.

Obviously, fresh, preferrably organic, fruits and vegetables should be a primary source of nutrition.  The closer a food is to its natural, unprocessed state, the more health benefits you can glean from it.  You will also feel more refreshed and energized when you eat foods which have more "life" in them.  Blueberries are not only a sweet treat, but high in vitamin C and antioxidants.  Bananas provide energy and are a good source of potassium.  You also need to be concerned about getting enough protein since that is the building block of cells (and babies!).  Meat is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about high protein, but this is not the healthiest option.  Consider a diet rich in legumes, beans, nuts, yogurt, cheese, eggs and whole organic milk.  Also consider fish such as grilled salmon which are not only high in protein but omega oils also.  It is also imperative to include whole grains and high fiber cereals.  Since the digestive system is slowed down to a crawl, especially during the first trimester, you will appreciate the benefits of a high fiber diet.  Constipation, gas, and bloating are no fun at all!  In conjunction with getting plenty of fiber, you should also make sure that you are getting plenty of fluids.  Water with lemon makes a great thirst quencher and can quell nausea as well.  The combination of fiber, water and/or juice and exercise will encourage digestive motility and make you a happier person as a result.

Some great ideas for healthy snacks include: banana bread, whole wheat pancakes, banana-blueberry-yogurt smoothies, Luna bars, trail mix, granola cereal, berry crisp, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, red raspberry leaf tea with honey, homemade chex mix, grilled chicken salad, egg salad sandwiches...the list could go on a on, but those are some of my personal favorites.  If you have a favorite "healthy pregnancy" recipe that you would like to share, please go to our Contact Form and submit it to us!

If you are suffering from "morning sickness," there are many different remedies to try, although I've tried them all and NOTHING worked for me.  :-(  Adding fresh ginger root to your diet is said to be one of the most effective methods of combating nausea.  You can also consume ginger via gingerbread cookies or ginger ale.  Another popular remedy is taking vitamin B6 supplements and/or a B vitamin complex.  Certain herbal teas such as peach, mint or red raspberry leaf may help relieve the sensation of nausea.  Sucking on hard candies may help with morning sickness as well.   On a positive note, those who experience morning sickness are less likely to suffer a miscarriage or preterm birth since it is associated with higher levels of pregnancy hormones circulating in the body and this in more indicative of a healthy pregnancy.  Morning sickness ususally begins between 5 - 7 weeks of pregnancy and peaks at around 10 - 12 weeks.  It may taper off into the second trimester, but for some women it continues throughout their pregnancies, especially with multiple gestations.  If you are vomitting severely, it is important to remain as hydrated as possible and seek medical attention. 

Your health care practitioner may prescribe prenatal vitamins for you.  These may be very upsetting to your stomach.  Even if you take them with food, you may still experience digestive disturbances.  Depending on the the amount and source of iron in the tablets, they may even worsen constipation.  If you find that you are sensitive to prescription prenatal vitamins or just would like to find the most healthy alternative, I find that the Rainbow Light Prenatal One is one of the most considerate and complete multivitamins for pregnant and nursing women.

Remembering that what you put into your body is what you get out is never more important than during pregnancy...and never more true!  A health conscious diet, exercise and mental/emotional nourishment regimen are an invaluable investment in not only your baby, but the future of the planet as well.


More Information about Nutrition & Health:

Luna Bars

Rainbow Light Prenatal One

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea