Preparing for and recovering from pregnancy with food

Foods for Pregnancy and Postpartum

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When we think of being ready for a baby to come we usually think of things like...Where will the baby sleep? Will the baby be a boy or girl? What clothes should we buy? What will the baby's room look like? etc...

The most important part of pregnancy and building a baby is something that we rarely think about, and that is the nutrients your body needs in order to conceive, build, and nurse a baby.  While what your child eats every day in his or her daily life years from now does make a huge difference in their health, you have a unique opportunity NOW while your baby is developing before in utero (or even before you are pregnant with your baby) to give him/her a head start. 

By maximizing your nutrients before pregnancy, especially fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, you greatly decreases the chances of your child suffering from developmental abnormalities like club foot, cleft palate, learning disabilities, eye problems, or congested sinuses...just to name a few. 

The womb is your baby's first home. You need to put time and effort into the environment of your growing baby's first home. Why is nutrition the number one concern for conception and building a baby?

What history has to say about preparing for a baby...

Weston Price was a dentist who studied native cultures that were eating their primitive diet all across the globe.  His quest was to find the secret behind why these people groups did not suffer from cavities, tuberculosis, fatigue, cripiling issues of old age, learning disabilities, and other modern illnesses. Things that Americans were suffering greatly from.  What Dr. Price found was that the native groups were untouched by the 'white man's diet' of processed sugar, grain, pasteurized dairy products, refined fruit juice, and vegetable fats...things that Americans eat every day.  Instead these people ate a traditional diet of whole and freshly milled grains and sprouted legumes, pasture raised and grass fed meats, whole raw dairy products, sea food, organ meats and fermented vegetables.  Any people group that lived close enough to a town that had a store selling the newfangled white mans food started to suffer from disease, they developed dental cavities, became weaker, children were born with club feet, ill formed palates and dental arches, and problems with eye sight and congested sinuses. 

In order to produce truly healthy children we have to make sure we are first nourished with vitamin and mineral rich foods. Dr. Price writes how most of the people groups placed young women and sometimes even men on a special diet six months to two years before marriage. The diet ensured that the couple was getting adequate amounts of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K which all play a huge role in the development of organs, cranial facial structure, and physics, mental development, growth and learning.  Without this special diet you will lack nutrients and your child is more likely to need glasses, need braces, be susceptible to frequent sickness, and you will be at risk of developing cavities, losing energy and not being able to recover from the pregnancy because of sacrificing vitamins and minerals to the developing baby. 

Below are a list of traditional foods that should be eaten in pregnancy (and also preferably before pregnancy as well) and how they contribute to health.  Prenatal vitamins should not relied on to make up for a poor, junk food filled diet. There is no replacement for nutrient rich real food that gives you important nutrients with all the co-factors that help you make use of those vitamin and minerals.

Foods for building a baby

1.   Pasture raised beef, pork, chicken or other meat consumed daily ALWAYS eaten WITH the fat. Protein and calcium are the bricks and motor for building your baby.  The skeleton develops from calcium and the placenta, skin and muscles, develop from protein.  The calcium and protein for your baby will only come from your dinner or from your own muscle and bone! You certainly don't want to be sacrificing your own physical structure so make sure to eat plenty of grass-fed/pasture raised meats along with their natural fats which are needed in order for you to make use of the calcium in your diet. Healthy meats also supply you with iron and B vitamins. 

2.   Wild caught fish once or twice a week.
In her book "Real Food For Mother And Baby" Nina Planck says "Many pregnant women are afraid to eat fish because of methyl-mercury and fetal brain damage.  But we also know that fish is vital for brain growth.  The results on this thorny issue are now clear. Not eating fish poses a greater risk to your baby's brain than eating fish."  In all the tribes that Dr. Weston Price studied he did not find any that did not live near the sea and eat plenty of fish or go to great lengths to get food from the sea.  Fish contains a healthful amount of omega 3 essential fatty acids that are vitally important for your baby's developing brain and body.  The fish with the most omega 3's in them are sardines, herring and salmon.  Always buy your carnivorous fish (salmon, tuna, shrimp) from a wild source. Unless your fish is specifically labeled 'wild caught' it is most likely raised in a fish farm and doesn't have many nutrients.  

3.   Coconut oil, 1 TBS daily, used in cooking or smoothies - This healthy fat supplies you with lauric acid.  It is anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial.  Breast milk is comprised of about 20% lauric and capric acid which help protect your baby from illness.  Mothers that eat coconut oil have higher levels of Lauric and capric acid in their breast milk!  Coconut oil is great for cooking because it won't oxidize when it is exposed to heat meaning all the healthful benefits of it will stay intact and won't be destroyed by the heat. 

4. Raw milk daily for calcium - Pasteurized milk will not supply you with usable calcium and is best avoided. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, denatures anti-microbial and immune stimulating components, diminishes nutrient availability, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin C, B6, and B12, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth and behavior problems in children osteoporosis, arthritist and heart disease. 

5.   3 TBS of grass fed butter daily- supplies vitamin A, D, E, and K2 which are all extremely important for the development of brain and body. Vitamin A helps us deal with stress (extremely important not to be stressed in pregnancy) and produces feel- good chemicals. The best sources of vitamin A are cod liver oil, butter from cows eating mainly grass, and egg yolks from chickens raised outside in the sun.  Vitamin D deficiency is associated depression, schizophrenia and chronic mental illness.  Best sources are cod liver oil, fatty fish, lard, butter, and egg yolks.

6.   Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages such as…Raw Sauerkraut, kombucha, naturally fermented pickles- Good source of probiotics and vitamin C and to keep you healthy during the pregnancy and to make sure your baby's gut is inoculated with good bacteria during the delivery process.

7.   Fresh fruits and veggies, organic if possible.  If you have to prioritize which veggies you buy organic and which you don't check out the dirty dozen list and try find organic sources for those foods. 

Foods for a great Labor

      During labor, your body needs to efficiently produce a lot of hormones. The production of these hormones relies on vitamin c, copper, zinc, calcium, niacin, folate, B6, B12 and cholesterol.  All of these nutrients are found in the raw dairy, bone broth, organ meats and red meat that you should be consuming all through your pregnancy. 

After Delivery

1.   Bone Broth- Bone broth soups can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer.  They will supply you with a quick and easily digestible source of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that will speed up your recovery and give you ingredients for nourishing breast milk!

2.   Eggs and egg yolks- Find a source of eggs that come from well-raised pastured chickens and eat EXTRA eggs after you give birth!  Always eat the yolk and white together, sometimes even adding extra yolk which supply you with more much needed cholesterol and omega 3’s.

3.   Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products – Raw milk contains vitamin K2 which allows your body to be able to use the vitamins A and D found in cream, butter and cod liver oil!  Vitamin A is vitally important because it allows your babies skeleton and brain to develop properly.

4.   Cod Liver Oil- To supply Vitamin A and D for rich breast-milk and long chain fatty acids and DHA which protect against postpartum depression.

Food Sources:

Eggs, Meat and Raw dairy products are best sourced from local farms to ensure that you know that the animal has been raised in a healthy environment and hasn’t been fed massive amounts of genetically modified grains, antibiotics or body parts from other animals. 

Many of these food items from local farms can be found at the Bisman Food Co-op.

Local farmer's markets like Bismarket are great places to get all these food items plus you get to talk to the farmer face to face!

Local farms that offer these items are…

Morning Joy Farms: Pastured chicken, turkey and grass-fed lamb
How to order: Morning joy farms offers bulk ordering from their website.

Nourished by Nature: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Eggs, Honey
How to order: Nourished by Nature has a buying club where you purchase products off the website and receive the delivery at a specific location that is listed on the website.

Bartlett Farms: Along with offering Eggs, Pastured Chicken, and Grass-fed Beef, Bartlett farms give you the option to purchase a cow share which will supply you with Raw Milk and raw milk products such as high-quality butter, kefir, yogurt and chocolate milk!
How to order: Create an account on the website, place your order and it will be delivered to your doorstep!

Raw sauerkraut and naturally fermented pickles- “Bubbies” Brand Is carried at the food co-op and Cash-wise. You will find it in the refrigerator section which is good because that means it hasn’t been preserved by heating it to a high temperature which destroys the beneficial nutrients and probiotics. To see what the brand look like check out their website here.

Cod liver oil can be purchased in capsules (although more expensive) to avoid the unfamiliar flavor.  Good brands for cod liver oil are…‘Rositas’, ‘Carlson Labs’ and ‘Nordic Naturals’

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