It’s Fertile Friday again and today I’m excited to introduce to you Stacey Baganz. She is a holistic nutritionist based here in San Diego, CA, and she has some great information for you on keys to optimal wellness before and during pregnancy.
Bringing new life into the world is such an exciting time. I really love to work with women that are pregnant or hope to become so, as I find they have the strongest commitment and willingness to make whatever changes are necessary for the sake of their baby’s health. But for many, navigating the wealth of information out there on diet and supplements can often be overwhelming. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things to consider before and during pregnancy to ensure optimal wellness for you and your child.
It’s important to remember, the health of your baby begins with the health of the sperm and the egg at the time of conception. As part of your pregnancy planning, I recommend both parents work with their naturopathic doctor or qualified holistic nutritionist to get a general check-up approximately six months before conception to evaluate and correct any imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, allergies or underlying infections. Starting a detox protocol can be helpful to eliminate toxins and bring about a state of balance to both mom and dad-to-be.
A nutrient rich, whole foods diet should be of top priority, as it is vital to the health of your pregnancy. Adequate nutrients provide your baby with the best possible conditions for normal growth, as well as replenish your stores of vitamins and minerals. The most crucial development occurs the first eight weeks, so your nutritional state has a significant impact.
Some key points to remember before conception and during pregnancy are to:
- EAT REAL FOOD. Prioritize and optimize diet with whole, nutrient rich foods which will provide the best array of vitamins and minerals. Replace processed foods that contain empty calories with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole unprocessed grains, pure unrefined oils and high quality fats, protein sources, legumes and beans.
- GET MOVING. Exercise increases circulation which allows for delivery of nutrients and clearing of waste products to and from your baby. In addition, it tones and builds your uterus and the muscles that support it.
- Find ways to remove toxins, as they can impact the health of your baby and cause birth defects. Consider stopping caffeine, nicotine or recreational drugs, and alcohol 6 months prior to conception. Re-evaluate cosmetic products and cleaning agents, current medications, and other toxins that may be present in the home like pesticides and plastics. Try to buy organic when possible.
- REDUCE STRESS. High stress can result in hormonal imbalances that could affect fertility. Stress also causes nutrient deficiencies.
- GAIN APPROPRIATE WEIGHT. Work with your health care provider to ensure correct calorie consumption and weight gain. Healthy women with a BMI of 18.5-24.9 should gain 25-35 pounds. Overweight women should gain 15-25 pounds.
- MAXIMIZE DIGESTIBILITY. Ensure adequate fiber and water intake. Consume bone broths and fermented foods. Take a probiotic.
- CHOOSE MEDICATIONS WISELY. Work with a qualified natural practitioner who could advise in the use of safe and effective herbal alternatives or essential oils.
- TAKE PRENATAL VITAMINS. A high potency, bioavailable prenatal multivitamin is recommended along with a fish oil supplement. Quality is very important for maximizing absorption of the nutrients and avoiding toxic additives and fillers. A pregnant mother needs extra amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, and vitamins A, D, C, and E.
Some general nutrient recommendations for preconception and pregnancy are:
- Choose foods high in fat-soluble vitamins such as organ meats, low-mercury seafood, organic butter, fermented dairy, cod liver oil, and bone broth.
- Incorporate superfoods like bee pollen, mineral powder, wheat germ oil, acerola powder, and spirulina. Incorporate these into your favorite smoothies.
- Essential fatty acids are needed for brain development—a minimum of 1 gram of quality fish oil, flax, wheat germ or hemp seed oil is recommended in the beginning, gradually working up to 3 grams per day in the last trimester; consume 8-12 ounces of low-mercury fish per week.
- Increase iron to 40-80 mg per day.
- Folate prevents neural tube defects and stimulates appetite. Consume 400 mcg minimum starting preconception with 800 mcg during pregnancy. Dark leafy greens and lentils contain high amounts. Be sure you are consuming L-Methylfolate instead of folic acid, which is less absorbed.
- Pregnancy requires increased amounts of macronutrients: Daily calories should be 45-65% carbohydrates (in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole, unprocessed grains, at 175 grams per day), 10-35% complete proteins (meat, poultry, fish and eggs, at 70 grams per day), and 20-35% healthy fats (at 1-3 grams per day of omega 3’s).
- Vegetarians and vegans should take special care to consume B12, B6, iron, calcium and zinc.
- Do not exceed 3,000 iu/day of preformed vitamin A, as high amounts can cause birth defects.
- During the 1st trimester, consume kombucha and Vitamin B6 to combat morning sickness. Your calorie content should not yet increase. In addition to your pre-natal vitamin be sure you are consuming 1000 mg of calcium and 600 mg of magnesium glycinate.
- During the 2nd trimester, your calorie intake should increase by 350 calories per day. Your mineral needs will also increase to 1200 mg of calcium and 800 mg of magnesium glycinate.
- The last trimester has the highest need for increased protein to supply the mother and baby with building blocks for the growing baby. Be sure to increase fiber intake as well to compensate for the increased protein which can be constipating. Consume small frequent meals to aid digestion due to baby pushing on organs. Calorie intake should increase by 450 calories per day, calcium to 1600 mg, and magnesium glycinate to 1000 mg.
I wish you the best in your journey towards and during pregnancy. May optimal nutrition lead you and your baby to the best health possible, because nutrients change everything.
Stacey Baganz is a holistic nutritionist based in San Diego, CA. She is driven by the core belief that our bodies have the amazing ability to heal and function optimally if fueled with the correct nutrients. She has a special interest in how nutrition supports, and drastically improves many of the chronic illnesses are seeing more of today in both adults and children. She is passionate about empowering parents to take the health of their own families into their own hands. She offers individualized and personalized holistic nutrition plans for families facing complicated health issues. Learn more at www.integrativeholisticnutrition.com.