The magical time has come…you have a little bun in the oven! CONGRATS! Now it’s time to make sure that little peanut has all the right nutrients to grow into a healthy human being.
Today I’m sharing all the details on what you ladies have been asking about! What should I eat during pregnancy? How do I optimize my health for my baby? What foods should I really avoid when I’m pregnant? And the most common question… what should I look for in a prenatal?
If you haven’t already, you can check out my other pregnancy-related blogs, Pregnancy Series Part 1: The Essentials for Preconception, Pregnancy Series Part II: How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy Journey, and Pregnancy Series Part III: Navigating The Postpartum Period.
I wanted this article to be a bit more nutrition-focused since food is pretty much ALL we think about when we are growing a little human being, right?? Plus, your diet is one of the most significant factors that can influence your health and your baby’s health.
Your health influences your baby’s health in numerous ways. To start, it’s essential that you’re eating not only enough foods but the right foods so that your baby has ALL the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and development.
PLUS, that baby of yours will be grabbing all the vitamins and minerals that it can. As the mama, you want to make sure there are enough available nutrients to energize and take care of your own essential functions as well! We don’t want your health to plummet over these next 9 months.
One of my favorite things to talk about is gut health. This is no exception when it comes to optimizing your body during pregnancy. The health of your microbiome determines the health of your baby. If you don’t know already, gut health influences almost every function in your body! You want to make sure your microbiome is balanced and healthy because there are major benefits to your baby when your gut microflora is transferred to your little one (especially during a vaginal birth).
Let’s make sure you’re giving your baby a healthy bacteria boost when they enter into this world, getting them off on the right foot. Since your diet is one of the most important foundations of a healthy pregnancy, let’s jump into what you should have stocked in your kitchen and what foods should be tossed in the trash.
At a minimum, buy organic foods that are on the EWG’s dirty dozen list. These are the most commonly contaminated produce that has pesticide residue on them. Contaminants can contribute to health effects on you and to your baby. Organic foods also have a higher omega-3 fatty acid content and they inhibit the use of antibiotics in animal products (reducing antibiotic resistance).
Eating with the seasons helps with microbial diversity. And eating foods based on seasonality will allow your gut a rest from other foods, reducing the risk for food sensitivities. Look out for CSA (Community-supported agriculture) options in your area or shop at your local farmer’s market! You can find some great deals here compared to grocery store prices. Plus, don’t you love getting to know and support local farmers?!
Each color contains specific phytonutrients that deliver benefits to your organs and bodily processes. These include enhancing your immune system, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and more. Don’t be shy with those leafy greens and cruciferous veggies intake either! You can load up on broccoli, kale, Brussels, and bok choy.
Stock your home with pasture-raised, grass-fed, and wild-caught animal protein. Watch out for any added antibiotics/ hormones, pesticides, or other nasty gut-damaging chemicals. One study review suggested that organic meats have a different fatty acid composition compared to conventionally raised meat. I love ordering from Butcher Box because their meat is always super high quality, and it’s extremely convenient to have it shipped right to your door!
Don’t think I’m leaving out plant-based protein! I love eating an abundance of lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, and quinoa. These are great to incorporate into a grain bowl or on top of a big salad. You can get protein plus the added benefits of fiber, fats, and micronutrients!
Stock your fridge with wild-caught salmon, sardines, and avocado. And keep these main staples in your cabinet: flax, chia, walnut, pumpkin seeds, and organic extra virgin olive oil. Healthy fats are especially important for babies growth and development.
Drinking PLENTY of water during pregnancy is essential. I recommend getting a stainless steel water bottle that you can fill up throughout the day instead of grabbing plastic water bottles. Better yet, I highly advise you to fill up your water bottle with filtered water from a high-quality water filter because you want to reduce your toxic load as much as possible. Some water sources are loaded with contaminants and even microplastics which have been found in newborns! Aqausana is highly rated and is great for your home.
Make sure you have enough iron for your red blood cells to carry enough oxygen through your body. Iron rich foods Include: organ meats, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, and spinach.
Y’all, magnesium is your super nutrient! It’s needed in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including detoxification, sleep, and mood stability. Sprinkle in some pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, quinoa, spinach to your meals for some extra magnesium support!
Folate is extremely important in your baby’s development. Especially during the first 3-4 weeks. It helps with proper neural tube and spine development and prevents congenital disabilities. Try to include liver, spinach, asparagus, and broccoli in if you are trying to get pregnant and that first trimester especially.
Pretty much focus on eating as many whole, colorful foods as possible! When you do this, you won’t have room for that other crappy fake foods that are filled with harmful ingredients.
Here are some of the harmful foods I’m talking about. If you are trying to get pregnant or if you just found out you are pregnant, you’ll want to majorly cut down or avoid altogether the following things.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Dirty dozen, pesticide residue foods
Highly processed and refined food
Refined sugar and chemicals like aspartame
Trans fats, hydrogenated oils, refined vegetable oils
Seafood, high in Hg. Minimize tuna consumption, and poorly raised salmon
Sodas (loaded with sugar, or even “zero sugar sodas” that are loaded with artificial sweeteners.
Even if you eat the best foods and stay away from the worst foods, taking a high-quality prenatal is still highly recommended. This allows your body and your baby to have excess to OPTIMAL nutrient levels. I can’t even tell you how many mamas I work with that are nutrient deficient.
But I get it. It’s SUPER overwhelming to choose the right prenatal. I get asked all the time about prenatal recommendations. So, I’m here to break it down for you.
First off, I want to make an important note that you shouldn’t buy your prenatal (or any supplements) off of Amazon. You can read my Instagram post about the dangers of doing so.
To be safe, purchase from high-quality brands that are 3rd party tested and verified. This makes sure they are free of impurities like heavy metals, allergens, fillers, chemicals, additives, pesticides.
I have an online dispensary that is filled with the top brands I personally use and recommend to my health clients. As for prenatal vitamins, I love the brands, Orthomolecular, Metagenics and Seeking health. Shop for your supplements HERE.
If you are trying to get pregnant, you want to start prepping your body 3-6 months before conception. This allows you to maximize YOUR gut and nutrient levels and prepare the baby’s environment for optimized growth and development.
However, if a positive pregnancy test comes as a surprise to you, no worries! Just start taking a prenatal as soon as you find out to give your baby all the nutrient goodness.
GMP Certified Label
Methylate folate (NOT folic acid): This form of folate has greater bioavailability than synthetic folate.
Choline: 90-95% of women don’t consume enough choline even though it’s an essential micronutrient needed for proper brain and spinal cord development.
Iron: This can be in the form of iron bisglycinate or ferrochel iron. Biglycinate is easier on your stomach if you’re one to get nauseous frequently from taking iron pills. As mentioned above, iron is essential for producing red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body. You are more susceptible to an iron deficiency if you are pregnant since your blood volume increases greatly!
Zinc: important for keeping your eggs healthy, especially if you are trying to conceive.
Methylated B vitamins: Make sure they are in the methyl form, giving your body the most active form of B vitamins. These are needed for numerous processes in your body and for preventing birth defects.
Vitamin A: in the form of beta carotene: This will help your immune system, and baby’s skin and eye development.
Copper: This helps with antioxidant production.
Vitamin C: This helps your body make progesterone which is needed to help maintain and support pregnancy. This is especially important in the beginning weeks.
Calcium: This supports healthy bones for you and your baby
DHA: This is an omega-3 fatty acid that supports a baby’s brain, eyes, and nervous system development. Plus, DHA may prevent pre-term labor, increase birth weight, and support postpartum mood in new mothers.
Growing a baby is no joke! Some parts of the journey can be tough but remember; you are going a great job, Mama! If you’re reading this, your baby (and future babies) are already lucky to have you because you’re trying to learn what’s best for your baby!
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