Nutritional Support for the Childbearing Years

Many believe prenatal vitamins are the end-all of nutritional support for the childbearing years. Yes, a whole-food based vitamin with folate should be started even before pregnancy, if possible. However, vitamins are not the foundation of a pregnancy diet.

The true building block of the perinatal year is protein—meat, fish, eggs, dairy, beans and seeds. Not only is protein essential to helping grow a healthy baby, it can also help maintain steady blood sugar, lower the chances of gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia, and strengthen muscles, like the uterus.

Round out your diet with whole, natural foods. Shop with your eyes. Look for brightly colored foods—dark leafy greens, bright yellow peppers, purple cabbage, red strawberries, etc. Select whole grain carbohydrates like oatmeal, quinoa, and whole wheat bread. Avoid boxed and prepackaged foods as much as possible.

Fermented foods are the cornerstone of healthy gut flora. Include yogurt (low sugar), sauerkraut, water kefir, and kombucha in your diet. Maternal gut health research is showing promising results in cutting down infections, such as Group Beta Streptococcus (GBS), and the need for antibiotics in newborns when probiotics and fermented foods are consumed in pregnancy. These positive changes can greatly impact the newborn microbiome and future health of your baby.

Hydration is essential. It can reduce blood pressure, headaches, edema, UTI’s, and even preterm labor. Aim to drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day, and resist the temptation to grab sweet beverages that will wreak havoc on your blood sugar, leaving you more tired and thirsty. Included in your fluid intake can be nourishing herbal teas, like red raspberry leaf, dandelion, nettle, and alfalfa. The East End Food Co-op has a wonderful selection on hand.

To learn more about healthy eating, lifestyle changes, pregnancy supplements supporting the newborn microbiome, physiological birth and more, join Steel City Midwives at the Co-op on Wednesday, May 2 at 7 PM for a free Wellness Wednesday class.

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