This week we’ll be kicking off our N.E.S.T.S. series of blog posts, starting with Nutrition! I explain what each section means and how I incorporated it into my own life and how you can do the same. Hopefully by following this system you’ll be able to take care of yourself better and in turn take care of baby too!
Nutrition is one of the most important parts of pregnancy; making sure you eat a well-balanced diet and taking your prenatal vitamins is important for your health and for babies growth. I won’t bore you with a lecture about eating a balanced meal from all the food groups, instead I want to discuss the importance of nutrition. Before we can begin on that though, first we have to define what nutrition is? Google tells us nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth. I have been a vegetarian for my whole life and (like to believe) I eat healthy, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant that I realized how much extra nutrition my body needed. I was severely fatigued and with low energy levels I couldn’t find the strength to do basic tasks and keep up with BabyG. This meant taking a trip to see Dr Paaras Kaur, my natropath, and make sure I was keeping up with my supplements.
Nutrition is defined (by google) as the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.
Before I begin I want to confess, I have never liked to take pills; I would gag and cry and was unable to swallow, so you can imagine my shock when I saw the size of the prenatal vitamin. It is a beast, this coupled with morning (all-the-time) sickness it just wasn’t going to work for me. I begged and pleaded to the nurse practitioner to find me an alternative and she did; a multivitamin liquid, a lumpy orange juice look alike with a weird taste, but it did the job. This particular multivitamin has very little iron, so I had to add (liquid) iron supplement as well as a (tiny!) folic acid tablet. I used the same mix above for my second pregnancy with regular check ups from Dr Paaras Kaur.
I have prepared a short list of the top supplements needed during pregnancy and postpartum:
- Iron: Every vegetarian’s most lacking (and most vital) supplement, I found that when I wasn’t getting enough iron I was always tired. Making sure you get enough is easy, the guidelines for women is 18mg of iron a day. A yummy way to ensure you get enough is to have a 1/4 cup of cashews a day.
- DHA: What is DHA I hear you say? DHA is an omega-3 oil mainly found in fish, however, being vegetarian I take vegetarian DHA capsules (derived from seaweed). These are imperative for cognitive brain function and for early infant development.
- B12: This is so important for your body to function and affects energy levels and mood. Having a B12 deficiency can manifest as chronic fatigue, mood disorders such as depression and anxiety and high stress levels. This coupled with the iron helped me to keep up my energy levels especially during the pregnancy. These capsules, however, smell really bad and (still are) near impossible for me to swallow, Dr Paaras Kaur gave me two B12 shots which, although was still not ideal, meant I wouldn’t have to take another pill.
- Prenatal Vitamins: These are a compact and huge pill filled with tons of goodness for the body both before and during the pregnancy. The body works overtime during pregnancy and taking the prenatal means even where mama’s are unable to keep food down or always ensure a balanced meal that they keep their supplement stores up.
- Folic acid: This is a type of B vitamin, it is especially recommended before pregnancy and during the first trimester at least. It is taken to prevent miscarriage and “neural tube defects” in the growing baby.
- Fenugreek and Blessed thistle supplements: These were for breastfeeding purposes only. A combination of these taken daily helped with milk production and boost milk supply especially early on.
I was advised, by Dr Paaras Kaur, to steer clear of caffeine and sugar. These two combined are a recipe for anxiety and depression, I made the switch to decaf and reduced the amount of sugar in almost everything I could. Even now I feel “wired” after an ice capp so I am extra careful to make sure I make better choices. Even after 7 months post-partum I found it is vital to continue having regular blood tests and making sure that I am taking enough iron and DHA to keep up with BabyJ’s growth and development and my own needs. During my PND struggles I have found that when my body is strong and nourished it gives me more strength to deal with any mental challenges.
A strong body will support a strong mind!
Take care and happy reading!