I’m getting married in a month. A month! And while I’m not planning on getting knocked up immediately, I am planning on preparing my body for a healthy pregnancy. You see, what you eat, drink, consume and apply to the body makes a huge difference in not only the health of the fetus, but a healthy pregnancy and birth in general.

Dr. Weston A Price traveled the world studying traditional cultures – cultures that still ate their ancestral diets, cultures that foraged and hunted their own food, cultures that were living on much as their ancestors had been for thousands of years. When Dr. Price asked a woman why they put such emphasis on eating the way they did, she told him “To make healthy babies.”

This has always resonated with me. I think most people have forgotten this ancestral wisdom – that pregnancy isn’t something to take lightly, it’s something that you need to prepare your body for. Pregnancy is not a time to let loose, gain a ton of weight and eat junk food. It’s time to nourish your body and your baby.

That’s what the food we eat does, it either goes toward building a healthy, beautiful fetus, or…not. The way you eat, the way you take care of your body and the avoidance of toxins all affect genetic expression. A lack of specific fats, vitamins and minerals can cause all sorts of problems, everything from cerebral palsy to autism. Eating poorly also sets you up for a more difficult birth. After talking to and reading books from several doulas and midwives, they say the way a woman nourishes her body during pregnancy hugely affects the type of birth she will have. While there is no guarantee of an easy birth, eating well can set you up for a healthier (and maybe even quicker!) labor. So don’t shove your face with Taco Bell; here’s what to eat to for a healthy pregnancy and an easier birth!

FAT AND PROTEIN

If you haven’t already, now is the time to ditch the low-fat bullshit. Fats are crucial not only for your health, but the health of your baby. You need to consume an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids, this will help nourish the baby and support proper fetal development. Two important omega-3s are DHA and EPA – these help the brain develop and support the immune and nervous systems of the baby. Eat plenty of:

  • egg yolks from pastured eggs (at least two a day)
  • seafood (several times a week)
  • grass-fed beef and lamb daily
  • pastured butter
  • coconut oil (at least 2 tbsp a day)
  • raw/grass-fed dairy

PROBIOTICS

Whether they’re from fermented foods, fermented drinks or a probiotic supplement – every pregnant or soon to be pregnant woman needs probiotics. Probiotics promote a healthy immune system, fight pathogens and harmful bacteria, they even help protect against autism.

FISH OIL

Fish oil is extremely important during pregnancy and the months leading up to it. It is rich in omega-3s which reduce inflammation. From NYU School of Medicine,

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for life and must be obtained from dietary means, either from seafood or fish oil capsules. It is likely that, during pregnancy, omega-3 requirements increase over normal to support fetal growth, particularly of the brain and eyes…Prospective studies in pregnant women who consumed the recommended fish intake or received supplements of fish oil generally demonstrate a beneficial effect on neurodevelopmental outcomes of offspring.

Because the body is unable to make omega-3s, they need to be obtained from food and/or supplements. I highly recommend a good fish oil supplement, although most are rancid or of poor quality. I only use Green Pastures and THIS omega-3 supplement from doTERRA.

COCONUT OIL

I take between 1-3 tbsp of coconut oil everyday (depending on whether I forget or not). Coconut oil not only boosts the metabolism, it’s rich in monolaurin. Monolaurin is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. This will help keep you strong and boost your immune system, but it also helps protect you and the baby from harmful bacteria and viruses.

It also helps prevent yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, both of which are more common during pregnancy. Score!

LIVER

Liver is the most nutrient dense food on earth. Gram for gram, no other food surpasses its nutrient density. It’s packed full of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. It’s rich in vitamins A, E, D and K – all of which are necessary for growing a healthy baby. Liver is really the multivitamin of the food world. You should eat between 2-4 oz twice per week.

BONE BROTH

Bone broth is rich in collagen (which promotes elasticity of the skin – great for labor) as well as vitamins and minerals. It supplies a healthy dose of calcium as well. Bone broth also heals and seals the gut lining, which bolsters the immune system.

VEGGIES

Vegetables, especially leafy greens, are our antioxidant, minerals and vitamin rich friends. They should be eaten liberally throughout pregnancy.

DATES

Researchers have found that eating dates during pregnancy improved dilation, spontaneous labor and promoted shorter labors. Pretty sweet, huh?

The women who consumed date fruit had significantly higher mean cervical dilatation upon admission compared with the non-date fruit consumers (, and a significantly higher proportion of intact membranes. Spontaneous labour occurred in 96% of those who consumed dates, compared with 79% women in the non-date fruit consumers. Use of prostin/oxytocin was significantly lower in women who consumed dates (28%), compared with the non-date fruit consumers (47%). The mean latent phase of the first stage of labour was shorter in women who consumed date fruit compared with the non-date fruit consumers. It is concluded that the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome.

RED RASPBERRY LEAF TEA

Red raspberry leaf tea strengthens and tones the uterus. It is also rich in antioxidants and minerals. I recommend THIS tea, which is also made with iron-rich nettle, relaxing chamomile and rose hips to prepare expectant mamas for labor.

What you eat makes a huge difference in a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby. Find out what to eat for a healthy pregnancy and an easier birth!

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046737/

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/diet-for-pregnant-and-nursing-mothers/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989

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10 responses on “What To Eat For a Healthy Pregnancy and An Easier Birth

  1. steph

    Liver should be avoided when pregnant – it’s the organ that filters toxins and high levels of vitamin a increases the risk for birth defects.

  2. Meredith

    I was normally taking sporogenic (?) probiotics and was told that they were not safe for pregnant women.. I have been trying to eat more yoghurt and fermented foods, but it’s not the same! Any thoughts on trying to get back on the sporogenic probiotics? They are the Garden of Life variety!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  3. Julie

    Is it OK to eat dates before the 36 week mark? I can only find articles that mention “4 weeks before your due date”.
    26 weeks and wondering

  4. Courtney

    You said seafood several times a week….but I’ve heard from my doctor and read that certain seafood should be avoided during pregnancy, and that the ones that are safe to eat should only be consumed in moderation. (I believe Mercury is the reasoning behind these guidelines). So, what is it that makes you suggest a high amount of seafood?

    1. dani Post author

      Seafood is incredibly nutrient dense and contains many of the building blocks for a healthy pregnancy. I suggest avoiding high mercury fish and farmed seafood.

  5. Pregnant

    I suggest you stay clear of advising pregnant women on their diet when you have not, nor plan on getting pregnant immediately. Also are you sure that all of these animal products your suggesting that are chalk full of hormones the human body isn’t designed to digest is a good thing for a woman creating a human to be ingesting!? You clearly have a lot of more knowledge to gain before you start giving any sort of nutritional advice. Seafood is NOT as nutrient dense as you think. In fact you can get EVERY SINGLE NUTRIENT you need from a whole food plant based diet without The risk of ingesting harmful toxins from that seafood to your unborn child. Do your research before you throw a #science out there because science also gave us the medication to mask all the symptoms of sickness and disease caused by all of these animal products we are putting into our bodies.

    1. dani Post author

      1) Why would I need to avoid giving out nutrition advice to pregnant women unless I plan on getting pregnant immediately? What does my being pregnant have to do with providing factual, helpful nutrition information for pregnant women? Also, I’ve already been pregnant and have a son…

      2) No, animal products are not “chalk full of hormones that body isn’t designed to digest.” If this were the case, humans would’ve died out thousands of years ago, as humans have not only thrived, but evolved, eating meat. The only animals that are “chalk full of hormones” are the CAFO raised animals that are administered growth hormones, which had you read the article – I clearly do not recommend eating.

      3) It is literally impossible to get every single nutrient you need from a plant based diet. Let me reiterate that point: it is literally impossible to get every single nutrient you need from a plant based diet. I wrote about this in depth here: http://www.ancestral-nutrition.com/dont-recommend-vegan-diet/

      I have not only done my research, but provided actual research within the article. It may be a good idea to educate yourself on actual nutrition basics and not rely on plant based propaganda.

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