After three pregnancies, each featuring quite a number of “pregnancy symptoms” and baby complications following the birth, I resigned myself to the idea that all my pregnancies would be difficult, and my health would never be great while expecting. I envied women who actually enjoyed pregnancy. Many feel wonderful and love every minute of it, but I had never experienced such a thing!
Throwing up was a way of life for me with most of my pregnancies, sometimes continuing the entire nine months. I was constipated, had blood sugar problems, anemia, backaches, swelling, you name it! Since I was convinced that a lot of my problems centered on nutrition, I decided to change my diet and be faithful with supplementation to see if my fourth pregnancy could be any better.
The first few weeks were still hard with plenty of tiredness, vomiting, migraines, and dizziness, but I stuck with my plan. Slowly I noticed a difference, and by week 15, I was actually starting to feel good. By 20 weeks, I consistently felt wonderful! For the first time ever, I was pregnant and felt fine at the same time.
Despite my success, I was quaking in my boots as I went for gestational diabetes and anemia checks around 30 weeks. I just knew some of my problem was “genetically me.” I’ve always battled hypoglycemia and anemia, so when my midwife took blood samples, we waited nervously as her machine ticked down the seconds. I almost fell off her couch when the results came back with textbook normal levels! As the weeks passed, I continued to feel fine, sleep well, and have fairly decent energy levels.
There were three things that I did differently this time around. Let’s look at the first one today in two parts, and the other two tomorrow.
#1a: Traditional Diet
In an earlier post, I recommended the Weston A. Price Foundation approach to a healthy diet as preparation for pregnancy: raw milk, farm fresh eggs, good fats (butter, animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, cod liver oil), bone broths, lacto-fermented vegetables, and grass-fed meats and vegetables (see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for tips and recipes).
This plan has become the mainstay of eating for my family and me. I’ve also limited my intake of white flour, white sugar, empty calories, preservatives, and chemicals. Eating 2 tablespoons of coconut oil each day helped to decrease my cravings for carbohydrates and starches, and to maintain pregnancy-appropriate weight gain. My protein intake is 80-100g per day, spaced evenly throughout the day and making sure to have a healthy portion in the morning.
Protein is crucial to the development of your baby during pregnancy. Most people consume only about 35g per day; that level can sustain you and your baby, but it increases your risk for developing toxemia or pre-eclampsia.
Early on, it was sometimes a struggle to eat these things when I felt yucky; soda and a chocolate chip muffin sounded much better. But if I chose to have a bowl of bone broth, I would often start to feel normal again soon. Thankfully, as I entered my second trimester, I felt much better and was able to eat the suggested diet without problems.
Even the best diet often lacks key nutrients crucial for ourselves and our developing babies. Therefore, supplementation is essential, and I can only attempt to tell you what a difference it made in my fourth pregnancy. (My husband is also grateful for Beeyoutiful because supplements have meant he’s heard a lot less complaining on my part!)
Yesterday I posted about crucial supplements to take before pregnancy even begins. Many of them are the same that I recommend throughout pregnancy, with a few additions to keep on hand.
Red Raspberry Leaves and Evening Primrose Oil are both excellent hormonal supports during pregnancy, and they prepare the uterus and body for labor. I have read many different suggestions regarding when to start taking them; I suggest personal research and asking your midwife or health practitioner what is best for you. Each woman’s body and pregnancy is different, and unique needs should be specifically addressed.
Activated Charcoal was a lifesaver during pregnancy, for two specific reasons. A horrible stomach flu went through our family while on vacation; I immediately grabbed the charcoal and began regular doses. Although I typically catch any and all stomach viruses, it totally skipped me! It also greatly relieved my morning sickness and indigestion.
When I felt bad or had that acidy feeling in the pit of my stomach, I drank a slurry of Activated Charcoal powder. While I don’t mind the slurry’s taste and texture, others may prefer tablets or capsules. (NOTE: With regular use of charcoal for morning sickness, be sure to take either a mineral supplement or to mineralize your water because charcoal can decrease the minerals present in your intestines.)
Oh, what a comfort Pregnancy Tea has been to me! When I am not feeling well, have a lack of energy, feel extra emotional, cold, or just want to enjoy a cup of warm tea that’s good for me, I relish Pregnancy Tea. Its slightly spearmint flavor is quite a comfort when mixed with a little honey and sipped while I rest in my favorite rocking chair.
For those back aches or round ligament pains, Ow!-Ease is my favorite pain reducer. If occasional back or neck-aches creep up, Ow!-Ease delivers instant relief.
Join us again tomorrow when we’ll talk about the important roles that exercise and rest played in my pregnancy.