Defining Nourishment in Pregnancy
Did you know that different nutrients are required at certain times in pregnancy? For example, folate is necessary to close a baby's neural tube within the first 6 weeks. Iron plays an important role later in pregnancy when mom’s blood volume expands, and choline is needed for brain development. This is why it’s essential to find a prenatal vitamin that is optimally dosed and of excellent quality.
There is a lot of medicine and wisdom in food, and when you choose to eat a large variety of whole foods with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fats, you ensure you have the building blocks and necessary components to provide YOU and baby with what you both need.
Instead of listening to strict guidelines and aiming for perfection, I believe a key aspect of nourishment is listening to your intuition and your body when it comes to eating. If you are craving meat while your girlfriend is craving fruit, it’s ok. Listen to what your body is asking for. There is intelligence there.
Remember, nourishment is not just what we choose to put in our mouths, it is what we choose to consume in every aspect of our lives, from social media, to our community, and our self-talk. Choosing healthy options in all facets of our lives is true nourishment.
Common Symptoms in Pregnancy and How they Relate to Nourishment
Pregnancy is a season that brings with it many joys and sometimes many challenges. It can become a beautiful practice of surrendering, a skill that will serve you well in motherhood.
There are certain symptoms that may be more impacted by nourishment than others, and although not always, there are things you can do to improve them.
Being tired, especially early in pregnancy, is normal and it makes sense. Your body is working hard to build an entirely new human. However, if fatigue is extreme or continues after the second trimester, it could be related to low iron, low B vitamins like B12, or low carbohydrate intake.
Keeping your blood sugar balanced by eating higher protein meals more often can help boost your energy and mood!
Nausea and/or Vomiting
Nausea is a symptom that plagues many women in pregnancy. We do know that low vitamin B6 can sometimes be a culprit. I always recommend getting at least 50 mg of the active form, P5P (pyridoxal-5-phosphate).
Instead of waiting until you’re hungry, it’s important to focus on eating small meals throughout the day. Keeping a handful of nuts or an apple on your nightstand to snack on in the middle of the night or immediately upon waking can be helpful.
If you are experiencing vomiting, it’s important to drink plenty of water with added electrolytes to avoid dehydration and mineral imbalances.
Reflux / Indigestion
Reflux or indigestion can make it challenging to meet your daily calorie needs. It’s more common to experience this at the end when baby is physically pushing on the stomach and other organs. Eating small meals and taking a digestive enzyme can be helpful.
If you are experiencing these symptoms in the first or second trimester, it may be worth ruling out food intolerances.
Favorite Nourishment Practices in Pregnancy
Slow down. Rest. Take naps if your job or situation allows for that. This is not the time to be Superwoman. Your body is working so hard and your primary job is to take care of and nourish it.
Block off time to eat in peace and focus on your food. Consider turning on calm music, lighting a candle, or eating outside.
If cooking is stressful, or you have no desire to eat your own food, consider hiring someone to food prep or enroll your partner to help out.
Keep your daily dose of prenatal vitamins in a beautiful jar and create a ritual around taking them when you eat your meals.
Do something weekly that fills your cup. Spend time with friends and family, get into nature, see a therapist, get a massage, or pursue a hobby.
Advice for First Time Mamas
Have grace with yourself. You won’t be perfect at everything; you aren’t supposed to, and that’s ok.
Your body is wise and intelligent. Do your best to listen to it. If you are tired, rest. If the thought of eating a salad makes you want to vomit, don’t eat it.
Practice surrendering and being unattached to outcomes. I see the most perceived trauma in mamas who expect things to go a certain way with pregnancy or birth and it doesn’t.
Remember to enjoy the journey as much as you can. Relish in the good moments, and know that the hard parts will pass quicker than you think.
You’ve got this, mama!