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What To Eat When You’re Pregnant

When I was pregnant with Ruby, even though we were meeting with a home birth midwife, for the first 2/3’s of that pregnancy, my only real nutrition advice I received was that I should attempt to eat a big, green, leafy salad every day (good advice indeed, but I desired more). It wasn’t until we started meeting with the midwife who delivered Ruby (& is our current midwife) that I was challenged to eat the best I ever had in my entire life. My midwife is very passionate about packing her clients full of nutrient-dense foods, not only for the sake of growing a healthy baby, but also to lessen common pregnancy ailments & help with healing postpartum.

Now that I’m nearing the end of my second pregnancy (33 weeks currently), I am seeing a very different outcome in this pregnancy. Sure, I had a lot of morning sickness & bothersome headaches during my first trimester that I really didn’t have when pregnant with Ruby, but overall, this current pregnancy has been way more manageable physically. I feel like there are a lot of factors that have gone into that, but I’m sure that one of the biggest benefits to my body has been my (mostly) strict eating regimen.

What we put into our bodies really does affect our energy, mood, & general outlook on life a lot more than we would like to believe. I’ve seen first hand how eating well can even rid the body of physical ailments as well. Specifically, I don’t have the heaviness or constant achenes that I had when I was pregnant with Ruby & even though I’m exhausted at the day’s end, I don’t feel as miserable. During pregnancy, you are training for the marathon of labor & when you’re training for a marathon, you want to be in the best shape of your life, so eating well is really one of the best things you can do to get there.

There are a few other factors that have definitely attributed to me feeling better. For one thing, we’ve had a really mellow summer heat-wise, so I haven’t had any swelling in my feet or ankles, which definitely made me feel awful a lot before. I’ve been more consistent with moving my body 5-ish times a week either by doing prenatal yoga, a workout DVD, or walking. We still bike every now & again & go for hikes on the weekends, too. I also know my limits a lot more than I did in my first pregnancy. Part of that is the reality that I have a 3-year-old to take care of, so we’re stopping for potty & snack breaks a lot more than I would like, but that’s good for me!

And then there’s rest. I’m a lot more consistent about spending at least 30 minutes a day resting, which ironically, I didn’t do when I was pregnant with Ruby, even though I had so much more time to do that. Every day I either read, journal, pray, or nap & that’s been life-giving! I’m a lot more OK with going to bed at 9 or 10 at night than I was before. And I’ve invested in some seriously delicious pillows, which I’ll talk about when I share my Third Trimester Loves in a few weeks. Resting & being still has really grounded me during this pregnancy & I hope that it will carry me into newborn life with a bit of an excess.

So, back to the food! Below is what my midwife recommends that I eat every day. It’s important to note that whatever I eat can’t count for two categories, so if I drink a glass of milk, it can’t count for both a dairy & protein serving. If I eat some carrots, they can’t count for both a veggie serving & a Vitamin A serving, etc. Which leads me to my next point: I’m eating SO MUCH FOOD! But the great thing is that if I’m diligent about getting my healthy foods in, I rarely have room for all the junk & sweets that I sometimes crave. Of course that doesn’t mean I never indulge—I absolutely do, it’s just that I don’t always have as much room.

  • 4 servings of dairy (for the calcium which aids bone health) Favorites: string cheese, yogurt, kefir, & milk
  • 2 eggs (for the Vitamin B2, Selenium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, protein, all helping with nerve & brain development) Favorites: hard-boiled, over easy with toast, scrambled with a tortilla
  • 75-100 grams of protein (to build muscles, bones, cartridge, skin, & blood, as well as repair tissue) Favorites: chicken, beans, beef, turkey, fish, peanut butter
  • 2 servings of a dark green vegetable (for the fiber to lower cholesterol, & blood pressure, & ward off blood sugar crashes, for the water content in them to keep you hydrated, beta-carotine for growing & repairing body tissues, Vitamin E for healthy skin, & the folate for making healthy babies & preventing cervical cancer & reducing osteoporosis) Favorites: spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli
  • 5 servings of vegetables, fruits & grains (for an abundance of vitamins & minerals, as well as carbohydrates to give energy) Favorites: cucumbers, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, strawberries, watermelon, whole grain bread, brown rice, tortillas
  • 2 servings of Vitamin C (for protection against immune system deficiencies, & eye disease, as well as for cardiovascular health) Favorites: cuties, pineapple, orange juice, bell peppers, broccoli
  • 1 serving of Vitamin A (for good vision, a healthy immune system, & cell growth) Favorites: carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, cantaloupe, mango
  • 3 servings of fats/oils (for better body composition, more muscle, better brain functions, & stronger bones) Favorites: avocados, olive oil, nuts (almonds & walnuts), flax
  • At least 9 glasses of water (because when all else fails, water is basically a cure-all for anything!) I love drinking plain water, but also have been enjoying water with cucumber & lemon or fresh mint

I also add:

  • Probiotic supplement (as well as getting probiotics from a food source)
  • Cod liver oil with high vitamin butter oil
  • Prenatal vitamin
  • Pregnancy tea

I usually start the day with eating 2 eggs, milk or orange juice, a piece of toast, & a piece of fruit. I try to eat a big salad for lunch, & have some protein at every meal & everything else that I need to get in for dinner. I also eat 1-2 snacks throughout the day to keep my energy up.

Disclaimer: I am not a dietician, just someone who’s passionate about eating well! Please talk to your midwife or other medical professional when it comes to what you, specifically, should & should not eat when you are pregnant.

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