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I wrote this guide for a talk I did with a group of mums, that were just past their first or second pregnancy or thinking of having another baby.

The organiser was Jenny Scott from http://www.mothers-meeting.com –  check out her site it’s full of helpful support and details on various meetings and talks specially designed for mothers.

In my time as a Nutritional Therapist I have met many mothers who do not look after their own nutritional health due to the main focus being the children and family.

Are you looking after your nutritional health pre, during and post pregnancy?Sarah Preg

Pregnancy is highly demanding on the mother and can have a profound effect on nutritional status during and after.
The baby will draw on the mother’s reserves as these nutrients are vital for growth. If the mother does not consume enough nutrients that can balance these needs she may feel more tired during the pregnancy and suffer even more afterwards.
New mothers can feel the effects of depleted nutrients well into the first couple of years. In some cases women with children that are 10 year or older may still be affected by nutrient depletion.  It’s why we Nutritional Therapists like to do a full case history to be able to assess nutrient requirements.

As we get older our digestions get less efficient, so even if the mother is eating a healthy, natural and well-balanced diet she may not be absorbing enough from those foods. Add stress, lack of sleep and  medications like pain killers and antibiotics then it’s easy to see how even after your body gets back into shape, you may not feel as vital and healthy as you did prior to pregnancy.

Iron – Cannot be absorbed without sufficient Vitamin C
It is not unusual to become iron deficient in pregnancy and after. B
e careful about taking cheap or pharmaceutical iron as this can cause constipation and nausea. The more natural liquid form is easier on the stomach. You can also squeeze lemon juice onto greens, red meat or any iron rich food and this will increase your absorption. Minerals can also compete for absorption, so take mineral supplements apart from each other –
I.e.: Calcium in morning and magnesium at night. Iron and zinc should be taken separately too.

Iron rich foods: Molasses, Rapa Dura sugar, red meat, dark meat from chicken and turkey, muscles, sardines, eggs, Mackerel and sea food.
Plant sources are not so easily absorbed but are still important: Beetroot, Spinach and all dark green leaves, Tofu. lentils and beans, tomato puree, figs, dates, Watermelon, raisins, prunes, pumpkin seeds, whole grains.
Prunes smaller

Other minerals are:
Magnesium – important for all aspects of health but vital for: healthy bones, healthy muscles, energy and stress.
Good sources: Green vegetables, nuts and seeds, figs, whole grains, avocados, raisins, basil, mint, parsley, pumpkin
and pumpkin seeds, barley, oats, dairy and fish.
Calcium – Vital for healthy bones but should not be over consumed, so if you are eating dairy and lots of green vegetables you don’t need a supplement.
Trace minerals – a healthy diet and good digestion should supply all you need, however adding a green drink, or kelp and using pink Himalayan salt
should supply your requirements for trace minerals.

Protein – Eating enough protein could be the single most important
thing you do for pregnancy and post pregnancy.

Protein requirement in pregnancy
is weight in kilos x 0.8g then add 25g,
so if you’re 60kg x 0.8g = 48g + 25g = 73g of protein per day.
Protein post pregnancy is weight in kilos x 0.8g then add 10g while breast-feeding and recovering.
Protein for general health weight in kilos x 0.8g. If you do a lot of exercise then you may need to revise this.
Example Foods: organic eggs = 6g protein, 4oz Chicken Breast = 26g protein, 134g Asparagus = 3gegg -  in shell small
For sources of foods and to help work out how much you are eating please send me your email address and I will send you some useful information: sam@foodspa.org.uk
Caution – protein should not be over eaten, it can create a high acidic environment within the body and put strain on the kidneys.
Be aware:
Oily fish is important but should not be over eaten during pregnancy or breast-feeding. The high oil content allows dangerous heavy metals
especially methyl mercury to accumulate in the fish. Salmon, Sardines,
Mackerel and white fish can be eaten in moderation, but tuna, swordfish, king mackerel and other large oily fish should be avoided. During breast-feeding these toxins are passed into the baby.

Vitamins – can be depleted during and after pregnancy and are vital for growth and energy.
B Vitamins, especially folic acid or folate are very important for pre pregnancy to build up reserves and for the baby’s development.
B Vitamin supplement – take in the morning as can be too stimulating at night and cause sleeplessness. B Vitamins are vital for nervous system and energy – a deficiency can have an effect on how mothers feel.

Vitamin C – gets depleted really easily, especially when the body is stressed and tired. Keeping blood levels of Vitamin C up during pregnancy and post pregnancy supports immune function, tissue health and energy. It also supports hormone health. Use the buffered form to take higher doses, as ascorbic acid can cause loose stools.
500mg capsules of buffered Vitamin C can be taken 3-4 times throughout the day in pregnancy and more post pregnancy if you feel you need a boost to your immune system.
Foods high in Vitamin C: Broccoli, cabbage, red peppers, sprouted seeds, berries, organic strawberries, lemons. Many fresh fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C especially the organic varieties.

Vitamin D – Vital for immune health and healthy development of bones.
Many women are low in this substance which actually is a hormone.
You can get tested for Vitamin D deficiency. It is not found in many foods and is only in Dairy if it has been fortified. The best way to get Vitamin D is to be in the sunshine. During the winter you can take a supplement in the form of Vitamin D3, around 2000iu per day. You can sign up to the Vitamin D council’s News letter here: newsletter@vitamindcouncil.org, where you will find more information.

Fats & Oils – It is important to consume enough good fats during pregnancy, breasting and later.
Omega3 is generally missing in our diets, or only in small amounts. As it is not advised to eat a lot of oily fish in pregnancy or breast feeding,  yoCoconut 2u can take a highly purified fish oil supplement and/or use a good Flax oil. Some nuts like walnut, or organic eggs or even hemp seeds can contain Omega3 but in small amounts. Other oils that contain Omega 6 and 9 are Olive oil, Avocado oil, Cold Pressed Coconut oil, Organic sunflower, Organic Rapeseed oil as well as nuts and seeds.
Eat nuts in moderation during pregnancy. walnuts 2 small
These fats are really important for health cell membranes, brain and nerve development and function in growing foetus and children.
Also verFlax oily important for mum’s brain (which we all know falls apart post birth!) Fats and oils are important for helping to balancing blood sugar and give sustained energy – do not cut out fats to lose post pregnancy weight! Omega3 oils make sure that cholesterol is used correctly in the body and helps stop the blood from thickening.

Carbohydrates – Important for energy levels, using a variety of
grains/root vegetables and fruit in moderation should help keep you
energy levels up and support getting back normal weight after having a baby. Cutting right back on gluten containing foods like wheat or eating
bread and pasta very occasionally can also help with weight loss and water retention.
Good carbs: Rice, oats, quinoa, root vegetables, fruit

Foods to avoid 

Pink meats, smoked foods, highly processed foods, high sugar foods, damaged fats (overheated, hydrogenated or old fats) too much animal fat
(Dairy, fatty meats) Too much bread and pasta (Try different grains like Quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, arrow-root, kamut)
Alcohol – once you have stopped breast-feeding, drinking alcohol is very tempting, but do so in moderation and allow your body to recover from the huge trauma that is pregnancy and birth.

If you would like a more accurate idea of what you personal nutritional status is you can arrange to be tested.
The Personal Nutritional Evaluation test is called Nutrition ’One’ Test from Genova Diagnostics Laboratory. It tests urine for metabolic by products that can accurately show nutritional deficiencies.
If you are interested in this test or have any other questions please contact: info@foodspa.org.uk.

Please note that the information above is not intended as medical advice, if you have any health concerns you should contact you doctor, and if you are taking medications always check for any contraindications with your doctor or health care provider.

 

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