What should you eat to stay healthy and at a balanced weight during pregnancy, after birth (nursing or bottle feeding), or while nursing? The following information includes suggestions to follow as you make the purpose statement or commitment to yourself and your future or present children. You can change. You can develop your taste buds to savor healthier foods.
What does it take? It takes commitment and motivation. You can do it! How do I know? My research spans over thirty-six years of experience, counseling mothers and children, plus my own mothering experiences with eating and teaching my children how to eat healthy. I found that what we chose as mothers to teach or give to our children, can be one of the most important, life changing, positive actions in this world.
Pregnant Nutrients Needed Reviewed by Steven Dowshen, MD
1. Protein for cell growth and blood production.
2. Greenwise (organically raised) lean meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, beans, peanut butter, tofu.
3. Carbohydrates for daily energy production: breads, cereals, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruits, vegetables.
4. Calcium for strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve function: milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines or salmon with bones, spinach.
5. Iron for red blood cell production (to prevent anemia): lean red meat, spinach, iron-fortified, whole-grain breads and cereals.
6. Vitamin A for healthy skin, good eyesight, and growing bones: carrots, organic dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes.
7. Vitamin C for healthy gums, teeth, and bones, and assistance with iron absorption: fresh citrus fruit, broccoli, tomatoes, fortified fruit juices.
8. Vitamin B6 for red blood cell formation and effective use of protein, fat, and carbohydrates: pork, ham, whole-grain cereals, bananas; vitamin B12 for formation of red blood cells, maintaining nervous-system health: meat, fish, poultry, milk (goat’s milk is closer to human milk). (Note: vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products need supplemental B12.)
9. Vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth, and to aid absorption of calcium: fortified milk, dairy products, cereals, breads.
10. Folic acid for blood and protein production, and effective enzyme function: green leafy vegetables, dark yellow fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, nuts.
11. Fat for body-energy storage: meat, whole-milk dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, margarine, vegetable oils (Note: Limit fat intake to 30 percent or less of your total daily calorie intake.)
If you decide to breastfeed, you will naturally drop weight over a healthy time period. If you are nursing, enjoy the natural and gentle weight loss. If you decide to bottle-feed, then, according to freelance writer Arijit K. Roul, the “four-week diet” schedule after delivery is:
1. In the first week after your delivery, eat fresh organic vegetables and fruits. These will supply you with the essential fiber and other important nutrients needed to rebuild your body and lose excess fat.
2. In the second and third week of your delivery, add lean protein foods. Lean proteins such as meat and fish can help rebuild your muscles. Abdominal muscles can be rebuilt by adding gentle, specific exercises.
3. According to the “four-week diet” schedule after delivery, in the fourth week of your delivery, eat the lean protein foods in the morning, and then eat fresh organic fruits and vegetables thoughout your day.
Nursing Basics According to Sylvia Brown with Mary Dowd Struck and Medically Reviewed
1. Increase your purified-water consumption by one quart per day, so that you are drinking a total of 2.5 to 3 quarts. Nursing women tend to be thirstier anyway, especially during feeding sessions, because part of their water consumption goes directly to milk production. But don’t overdo it: too much liquid also can reduce milk production.
2. Increase your daily caloric intake of wholesome, organic foods to 2,500 calories: you can increase food intake if you are planning to continue breastfeeding for longer than three months (2,800 calories per day). However, be careful: many nursing mothers are tempted by sweets. Remember you are building a future body for yourself and your baby. According to Dr. Oz, sugar in sweets or any processed food is more dangerous to your health than smoking. So chose to enjoy more lean proteins (spice them up with fresh herbs or refer to the recommended cookbook in this article). The basic rule is to eat one gram of lean, greenwise protein each day for every pound you weigh.
Aimee French, RNC, who works in the low-risk neonatal unit at Jupiter Hospital in South Florida, says to new nursing moms, “Each baby responds differently to what you eat.” She advises, “If you eat foods that cause gas, then your baby will have gas.” The key here is to become more aware of what you are eating while checking to see how it may affect your nursing baby.
Another excellent tool to help you prepare food for yourself and your family is Whole Foods for the Whole Family, by Roberta Johnson, a classic La Leche League cookbook for over thirty years, which is easy and wholesome. I recommend it for every mother. I have kept and used my cookbook for over thirty-three years. The updated cookbook has a complete nutritional analysis for each recipe. It contains more than nine hundred kitchen-tested recipes contributed by mothers … La Leche League International helps mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.
As a mother, you’ll experience great joy and frustration in all areas of your life. What is important is to remember that life is meant to be experienced. We all have a choice as to how we respond to those experiences. I have found that researching specific questions has kept me informed and able to make wiser decisions with more positive outcomes. You can do the same to increase your conscious awareness as you take this incredible mothering journey.