Reader’s Request: Pre-pregnancy Nutrition

Hey everyone! Hope your humpday is going well 😀

I got a couple of questions about what types of foods to eat before trying to conceive. As you guys know, the only babies I have are of the “fur” variety, but I have trained and counseled quite a few mamas-to-be.

healthy-pregnant-woman  (Source)

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the following nutrients and tips are especially important 3 months to a year before trying to conceive (anything I’m adding to their suggestions is in purple): ****Disclaimer: please talk to a doc regarding your specific needs before putting a whole-grain bun in the oven

Folic Acid: The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that women of childbearing age obtain 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folate or folic acid each day. This B vitamin helps reduce a baby’s risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. If your family has a history of neural tube defects, your doctor may increase your daily intake. Folic acid may be obtained naturally through dark green leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach), citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals. These foods can be supplemented with a prenatal vitamin which usually contains 800mcg of folic acid. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin allowing your body to flush out excess amounts.

folic-acid-foods  (Source)

Calcium: It is recommended that women get at least 1,000 mgs (three 8 oz glasses of skim milk) of calcium a day if they are considering getting pregnant. Calcium may be obtained from natural sources such as cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt, canned salmon, sardines, rice, and cheese. Vegan calcium-rich sources include tofu (processed with calcium sulfate pr nigari), dark leafy greens (like turnip and collard greens, kale, bok choy) and green veggies (broccoli and okra), tempeh, tahini and almonds.

Calcium-Foods (Source)

Supplements & Vitamins: In addition to a healthy diet, many healthcare providers will encourage supplements to increase the probability that you get all the nutrients you need. Pre-natal vitamins are a necessity and I also recommend spirulina and maca. Spirulina is a highly bio-available (meaning it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream) source of nutrients and antioxidants. Maca can help our bodies perform at an optimal level and is also known to improve reproductive function and boost fertility.

Maca_Natural_Herbs (Source)

Healthy fats: These are essential to support a growing baby’s eye and brain development, and also help the placenta and other tissues grow. Go for a diet in moderate healthy fats: Monounsaturated fats including olive and canola oil, and avocados, olives, nuts and nut butters as well as Polyunsaturated fats, which include DHA and ALA, which are necessary for a healthy, growing baby. Sources of Polyunsaturated fats include chia seeds, flax seeds, canola and soybean oil. Fats to avoid are saturated fats (not including coconuts, which are high in saturated fats but the fat is utilized differently by the body, and are fabulous in moderation) and hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats aka TRANS FAT. Artery clogging beasts.

image5  Drill sergeant Gina says: STAY AWAY FROM TRANS FAT 😀 

Caffeine: It is important to wean yourself off of caffeine (including chocolate- this is where I cry a little), because research has shown that more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day may reduce fertility by 27 percent. Caffeine also impedes upon the body’s ability to absorb iron and calcium. Since you won’t be able to drink it while pregnant, might as well start getting used to life without it. I gave up coffee a little over a year ago, but the chocolate… wahhhhhh…..

coffee

Remove: Artificial sweeteners, alcohol, recreational drugs, and cigarettes all have the potential of harming your soon to be conceived baby. Also, eliminate as many processed foods as possible and aim to buy organic meat, dairy and produce. Fetal and childhood exposure to chemicals is far more dangerous than exposure later in life. Organic is expensive, but save some dinero by printing out coupons online and buying frozen organic meats, fruits and veggies. If you can’t afford organic, make sure to wash fruits and veggies extremely well.

fruit

Tips:

Choose whole-grain bread products over white, and brown rice instead of white

-If you can, go organic

-Double-check ingredients. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, put it back on the shelf

-Avoid super salty foods, as these can lead to high blood pressure and potential pregnancy complications

-As far as fish goes, mercury levels can be, well, fishy 😉 Opt for wild caught salmon or halibut, or farmed trout and catfish. Vegans can get their Omega 3s from flaxseed, hempseeds, nuts and chia seeds.

-Make juice at home. It’s an easy way to get in TONS of nutrients quickly and deliciously 😀

Get healthy and feeling amazing! Work out (make sure that your body fat percentage and weight is in a safe range to carry a healthy baby), add in some yoga, walking, or whatever exercise makes you feel good 😀

These are just some tips to store in the back of your brain for if/when the pre-pregnancy time comes around. I had a lot of fun with this reader’s request post- please send your requests my way: fitnessista at gmail dot com

Have a wonderful day <3

xoxo,

Gina

Something to talk about: All the madres in the bloggy house, what are your favorite pre-pregnancy or pregnancy tips? If you only have fur babies, like me, any idea of when you’ll be adding a human baby to the mix?

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128 Comments

  1. christina cadden on March 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Great topic!

  2. Erica on March 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Haha! I LOVE your drill sergeant photo! How does the pilot feel about it?

  3. Candice on March 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    This is good information. We’ve been trying for a while now and while I knew about and have implemented most of this information already I haven’t heard about Maca. I will definitely be buying and trying some of this! 🙂

  4. elizabeth on March 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    love the drill sargent gina pic!

  5. The Healthy Hostess on March 3, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I am 6 weeks away from my due date and I am still feeling great thanks to workouts 6 days a week and mostly 🙂 whole foods! I think the hardest thing for my was the caffeine and I will have a few sips of a coffee every now and then.
    Stay moving! That is my biggest tip! The more you move the better you feel!
    I ran a half marathon at 4 momths pregnant and I am still going to 6am spinning at least 3 mornings a week. It’s important to keep your life similar to how it was to stay feeling great!
    🙂

  6. Heather @ get healthy with Heather on March 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    So much info, thanks girl! Nixing the caffeine is something I’ve already started to do.. At least with coffee not yet tea. No babies for a few years though 🙂

  7. Kristina @ MendonPondMusings on March 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Love the drill sergeant picture! this is a great topic – I know that Jason and I aren’t prepared for babies yet but I love that there is a community out there for us to tap in to when we do become ready.

  8. Cyndi on March 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Great post Gina!

    I’ve had my children and this is solid advice. I would take it one step further and advocate this style of eating for any women wanting to “baby” their own body and mind. Okay, in a perfect world, but it’s great to set the bar in a good place!

  9. Allison @ Food For Healing on March 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    That is all very good information for any woman to know that plans to have a baby soon or sometime in the future.

    **March is Endometriosis Awareness Month (on my blog)
    something that is unknown to a lot of people

    Endo makes it difficult for some people to conceive (due to infertility or pain) This disease shouldn’t be hiding in the shadows!

  10. Ali on March 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Great information! I will start trying for a baby at the end of this year/early next year, so this is definitely useful information. I did have a question, however…In a past post, you mentioned you prefer Trader Joe’s prenatal vitamins over the ones you can get at the base. Why is that? What should you look for in a prenatal vitamin? Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on March 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm

      hey ali,
      the base ones have gelatin in them and since i don’t eat meat (except for fish) i tried to find a more natural plant-based prenatal.

  11. Michelle on March 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Gina,
    I was wondering if you could go into more detail about the saturated fats . . . I’ve heard that recent research says that a small amount of saturated fats should be included in your diet (where as before, they were saying to stay away completely). Then, I read your post today which indicated that saturated fats should be avoided, except for coconut! I just recently tried adding coconut to my diet, so I guess I’m on the right track, but I’m just curious as to why only coconut’s saturated fats are good for you (what about dark chocolate?). You can email me if that’s easier than replying on your post. Thanks!
    Michelle

    • Fitnessista on March 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

      dark chocolate is great for you because it’s high in cancer-fighting antioxidants
      coconut on the other hand, contains lauric acid which is actually used by the body to BURN fat, rather than store it. pretty sweet, huh?

  12. katie on March 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    This is a great post. I’ve already cut out caffeine in the form of coffee and diet soda and I’m taking a prenatal vitamin.

  13. Jenn @ Livewellfit on March 3, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Fabulous post! We are hoping to add some fur babies in to our life this year and then maybe some real babes in the next 1-2 years? We will be married this summer so one step at a time, right? 🙂

    I love your thoughts. I started working with a client who is pregnant with twins and we have incorporated exactly what you referred to with a high emphasis on real, fresh food! Luckily she already ate that way but now we are just upping the quantity a bit and making sure she feels energetic and satisfied.

  14. Tyler Ramey on March 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I gave you a Blog Award! Check it out!

    http://healthyandfun.wordpress.com

    Thanks for being an awesome blogger. 😉

  15. Diana (Fit Girls on the Go) on March 3, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    We should all strive to eat this way ALL the time… not just when we are expecting (or planning on expecting)! Great tips – thanks Gina!

    🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm

      that is very true!
      but on a regular basis i’m having my chocolate and vino 😉

      • Diana (Fit Girls on the Go) on March 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm

        Whoops… did I forget to say, “We should all strive to eat this way ALL the time EXCEPT for the chocolate/vino exemption?” 😉

  16. Ashlei on March 3, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Oh my gosh I love that army hat! best thing I’ve seen all night <3

  17. Michelle on March 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks for answering my question! I’m going to look into lauric acid–I didn’t know this! Thanks!

  18. mmclaughlin on March 3, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    We just have 2 fur-babies right now…but we plan to start “trying” around August (eek!!) after we make our big move to Alaska! We just sort of made that decision last weekend – so this post is pretty timely for me. I’m planning on starting pre-natal vitamins next week. I worry a lot about getting the right amount of nutrients for the baby, so thanks for putting up this reader request post!

  19. caronae on March 4, 2010 at 12:53 am

    Ooooo, thanks for sharing Gina! I want to be a mama in about 10 years, I think 🙂
    I think pregnant women are supposed to be especially careful with canned tuna (the mercury levels are higher) and deli meats, which can carry harmful bacteria.

  20. annalisa on March 4, 2010 at 4:58 am

    These are great tips! I’ve been reading ‘The Complete Organic Pregnancy’ which suggests lots of small things to be aware of pre and during pregnancy as certain chemicals can alter fetal development and fertility. These things include BPA in bottles, pumping gas, lawn fertilizers, toxic cleaning chemicals, paint, etc.

    • Fitnessista on March 4, 2010 at 7:57 am

      i’ve read that book also! it scared me at first but has so much amazing info

  21. Laura J. on March 4, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Great post! I wish I’d read this last year when I was pregnant, but really now that I think about it, it’s a relevant post regardless of whether or not your planning on having bebes soon, pregnant or none of the above. I’m definitely going to try and incorporate those healthy tips into my everyday life 🙂 Yayy for another awesome reader request post. You rock girl! 😛

  22. Lisa on March 4, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I have a 10 and 13 yr.old and I took the usual prenatal vitamins a couple of months before I got pregnant with both of them and usually ate pretty healthy anyway. I agree w/ one of the other ladies about being ready for an epidural for pain. I had one with each of mine and wouldn’t have done it any other way. I usually have a pretty high pain tolerance as well, but childbirth isn’t a piece of cake. Just saying. I was also nauseated the first 14 weeks of each pregnancy, so it was hard to eat exactly as planned.I was just sure to try to eat protein and crackers, which usually helped.I think your body guides you with what you want; like there was no way I could drink wine or any alcohol while pregnant, just the thought made me sick. I just tried not to stress out over everything and enjoy being pregnant.

  23. Katherine on March 4, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I love this post! I don’t plan on having human babies for a few years (I have 2 wonderful fur babies <3) but I find this information so interesting because I have been a vegetarian consistently for 15 years (since I was 12!). I know that my lifestyle and diet are both very healthy and that my body is strong, but there are so many people who love to put in their uninformed 2 cents when it comes to my health and how I eat. I find that I am constantly defending my food choices.

    Gina, I was wondering how you feel about the nutrition content in coconut milk. I know there is some controversy surrounding it, and I am considering making the change from cow's milk to coconut milk for use in my coffee. (I use almond milk everywhere else but I really do not like it in my coffee). Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on March 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

      hey katherine,
      i use coconut milk occasionally for cooking but couldn’t see myself drinking it- it’s almost too thick for me! i think heaby puts it in her coffee??? i don’t see a prob with it- if you like it, definitely drink it 🙂

  24. jessica on March 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Hey Gina! I really enjoy reading your blog! I just wanted to let you know that Eve over at http://nutritionbyeve.wordpress.com/ is pregnant with her first baby and she is an RD. She does a post every Friday with excellent pregnancy tips – def worth checking out!

  25. Mary on March 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

    This won’t be popular here I’m guessing, but this mom’s best pregnancy advice is ‘get an epidural’. One of the greatest medical advances in the last century, extremely safe for babies (and moms), but some women still feel that if they don’t suffer excrutiating pain throughout the entire process, they’re wimping out.

  26. Ali on March 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I just had a baby girl 3 months ago. While I was pregnant I made sure to take my pre-natal vitamin everyday and listen to my body. Basically I ate what I craved, and yes that included sugar. You’re making a human! You need energy and you need to feel content and happy. If I was hungry at 3am I ate then as well. My body mostly craved milk which I didn’t drink pre-pregnancy.

  27. Steffi on March 4, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I agree with Ali…sometimes it seems like people go way overboard. I think all the tips here are helpful, but I found a lot of the information scary when taken together. Really like you have to live in a bubble for 9 months.

    I don’t think my mom restricted herself that much and we all came out well :).

    Since Maca powder came up here…I started taking it about two weeks ago (less than half a tablespoon/day)and for that same time I’ve had diarrhea….I also bought Chia seeds, goji berries and ground flaxseed at the same time. So one of those must be causing it…So do you know if that’s a maca side effect?

    • Fitnessista on March 4, 2010 at 9:24 pm

      i’m sorry that something is bothering your tummy. i haven’t experienced or heard of that side effect with maca.

  28. coco on March 5, 2010 at 7:03 am

    great post Gina! I enjoy a lot reading it, you put some great info together!
    Do you have any idea of what’s the ideal percentage of protein/fat/carb for a pre-pregnancy diet?

    • Fitnessista on March 5, 2010 at 9:01 am

      i have no idea.. my guess would be slightly higher on the healthy fats that usual but not sure

  29. amy (previously veganissexy.com on March 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Hey Gina,

    I haven’t checked in with your blog for a while since I had to give mine up a while ago for a new job. Anyhow….I am now 4 months preggo and agree with all of the advice you’ve given. One thing that I’ve read a ton about in all my new pregnancy books and magazines is the importance of DHA (omegas) I take the trader joes prenatal and a vegetarian DHA supplement everyday for the baby’s “brain” development. Dr. Oz is a huge DHA pusher and the evidence is amazing. If you are thinking of TTC soon I would reccomend adding that to your daily vitamin regimen as well. FYI…..still working out 6 days a week and spinning, zumba-ing, and powerhour-ing my little preggo booty off. Feels amazing 🙂

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