Increased Nutritional Requirements
Pregnancy is a time of extreme nutrient requirements. You’re making a brand new human for goodness sake! What is a human made of? Bones, muscle, organs, connective tissue, blood, neurons… what are these made of? Cells. What are cells made of? Nutrients. Nutrients are the building blocks of everything. Most people are deficient in a normal state. Add in pregnancy and you’re almost guaranteed to become nutrient deficient. Oh and there’s one more thing to consider – morning sickness. There’s a very good chance that your first trimester, the one where everything develops (after the first trimester the baby mostly just gets bigger, but everything is already developed), is also the one where you are unable to consume healthy foods due to morning sickness. See what I mean about nutrient deficiencies being guaranteed?
Do you think baby is going to take the hit? No way. Mom does. Baby will suck everything it needs from you and mom will be left with major nutrient deficiencies. In fact, many of the symptoms attributed to “pregnancy” may actually be pre-existing nutrient deficiencies rearing their ugly heads when your needs further increase. This may also play a role in why so many women experience the onset of health conditions (often autoimmune) after pregnancy, and why the 2nd pregnancy is often harder than the first since you go in further depleted than the first.
Becoming Nutrient Sufficient
So how do we make sure you’re nutrient replete during pregnancy? Well first of all, you want to make sure you start flooding your body with nutrients long before trying to conceive. This is especially important if you’ve been on birth control. You do this by focusing on nutrient-dense foods. Supplements won’t cut it folks. You really need to make sure you’re consuming nutrients in their food-based form, where they’re present with all of the co-factors required for absorption and assimilation.
Pregnancy & Fertility Foods
The following (super!) foods contain essential nutrients for supporting all of the stages of development. They are particularly high in pregnancy/fertility nutrients like folate (you don’t want folic acid, you want folate), choline, omega-3’s, gelatin (glycine), vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K2. Beside each food, is the weekly servings goal:
- Egg Yolks (10-15) only if tolerated
- Liver (1-2)
- Cold-water oily fish (3-4 x 4oz servings)
- Fermented foods (7-14)
- Bone broth (5-7)
- Vegetables (21+)
- Grassfed butter/ghee (7) only if tolerated
Not sure if you can remember that? Not to worry! I’ve created a handy-dandy printable guideline for you below! It’s a simple chart of the 7 super foods listed above, how to consume them, how many servings per week you want to aim for and a check list for each time you have a serving!
How to Use These Guidelines
I recommend following these dietary guidelines starting about 6 months before starting to try to conceive. In fact, these guidelines are solid for optimizing nutrient status regardless of if you are pregnant or not, so they are good habits for everyone. Definitely continue to follow the guidelines while you’re trying to conceive.
Once you actually do conceive (yay!) go as hardcore as you can the first few weeks, because you don’t know what foods you suddenly won’t be able to consume. Ideally, preparing like this will help you avoid major pregnancy symptoms, but it’s definitely not a guarantee.
The downloadable PDF is 1 sheet, with 2 copies, so you can save space on your fridge. I printed off a few copies, cut in half and posted them to my fridge with a clip magnet. Then I checked off each serving as I ate it, starting fresh each Monday. Can you tell I like check lists??
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” – Voltaire
NOTE: This is not meant to add stress to your life! It’s simply meant as a guideline. So if you look at the chart on your fridge, and you see you haven’t had seafood yet this week, it can help you choose fish for dinner that night! There are going to be weeks you can’t hit these numbers. THAT’S OKAY! The last thing we need as moms (and moms-to-be) is additional stress, guilt, and shame. I am in no way attempting to add to that. This is for people who are interested in some guidelines and who benefit from structure and accountability.