A Holistic Pregnancy Nutrition Plan

DSC_0177Well its October now which means the air is beginning to cool off, Christmas decorations are up in the department stores, and this tiny little thing called my DUE DATE is just around the corner! Sometimes its hard to believe that I’ve made it this far, but my son will be born in just a few short weeks! I’m so excited!

I’ve talked to you all a little bit about how I’ve stayed healthy during this pregnancy but I thought a refresher was in order, so I’m going to outline for you exactly what I’ve been doing these last 36 or so weeks including my diet and supplemental routine.

My Pregnancy Nutrition

brita-bottle-homemakerchic.comWater– Staying hydrated in pregnancy is a major necessity. Your body is producing a huge amount of extra blood and fluid to support the baby and the placenta, so you need to compensate for it. Early in this pregnancy I purchased a 22oz. Brita filtered water bottle. Its BPA free and uses a charcoal filter system. Do yourself a favor and spring for the hard-sided version with the straw. The squeeze bottle that they sell is cheaper, but trust me- its SO much easier to drink out of the straw (especially in labor!). This bottle has been awesome! I drink about a gallon a day which sounds like a lot but its really easy when you just keep filling up your bottle a little at a time. Plus, I can get fresh filtered water from and sink or water fountain. Not only am I helping the environment by not using hundreds of plastic bottles that will just end up in a landfill, but I’ve also saved a TON of money by not having to purchase bottled water (which is really nothing special- check out the Penn & Teller episode calling Bull-sh*t on the whole thing!) Be sure to keep extra filters on hand. The instructions say to change the filter every 2 months but I’ve found that I drink so much water that I need to change it more like every month. TIP: You can tell it needs to be changed when it starts to get too hard to suck the water out.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables- The best way to ensure that your growing baby is getting all the nutrients he needs is to consume a diet rich in vitamin and mineral content. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is so good for you and your baby.

green-smoothie-homemakerchic.comEvery morning I enjoy a yummy green smoothie with 6-7 frozen strawberries, a handful of frozen peaches or pineapple, 1 ripe banana, 3 handfuls of fresh organic spinach, 1/2 cup of carrot juice, and 1 cup of orange juice. Just blend everything together and enjoy. You can’t taste the spinach at all, and this smoothie is a great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, iron, fiber, beta carotene, antioxidants, folic acid, potassium and more! Its a great way to start your day. You could easily switch up the fruits by adding raspberries, blueberries (this will make your smoothie a sort of brown color, but it still tastes delicious!) You could swap the spinach for kale, although the kale does have a stronger flavor. The only thing I wouldn’t skip on is the ripe banana. It really makes the smoothie creamy and sweet. Also do not add yogurt or milk to the smoothie. The calcium will work against the wonderful properties of the vitamin C and iron that you and your baby desperately need right now. We’ll talk about calcium below.

chicken-vegetable-pasta-homemakerchic.comAnother way I incorporate vegetables is by adding them into easy lunch and dinner recipes. We love having pasta primavera. I will chop up carrots, celery stalks, onion, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, corn, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, kale or whatever else I have on hand. I do equal parts vegetables and pasta (usually about 3 cups of each for my husband and I, plus left-overs). You can also add some grilled chicken for extra protein and iron. Saute’ everything with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix in with the vegetable pasta you can find in most super markets. I like the Barilla brand. It has a full serving of hidden vegetables in every serving of pasta. You could also make this dish with quinoa or brown rice for a gluten free alternative. I do both often. Add a little half and half and parmesan cheese and you’re good to go! The juices from the vegetables create an amazing sauce. The best part is that if you make extra, it is delicious cold the next day!

broccoli-soup-homemakerchic.comVegetable soups are also a great way to get in those much needed veggies. Its SOO easy! And this time of year is a great time for homemade soup. I make soup at least once a week. Just pick a vegetable, potato, broccoli, butternut squash, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, cauliflower, doesn’t matter. The sky is the limit. For a medium sized pot of soup (about 4 bowls) you’ll want the equivalent of about 3-4 cups of veggies. All you have to do is either roast or boil your chosen veggie (it depends on the veggie, i.e. broccoli can easily be boiled while pumpkins would need to be halved and roasted for about an hour). Toss the cooked veggie in a pot. Add a couple quarts of chicken stock, some milk, cream or half & half (if you want), some butter, salt and pepper. Then blitz it all up with an immersion blender. Obviously you can vary this by adding herbs, spices, and other veggies. But you get the basic idea. Its so stupidly easy to do and there are so many ways to make it interesting. Try it!!

My Pregnancy Supplements

Okay so I take a lot of supplements, and you certainly don’t have to take everything that I recommend but let me explain WHY I’ve chosen to take so many. The way I see it, if it can help me have an easier labor and a healthier baby, why not? So after a TON of research I’ve made the personal choice to just try it, and if it doesn’t help then I won’t do it next time.

– Morning – 

super-supplementalMulti-vitamin– In lieu of a prenatal I take Nature’s Sunshine Super Supplemental. It is a 100% food based source of dozens of vitamins, minerals and nutrients including Folic Acid, Iron, and Calcium which are all needed in pregnancy. The serving size is 4 tablets per day, which is what I take when I’m not pregnant. But I only take 1 per day while pregnant. The reason is that the 4 tablet dose has a high vitamin A content (16,000iu) which is not recommended in pregnancy. One tablet has a very safe dosage. (Read this article for more information about vitamin A, aka beta carotene in pregnancy). Also I only take this as an insurance policy in case I have an off day where I’m not getting most of my vitamins from food. I usually get everything that the baby and I need from my diet, so this is just a little extra.  If you’re eating a lot of processed foods, and not consuming a well-balanced diet, you may consider taking 2 tablets a day. Nature’s Sunshine also offers a pre-natal vitamin that has a lower dose of vitamin A (about the same as 1 tablet), which I probably would have taken if I’d known it existed before now.

perfect-ironIron – My super supplemental does include a small amount of iron, but the huge demand on our bodies for iron in pregnancy requires more. Because of the large amount of blood we are producing many women become anemic in pregnancy. To combat this I take 2 tablets of Sundown Natural’s Perfect Iron. This is Iron Carbonyl which is easier on the stomach than Iron Ferrous Fumarate. Now, Vitamin C helps the body to better assimilate the iron into the system while calcium blocks assimilation. Because of this I take my iron in the morning with my Green smoothie which has a TON of vitamin C, and this is also why I do not add yogurt or dairy to my smoothie. Wait about 2 hours to consume calcium after taking your iron.

pro-biotics-for-pregnancyPro-biotics- Taking pro-biotics in pregnancy is very important for two really good reasons. I really hope you do not skip taking this supplement. You’ll want to take a refrigerated pro-biotic which can be found at and health-food or vitamin store. The live cultures in the stuff you find on the shelf will die by the time you get to the end of the bottle. Getting a refrigerated supplement will ensure you’re really getting the benefits down to the last tablet. I take 2 Solgar Advanced Acidophilus Plus, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Reason 1) During pregnancy our digestive system really takes a hit. The body begins putting priority on making a baby, and our poor tummies end up way down the list of priority body systems. Digestion slows, and the result is heartburn, indigestion, constipation and nausea. The healthy bacteria in pro-biotics will maintain a good flora in your gut and really help keep things going in there!

Reason 2) When your baby is born, his immune system foundation is directly related to the strength of yours. Studies show that mothers who increase their probiotic intake during pregnancy reduce their child’s risk of allergies by as much as 50%, specifically in eczema, asthma and atopic dermatitis. A healthier baby sounds good to me!!

– Evening –

DHA:EPA for pregnancyOmega 3/ DHA+EPA / Fish Oil – You have probably heard that DHA is very important in pregnancy. This is because DHA helps build your baby’s brain, nervous system, and eyes. But let’s not forget about EPA, which is another source of Omega 3 that is equally beneficial. Both of these valuable nutrients have been shown to prevent allergies in infants. Fish oil also has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for aching and swollen joints in pregnancy. I take one combination capsule from Vitamin Shoppe with 300mg EPA and 200mg DHA. I got them BOGO in the store with a coupon. I like to store the bottle in the freezer and take them in the evening because I was finding myself burping up a fishy taste and that is just no bueno for me. Freezing the capsule ensures that it doesn’t release the fish oil until it is down in your belly, and taking it in the evening just helps it to get digested before you wake up, so no fishy breath.

Pro-biotic- We already discussed why it is important to take, but you want to take it twice a day. In the morning, and the in the evening. This keeps your digestive system on track while you sleep and maintains the healthy flora all day and night.

calciumCalcium/Vitamin D- Calcium and Vitamin D are also important during pregnancy to help your baby’s little bones develop. All of these vitamins are included in the super supplemental but I began taking an additional supplement at night because I was having horrible leg cramps. Like, so bad that I actually twisted my ankle because it seized up so badly. My midwife suggested adding this to my daily cocktail of tablets, and its amazing how it worked! I haven’t had a single leg cramp since I added this to my supplemental routine. I take one chewable Caltrate tablet before bed. If you’re having this issue I highly recommend you try it! 

RLTRaspberry Leaf- You can read all about why raspberry leaf is amazing in pregnancy in this post. I’m a big fan of the stuff and many women have sworn by its ability to help with a more efficient labor. I was drinking the tea daily in my first and second trimesters, but toward the end you really want to up the dosage and I just couldn’t drink enough. So I started taking the capsules, which is really easy. I take 6 400mg capsules from Nature’s Way a day. I’m a weirdo and can take all the tablets in one swallow, but I’ve heard other women complain about the size. So maybe try taking them one at a time if its an issue for you. If you’d rather drink the tea, check out the post and all the information about where to find it and how much to drink is there for you.

5-w-pregnancy supplement5W- This is an herbal birth preparation combination that includes: Black cohosh root, Squaw vine herb, Dong quai root, Butcher’s broom root, Red raspberry leaves. I got mine from Nature’s Sunshine, the same company that sells the multi-vitamin. It helps by toning the smooth muscles of the uterus to promote more effective contractions during labor. During the last five weeks of pregnancy, take 2 capsules three times daily with a meal. I will be starting this herb at 37 weeks (which is just a few days away) simply for the reason that I cannot deliver at my birthing center until I reach 37 weeks and I didn’t want to take anything that could get my labor started before that time. But I know people who have started at 35 weeks and had no issues whatsoever. I just wanted to be extra cautious because of my history.

So all in all I’m up to 2 pro-biotics, 1 fish oil, 2 iron, 1 multi-vitamin, 6 RLT, 6 5-W, 1 Calcium, and a partridge in a pear tree. That’s 19 tablets a day! lol. It may seem extreme but hopefully this explanation has given you insight into all the amazing benefits all these wonderful supplements have, and how much they can really help you and your baby have the healthiest, and easiest labor possible.

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