I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but I never really spent time thinking or researching what a pregnant women needs or goes through during these very special 9 months. In the beginning of this year, I became a Health Coach, and one of the topics in the course was about the special health needs during pregnancy. Most of the information that I learned was very new to me, and it was such a wonderful coincidence that I got pregnant just after completing the certification, so it was perfect timing to put my fresh knowledge into practice.
Studies show that exercise helps women to have a healthier pregnancy, and also have higher levels of endorphins (natural pain relievers) during pregnancy and labor. However in my case, it was time to decrease the amount of exercise I was doing since I was swimming, biking or running at least 3 hours per day. Honestly, I thought I was going to be able to exercise much more during my pregnancy, but right away, at the end of the first trimester, I felt that my body and my baby didn’t like it when I ran or even jogged really slow, so I stopped and just started walking. I kept spinning easily on my bike at home for 40 minutes two times per week until I reached 6 months, and then I felt uncomfortable sitting on the bike saddle. Swimming is one of the exercises that felt great from the beginning until now (I am 35 weeks!) so I am still swimming at least 3 times per week. And another exercise that I have been doing during my whole pregnancy is an aqua fitness class which I have found to be the perfect combination of strength, stretching and light cardio exercise for us.
However, the most interesting and probably the most important part for me was learning about the nutritional needs for a healthy pregnancy. I never ate too much. To tell you the truth, I always ate too little. I would constantly hear people telling me, “Mariane eat more! Mariane, I can’t believe you are not hungry!” I always liked to graze or as my family and friends tell me, “You eat like a bird”. Well, with a baby growing inside of me, I knew that not just the quantity of the food but also the variety of foods that I was eating would have to change a lot.
Luckily our bodies (and I believe our babies) are extremely wise, and in the first trimester I craved foods that I usually didn’t eat, such as meat. One day I even asked Tim to make a BBQ for me. He made it, and I really enjoyed it! My appetite also grew, and I went grocery shopping and prepared meals for myself more than I ever did before. It is like your body and your baby ask for what they need, and you just follow their lead.
I am trying my very best to eat nutritious food containing the nourishing pregnancy nutrients (see the table below), but it can still be challenging for a pregnant women to get all the nutrition she needs from real food. For this reason, obstetricians often recommend pregnant women to take supplements. So the three supplements I have been taking during my pregnancy are:
I chose this one because it is made with certified organic whole food, and contains the recommended amount of folic acid, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D, and also contains a fair amount of other nutrients that pregnant women need.
There are plenty of options when it comes to the Omega-3 fats supplements on the market. Pregnant women need around 1000 milligrams of Omega-3 fats per day, with at least 500 milligrams of DHA/EPA. Those two healthy fatty acids are essential to develop the baby’s brain and nourish the mother’s mood stability.
Last month my doctor recommended that I take an iron supplement because I was a little low. I chose this brand because it is gentle on the stomach and colon. I am taking the supplement three times per week and I am complementing it with foods rich in iron (see table below).
Of all the things I have being learning during this journey, the most important one is to listen to my body and my baby everyday and take small steps every day to prepare my body and my mind for this divine life opportunity – childbirth.
Table extracted from “The Healthy Pregnancy Book” by Willian Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN.
Average daily nutrients pregnant women & baby need
Richest food sources
Why mom & baby need it
|Salmon, 6 ounces: 2000 milligrams||Baby’s brain development; Mommy’s mood stability, vision acuity, immunity regulator.|
|FOLATE / FOLIC ACID:
600 – 800 micrograms
|Spinach, 1 cup: 260 micrograms
Enriched whole-wheat bread 1 slice: 250 micrograms
Lentils, 1/2 cup: 200 micrograms
Asparagus, 1/2 cup: 134 micrograms
Edamame, 1/2 cup: 100 micrograms
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons: 85 micrograms
|Development of baby’s spinal cord. be sure to take this supplement early in the first month (or, better yet, before becoming pregnant), since the neural tube in the spine class during the third or fourth week of pregnancy. Folic acid deficiency also increase the risk of prematurity and behavior problems.|
|Spirulina powder, 1 tablespoon: 7 milligrams
Blackstrap molasses, 1 tablespoon: 5 milligrams
Whole grain cereal, 1 serving: 4-8 milligrams\
Firm tofu, 1/2 cup: 4-7 milligrams
Lean meat/poultry, 4-6 ounces: 4-5 milligrams
Lentils, 4 ounces: 3 milligrams
Prune juice, 8 ounces: 3 milligrams
Salmon/tuna, 4 ounces: 2 milligrams
Kidney/black beans, 1/2 cup: 2 milligrams
Dried figs, 5: 2 milligrams
|Extra red blood cell volume for mommy and baby.Deficiency can lead to fatigue.|
1400 – 1600 milligrams
|Yogurt, 1 cup: 400 milligrams
Low-fat look, 1 cup: 300 milligrams
Cheese, 1 ounce: 200 milligrams
Canned salmon (with bones), 3 ounces: 180 milligrams
Tofu, 1/2 cup: 100 milligrams
Growing baby bones drain mommy bones, so build up your calcium bank.
|Spirulina powder, 1 tablespoon: 9 micrograms
Salmon, 3 ounces: 4 micrograms
Lean beef, 3 ounces: 2 micrograms
Yogurt, 1 cup: 1.4 micrograms
Milk, 1 cup: 1 microgram
Egg, 1: 0.5 microgram
|Salmon, 6 ounces: 1000 IU
Fortified milk, 1 cup: 100 IU
Egg, 1: 23 IU
Sunshine: varies with exposure
|Boosts immune system and uterine muscle strength; bone development.|
|Bell peper, 1 cup: 175 milligramsStrawberries, 1 cup: 84 milligrams
Broccoli, 1 cup: 82 milligrams
Papaya, 1: 180 milligrams
|Immune strength protection for growing tissues.|
|Alaska king crab, 3 ounces: 6 milligrams
Lean grass-fed beef/turkey, 4 ounces: 5 milligrams
Spinach, 2 cups: 3 milligrams
Pumpkin/sesame seeds, 1/4 cup: 3 milligrams
Tofu, 1/2 cup: 2 milligrams
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons: 2 milligrams
|Boost immune system.|
|Salmon, 6 ounces: 100 micrograms
Nori (seaweed): 100 micrograms per serving
Yogurt, 1 cup: 80 micrograms
Iodized salt, 1/2 teaspoon: 75 micrograms
Egg, 1: 24 micrograms
|Optimal thyroid function.|
|Salmon, 6 ounces: 43 grams
Greek yogurt, 1 cup: 23 grams
Black beans: 1/2 cup, 75 grams
Egg, 1: 6 grams
|Growth of extra tissue for mommy and baby.|
|Salmon, 6 ounces: 191 milligrams
Egg yolk, 1: 125 milligrams
Soy beans, 1/2 cup: 100 milligrams
Brocoli, 1 cup: 62 milligrams
Wheat germ, 1/4 cup: 50 milligrams
|Baby’s brain development.|
Important: Each woman and baby are unique so always consult your doctor to find out the best supplements and exercise for you.