One of the first thing you will most likely think about when you want to get pregnant is probably your physical health. You want to make sure you eat a decent diet that will help you sustain your pregnancy. Today, we will talk about the nutritious foods you should feed your body.
Although women have been known the get pregnant at all kinds of body weights and shapes, it's important to understand that a healthy body weight will increase your chances of getting pregnant and will significantly reduce your risk of complications during pregnancy and postpartum. Obesity and extremely low body fat can reduce the potential for ovulation. Furthermore, maternal obesity is linked with higher risk for neural tube defect, heart defect, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, delivery complication, and more.
Let's talk about your diet, and by diet, I don't mean calorie-restricting, dieting, but rather the nutritious foods you can eat to be healthy whether or not you are trying to become pregnant or are pregnant. This kind of go for everyone!
Here are a few basics: You should eat varied, plant-based, whole foods. Varied means that you consume a mix of colours and textures and change your meals often. This will increase the odds that you absorb all the vitamins and minerals you need. You should consume mostly or almost exclusively plant-based foods meaning most of your daily food should come form the ground aka fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, etc. And finally by whole foods, I refer to food in its natural state, unprocessed. We will go into a bit more details now, but that is the main idea.
Here are the some of the main nutrients you want to make sure you get in adequate quantities while trying to get pregnant and throughout your pregnancy as well :
Among its many roles, Zinc helps the body use reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. High sources of zinc include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, molasses, raw cacao, Cashews, rye, whole grains, ginger, mushrooms, etc.
Women with insufficient levels of iron may suffer from an ovulation or poor egg health which would make getting pregnant very difficult. High sources of iron include dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, garbanzo beans, Navy beans, black strap molasses, berries, etc.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fatty acids help regulate hormones in the body, they increase cervical fluid and promote ovulation, as well as increase the blood flow to reproductive organs which improves the health of the uterus. Great sources of Omega-3s are flax seeds (preferably ground), walnuts and chia seeds.
Vitamin D is necessary to create sex hormones, hormones that affect ovulation and general hormone balance. Foods rich in Vitamin D include mushrooms, fortified plant/nut milk, and natural supplement.
Without Vitamin A, your body cannot produce estrogen which is responsible for egg and follicle maturation. It also promotes healthy cervical fluid which will help sperm live longer inside of you optimizing your chances of conception. Foods high in Vitamin A include orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash, pumpkin, carrot, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, etc.
Vitamin C like other vitamins is an antioxidant which means it helps prevent damage from free radicals the body. Vitamin C improves hormonal levels and increases fertility in women with luteal phase defect by increasing levels of progesterone. It can also help with reducing anxiety. High sources of Vitamin C include kiwi, pineapple, citrus fruits, cherries, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet pepper, mangoes, grapes, asparagus, peas, spinach and more.
You start making sure you get enough folic acid even before you get pregnant since it is incredibly important for a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid is well known for its ability to help prevent neural tube defects, congenital heart defects and other defect and anomalies in developing foetuses. Foods high in folate include broccoli, dark leafy greens, root vegetables, whole grains, legumes, asparagus, oatmeal, figs, tahini, and collard greens.
Other nutrients to not overlook are Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and B12, and Selenium. I would suggest you steer clear of animal products including meats, fish, eggs, dairy, artificial sugar and processed foods.
I strongly encourage you to do more research on your own time about perinatal nutrition, it is quite interesting and you can learn how to make sure you and your baby get all you need during pregnancy. I personally took a course with Bliss Baby Yoga on Perinatal Nutrition and Ayurveda on top of taking a university level Nutrition class a couple of years ago and I am still learning more about nutrition everyday.
If you struggle with hormonal imbalances I recommend your read the book WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti. In her books she also talks about syncing your foods with your cycle which is very interesting. Some of the fertility boosting foods she mentions include buckwheat, leafy greens, chickpeas, sun flower seeds, avocado, cinnamon and turmeric!
WomanCode by Alisa Vitti (floliving.com)
Mama Glow by Latham Thomas (mamaglow.com)
The Kind Mama by Alicia Silverstone
Bliss Baby Yoga Perinatal Nutrition and Ayurveda Module
This content was covered in Episode 003 of The Plantiful Mama Podcast.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a healthcare professional and you should seek professional advice before making any significant changes in your diet and exercise routine.