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What is Pre-pregnancy Nutrition?

By Madeline Martins, RHN

Many body reactions are biochemically controlled by the food we eat, including baby-making hormones and ovulation. Focusing on diet before you conceive is important for your first pregnancy and even more important for your second, third and fourth pregnancy. Why? During pregnancy, the body uses enormous amounts of proteins, vitamins and minerals to grow a healthy baby. After her first child, a woman can become low in these important nutrients. If these nutrients are not replaced before her next pregnancy, her body will struggle through the pregnancy and may not be able to provide optimal amounts of nutrients to her growing baby. This may negatively affect her baby’s health and increase the mother’s susceptibility to fatigue and infections during pregnancy.

An Ancestral Perspective

Dr. Weston Price, a dentist who travelled to remote parts of the world in the 1930s, observed the eating habits of cultures that preserved the ways they had eaten for thousands of years. In every culture he visited, there was a special food or diet for couples before they conceived. For Swiss villagers, the key pre-pregnancy food was a butter made from the milk of cows when they first went to pasture in the spring. In Scotland, the remote cultures did not consume any dairy; instead, they focused on fish and seafood before conception. These cultures knew intuitively and historically that these foods help women with their pregnancies and produced healthy children, even though they didn’t have the scientific evidence we have today.

Top 3 Pre-Pregnancy Foods

Clean Water: Due to environmental pollution, tap water is a toxic food that should be avoided by everyone, especially couples planning to conceive. Toronto water, for example, is high in lead, and according to the World Health Organization, lead is a cumulative toxin. This means that small amounts of lead ingested daily can accumulate in the tissue and bones and cause health problems. Lead is released from the mother’s bones and tissues during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure of lead to the developing fetus, potentially causing brain, liver and kidney problems. In order to protect your health and the health of your unborn child you should invest in a water filter.  A water filter – such as a reverse osmosis filter or Berkey filter – will remove the lead and other contaminants that may negatively affect your health and your ability to conceive.

Grass-Fed Butter: Cows that eat grass produce this butter. Grass-fed butter is a rich source of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are crucial for the proper development of the baby’s body and brain. It is also high in cholesterol, which is a building block of progesterone. Women need this hormone to become and stay pregnant. Cows that are not fed grass often eat grains and toxic genetically produced food which produces a butter that is very low in fat soluble vitamins. My favourite grass-fed butter brand is Kewi Butter.

Fish and Seafood: Pregnant women should eat two or more servings of fish and seafood per week because these foods are high in minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the proper development of the brain. Seafood is very high in minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron. These nutrients are needed during pregnancy to grow a healthy baby. There are concerns about the toxins, especially mercury, that are found in fish. You can reduce your toxic exposure by eating only wild-caught fish and seafood, and avoiding tuna and swordfish, which are particularly high in mercury.

Finally, and Most Importantly, Focus on Love

When it comes down to it, having a baby is about love. Focus on the feeling of love you have toward your partner. Spending time together is the most important aspect of a pre-pregnancy health plan. Yes, nutrition is absolutely important, but so is the love you share with your partner. It is this love and joy that brought you to the decision to have a baby.

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