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Ahhhh, that pregnancy glow! Is it real or could it just be that we’re on a 40-week detox with no alcohol, zero or low caffeine etc?! Ha ha! Either way, I never felt better than when I was pregnant with Archie, physically and emotionally. I was really fortunate not to experience any of the bad symptoms like nausea, vomiting and bad skin. But before you all hate me, let me tell you that my challenging childbirth and the first few weeks of motherhood have more than made up for it! Like many new mums, I feel like a bag of spanners and it’s going to be a while before I can even think about getting back into shape!
But back to the blissful pregnancy… I credit a lot of this to luck and a well researched nutritious diet of varied and wholesome food. Eating during pregnancy should be enjoyable but the limitations can often be stifling and confusing to the point where it’s easier to eat a bag of chips than risk a salad or sandwich from a cafe! So apart from sifting through the minefield of what I could and couldn’t eat, I was also a lot more conscious about eating foods that are beneficial for fertility, the baby’s growth and development, and my own wellbeing. As well as a great pregnancy, I think that my healthy placenta and 4.83kg baby boy are also testament to the fact that what I ate made a positive difference.
How do I know the placenta was in good nick? I asked to see it, and the midwives told me that it was a particularly healthy one. Furthermore, I actually had it encapsulated by Amy from Mamas Medicine, and ate the placenta pills following childbirth to assist in recovery and increasing breast milk supply! The thought of eating my own placenta had never crossed my mind but when I heard about encapsulation and its benefits, and got the all-clear to try them from obstetrician, I thought why not? Plus, having a chef as a partner, I’d tried things far more challenging than that!
Placentas are very rich in iron, an array of essential hormones that help increase milk supply, cortisone to combat stress and healing, plus vitamins and chemicals that reduce inflammation and bleeding and boost the immune system- all qualities that assist in healing after labour and the loss in energy and sleep that follows. The pills have no taste as the placenta is dehydrated and encapsulated so it’s like a normal tablet. I was thinking about placentas while feeding the other day (as you do!) and I realised that it’s the only meat you can consume that comes from life, rather than the opposite as with all other meats.
I’m still continuing to take the pills and eat the diet below post partum to build up my breast milk, replenish my blood supply, regulate my hormones, and nourish myself and the baby in general. While I’m breast feeding exclusively it hasn’t come easy and I’m continuing to work on maintaining a healthy supply with a mixture of diet, herbs and pumping! It can be a bit of a chore but worth it for the baby.
Below is a list of the foods and dishes I ate during pregnancy to boost my own and the baby’s health:
Eggs: I ate two a day as I couldn’t get enough of them and they’re so good for you. They contain all nine of the essential protein-building amino acids, vitamins A, K, E, D and B-complex, and minerals like iron, phosphorus and potassium. The quality of the egg is super important though. I ate pasture-raised eggs from the farm here in Byron which are super nutritious so try and go pasture-raised, otherwise free range and organic.
Oranges: This was my biggest craving. At one stage, I was having 3-4 a day! Interestingly, I found out that I was low in iron, and vitamin C is very important in the absorption of iron, so my body was trying to tell me something.
Iron: With the creation of the placenta and all the extra blood, I increased my meat intake to eating pasture-fed steak at least twice a week, plus beef/chicken bone broth and stews.
Bone broths: I can’t speak highly enough about broth and it’s incredible healing and nutritional value. It’s packed with minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and trace minerals), gelatin, glycosaminoglycans (which includes substances such as keratin and hyaluronic acid) which are all amazing for skin, teeth, bones, hair and nails. Apart from this, it’s a digestive aid and if your gut’s healthy, chances are you will be too. I was drinking about a cup a day during winter as a snack but you can make a meal out of it by added grains, meat and veggies to it. Check out my chicken bone broth recipe here.
Beautiful bread: We’re so lucky to have the boys from Bread Social right next door to the Three Blue Ducks in Byron. They’re 24 hour fermented bread is not only more nutritious and digestible, but delicious. If you love bread, spoil yourself and invest in the good stuff.
Full cream dairy: I’m all about full cream dairy as it’s way more wholesome, filling and full of protein, eight essential amino acids, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. I was loving organic milk, hard cheese and yoghurt right through pregnancy. I stayed clear of soy as it contains phytoestrogens that can mess with your hormones (unless it’s fermented like miso or tempeh).
Fish: So good for you for its omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and good fats but unfortunately I did not feel like it at all so I took supplements.
Fruit and vegetables: Most of what I ate was organic and spray free as I either got it from the farm or local farmer’s markets.
I avoided: sugar and processed foods for most of the pregnancy, especially the first two trimesters as I didn’t really crave them. By the third trimester it was difficult as I felt massive and really felt like pastry and ice cream so I just indulged in whatever I wanted! Pregnancy is not the time to feel guilty! I also abstained from raw meat/fish and soft cheeses as per the official recommendation. There’s nothing wrong with these foods, it’s just that there’s a chance of contamination that can affect the baby so it’s one I didn’t want to take.
I allowed myself a coffee a day if I felt like it but I mostly drank dandelion tea with almond milk. You can make my delicious dandelion chai tea using my recipe here.
What about exercise? I’ve never really been an “exercise type”, preferring beach walks, jogs and yoga when I feel like it, so I just maintained this philsophy during pregnancy. I had very painful pubic symphysis pain so I wasn’t able to do anything for a couple of months. Thankfully, my acupuncturist and osteopath fixed it after a few treatments. I highly recommend pregnancy yoga to get your body ready for birth and encourage the baby to be in the right position which will assist in an easier birth. I didn’t really know this until later so next time I’ll be much more diligent with the pregnancy yoga as it’s amazing.
Treatments? I did regular acupuncture to prepare my body for birth, and massages to relieve tension and soreness. A couple of trips to the osteopath realigned my pelvis and got rid of the pubic symphysis pain. Considering all the extra weight you’re carrying and awkward sleeping position, osteos can be great for getting things back in balance. Next time, I’ll be seeing one earlier now that I know how helpful they are.
Beauty? I’ve been a proponent of chemical-free natural beauty products for a while and I was even more conscious of this during pregnancy. Check out my blog on my favourite products here.
As always contact your midwife/obstetrician if you have any questions relating to food/exercise/treatments as I’m not an expert. This is just my experience but I wanted to share what I’ve learned and gained, and maybe it will help you too. xx
How was your pregnancy? Let me know below!