Nutrition for Your Healthy Pre-Pregnancy and Pregnancy Time

[ 0 ] 22/05/2014 |

The Stress-free Short Survival Guide

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Guest post by Nutritionist, Mirela Burhuc*

 

If I knew all the information I know right now about how the body is functioning and the nutrients it needs to be healthy, I would definitely have had a different approach before and during my pregnancy time especially on the way I looked at the food.

But I didn’t and I had a tough pregnancy time, spent so many days in the hospital just to be able to keep my child in my womb for all the 9 months. I followed the doctors’ rules with medication, vaccines and so on. When my child was born, his immune system was playing havoc and he had so many allergies and health issues I couldn’t count anymore. Not mentioning his diagnoses that came later on: Autism, ADHD, Dyspraxia.

I can’t turn back the clock right now but what I can do is to teach YOU, the woman, the future mother how to safely prepare before and nurture your child while he is still inside you.

Pregnancy is a wonderful thing or at least it should be. I confess that for me was scary, stressful and it took me by surprise from all points of view, especially health wise: I was hardly coping with my health and the food was not enough many times.

I don’t want you to be in the same situation so this is why I am writing these words right now: for YOU, to be conscious that the way you prepare your body for this wonderful moment is as important as the moment of pregnancy itself. And keep in mind that pregnancy lasts only 9 months but you will have your child for a life time so every sacrifice, the care during all this period worth more than anything in the world.

And also just remember that this is the only time when you can feed your child with what YOU want and build a strong immune system to help him fight against all the environment adversities, to make him strong enough for the world he comes in.

For now there are no tantrums, no picky eaters, no crying, no refuse of veggies and you don’t have to force your brain thinking how to make your child eat the healthy food without much struggle or to be a great artist in making the food more appealing.

All you need is a COMMITMENT to REAL FOOD thus to GOOD HEALTH!

 

 

THE PRE-PREGNANCY TIME

 

You might ask: why is this time so important to have a healthy Pregnancy?

My answer is: because once you enter the Pregnancy time with health problems, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, would be very difficult to have a 9 month healthy pregnancy and it will not be only a risk for your child but also a risk for yourself regarding more nutrient depletion. So my advice, if you think to have a child, if you consider the possibility, please, start taking care of yourself BUT that applies for MEN as well because they provide the functional sperm.

And yes, it is well known that certain issues the child is born with are related to an inadequate nutrition of the mother during Pregnancy Time but the scientific investigations place a huge contribution to the defects of the new born in the germ plasms (hereditary material) of BOTH parents. And also, the environment plays a huge role in determining the hereditary illness, so it is very wise to build a strong immune system for the child to fight against all adversities.

So dear MEN, do not even think that you have nothing to do with the health of your future child and act accordingly by improving your nutritional status and therefore your health!

I know that for many couples planning of pregnancy is not on the list and most of believe that “if it happens, it will just happen” but keep in mind that this is a very important part of your life and it has to be carefully planned and have a complete evaluation before:

–          Physical

–          General biochemistry

–          Diet

–          Nutrient analysis

 

And also if you have any mercury amalgams in your mouth or gum disease, it should be very wise to do something about it. Numerous studies showed that periodontal infections have a very big impact on fetal growth. To minimize the risk, you have to check up the C vitamin level and if the level is too low, increase the foods rich in this vitamin such as fresh organic citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruits, kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberries – but these normally are not organic and contain too much mold, tomatoes, cabbage, sweet red peppers, broccoli.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: if you have diabetes or blood sugar abnormalities or other condition that might limit your fruits intake, you can opt for supplementation in the form of Ester-C because it can be absorbed better and faster than regular Ascorbic Acid. 1 to 2 grams of C vitamin a day is considered safe enough.

 

Also, the Vitamins A and E are very important and you can find them in sources such as: beef and chicken livers, mangos, apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach and kale (for A vitamin), mustard greens, chard, sunflower seeds, spinach and almonds (for E vitamin).

 

Keep in mind also that if you have a habit in indulging yourself too much in sugary foods, you need to stop it right away as they worsens gum disease causing dental decay and periodontal disease.

 

Besides this general check – up, next step is to evaluate YOUR LIFESTYLE and if you have health-damaging habits such as smoking, intake of regular alcohol or caffeine, and other drug use, would be very wise to move them aside.

There is no time to be selfish right now. You have to think about your baby!

And as a very interesting fact, did you know that in the past, in many cultures girls were not allowed to be married until they had proved to be having a special feeding habit time before, at least 6 months of special nutrition?

Such wise people, isn’t it?

 

 

THE PREGNANCY TIME

 

I was already 3 weeks pregnant when I found out the news. I still remember the day: it was Sunday morning, I was at the church and suddenly I couldn’t find air to breathe anymore, my head was spinning, and I just fainted. That second I knew, I guess is a mother’s instinct. But I confess I wasn’t prepared for that because I knew that my nutritional status was very poor. I hardly had what to eat and hardly survived, I was working as a teacher for almost 7 hours a day but the income in Romania for such job was and still is a “joke”.

If you ask me if I looked into the food I ate, I will say: NO, because I ate what I was able to afford and were days with just a piece of bread or nothing at all. I consider myself lucky enough that I was able to carry my child all the 9 months though the stumblings were often and the doctor advised me to spend all the pregnancy time in …bed, not much of moving at all. That was impossible for me, I had to work so I just prayed and moved on because surviving was first on the list. From time to time I had to “stop” for few days at the hospital and the nurses were giving me injections just to be able to keep the child. The doctor was always telling me: “I am sorry but you are in danger of imminent abortion, stop working, take rest!” I was stubborn not to, but only because I didn’t have a choice. And fortunately my son was “stubborn” enough also to finish his road inside my body. And finally, after 9 months, on 29 of June 2004, on the day we celebrate the saints Peter and Paul, he just came to light making me the most proud woman on earth. We all feel like this in that special moment, right?

My very important and basic suggestions for YOU, dear mom and especially because I want you to keep in mind that “giving birth should be your greatest achievement, not your greatest fear” as it was mine, are:

  1. Eat a wholesome diet including nutritious and healthy food, especially the ones rich in:

 

–          Omega 3 – without it, a child’s nervous and immune systems would never fully develop and it can cause emotional, learning and immune system disorders. The best source is fish BUT nowadays the risk of ingesting heavy metals along with it, is too high and dangerous for the child’s growth and can cause neurological birth defects so many advices should go in the direction of avoiding fish during pregnancy; the only supplement recommended on the market is the krill oil – ask a specialist for a healthy source harvested in the deep, clean waters of the Antarctic. Another good thing about Krill Oil is that it contains a very good level of antioxidants (along with essential fatty acids DHA and EPA) and if you increase the intake of Omega 3 you also need a good level of antioxidants in your body (one of the secrets people don’t know about this subject –  I have heard many people taking fish oil and making themselves sick because the level of antioxidants in their body was not enough; fish oil is quite perishable and its oxidation leads to formation of free radicals so you must know that a good level of antioxidants can help with the balance and help the oil not becoming rancid inside your body); yet another good source of Omega-3 is beef but the one fed on grass only and that is very difficult to find. You might want to ask me about plant sources of Omega-3 if you are a vegetarian mom but I am afraid that plant based foods do not provide the same benefits as animal-based ones. Why? Because humans can not convert the ALA in plant-based fats to DHA that is required for our body. So, the flaxseeds, walnuts, etc are not metabolized efficiently thus are to be limited during pregnancy.

 

–          D – it can be done through simple daily sun exposure but if that is not available, through foods that contain it like: fish, eggs, organ meats, animal fat OR oral Vitamin D3 supplementation in the form of cholecalciferol

 

–          B vitamins (especially Folic Acid – B9,  B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12)

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: don’t forget that before deciding to go for supplementation program to have the blood tests done and ask your nutritionally oriented physician for proper advice. Also the correct test for D vitamin is the one called: 25(OH) D – 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

  1. Do not overeat!  Eating for two is a different story than eating like two. To gain weight during pregnancy is very normal and healthy but if you gain too much, you could be putting you and your baby’s health at risk

 

  1. Drink plenty of spring or filtered water to clean your system of waste

 

  1. Avoid SOY foods – they contain phytoestrogens which produce hormonal actions that can affect your baby’s brain development

 

  1. Introduce in your food habits fermented foods, rich in probiotics to optimize the balance of good vs bad bacteria in your gut and avoid sugar and processed food. These can be: lassi, kefir, sauerkraut, natto, kim chee, tempeh.

 

  1. Minimize pesticide and herbicide exposure, phthalates (a chemical compound found in plastics, moisturizers, nail polishes, hairsprays, insect repellent etc. that can cause birth defects), BPA (Bisphenol A – chemical used in hard, clear plastics such as baby bottles, food – storage containers, soda cans – it can mimic hormones and cause birth defects), TEFLON also known as PFOA (increasing the risk of low birth weight and head size); choose instead natural care products and use ceramic cooking pans.

 

  1. Any pharmaceutical drug should be carefully monitored by the doctor if not AVOIDED at all.

 

  1. Do moderate regular exercise (even any light form: yoga, walking, swimming, breathing) – and if you are not very comfortable with the idea and you fear about your child, ask a professional to guide you through safe exercises but trust me, they decrease the possibility of premature birth. Lately the internet is full with mommies who show themselves doing regular weight-bearing exercise and are people who blame them for showing this to the world and promote unhealthy way of exercising for pregnancy time but in fact is not true because regular weight-bearing exercise is beneficial for both you and your baby, and the amount of benefit varies with the timing and amount of exercise.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or pre-eclampsia etc, talk to your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine, even a mild one!

 

  1. Use the safest cosmetics because they carry many toxins that may affect not only you but your child too. Don’t forget that your skin acts like a sponge and all these chemicals attack especially the nervous and reproductive systems. The Toxic Chemicals Laboratories found out that all these chemicals coming from cosmetics have the ability to damage genes and chromosomes and also they can easily pass through your blood and affect the unborn child you carry in. And if you want to know more, all these toxins create a disruption into your child’s brain development. The most dangerous products on the list are the hair dyes, hair sprays, facial make-up and fingernail polish. You can opt for some organic natural products though. Fortunately there are many natural options nowadays. Also, use natural soaps like olive oil soaps or other of your like, natural shampoo or toothpaste free of fluoride. Fortunately the market has available a large variety of these and are not so expensive.
  2. Use safe and natural cleaning products instead of the ones loaded with chemicals that can enter through your skin and breathing inside your body. It is very well known that are much more inexpensive ways of cleaning such as using vinegar alone or adding hydrogen peroxide to it. So you will have a brilliant disinfectant and sanitizer. All you need in the kitchen are: white vinegar, baking soda, salt and lemon juice – these are proved and safe ingredients for generations.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. I read somewhere that you can simply die of sleep deprivation just like you can die from being deprived of food so don’t forget to have your stress-free sleeping time and do your best to make it so. Lack of sleep can affect the immune system so I guess the little guy inside you will have some health consequences because of that. At least the first there months of pregnancy, be sure you get enough of sleep. If you can not sleep, here are some tips you can try:

 

–          The first thing: would be better to avoid TV or computer use at least 30 minutes before going to bed as they power up your brain making you unable to sleep.

–          Get to bed as early as possible. You have to be in bed before 11 o’ clock because your systems, particularly the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into the liver, which then back up into your entire system and cause further disruptions.

–          Don’t drink any water, or just a minimum, within 2 hours of retiring to avoid having to get up and go to the bathroom.

–          Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.

–          Sleep in complete darkness, or as close as possible. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in your room, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin.

–          Keep your feet warm. Studies have shown that wearing socks to bed reduces night wake-ups because feet have the poorest circulation, so they often feel cold before the rest of the body.

–          Let the window opened to refresh the air in the room you sleep during night or you might wake up during night feeling you don’t have enough air to breathe.

 

  1. Use as less as possible the cell phone during pregnancy because the electro-radiation can cause damages to the fetus affecting your liver enzymes, glands, muscles, hormone balance, heart and bone marrow being also able to alter the DNA structure of your baby in utero. If you can not do this at least use a wired headset, ideally an air tube one that conducts sound but prevents any radiation from traveling up the wire to your brain. Also, make sure the wire is shielded, which prevents it from acting as an antenna that could attract more information-carrying radio waves directly to your brain. Wireless BlueTooth headsets should be avoided.

 

  1. Limit exposure to WiFi routers. Find out where they are located in your work environment also and stay away from them.

As you might notice these few suggestions are related not only to what you put inside your body but also related to a change in lifestyle to avoid as much as possible the environmental unhealthy load because it is very much true that:

 

“Genetic loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger!” – Dr. Francis Collins

 

And if you find yourself stumbled in all this pregnancy time in regard of what exactly you should eat to cover all the nutritional needs, ask a Nutritionist to guide you safely! Especially because YOU are unique and you might need a personalized approach.

 

Till next time, when I will be coming with suggestions for Lactation time, keep all well!

Best of health and plenty of wisdom!

 

 

*Mirela Burhuc is a highly educated, strong mummy, with her driving force being the love for her son. She graduated as a teacher from the Faculty of Letters, History and Theology in Galati, Romania, and later on enrolled to the Faculty of Psychology and Sociology. Her studies were interrupted in 2008 when her child got diagnosed with Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), along with severe mental retardation and significant behavioural disturbance in a hospital for infantile psychiatry. A painful divorce followed shortly after, and since then on her life has followed many different routes. She now lives in Malta and works as a nutritionist; Diploma in Nutrition with Distinction by The Blackford Centre for Nutrition. To achieve the Diploma, she had to pass 15 written assignments, all based on practical, real life clients. You can read more about her story, her services, and get in touch with her on www.healthashore.com 

 

 

 

 

Category: Guest posts, Resources for Malta Mums

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