“Just take your prenatal and that should give you everything you need.”
Now, really, let’s think about that. A pregnant woman is growing a baby – she is making a human. Her very physiology is changing to create more blood flow, produce a placenta, feed and grow a baby… oh and nourish itself in the process.
And you think you can get everything you need to accomplish and support all of those complicated systems in one pill a day? Come, now. That doesn’t even make sense. A woman’s body desperately needs quality nutrition during pregnancy. Her very physiology changes and those systems need support. The baby needs certain things as they grow and develop. One pill cannot give you all of that. The body needs much more.
The leader in pregnancy nutrition is a man named Dr. Brewer, and the pregnancy diet he recommends is aptly named “The Brewer Diet.” An obstetrician, he designed the diet after researching pregnancy nutrition data dating back to the 1920’s. He has used nutrition to prevent and treat a number of dangerous conditions in pregnancy including preeclampsia, high blood pressure, intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), and gestational diabetes.
In short, the Brewer diet consists of consuming large amounts of protein (120 gram a day), unrestricted weight gain, unrestricted salt intake, and plenty of calories. When you think about it, pregnancy really does require a lot of protein. Proteins contain the building blocks of life: amino acids. All of our organs require it for optimal function, so it makes sense that pregnancy requires large amounts of it as well. Dr. Brewer recommends that women get a large portion of their protein intake from eggs, particularly egg whites because egg whites contain albumin which is essential for liver support and kidney function in pregnancy.
As previously stated. a woman’s physiology actually changes during pregnancy. When you understand these changes, you can better understand why salt is essential to facilitate the increased blood volume. I’ll try not to make this too complicated.
First, the kidneys are working to increase a pregnant woman’s blood volume (by about 40%-50%), by reabsorbing salt and water. The kidneys return the reabsorbed fluid and salt to the circulation. In order for the kidneys to be able to perform this function correctly, the pregnant woman has to provide her body with a diet that includes plenty of water, albumin, and salt. Water intake helps keep pregnancy swelling within a normal range and helps protect the mom in case of excessive bleeding after birth. (In turn, this prevents her from going into shock.) Another essential piece of this process is albumin: a protein which contains essential amino acids that help keep balance in the blood stream. The combination of salt, water, and albumin promotes a healthy blood volume increase that is crucial to a healthy pregnancy, and Brewer recommends salt to taste. Meaning that if you’re craving salt, your body needs it badly.
Research is surfacing every day about the importance of various vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. Vitamin C is said to strengthen the amniotic sac in addition to the whole host of previously understood immune support benefits. Vitamin D has been found to support just about everything in pregnancy, as well as prevent premature birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Vitamin B is important for brain development in babies, as well as omega-3 fats.
This is not to say you shouldn’t take a prenatal vitamin. You and your baby will certainly benefit from it. However, you cannot expect to sustain a healthy pregnancy on just one pill a day while eating taco bell several times a week. Your body needs plenty of quality, whole foods, protein, healthy fats, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. Be aware of what you’re giving your body – and your baby – because the health of two lives depends on it.
EXTRA BONUS: Download a weekly diet checklist from Plumtree Baby.