A Season of Growth

I’m excited to share that I’m expecting my first child (a baby boy!) in the end of January. I find it amazing to watch the growth of my belly each week and to feel the movements of my baby boy. In my opinion, it’s an absolute miracle – all I pretty much do is eat, breathe, move and sleep and somehow the baby continues to grow and develop!

That said, I do think that it is important to consider the basics when having a baby, such as getting lots of rest, minimizing exposure to pollutants, finding the right balance of physical activity, and eating right. I’ve been reading a couple of books focusing on the last point – eating well – and what exactly that means during pregnancy, and I would like to share some thoughts from these books with you. Eating the right foods during pregnancy has a profound impact on the baby’s health and future risk of chronic diseases, while also keeping the momma healthy.

Here are some short reviews from two books that I have enjoyed reading…

Book #1: Program Your Baby’s Health by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein

The authors explain how what a mother eats during pregnancy is crucial for the metabolic programming of her child, affecting the child’s health into adulthood and even the health of the next generation! The book includes many practical tips and advice for eating right during each trimester. In particular, I found this book helpful for describing how to obtain an optimal level of weight gain, as well as breaking down specific nutrient needs by macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein) as well as vitamins and minerals. If you only get one book on healthy eating during pregnancy, I recommend checking this one out.

Book #2: Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis

This book is written by a mom who is passionate about nutrition, likes to dig into research and ultimately wants to do the very best thing for her children. One of the things that really stood out to me in this book was that traditional cultures would go on fertility diets high in nutrient-dense foods to enhance their chances of getting pregnant and to prepare the body for pregnancy. For example, if a couple living in the Andres mountain range was trying to get pregnant, the man would go on a trip down to the sea to collect fish eggs for his women. Now, that brings chivalry to a whole new (technically old) level! I also found it interesting to learn how what you eat during pregnancy can change the appearance of your child – these traditional diets help promote good facial features such as wide and high cheekbones and straight teeth.

While I found that this book really focused on the importance of nutrient-rich animal foods and could have included more emphasis on getting enough plant foods (ie. fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains), it was still an interesting and informative read overall.

There’s too much in these books to cover in a short blog post, so I suggest checking them out if you are pregnant, thinking of getting pregnant, have a loved one who is going through a pregnancy or just interested in how the human race can continue to procreate.

One side note, I have sometimes noticed that when I bring up health-changing nutrition news, the response can be one of defensiveness in people who have dealt with health problems because their particular issue was out of their control. Let me say that laying on guilt is not my intention at all. Although I know that what we eat has a powerful impact on our health, there can be circumstances that are beyond our control. In my personal life, my extended family has been deeply impacted by miscarriages and the early loss of life. This is absolutely heartbreaking and I have nothing but sympathy in these situations. It has given me a deeper appreciation for the fragility of human life.

Although I’m still relatively new to this whole pregnancy thing, if I had to sum up what I’ve learned I’d say that that is that it is important to honor the body’s needs for proper nutrition, rest and exercise during this critical period in an infant’s growth.

Pregnancy is a crazy, but amazing time in a women’s life. I am left with a feeling of profound gratefulness for the miracle of life and hope to cherish every moment of it.