Pre and Postnatal Nutrition health is a huge part of motherhood, so we decided to ask Holistic Nutritionist Jen Silverman some rapid-fire questions about the subject. Enjoy reading this Holistic Nutritionist’s Approach Pre & Postnatal Nutrition below!
- What is your approach to fueling motherhood with nutrition?
It’s funny that you chose the word “fuel” because I am always telling my clients that food is fuel, calories are energy and we need the right foods to keep us energized. No mother is only a mother, we all wear many hats! The foods we choose carry a lot of weight – no pun intended. They impact not only our moods and energy levels throughout the day (we can’t afford that afternoon crash), but they also set the tone for how food is viewed in the home. As mothers, we are our children’s greatest influences, especially when it comes to food. It’s so important to eat whole foods, real foods, and foods that make us feel good.
- What is the most common misconception you hear when it comes to pre and postnatal nutrition?
During pregnancy, first-time moms tend to overdo it with calories. They say “I’m pregnant so I can eat whatever I want.” I’m all for giving in to cravings, but once the first trimester is over and the morning sickness lessens and/or leaves entirely, it’s important to eat nutrient-dense foods. What you eat, your baby eats. There is also some research out there indicating that your food choices during pregnancy can impact their pallets later on. Another important fact to consider, during pregnancy, we’re only supposed to eat 300 extra calories each day. That’s yogurt and a banana.
- Fact or fiction: moms need more nutrients in the postpartum period as opposed to during pregnancy.
Great question, but I can’t give a simple easy here. Breastfeeding moms are typically hungrier than non-breastfeeding moms. That said, compared to the last trimester of pregnancy, all moms end up eating more after delivery. We need food to fuel our long, inconsistent sleep schedules. We also have more room in our stomachs – literally. At the end of pregnancy, there is very little room for food because the baby is taking up so much space in our bellies!
In terms of nutrients, the big focus postpartum should be on iron and protein. Giving birth has been compared to running a marathon, and in the hospital, it’s referred to as a trauma. Our bodies go through a lot! So, the post-partum period is all about getting your strength back and healing. Think iron-rich foods like bone broth (or you mom’s homemade chicken soup), cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, beetroot), and good sources of animal protein.
- Any foods you would recommend avoiding during pregnancy?
First and foremost, avoid deli meat and processed meats. Next, would be high-mercury fish such as mackerel, swordfish, orange roughy, tilefish, ahi tuna and big eye tuna. Then, of course, there’s alcohol and raw fish or meats. No tartar. You also have to be careful with caffeine. I had coffee throughout all three of my pregnancies and have thankfully delivered three healthy babies. I did limit to 150mg of caffeine/day at most. So if you choose to continue with tea or coffee, you need to be more mindful about how much. A shot of espresso (in a latte, for example) is 60mg. Regular coffee is usually 100-150mg. Tea is much less.
- Conversely, any foods/nutrients you rave about?
Real food, not “Franken foods” or food-like substances. The healthiest foods have no label at all, they aren’t boasting with slogans about what they can do for your health. They are whole and real (fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, yogurt, nuts, seeds, etc.) without a lengthy ingredients list. My favorite food during pregnancy and post-partum is a homemade vegetable soup with bone broth as the base. Bone broth is rich in protein, iron, collagen, and B vitamins. And of course, vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals. The more colors, the better! Each color indicates which vitamins the vegetable contains.
- Can you provide a few tips for moms pre and postnatal?
The best tip I can give any mom, pre and postnatal is to be kind to yourself. Pregnancy is hard! Between the hormones and all of the bodily changes, it’s a wonderful miracle but also can be very overwhelming and challenging. Also, take care of yourself. Rest when you can, stay active/keep moving, don’t neglect sleep, and make sure you have “me” time.
During pregnancy, your body is no longer your own. And once the baby arrives, your life is no longer your own. We have all heard of the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup!”. This rings so true with pregnancy and throughout motherhood. To embrace your new life as a mother, without feeling utter exhaustion and resentment, it’s critical to make time for yourself and not neglect your own basic needs.
Another tip is, all pregnancies are different and all babies are different. Now is not the time to compare yourself to other women and when the baby arrives, don’t compare your baby to other babies. We are all different. They are all different. You can take advice from your friends and/or other influential women in your life, but take it with a grain of salt. You need to learn what works for you and for your baby.
- Can babies and children have a holistic approach to food/lifestyle too?
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you are your children’s greatest influence. You are their hero, the person they spend the most time with, the person they look up to and who’s behavior they model, especially early on. If you eat a variety of colorful and nutrient-dense foods, your kids will be that much more likely to do the same.
- Any tips you can dish on raising a child who approaches eating intuitively?
I would actually argue that children naturally eat intuitively. Think about it, growing up, kids eat when they’re hungry and only begin to abide by their parent’s food rules (timing especially) to please them. I often explain to my clients, that following our kid’s leads and eating when we’re hungry versus when “we’re supposed to eat” would be beneficial for all of us!
What does this mean? Don’t force your children to clear their plates. Don’t force them to continue eating if they express that they’re full. Even more, don’t get too stressed about it. Continue to introduce a variety of foods and be a good role model. If you want them to eat fruits and veggies, they need to see you eating them too!
Also, eat with your kids. Food brings people together. It’s meant to be shared! The more you eat with/alongside your children, the more likely they’ll be to try new foods and enjoy the process altogether. Picture this, you’re sitting in a chair (in their case, a high chair), and everyone else around you is staring at you, encouraging you to eat, but they themselves aren’t eating at all, they’re all just staring. Sounds pretty awkward, right?
Lastly, if your toddlers or kids want to eat something small every 2 hours, that’s fine too. Children are still growing, and they need to eat more often than we do.