Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Staying healthy through multiple pregnancies: Part 1

As a note: all of these nutrition tips are completely important for first time mamas too! But, the more babies you have, the more important they become.

 Most healthy women have some nutrients stored up in their bodies. They and their growing babes can borrow from these throughout pregnancy if they don't eat everything they need to.

With each pregnancy, especially when they are relatively close together, these are likely to become more depleted. That's why it is vitally important to replenish nutrients between pregnancies and to get as healthy as you possibly can between and during pregnancy.

Ben and I plan to have as many children as we are able to, and have thus far chosen to not prevent pregnancy in any way other than breastfeeding (which I do not do because of the baby-spacing, but because it is so healthy for my babies). We really, really, really don't ever want to be in a position where we have to consider spacing our children out or not having any more because my health is failing.

Since I will be giving birth to my third baby before my oldest is four, we have been paying extra close attention to making sure I am staying as healthy as possible. I was focusing on this before Baby #3 was conceived and have continued to prioritize my health throughout this pregnancy. I am certainly not encouraging selfishness--the end goal is keeping mama as healthy as possible so she can care for the family and bare as many healthy babies as possible!

In this first part, we'll discuss nutrition. Next we'll talk about supplements, exercise, and a few other sidenotes. I was going to have all the information I wanted to share in just one post, but it was getting way too long!

Eat (lots of) nutrient-dense protein.
We buy most of our meat and poultry from a local farm. The meat all comes from cows and chickens that are happily and healthfully raised on pastured. I generally stick to cheaper cuts (chuck roast, ground beef, beef shank, etc.) to keep our costs down.

We also buy pastured eggs from the same farm, and I try to eat at two of them every day. In addition to high quality meats, I usually make at least two meals each week featuring soaked, slow-cooked beans (and less meat) to add some frugal protein into our diet.

For more on the benefits of pastured meats, check out this article.

Drink raw milk.
The decision to drink raw milk during pregnancy is frowned upon by many. However, my midwife highly recommends it as an excellent source of fat, Vitamin D, omega-3's, CLA, and easily-absorbable calcium.

We get our milk fresh each week from a local farm. "Our" cows (we own a share in the herd--theonly way to legally obtain raw milk in our state) are 100% grassfed and live their lives happily in the Virginia sunshine. I am not the slightest bit worried about any scary stuff in our milk.

Some recommend a quart per day during pregnancy, but I'm not quite there yet. I don't really enjoy drinking milk unless I have a cookie or brownie to go with it, but I do find ways to work at least two cups in most days. And yes, I shake in all of that lovely, nutritious raw cream. Yum!

More on the benefits of raw milk.

Eat lots of good fats.
We have talked about the benefits of healthy fats in the past, and they are even more important during pregnancy! They are so, so good for your baby's developing brain and also help you more readily absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.

I don't measure the amount of fat I eat every day, but I use coconut oil, palm shortening, and butter liberally in my cooking, and don't hesitate to add extra pats of butter to my steamed veggies, muffins, bread, etc.

Eat real salt
 Unrefined sea salt is loaded with healthy minerals. And eating an unlimited quantity during pregnancy helps you process water well and healthfully helps blood volume increase. Did you know you have 40-50% more blood at the end of your pregnancy? Because of this, I eat real salt to taste throughout my whole pregnancy.

Eat plenty of fruits and veggies
Eating lots of veggies is admittedly rough for me during my first trimester food-aversions. But, I try to eat as many as possible before that sets in and pick up as quickly as I can once they pass. I did recently make this homemade Cesar dressing and have really been enjoying salads, thankfully. :) I definitely don't have a hard time with eating plenty of fresh fruit though. Yum!

Fruits and veggies contain so many vitamins and minerals and super nutrition. I think most of us know this, so I won't go on and on. Eat your produce, mamas! ;)

Avoid unhealthy foods
In addition to eating as much good stuff as possible, avoiding non-nourishing foods is super important. Refined grains and sweeteners rob nutrients from your body, which you just can't afford when you're growing a baby! Every bite really is important. I am certainly not perfect in this area, but I try. :)

What about y'all? What are your best pregnancy nutrition tips?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday.


  1. Unfortunately with my second pregnancy it has been survival mode. ANYTHING I could keep down was welcome. Now that the all-day morning sickness has subsided for the most part (I am 27 weeks now) it is back to healthy foods like mentioned on your list. Thankfully a salad sounds really appetizing lately! My body is telling me to eat greens and lots of them!

  2. This is a great post! Thanks so much for sharing! I'd also add that lots and plenty of water can do sooo much to keeping you healthy and it also helps cleanse away toxins that are regularly released. I'll be 40 wks on Tuesday with our second (19 months apart) and staying healthy is very important to me because like you I want to have as many healthy children as the Lord blesses us with - It would be heart breaking to have to do "something" to prevent if my health was too frail. I'm looking forward to your other parts!

    Blessings on baby #3!!!!