When we think of being ready for a baby to come we usually think of things like…Where will the baby sleep? Will the baby be a boy or a girl? What clothes should we buy? What will the baby’s room look like? etc…
But there is something that is more important than all of this, and that is the baby’s home. This first home for your little one is the Mother’s womb where it grows and develops. While what your child eats every day in his or her daily life years from now does make a huge difference in their health, you have a unique opportunity in pregnancy and even before you conceive, to give your baby a head start.
By maximizing your nutrients before pregnancy, especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, you greatly decrease the chances of your child suffering from developmental issues like cleft palate, learning disabilities, eye problems, congested sinuses, and crowding teeth…just to name a few.
What history has to say about preparing for a baby…
Weston Price was a dentist who studied native cultures that were eating their primitive diet all across the globe. His quest was to find the secret behind why these people groups did not suffer from cavities, tuberculosis, fatigue, crippling issues of old age, learning disabilities, and other modern illnesses. These were issues that Americans were suffering from.
Dr. Price found that the native groups were untouched by the ‘white man’s diet’ of processed sugar, refined grains, pasteurized dairy products, refined fruit juice, and vegetable fats which were all staples of the American diet. Instead, the native people ate a traditional diet of whole and freshly milled grains, sprouted legumes, pasture-raised and grass-fed meats, whole raw dairy products, seafood, organ meats, and fermented vegetables. Any people group that lived close enough to a town that had a store selling the refined “foods of commerce” as Dr. Price referred to it as suffered from the disease. They developed dental cavities, and became weaker, children were born with clubfoot, ill-formed palates and dental arches, and problems with eyesight and congested nasal passages.
In order to produce truly healthy children we have to make sure we are first nourished with vitamin and mineral-rich foods. Dr. Price writes how most of the people groups placed young women and sometimes even men on a special diet six months to two years before marriage. The diet ensured that the couple was getting adequate amounts of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K which all play a huge role in the development of organs, cranial facial structure, mental development, learning, and all-around physic of each child. Without this special diet filled with traditional foods, the offspring were more likely to need glasses or braces, be susceptible to frequent sickness, and have problems breathing through their nose because of a small palate.
The mother is also at risk in her own unique way. When not sustained with rich nutrient-dense foods she is more likely to develop cavities in pregnancy, has declining energy, and not be able to recover from the pregnancy because of sacrificing vitamins and minerals to the developing baby.
Below is a list of traditional foods that should be eaten during pregnancy (and also preferably before pregnancy) and how they contribute to health. Prenatal vitamins should not be relied on to make up for a poor, junk food-filled diet. There is no replacement for nutrient-dense real food that gives you important nutrients with all the cofactors that help you make use of those vitamins and minerals.
Real, Whole Foods for Building A Beautiful Baby
1. Pasture-raised beef, pork, chicken, or other meat consumed daily. Protein and calcium are the bricks and mortar for building your baby. The skeleton develops from calcium and the placenta, skin, and muscles, develop from protein. If calcium and protein aren’t supplied to the baby through your diet they will be sacrificed from the stores held in your own muscle and bone! Eat plenty of grass-fed/pasture-raised meats along with their natural fats which are needed in order for you to make use of the calcium in your diet. Healthy meats also supply you with iron and B vitamins.
2. Wild-caught fish once or twice a week. In her book “Real Food For Mother And Baby” Nina Planck says “Many pregnant women are afraid to eat fish because of methyl-mercury and fetal brain damage. But we also know that fish is vital for brain growth. The results of this thorny issue are now clear. Not eating fish poses a greater risk to your baby’s brain than eating fish.” In all the tribes that Dr. Weston Price studied he did not find any that did not live near the sea and eat plenty of fish or go to great lengths to get food from the sea. Fish contains a healthful amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids that are vitally important for your baby’s developing brain and body. The fish with the most omega 3’s in them are sardines, herring, and salmon. Always buy your carnivorous fish (salmon, tuna, shrimp) from a wild source. Unless your fish is specifically labeled ‘wild caught’ it is most likely raised on a fish farm and doesn’t have many nutrients.
3. Coconut oil, 1 TBS daily, used in cooking or smoothies – This healthy fat supplies you with lauric acid. It is antifungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial. Breast milk is comprised of about 20% lauric and capric acid which help protect your baby from illness. Mothers that eat coconut oil have higher levels of Lauric and capric acid in their breast milk! Coconut oil is great for cooking because it won’t oxidize when it is exposed to heat meaning all its healthful benefits of it will stay intact and won’t be destroyed by the heat.
4. Raw milk daily for calcium – Pasteurized milk will not supply you with usable calcium and is best avoided. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, denatures anti-microbial and immune stimulating components, diminishes nutrient availability, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin C, B6, and B12, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens, and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth and behavior problems in children osteoporosis, arthritis, and heart disease. Raw milk, on the other hand, supplies you with calcium plus all the vitamins and minerals you need in order to make use of the calcium. The fat contained in raw milk will help to fill you up and also provides more satiation to your breastfeeding baby.
5. 3 TBS of grass-fed butter daily- supplies vitamins A, D, E, and K2 which are all important for the development of the brain and body. Vitamin A helps us deal with stress (it is important not to be stressed during pregnancy) and produces feel-good chemicals. The best sources of vitamin A are cod liver oil, butter from cows eating mainly grass, and egg yolks from chickens raised outside in the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression, schizophrenia, and chronic mental illness. The best sources are cod liver oil, fatty fish, lard, butter, and egg yolks.
6. Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages such as raw Sauerkraut, kombucha, and naturally fermented pickles- Good source of probiotics and vitamin C which keep you healthy during the pregnancy and ensure your baby’s gut is inoculated with good bacteria during the delivery process.
7. Fresh fruits and veggies, organic if possible. If you have to prioritize which veggies you buy organic and which you don’t check out the dirty dozen list and try to find organic sources for those foods.