Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Planning for a baby is an exciting time. There's so much to think about, and food should be at the top of your (and your partner's) list! Pre-conception nutrition is vital to fertility and to the health of your baby.
Prepare your body for pregnancy four to six months before you plan to conceive. Begin with a two or three week food-based detox for both you and your partner, and detox your home of toxic products and cosmetics.
Cut down on or avoid alcohol, processed and refined foods, and white sugar, which drains the adrenals and can negatively impact female hormone levels.
Enjoy a diet of nutrient-dense foods rich in vitamins A and D, folate, zinc, trace minerals, and beneficial fats such as DHA and EPA, which play crucial roles in reproductive health and fetal development. If you're currently pregnant, start including these foods.
1. Liver. (Don't be grossed out yet.)
Liver is a nutrient-dense superfood, and native cultures knew that organ meats promote fertility and are high in vitamins A, D, B12, iron and minerals. Always buy organic, and start with chicken liver, which is milder than beef liver.
If you have a hard time wrapping your head around good ole liver and onions, start by freezing chicken livers and grating them (frozen) into meat sauces during the cooking process. It disguises the distinct flavor and gives the finished product a delicious richness.
2. Fermented foods.
If you tolerate dairy, fermented dairy products offer the probiotic bacteria that keep your gut healthy and your digestion strong. Probiotics in your gut = healthy baby. Try goat’s milk kefir, or make your own yogurt or kefir from raw milk if you have access to it. The pasteurization process kills the beneficial enzymes and immunoglobulins raw dairy provides. If you're dairy free, include raw kraut, kombucha and kvass for probiotics.
3. Supplement with fermented cod liver oil.
Take one teaspoon daily, for vitamins A and D and beneficial fatty acids. Good fats are precursors to hormones and are absolutely essential for fetal brain development.
4. Other good fats.
Butter (or ghee, which is clarified butter) from grass fed cows; coconut oil; extra virgin olive oil; avocado.
5. Omega-3 fatty acid rich foods.
Some ideas: Low-mercury seafood such as salmon and sardines; grass fed beef and lamb, which are both also rich in zinc; and egg yolks, another star for fetal brain development. Get eggs from a nearby farmer or neighbor if you can. You won't believe how the yolks are a beautifully vibrant orange, not to mention delicious.
6. Leafy greens.
Think: Kale, chard, spinach, beet greens, collards, broccoli and mustard greens supply folate, vitamins A and K, iron, calcium, and beneficial antioxidants.
7. Drink bone broth, at least 8 ounces daily, or use it as a base for soups or stews.
Take note; this is NOT the same broth you find in boxes or cans at the store. Bone broth is traditionally prepared by simmering bones slowly for up to 24 hours, and the result is a stock rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and trace minerals.
It's a great source of collagen that nourishes connective tissue and will prevent stretch marks. Save the bones from meat you cook! I keep mine in tupperware in the freezer. (Egg shells too!) Or you can buy beef marrow bones. (Just ask the butcher. Grass fed only, please.) When you have about two pounds, place in a crock pot with chopped celery, garlic, carrots, spices, and cover with filtered water. Set to low and simmer for 15 to 24 hours. Refrigerate and skim fat off the top. I also add kelp or kombu fronds for added minerals. Add sea salt to taste. Once you start making your own, you'll never go back to the boxed stuff again.