When it comes to pregnancy, there is advice everywhere! I remember announcing with my first that I was pregnant, completely unaware that folks will just begin to offload all the things they have heard, seen, or otherwise been told anecdotally without so much as a thought if the advice is wanted or even warranted!
So I will tell you all what I told my former doula clients. Here is the information I have. You research it, and you find out if it’s right for you! Never just take 1 person’s advice. Everyone’s pregnancy and everyone’s health is unique. There is no one size fits all advice. However, there are a few things I’d like to share with you today to help you dispel some of those silly comments you have heard!
Myth: You have to eat for two now that you are pregnant.
Truth: This is not true at all. Everyone starts with a different body composition based on metabolism, energy consumption before pregnancy, and more. We do not need to eat an additional 2000 calories to manage pregnancy! Growing a baby is taxing on a mom’s body, so the focus should not be on eating for two but rather focusing on eating for optimal nutrition.
A diet rich in vegetables, good lean proteins, healthy plant-based carbohydrates, and plant-based fats such as nuts and avocado. This is important even before pregnancy. During the first trimester, there is no need for any extra calories. Growing a baby does not take much, then.
However, when we approach the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, we may find that more calories may be needed. In the second trimester, eating an extra 200-400 calories might help beat the fatigue and satiate the sugar cravings that often show up as the body is looking for extra energy!
In the 3rd trimester, the calorie consumption can go up to about 400 extra calories a day to accommodate the growing baby. But remember, this is not one size fits all advice. These ranges and the phrases up mean that some of you may not need as much. Remember, we all start pregnancy at an individual health location, so talk to your doctor, nutrition coach, or dietitian to find out what you need!
Myth: Pregnancy Cravings mean your baby is starving of nutrients.
Truth: Pregnancy cravings can mean a wide variety of things. I love myths like this one because there is a kernel of truth hidden here! Cravings, in general, can indicate a nutrient deficiency. So listening to the cravings has a benefit.
Note I did not say indulging in the cravings.
We have to ask ourselves good questions about our cravings. Did we eat enough today, could we have had a drop in blood sugar, could this simply be a normal hormone change as the baby is growing? All of these things are reasons for food cravings. We should be careful to explore all our options before just grabbing the first thing that we crave! Consider this craving chocolate can be a sign of a blood sugar drop, or it can be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. It could also be a means of your body crying out for more energy as chocolate is high in fat content. It’s not quite as simple to think about the simple reasons for craving a specific food!
So get in the habit of asking yourself questions about your cravings and considering multiple answers!
Myth: Breastfeeding is a good source of Postpartum weight loss.
Truth: Some women experience postpartum weight loss with breastfeeding; however, that is not always the truth for all women.
That was the big advertisement for breastfeeding when I took my first pregnancy class. What I found was that IF I didn’t maintain some body fat, I did not have milk production. So instead of losing weight, I found myself having to gain weight. So where is the truth? Well, breastfeeding accounts for 300-500 extra calories needed per day for healthy milk production. With each breastfeeding session postpartum, levels of the hormone prolactin rise.
This rise in prolactin slows lipid metabolism helping to preserve some body fat for optimal production. This doesn’t stop all weight loss; it just means that when you hit a plateau, it’s likely the hormones that are a factor.
Another mostly ignored factor is sleep deprivation. Lower hours of sleep 6 and under or interrupted and nonconsecutive sleep can impair weight loss. The hormone cortisol will rise, and as a result, estrogen levels rise, and when estrogen is high, the body likes to keep some extra body fat. Sleep deprivation also makes you crave more energy in your food and likely contributes to eating in excess.
Pregnancy and postpartum is a huge change in a woman’s life. Eating healthy should be the priority. The goal should be a healthy mom and a healthy baby, and that comes through good nutrition, sleep, and support.