The most important thing a woman can do when she finds out she is pregnant is eat nutrient dense foods. Pregnancy is not an excuse to eat whatever you want, it’s a time to nourish yourself and your baby. Ideally, it’s best to start preparing your body (and your partner’s body!) about 6-12 months prior to conception, but obviously, this is not realistic for everyone. So whether you are planning on getting pregnant or already are, here are my top 10 foods to eat to ensure a healthy mama, healthy baby and healthy birth.
To preface the top ten foods for pregnancy, it is important to recognize that these are the exact foods to heal and boost fertility. Women experiencing infertility often turn to doctors, hormonal treatments and IVF, when the first place women and men should start are their diets. Our bodies are designed to reproduce. If they are incapable, this is often, though not always, indicative of nutrient deficiencies. The following are the exact foods, in no particular order, that will both heal and boost pregnancy.
First, let me say that throwing out the yolks and eating the egg whites is not only disgusting, but entirely counter productive. The bulk of the vitamins and minerals in an egg are contained in the yolk! That’s liquid gold, baby! Eggs are high EPA and DHA, vitamins A, E, D, and K, as well as choline. Choline is essential for proper liver, brain and nervous function. I suggest eating the egg yolks raw. Make sure they are from a trusted, pastured source. They go great in smoothies and soups. I add eggs yolks to Scott’s (a self-proclaimed egg hater) morning protein shake everyday and he has no idea.
Cod Liver Oil
CLO is also high in vitamins A and D. Vitamin A encourages proper development of the kidneys, lungs and face. It also promotes a full-term labor. CLO is rich in D, which helps develop bones. I eat CLO everyday, and plan to continue it during pregnancy, to up my chances of having a baby with a face and bones. I recommend Rosita Cod Liver Oil. It’s the highest quality fish oil I’ve found.
Bone broth is wonderful in so many different ways. I love it. It’s rich in collagen too, which helps prevent and reverse cellulite and stretch marks! It’s rich in calcium, phosphorous and several other vitamins and minerals. It also helps seal the lining of the gut.
Bone broth is super easy to make, just throw chicken or beef bones, onions, carrots, salt and apple cider vinegar in a crock pot, cover with water and simmer for 24 hours.
You can make your own fermented foods or easily buy them at the store. While it’s been on my to-do list for years, I haven’t actually made my own fermented foods. I know, I’m terrible. But I just find it so much more convenient to buy them. Fermented foods can be easily obtained at the grocery store. I buy Bubbies sauerkraut and pickles, as well as kimchi. I also drink raw milk kefir from my farmer. I suggest eating fermented foods with every meal to assist with digestion. They also provide the good bacteria, or “probiotics” that are so essential to our GI tract. This is crucially important for baby. Babies need this good bacteria, and it will reduce the risk of autism. The creator of the GAPS diet, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explains,
“What I see in the families of autistic children is that 100 percent of mom’s of autistic children have abnormal gut flora and health problems related to that. But then I look at grandmothers on the mother’s side, and I find that the grandmothers also have abnormal gut flora, but much milder.”
Probiotic supplements are also a great addition, THIS is my favorite brand.
Gram for gram, liver is the most nutritious food on earth. I can’t sing its praises enough. Liver is a high quality protein and is nature’s most concentrated form of vitamin A. It is high in iron, copper and zinc. It is a great source of folic acid. It contains all of the B vitamins, particularly B12. Liver is amazing. Eat it!
And if you can’t stomach eating liver, take THIS grass-fed and organic liver supplement.
In traditional cultures, seafood was highly prized. Tribes would often travel long distances to obtain these delicious, nutritious sea creatures. Seafoods, particularly fatty fishes like salmon and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. This is great for mama and baby. Omega-3 fatty acids will reduce inflammation. I love all seafood, but oysters are at the top of my list. I plan on eating a lot of raw oysters when I’m knocked up, not only because I love them, but they are extremely high in zinc. And I am not at all worried about eating them raw because I’ve never seen any accurate evidence to discourage me from doing so, and I doubt you have either. If you are concerned about the mercury in fish, please read this post by Chris Kresser, and throw that notion out of the window.
Coconut Oil and Butter
I grouped these two together because they’re sort of similar in the sense that they’re both amazingly nutritious and also two fats I regularly cook with. And also because top 11 foods for pregnancy just does not have the same ring to it. Coconut oil is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. It is rich in lauric acid, which boosts mama and baby’s immune system. Butter is also rich in vitamins A, E, D and K. It is high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has strong anti-carcinogenic effects. Also, butter is tasty as hell.
I like this brand of coconut oil. You can also rub it on your tummy to help prevent stretch marks!
Like butter, grass-fed beef if high in vitamins A, E, D and K as well is CLA. It has a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio than grain-fed cows. It is a great form of easily absorbable iron and is also easily digested.
In traditional cultures, fish eggs were reserved for women and men preparing for conception, pregnant women and small children. Like liver, it is a sacred food. They are extremely high in vitamin D, as well as A, E and K. A great source of zinc, iodine and DHA. Fish eggs make healthy babies.
Obviously, eat your veggies. Veggies are great for mama and growing baby. Particularly the leafy greens. Eat your kale, eat your spinach, eat whatever you like. Make sure to douse it all in butter or another traditional fat for the added health boost and to be able to digest all those fat soluble vitamins.
Remember that baby is only as healthy as the mother. I fully understand that pregnant women get cravings, but that is no excuse to go out and eat Taco Bell. I guarantee that whatever a pregnant woman craves can be made healthier. Want a burger? Make it yourself! Craving cheese? Go to your local farmers market or Whole Foods and grab some grass-fed and raw dairy!
While I did not specifically include dairy in this list, grass-fed and raw dairy is an excellent source of vitamins. We often think of superfoods as fruits and vegetables, and while I agree that fruits and vegetables are extremely nutritious, they are not exactly super nutrient dense foods. We often mistakenly consider them superfoods because they have been marketed to us as such. In reality, liver, egg yolks, bone broth, these are superfoods. They are considerably higher in vitamins and minerals and should be eaten liberally throughout pregnancy.
To read more about the role of these vitamins and mineral in pregnancy, read this post.