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  • Writer's pictureNetsitsah Manela

Nourishing Body, Baby, Mind, and Spirit in pregnancy - nutrition and beyond

Updated: May 3

Most of the people I work with are on a conscious journey, usually including some sort of intentional eating habits. Yes! So important. My favorite diets for the childbearing years are those that are nutrient dense, attend to macronutrients and micronutrients, include wisdom from ancient food traditions, and consider sustainability for people and planet.

Pregnancy is a time of building, as opposed to a cycle of cleansing. Nutrient needs increase, and dietary priorities may need to shift. Loading up on nutrients before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding will help you feel strong during this physically demanding time in life and help maintain your health for future pregnancies and parenting. Cleansing is counter-indicated during pregnancy and nursing, so eat cleanly, but for growth.

The Weston Price Foundation has some wonderful suggestions for ethical omnivorous eating and pregnancy nutrition. It can take some doing to acquire and prepare high quality ingredients affordably. Consider what you want for your baby and what you can reasonably take on, and make changes one at a time.

Vegan diets can work with great attention to eating abundant complete proteins, proper preparation of grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, supplementation of essential fatty acids and B12, and avoiding too much soy and highly processed foods.

Chinese medicine and Ayurveda provide wonderful wisdom on seasonal eating and balancing body systems and emotions through diet and herbs.

For supplements, I often recommend to my clients probiotics, magnesium, vitamin C, B vitamins, liquid herbal iron if needed, collagen powder, essential fatty acids, D3, A (retinol form), K2 (MK4), and others. Nourishing herbal infusions made from red raspberry leaf, stinging nettles, oat straw, and red clover can do wonders for the pregnant body. And homeopathic remedies can be a terrific help that is safe and effective for pregnant people and babies.

Here's a tidbit I wish I had known: Your baby will develop a taste for the foods you choose during pregnancy and breastfeeding. My children, ages 5-15, still eat like I did during each of their pregnancies - different for each. Side note - they will also pick up your movement and exercise habits from gestation! So allow their well-being to motivate you to get moving, breathe deeply, and make good food choices.

Parenting is emotionally demanding. There is a kind of energy given naturally with so much love that it's hard to imagine it requires refueling. It does. And our children's emotional well-being benefits so much from our ability to be present for them in every way. I advise my clients to soak up all the tender loving care they can during pregnancy. Receive loving touch. Allow loved ones to help you. Take baths and naps. Make time to de-stress, breathe deeply, journal. Be fully present for yourself, alone, for at least a few minutes every day, and practice asking for what makes you feel good and tended to from your partner, family, and friends.

Pregnant people tend to seek out information! Big changes now and big changes on the horizon make us curious. Meanwhile, the growing bump seems to function like a sign that says, "tell me all about your pregnancy and birth." Filter. Filter. Filter. Choose to read and hear positive, life-affirming, birth-positive stories. Request a rain check on scary stories. Seek aligned books and teachers who support you to author your highest choices for your story. Your openness to information during this time makes you a great learner and also vulnerable, so tend your mind as you would your child's. After all, your child's brain and nervous system are forming within yours!

I believe that the spiritual level of the being is inherently involved when it comes to - well, everything - but especially something as big and WOW as growing a baby, giving birth, breastfeeding, and the incredible growing and learning that babies and toddlers do. It just can't be limited to the secular realm. So, find a way to let that in and let that come out. Find some languaging or some music or some movement or something that resonates for you, if you don't already have a spiritual connection practice. Let yourself feel big (planet scale) and goddess-like sometimes. And also play with archetypal masculine and feminine energies. They are both so important in parenting. The surrender required in labor calls on us to access a level of feminine energy many seldom touch, even in sex. Go there. Practice embodying a vessel for massive power to come through.

What do I even mean? Be in touch! If you live in the Baltimore area, I would be delighted and honored to work with you as a doula, childbirth educator, craniosacral therapist, or midwife.


pregnancy nutrition, natural birth, Baltimore, Maryland, Pennsylvania, doula

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