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Maggie & Alex, how to eat healthy during the pregnancy and the first baby months

Posted Nov 10 2011 1:56am

I do not usually make interviews , but when I met Maggie I instantly decided “this is it”. She is currently taking a professional training to become a health coach (just like me), she is interested in the raw & vegan cuisine and there is a field she definitely has more expertise than I do – pregnancy, breastfeeding & raising a healthy child. Because, well, except for learning all about it, she actually experienced it.

Meet Maggie and the journey of being healthy with a child.

Hello Maggie, please tell me a little bit more about yourself, your family and your eating habits.

Hi Nadia! Thank you for your invitation for an interview. It is pleasure to share my experience and knowledge on this topic with natureinsider’s friends and followers.

I have always been interested in sustainable living, healthy lifestyle and overall being in harmony with our environment and natural surrounding. The connection is simple – what is good for us in terms of healthy, nourishing and satisfying is also good for the environment. Achieving this balance is what excites me and interests me the most. In addition, exploring the mood-food connection – the so called emotional eating – is a topic which has always inspired me.

I came across this lifestyle 5 years ago when following an interesting job offer for my husband we moved to San Francisco, California. I remember we had a difficult time finding an apartment in the city and ended up renting a beautiful house in French Normandy style in Berkeley, CA. Our place was just next to a famous raw food café called the Gratitude café. This is where all it begun for me.

So I started experimenting with food – raw, organic and local – and through the years I found what works for me the best. During this time I also became pregnant and had an easy, light and happy pregnancy. I gained the minimum weight necessary to sustain the pregnancy and had natural medication free delivery. My son Alexander was born healthy, measuring 3 kg and since then it began my breastfeeding career.

My interest in food and nutrition deepened throughout the last years to the point that made me decide to pursue a career in this field. I am currently undertaking a professional training program to become a health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, USA.

You can read more about my approach to health coaching on my newly developed website www.strawberry-spring.com

I know a lot of women have problems with nausea during the first months of the pregnancy. Do you have any tips and tricks that can prevent the nausea attacks?

Not all women have nausea during this time and the level of intensity is different as well, but for those who have it, unfortunately most of the time the uncomfortable feeling during the first trimester could not be avoided. This is also the period when cravings are very strong and they are usually for some quite unhealthy foods. From all the food categories carbohydrates are mostly craved together with some sweet foods and sometimes even heavily cooked meals such as deep fried for instance.

In order to still eat healthy but satisfy the cravings it is important to know how to de-construct them. Knowing already what is healthy and nourishing to our bodies is very useful as it helps us be creative in looking for the healthier version of the craved food. For instance during this first months of my pregnancy I couldn’t take any green juice or even eat a salad (usually my most favorite meal). Instead I craved crackers and bagels. So I found the cleanest organic crackers/bagels made from sprouted spelt or whole wheat flour. In order to make sure that I was staying well hydrated while eating mostly dense cooked foods I drunk lots of fresh mint tea and home made lemonade (water, lemon and honey). Ginger tea made from freshly grated ginger in warm water with honey and some lemon is very soothing to the stomach and can help as well.

According to some of my books raw & vegan cuisine is not very appropriate during a pregnancy. What do you think about it? Share your experience!

This is true. As we know raw & vegan cuisine is extremely nourishing and rich in most vital nutrients the body needs to function properly. In addition, flooding the body with fresh alive enzymes, photochemical, vitamins and minerals promotes body detoxification. Thus, such a diet can be very important in the period preceding the pregnancy. We all know how important, for instance, the folic acid is in the formation of a healthy baby. We need to have enough of it in the body before even the child is conceived as the first few weeks of the pregnancy, when we usually are not even aware of it, the folic acid plays a crucial role and acts as a building block for the new baby. Living on a standard diet will most likely make us deficient of this important element. So eating high raw food diet will help flush out environmental toxins from the body and will make it stronger and healthier which overall will help with conceiving a baby as quickly as initially planned.

However, the raw food diet is very low in calories and this usually becomes a problem during pregnancy. In order to sustain a healthy pregnancy the body needs extra calories part of which will also be stored as fat and used during the breastfeeding post-partum period.

Pregnancy is usually the time when we become aware of the extreme intensity of cravings. We are told that cravings are not good and we should learn to suppress them. In contrary, the opposite is true. The cravings are the body’s way to communicate to us. Our bodies posses very high intelligence, which never makes mistakes when we provide them with the necessary building blocks and natural elements. We just need to tune in and listen carefully. Thus, the strong cravings during pregnancy is the body screaming for particular nutrients. One food category most craved during pregnancy is carbohydrates which is not coincidence knowing that the body will need more energy and calories to provide for the healthy growth of the new baby.

And how about during breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is one of the most precious presents a mother can give to her child. The benefits from it are incredible. Mother’s milk contains the important fat and protein that can’t be replaced by other foods, including infant formula. The child gets not only the nutrients it needs for growth and development but also strong protection from any disease or viruses as the mother’s body creates antibodies to all the viruses in their surrounding. Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your child and to give him the confidence that he/she is loved the most in the world. There are a number of benefits for the mothers as well such as burning out of the extra fat stored especially for this purpose during the pregnancy. Scientific research also shows that breastfeeding protects from breast cancer.

It is very important, however, to get educated on the topic and to know what to expect before the baby is born. There are many ways that breastfeeding can be sabotaged, and a complicated delivery or C-section is one of them.

My own observation is that new mothers are strongly discouraged to breastfeed. Even doctors sometimes are completely unaware of the natural lactation, pushing up bottle formula feedings in the first week after delivery. It is important to know that immediately upon delivery the mammary glands start producing the so called “colostrum” – a very powerful form of milk proceeding the “real” milk which function is to clear excess bilirubin, a waste product of dead red blood cells, from the infant’s body and helps prevent jaundice. Colostrum also contains large numbers of antibodies that help protect the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines of the infant. Although colostrum has very high concentrations of nutrients and antibodies it is small in quantity. So it takes almost a week after birth for the real milk to start flowing. This time is extremely important as the baby will be establishing the demand of milk and he/she should be allowed to be on the breast on cue. Doctors, however, always insist in introducing a bottle with formula milk during this period which immediately disturbs the natural process as if the baby gets satisfied with the milk form the bottle he/she will be suckling less on the breast and since the mothers body will start producing less milk from the very beginning.

The diet again is very important during the postpartum breastfeeding period. My experience is that a high raw diet with lots of green juices and smoothies is the best way to hydrate the body and make it produce abundance of highly nourishing milk. One thing to strongly underline here is that during the breastfeeding period and especially before the production of milk is established new mothers must drink plenty of fresh filtered water. Only a well hydrated body could produce milk. Dehydration, I believe, is one of the main reasons why so many mothers fail to produce enough milk.

I’ve read that sometimes dairy products can be responsible for the colic in newborn babies and if the mother limits or stops consuming dairy, the pain will cease and even stop. Do you know something about it?

Here is what I believe about dairy. There is a great difference between dairy products, which are raw or pasteurized. Very similar to the raw food concept all pasteurized dairy is devoted from any nutrition, it is hard to digest and it forms mucus. Pasteurization makes insoluble the major part of the calcium in raw milk. It also destroys 20% of the iodine contained in raw milk, causes constipation, and destroys many of raw milk’s desirable qualities. Pasteurization changes lactose to a beta-form, which makes it more soluble, perhaps giving trouble to lactose intolerant individuals.
I read about an experiment made with calves who are fed pasteurized milk and didn’t even live to their maturity.
Raw milk, in contrary, when it comes from organic farms and grass-fed animals is very different. Raw milk has all the live enzymes and our bodies can fully assimilated. This is why indigenous people for thousands of years were living or even surviving using only raw milk and diary. Before baby formula was created newborn babies were also given raw goat milk, which is claimed to be the closest to the human breast milk in nutritional properties. Many mothers who can source fresh raw goat milk from a local farm feed their children raw goat milk nowadays as well.

It is worth noting as well that there is a difference between the dairy which comes from a cow, goat or sheep animals. Goat and sheep diary is easier to digest than cow’s diary.

This was a large introduction to answering your question. Now getting to the point – I think that if the nursing mother is taking pasteurized milk or diary daily this will affect the quality of her milk negatively as her body will be struggling to digest the milk and fight the mucus which will form as a result. Bad quality breast milk is usually a result of not eating properly which in turn is responsible for the child experiencing colic’s and stomach discomfort. In order to reduce toxins in breast milk it is the best to eat largely plant based organic food as the lower we eat on the food chain the less toxins we take through our food.

My own experience is that small amounts of raw diary, mostly sheep and goat, is not causing any problems. Here bio-individuality is a key. Meaning that more factors are to be taken into account such as genetic background. I am strong believer that one diet does not fit everyone and that our personal tastes, natural shapes, blood types, metabolic rates and genetic backgrounds influence what foods will and won’t nourish us.

I believe that in some cases water given to newborns is responsible for the colic’s. It is very important that the newborn baby is fed only breast milk for the first 6-7 months. My child had only breast milk for his first 7 months and he never had colic’s.

Do you have any specific advices for our readers?

So my advice in a nutshell will be as follows * Focus on detoxification and cleansing before the conception using lots of fresh raw foods.

* During pregnancy do not ignore cravings. Stay open minded and away from the dogmatic perception of labeling your food preferences as 100% raw, vegan or even vegetarian. Listen carefully what the body is trying to communicate and try to provide everything that the body needs. Do not be afraid of gaining a bit of an extra weight, as you will need it to help your baby grow during pregnancy and after the delivery. Remember that the focus during this period should be on the baby and all the love and happiness, which is coming your way.

* Always opt for breastfeeding. During this time take good care of yourself by having plenty of rest. Note that stress could also affect breastfeeding negatively and almost instantly. So make sure that you are in well-supported and relaxed environment. Plenty of highly nourishing raw foods and water will ensure the abundance of milk.

Find out more about Maggie and her practice here – www.strawberry-spring.com

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