Learn from my experience, friends. If you are thinking about starting a family, are already pregnant, or know someone thinking of getting pregnant…this stuff is important. I love doing preconception and prenatal consultations with soon-to-be-mamas, too. Because growing a person is serious business!!
I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN……..
1. TO EAT FAT LIKE IT’S MY J.O.B.
By the time I was pregnant with my third baby, I was gettin’ my good fat on. In fact, my nutritionist at the time recommended I take a ridiculous amount of fish oil – like 18 pills a day! She promised that if I did, my baby would have a great temperament, sleep well, and have beautiful hair and skin. I did not take that many (and don’t recommend you do either), but I definitely upped my EPA/DHA intake. And you know what? My baby girl was/had all of those things!
With my first two pregnancies..sure I ate fat…doughnuts, nachos, and cupcakes like that was my job. It makes me cringe now that I know how important healthy fats are to brain and organ development and how terrible trans and other inflammatory fats (like margarine, canola, vegetable, soybean, corn, and cottonseed oils) are to growing little baby bodies. Did you know our brains are 60-70% fat? And that every cell membrane is made of fat? Do you want the good fats making your baby’s brain and cellular structure or the bad ones?
The best fats for growing little brains are: grass-fed butter, coconut oil, fatty fish (like salmon), olive oil, avocados, eggs, nuts and seeds, and fats from healthy animals (see this post and this post for more info).
2. TO HAVE AN MTHFR TEST
MTHFR stands for the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene. You need a healthy MTHFR gene to produce a healthy MTHFR enzyme. This is critical to many body functions like how we think, our cellular health, and how we detox/get rid of poisons. If you’ve inherited one or more MTHFR gene mutations (which MTHFR expert Dr. Ben Lynch says 50% of people have) it could impact your fertility, your pregnancy (can cause miscarriage), and your baby (risk of autism, a weak immune system, reduced ability to speak, underweight baby, intestinal disorders, and more). The MTHFR enzyme is a very important component to how we process folate and other B vitamins, which is especially critical during pregnancy. By the way, folate and folic acid are not the same. Dr. Lynch calls synthetic folic acid (which is commonly recommended to pregnant women) “garbage” and would “throw it away.” Folic acid can actually cause problems…especially if you have an MTHFR mutation. For more information listen to this podcast and visit Dr. Lynch’s website at: mthfr.net. You can order this easy test to check your MTHFR status for $99 from this website.
It’s also a good idea to have your B12 and Vitamin D levels checked before you become pregnant.
3. THAT C-SECTION BABIES ARE MORE PRONE TO FOOD SENSITIVITIES, COLIC, LOW IMMUNE FUNCTION, SKIN ISSUES, AND MORE FUN STUFF
Now listen, I had 3 c-sections – so don’t feel bad if you did, too. But I also have kids with food sensitivities, eczema, and sensory processing issues. Knowing what I know now, I might have been more open to a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesearean). Babies that travel through the birth canal get an important inoculation of bacteria from the mom. C-section babies miss out and pick up their first microbes from the operating room. Kind of gives you the heebie jeebies, doesn’t it? Healthy bacteria does lots of important stuff for your baby like: help her convert food into energy and nutrients, produce vitamins, absorb minerals, eliminate toxins, build a healthy immune system, reduce colic, and help prevent allergies. The kind of bacteria you pass to your baby in the vaginal canal is largely determined by your diet…which is why what you eat is so important before and during pregnancy. If a c-section baby misses out, don’t fret…there’s more opportunity to get healthy microbes….
4. THAT BREASTFEEDING IS IMPORTANT….NO, IT REALLY IS IMPORTANT
If you didn’t or you couldn’t…no worries…it is what it is. No mom guilt allowed around here. I nursed each of my babies for 4 months. That’s about the time they started sleeping through the night, my milk supply started dwindling, and I kind of threw in the towel. I wish I would have tried harder to go longer. Breast milk gives your baby healthy bacteria (formula fed babies have noticeably different, less superior gut bacteria) and all sorts of nutrients that formula does not. This sets them up for good health in infancy and beyond. God gave us the capacity to feed our babies for a reason. It’s the first real food…the way God made it…perfectly designed to nourish your baby’s physical and mental development. A factory concoction will never measure up to the real thing. If you can breast feed, do it.
5. THAT I DIDN’T HAVE TO BE A CLEAN FREAK
My ob/gyn put it best when he said:
“With the first baby, you’re sterilizing everything. By the third, you’re letting him drink out of the dog bowl.”
So true! I was a hand-santizing, Clorox-scrubbing freak job when my first son was born. By the time my daughter came along, I didn’t even flinch when someone let her suck on an unwashed finger. Turns out, a little dirt can actually be beneficial. Dirt is full of microbes – both good and bad – and some exposure to both helps strengthen the immune system. It’s also been shown that kids who have pets and are regularly exposed to sunlight (without <gasp!> sunscreen) have stronger immune systems too. That’s not to say you shouldn’t wash your hands or take other precautions to protect your newborn, but here’s what my 3rd pregnancy self says to my 1st pregnancy self: Lighten up, sister!
For more information on this baby stuff, I love this book and this book. And this upcoming program looks awesome!
I would love for you to share any thing you wish YOU would have known for all of the mommies-to-be reading this right now!