Building a baby: pregnancy nutrition

As I sit here at 41 weeks + 1 day waiting on this baby, I really have no excuse for not writing, even though in my head I keep hearing "but haven't written a blog post in foreverrr." But I'm telling the brain to shut up and letting the fingers take over. 

I've gotten a bunch of questions about pregnancy nutrition, what I ate during pregnancy and how I stayed in shape. The experience of being pregnant (and each pregnancy) is so different for every woman, but I'll share what worked for me in case it maybe resonates for you. I feel like it's easiest to break this down into trimesters because, for me, they each had a different personality. And because I know I'd be curious... in total, I gained 30 lbs during my pregnancy. 

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1st Trimester: I conceived in early January and spent most of the early spring just trying not to vomit. I had all day nausea and couldn't even bear to think about cooking or making a meal. Just walking into the grocery store made me want to pass out. I was exhausted and had to take an afternoon nap most days. Posting on instagram and answering emails felt like the most daunting task in the universe. AND NO ONE KNOWS YOU'RE PREGNANT so you just feel like a blob. This was definitely not my most nutritionally dense trimester. I struggled to eat anything besides oatmeal and stevia sweetened ginger ale. Even my beloved coffee grossed me out. Although I normally like everything hot or room temp, I was really into cold drinks during those months. At the advice of my midwife that I needed to get protein in my system, I managed to get into a routine of basic smoothies made with non-dairy milks like Ripple, ice, a scoop of vanilla pea-protein powder (I like Love & Peas) and a half of a frozen banana, and I would add in some simple greens like spinach if I could stomach them. I also did bone broths and chicken soup... when I wasn't having Ezekiel Bread toast for dinner. Since I normally make meals for us, Mike swears this is where he "got pregnant" because I wasn't cooking and he would just eat pizza for dinner. Sooo FYI if you're in this boat - a meal delivery service might be a good move to keep your man healthy, I'm definitely planning on it if we go through this again. Overall, I was just trying to keep my head above water this trimester. I took my prenatal vitamins at night so they didn't upset my stomach. I was honestly too exhausted to do much of anything, so I felt good about myself if I were able to go for a walk or get through a basic yoga class. I didn't gain much weight during the first tri, maybe 4-5 pounds. Everyone said after 12 weeks, the nausea would magically disappear. For me, it took until around week 14-15 to taper off, but then all of a sudden - it did go away and I felt like I was reborn.

2nd Trimester: This is where I finally started wanting to eat (and grocery shop) again, but it was really important to me that I made up for the nutritional deficiencies of the first trimester. If left to my own devices, I would have just consumed my weight in white cheddar cheese popcorn. I tried my best to cook at home as much as possible with nutrient-dense veggies and lean proteins. I used lots of eggs, plant based-proteins like beans and lentils, peanut butter and salads with dark leafy greens. I also didn't skimp on fat, I was big on using avocado oil and grass-fed butter to cook with. One of my easiest go-to dinners was stir-fried cauliflower rice with scrambled eggs and baby bok choy. I also snacked on cucumber slices and concocted lots of zucchini and sweet potato combinations for dinner. But don’t think I didn’t make the occasional trip to Shake Shack when I was dying for a burger... although I would get it in a lettuce wrap. We went on our babymoon to Italy during these months so there was a week of serious pizza and gelato bingeing. But on the flip side, I felt much more energetic, so I was able to walk, ride my bike and go to yoga and pilates almost daily. I tried to drink plenty of water and I consumed loads of fermented stuff - kombucha (I like GT's and Health-Ade), homemade fermented veggies, yogurt and probiotics. They all great for gut health, especially since your digestion slows during pregnancy. Some of the things I felt strong cravings for during this trimester were grass-fed beef and cheese, glorious cheese - heartier things that I don't frequently eat but obviously my body wanted. I felt the strongest and hungriest during this trimester but I balanced it by working out a lot more. It wasn't uncommon for me to do pilates and yoga, take a walk and teach a few classes. One of my main concerns as my belly was growing quickly was preventing diastsis recti, the separation of the stomach muscles, so I stopped doing planks, crunches and any yoga poses that put outward pressure on my abdomen. I gained the most weight during these months, probably 15 pounds, and my belly showed up around the 6 month mark... and kept growing!


3rd Trimester: This is where they say to pack on the protein as the baby is developing their brain and other important bodily functions. But for me, I wanted sweeter things more than ever this trimester. And even though my belly got bigger, my appetite slowed down during these months because a) the baby was sitting high up in my ribs and squishing my stomach so I was supremely uncomfortable and b) i got painful nighttime reflux for a few weeks, which made it hard to eat much of anything for dinner. I tried to combat this with more protein in the morning - mixing protein powder and hemp into oatmeal, eating eggs, and protein smoothies. I also went through a phase where I was making black bean protein brownies, which were delicious. I tried to make protein a focus for most meals, along with greens and fiber-rich veggies to support my slowing digestion. Because I still wanted sugar a lot, I kept a stash of frozen grapes in the freezer for my sweet cravings, or if I was really dying for ice cream, I'd make banana nice cream with peanut butter or raw cacao using my Vitamix. Hydration was key too because I was getting really swollen with the combination of the heat of a Miami summer and being in a hot yoga studio all the time. I was drinking lots of water, kombucha and went heavy on both hot and iced teas this trimester - red raspberry leaf tea for uterine support along with both dandelion and hibiscus tea for my swollen legs. My energy ebbed and flowed during the third tri - I would nap and sleep in more, but I was able to go to yoga at least 5 times/week along with regular short walks. I was still teaching but my personal yoga practice was heavily modified at this point by using blocks and props and skipping vinyasas (doing cat/cow instead) but it still kept me active. I gained about 10 pounds this trimester.

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Overall, this whole thing been a rollercoaster and a learning experience and an amazing chance to listen to my body, slow down and reconnect. I've napped more than I ever have in my whole life, I I've taken it easy and given myself permission to rest. It's been one of the biggest journeys of my life - one of patience, self-care, compassion and tons of love. Xox