As a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer, many of my clients, friends, and acquaintances ask me how I eat/what foods I choose on a regular basis and how I structure my own workouts. I am creating this blog to share exactly that information with you. BUT, what I eat and how I exercise has changed a bit over the past three months because…….I AM PREGNANT with my first baby!
My family started calling me “Bobbie” at a very young age, making a sort of combination out of my first and middle names (Robin Barrie). Over the years, friends, family, and even pets have known me as Bobbie, Robbie, Bob, or Bobs. (In fact, my 3-year-old nephew just recently picked up my sister-in-law’s cell phone to call me and say, “Hi, Aunt Bob!” We are still trying to figure out who taught him that!) Since you will all be with me throughout this personal adventure as I grow in belly and mind, you can call me Bobbie too! As I share my experiences, I will teach you all that I already know and all that I learn. You will see my mostly straight and narrow food choices and workouts veer a bit sideways as my hormones and body take over. Please feel free to ask lots of questions, make many comments, and share your own opinions and stories. Here we go…….
So…..before I even began thinking about getting pregnant, I began taking a prenatal vitamin. I will explain to you, just as I did for my husband (so he wouldn’t freak out when he saw them sitting in our medicine cabinet years ago). The main difference between a regular multi and a prenatal multi is that the prenatal ones contain a safe form of Vitamin A and additional folic acid, iron, and calcium .
- Too much pre-formed vitamin A in a prenatal diet can be toxic to the liver and cause birth defects. The maximum daily amount (from foods and supplements) is 10,000 IU. Prenatal vitamins contain much less than this amount and often include beta carotene, which is a vitamin A precursor, and safer in the body.
- Folic acid, about 800mcg/day, is recommended for women of child-bearing age, as it prevents neural tube defects (problems with the spinal cord and brain) in the developing fetus.
- Iron is needed to help with blood and muscle cell development for Mom and baby, while helping prevent development of anemia. During pregnancy, women’s requirement doubles to 30 mg/day.
- Calcium requirements are 1000 mg/day during pregnancy (1300 mg/day for women under age 19) to promote strong bones and teeth for mother and baby. If Mom doesn’t have enough, the calcium in her bones will be pulled out to meet the baby’s needs, leading to weaker bones for Mom in the future. Prenatal vitamins do not contain 100% of your calcium needs, since calcium decreases the absorption of iron.
Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have many health benefits for mother and baby. They are polyunsaturated (“good”) fats that are essential in the diet or via supplementation since the human body cannot make them. They are important for vision and nerve development in the baby, and may decrease the incidence of allergies in babies and increase birth weight. For the Mom, they can help prevent pre-term labor, decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia and the risk for postpartum depression. Moms can become depleted in Omega 3’s when the baby uses them for nervous system development and/or when they are used to form breast milk after birth. This is why it is important for Moms to get at least 220 mg of each EPA and DHA during the prenatal, pregnancy, and postnatal time periods. They are found in anchovies, herring, sardines, salmon, and tuna, but since many of these fish contain mercury, it may be easier to get Omega 3’s from a supplement. I have always taken 2000 mg per day since Omega’s have so many health benefits, such as heart disease prevention, decreased period cramps and osteoporosis risk, reduced inflammation (great to reduce post-workout soreness and achieve glowing skin), improved cognitive function, and increased fertility.
I have taken probiotics for years because I was on a lot of antibiotics as a kid. (Remember that pink stuff for ear infections? Yuck!) We need antibiotics when we are sick to fight off the bad bacteria or infections in our bodies. There are also antibiotics found in animal products that we consume, used to prevent sickness in the animals and increase their growth. These antibiotics are essential at times, but while they may get rid of the bad bacteria, they take the good bacteria with them. Even organic vegetables may contain antibiotics, as animal manure (from animals given antibiotics) is often used for nutrients in the soil of these crops. So those of us who eat mostly organic diets may not even be safe. That is why many of us, who have been on antibiotics in the past, recently, or frequently, could use some help from probiotics in order to replace the good bacteria in our guts. Probiotics are similar to the good bacteria found naturally in the human gut. They can be taken in pill form and found in the diet. They are especially high in foods such as yogurt or other products that are probiotic-fortified. Probiotics enhance the immune system, decreasing the risk of food poisoning and infection. They aid in digestion, improve nutrient absorption, can decrease gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and constipation. They may help with weight loss, and decrease skin, yeast, and urinary tract infections. They also may increase fertility and decrease the risk of early miscarriage. In babies, they can decrease the risk of developing eczema, colic, diarrhea and food allergies.
As for my diet, I consciously started cutting out fish containing the highest levels of mercury:
- Orange roughy
- Mackerel (king)
- Tuna ( bigeye, Ahi)
I also consciously limited these other high-mercury fish, making sure to have no more than three 6-ounce servings per month:
- Sea Bass (Chilean)
- Mackeral ( Spanish, Gulf)
- Tuna (canned, white albacore)
- Tuna ( Yellowfin)
Six 6-ounce servings per month are allowed for these lower-mercury fish:
- Bass ( Striped, Black)
- Cod ( Alaskan)
- Croaker ( White Pacific)
- Halibut ( Pacific and Atlantic)
- Jacksmelt ( Silverside)
- Mahi Mahi
- Perch (freshwater)
- Sea Trout ( Weakfish)
- Tuna (canned, chunk light)
- Tuna (Skipjack)
These fish below have the lowest mercury, and us pregnant/pre-pregnant girls can enjoy 6-ounce servings twice a week.
- Crab (Domestic)
- Mackeral (N Atlantic, Chub)
- Perch (ocean)
- Salmon ( Canned, Fresh)
- Shad ( American)
- Squid ( Calamari)
- Trout (freshwater)
(*list from the Natural Resources Defense Council, http://www.nrdc.org)
I took a horrible stomach virus early this past spring as my opportunity to give up coffee. I know that having a cup a day is allowed during pregnancy, but my issue was that I have always enjoyed Splenda or Truvia in my coffee and did not want to keep that steady stream of artificial sweetener running through my body. I also like green tea, but most green teas have caffeine, and there is controversy over whether green tea affects the absorption of folic acid in our bodies. I personally enjoy hot water with lemon, so if I wanted a hot drink, I stuck with that.
As for alcohol, I was never a big drinker. For me, cutting back a bit while trying to get pregnant was not a big deal at all, except for my friends’ watchful eyes at dinner!
Other than all that’s listed above, my pre-pregnancy diet stayed the same.
My weekly workout schedule consisted of the following: 3 -4 spin classes at Soul Cycle, 2 hours of strength training, and 1-2 additional cardio workouts, usually on the stepmill, slide board, or treadmill. I also took a yoga class a couple of times per month. I worked out 5-6 days per week, always taking of Sundays as a day of rest for my body. I did not change any of this pre-pregnancy.