I am 16 weeks into my fourth pregnancy and I can officially say that I feel fantastic! I have never felt so wonderful during pregnancy and I want to shout from the rooftops why I’m feeling better this time around!
Previous Diet Changes
When my youngest was a few months old, we started making some serious diet changes. Although I ate much, much better during my pregnancy with him than my previous two pregnancies, I still experienced extreme fatigue and mild nausea, as well as other common pregnancy discomforts like bloating and heartburn. After I had him, I experienced difficulty even functioning day-to-day with the demands of waking up with him through the night weighing heavy on me. I often became very dizzy from lack of sleep, struggled with feeling fuzzy-headed and still had a lot of stomach discomforts that I had dealt with before our switch to a real-food lifestyle. I wanted to feel better and I wanted to be a better wife and mom but just couldn’t seem to function properly. I really began to pray and ask the Lord how it could be His plan for us mommas to feel so miserable after having a baby and yet keep having them. I was discouraged and frustrated. I decided it was time for a change.
When Everett was about three months old, I went 30 days without eating sugar. It was much easier than I had anticipated and because of that trial, we have never gone back to eating and using sugar other than the *very* occasional treat or for kombucha brewing. A couple of months after that, I decided to undertake something that was a much greater challenge than eliminating sugar: removing grains from our diet! Again, I planned to try it for 30 days, but after only a few days I felt so wonderful, I knew I would never go back to using grains as a staple in our diet. No more burritos, no more nachos, no more sandwiches… I had to get creative!
After one week of a grain-free diet, I was much more clear-headed and well-rested upon waking. Gone were the days of waking up tired, groggy and with a headache. I felt like the curtains had been pulled back for the first time. Symptoms of gastrointestinal distress were greatly relived and eventually disappeared. No more constant gluten-bloat!
How a Primal Diet Applies to Pregnancy
Without grains and sugar (and pasteurized milk!) assaulting my insides, my body has been able to focus on pregnancy and nourishing my baby! Because those things tend to cause gut and intestinal problems, the absence of them, for me, has equaled the absence of nausea! How amazing to have a pregnancy free of nausea! Although pregnancy and being a mom to three other children is demanding, I wake up refreshed because grains are not causing “grain-brain” symptoms. (Learn more about that here. –This is not an affiliate link, I just feel this information is that important!) Waking up rested equals so much more energy than I’ve ever experienced before during pregnancy. I’m homeschooling my three boys, keeping up with a house, a small home bakery business and various other activities when during my other pregnancies, I could barely get off the couch! This alone is the biggest difference I have felt this pregnancy -the energy!
Primal vs Paleo
While a Paleo diet has worked for us at times and is a great plan to follow, we choose to consume raw and cultured dairy. For a pregnant woman, raw dairy (if no intolerance is present) is a necessary part of a nourishing diet. I didn’t start getting raw milk until the end of my pregnancy with Everett and have no doubt that pasteurized dairy played a part in making me feel unwell during my first three pregnancies. This pregnancy, I drink raw milk everyday and include plain and full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, raw cheeses and homemade raw kefir in my diet as well. All of these contribute to my staying nourished as well as regulating my digestion.
Because I’m not a big believer in vitamins, I am taking whole, real food supplements during this pregnancy to ensure proper absorption and maximum benefit. I use fermented cod liver oil, homemade liver capsules (which, by the way, have also contributed greatly to my energy levels thanks to the high amount of iron and B vitamins found in liver!) and a powdered magnesium supplement which also contributes to regularity. I like to try to regularly drink “pregnancy tea” which can be found from different brands containing different herbs to support a healthy pregnancy and delivery. When I get towards the end up my pregnancy, I will begin including things like evening primrose oil, gentle birth tincture and red raspberry leaf tea to my repertoire. Until then, I’m happy and feeling great meeting my nutritional needs through food!