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blueberries are a great food for pregnancy

10 Most Nutritious Foods For Pregnancy and Postpartum

We are so excited to feature a post today detailing the 10 Most Nutritious Foods for Pregnancy & Postpartum from our resident pregnancy exercise and nutrition expert, Katie Dudley. We believe that part of preparing for a healthy, natural birth is preparing our bodies with optimal nutrition. Katie’s list is something every pregnant woman should read.

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During our first few visits to our care provider, we often receive a long list of foods to avoid, but we rarely discuss the foods that we SHOULD consume to support a more safe and comfortable pregnancy. In preparation for baby we hear even less about what we should eat once baby has arrived and our body is healing to provide nourishment for our breastfeeding child. The following is a list of foods that help to combat many of the common pregnancy symptoms and well as provide you with better care for postpartum healing. Incorporating these foods on a regular basis will help to crowd out the less nutritious foods that may contribute to common ailments in pregnancy and postpartum.

Bananas

Photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC

Bananas contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are perfect for many common pregnancy symptoms. Early on in pregnancy, bananas are a great source for alleviating nausea and morning sickness. They travel well, so keeping a banana on hand in your purse or bag is easy. This can come in handy for any muscle cramps and also regulating blood sugar during the day. Bananas are a great prebiotic food that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption for baby’s development. Another digestive benefit is they can help mom with symptoms of constipation and diarrhea that can occur throughout pregnancy. Later on in pregnancy, many of the nutrients found in bananas assist in reducing swelling and high blood pressure.

Berries

blueberries are a great food for pregnancy
Photo credit: maira.gall / Foter / CC BY-ND

Another excellent prebiotic food that promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, berries are among the highest foods in antioxidants. Berries are considered superfoods as one of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can consume. They contain a high amount of fiber for regularity and satiety, but are low in sugars, helping keep mom’s blood sugar stable. They are the fruit of choice for mom’s who at a higher risk for gestational diabetes. High in vitamin C, berries give your immune system a boost to keep mom and baby well. Even better, they are a great natural source of folate, which your body can readily convert for baby’s development.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is excellent for pregnancy
Photo credit: looseends / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Bone broth can be an excellent source of protein and fat to enhance mom’s immune function and provides essential amino acids for growing baby. Essential minerals that aid in brain and nerve functioning are also found in fresh bone broth. With its rich nutritional content, bone broth is great way to reduce symptoms of morning sickness. This is particularly helpful when it is difficult to get foods in. The vitamins and minerals in homemade broth make a perfect food for both pregnancy and postpartum as they aid in the growth of nails, skin, hair and connective tissues. This serves as an important function as they help mom’s body grow with baby as well as recover once baby is here. These same nutrients also condition the digestive tract and keep things working smoothly.

Dark Chocolate (Real)

Dark chocolate can be excellent food for pregnancy
Photo credit: Chocolate Reviews / Foter / CC BY-ND

Yes! Dark Chocolate. Real dark chocolate (not the processed, sugary kind) has some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any foods. It is higher than berries, red wine, and high quality dark chocolate (70% or more cacoa) made from raw cacao, is quite the nutritious food and is a perfect option for those sweet pregnancy cravings. A surprising source of fiber, dark chocolate can even contribute to good digestion. High in minerals like iron, magnesium, cooper, zinc, selenium, potassium, and manganese cacao keeps mom energized for baby’s growth and development. The varieties of minerals also improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Quality dark chocolate can also be a nutritious pick me up for mom with a small amount of natural caffeine. With less caffeine than a cup of coffee, be aware of consuming this late at night and when breastfeeding.

Cultured Foods

Yogurt and other fermented foods are excellent during pregnancy
Photo credit: roboppy / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Found in cultures around the world throughout history, cultured and fermented foods like real yogurt (read ingredients), sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kefir, pickled vegetables, coconut yogurt, organic buttermilk, organic sour cream and probiotics are a healthy way to incorporate healthy bacteria into mom’s system. A balance of bacteria in the body is necessary for many bodily functions like making B vitamins, good digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function and mood. The bacterial flora in mom’s body is especially important for the baby as he passes through the birth canal and takes on the flora from mom. This is also true during breastfeeding. Recent studies have even shown that the bacteria are also found in the placenta and may help prevent preterm births. There is current evidence that if mom and baby have a healthy balance of flora, there is also less chance of colic, thrush, digestive upsets, and allergies. Consuming cultured foods is particularly beneficial to moms that have GBS, have been on antibiotics or have a history of taking them.

Eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrients necessary during pregnancy
Photo credit: cobalt123 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

This nutrient dense, superfood will keep mom satiated and energized throughout the day. Eggs are an excellent whole foods source of protein during pregnancy and postpartum. Eating a sufficient amount of protein in a balanced diet protects mom from various health concerns like gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. High quality eggs are also a source of healthy fats, that are important in baby’s brain development as well as help to lower mom’s risk of postpartum depression. In addition to healthy fats and protein, pregnant and nursing moms can get many of their essential vitamins and minerals from eggs like iron, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins and minerals are important in supporting a healthy pregnancy as well as postpartum healing and recovery.

Green Vegetables

Leafy greens are an excellent source of nutrition during pregnancy
Photo credit: jirfy / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Dark leafy green vegetables are the ultimate superfoods full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants perfect for mom and baby. With a recommended 9-11 servings of vegetables and fruit a day, incorporating several servings of greens provides an excellent source of natural folate for baby’s development that your body can easily convert. They are full of fiber to keep mom full and her digestive system running smoothly. Nutrient dense dark greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, and arugula are a non-dairy source of calcium and full of immune boosting minerals. These help to prevent many pregnancy related complications like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and anemia. Incorporating green vegetables throughout the day keeps moms energy levels stable without raising her blood sugar. If you have difficulty getting greens in at multiple meals, add them to a smoothie, mix them in a stir fry, add them to eggs, or have a side salad.

Healthy Fats

Avocado and other sources of healthy fat are excellent for pregnancy
Photo credit: mikemennonno / Foter / CC BY-NC

Healthy fats play an essential role in baby’s growth and development. They are particularly important in eye and brain development or as Dr. Sears would say, “Growing a little fathead”. Ours brains consist of almost sixty percent fat and it is important that enough fat is provided for proper brain function. According to several studies from the Harvard School of Public Health, they found that pregnant women who eat a diet rich in healthy fats reduce their chances of allergies and developmental delays. Consuming a variety of healthy fats is crucial for mom and baby throughout pregnancy and postpartum. During pregnancy they will help mom to stabilize her blood sugar, improve digestion, and regulate blood pressure. With less sleep and a more demanding schedule, moms need all the help they can get. Eating various healthy fats like a moderate amount of cold water fish, avocados, flaxseed, flax oil, chia seed, olive oil, coconut oil, organic grassed meat, and nuts assist mom in absorbing the nutrients her body needs for sustained energy as well as postpartum healing.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a great nutritional source for pregnant women.
Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA

Mushrooms are often overlooked for their nutritional benefits, but they are actually packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D. This comes in handy during those winter months when it is more difficult to get appropriate levels of vitamin D from being outdoors. In combination with the antioxidants, D can boost mom’s immune system as well, keeping risk of infections lower. Sufficient levels of vitamin D will also support baby’s bone and teeth development. Recent research has been shown that proper levels of vitamin D in women reduce chances of postpartum depression. With an abundance of B vitamins, mushrooms can alleviate symptoms of morning sickness and increase mom’s energy levels. Mushrooms are also an iron rich food, helping with the increased blood volume during pregnancy.

Onions & Garlic

Garlic and onions are a fantastic source of healthy nutrition for pregnancy.
Photo credit: Ruby’s Feast / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Part of the allium family, not only do they help our meals taste great, but onions and garlic are some of nature’s greatest medicines. They both are excellent anti inflammatory foods as well as support your immune system and balanced cholesterol. Rich in antioxidants, garlic and onions protect moms from various health conditions during pregnancy like pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure by promoting healthy circulation. By increasing circulation, these properties reduce pregnancy related swelling. Raw garlic also contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which may assist in keeping illness and infections away. This can be beneficial for pregnant and breastfeeding moms avoiding unnecessary medications. Check out our free pregnancy nutritional e-book for more information and ideas for recipes.


Katie Dudley, nutritional and exercise expert for Birth Boot Camp Childbirth Education.

Katie Dudley, HHC, CPT, CES, PES is passionate about natural health and wellness. She enjoys educating and empowering others to take control of their own health.  She believes women can have an amazing pregnancy and birth. Katie earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Georgia with a focus in Child and Family Development and Educational Psychology. Following her love of fitness and nutrition, a trainer since 2005, she is a Certified Corrective Exercise and Performance Enhancement Specialist and a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach. Katie currently has a private Holistic Health Coaching Practice, Cornerstone Integrative Fitness and Wellness, where she works with women and families all over the country. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family.

Read more from Katie!

Exercises for a great pregnancy and birth.

Foam rolling for pregnancy.

newborn breastfeeding

Newborn Breastfeeding and the 10th Day Growth Spurt

newborn breastfeeding

Breastfeeding success has always been an important goal for Birth Boot Camp and breastfeeding education is included in our online and in-person classes through a long and detailed video presentation by Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC. One thing that often throws people off in their breastfeeding journey is the very early days and the confusion and lack of personal confidence that unexpected growth spurts can cause for the nursing mother. We love this guest today from Alex Rounds, an experienced breastfeeding mother and lactation counselor. Our hope is that you will read this and share it with expecting mothers so that they can thrive during the first months of breastfeeding. And, if you are really passionate about breastfeeding, taking her advice and giving mom a gift during this “10th day growth spurt” just might change a life and help preserve a nursing relationship. 

Enjoy!

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Experienced parents recognize some baby shower gifts don’t end up getting much use. We can’t predict what we’re really going to need until we meet our babies. But there are some things about infants that are predictable, like dirty diapers, sleep debt and growth spurts. We know babies grow quickly by the sheer volume of newborn to 0-3 month clothes on the registry, but the actual implications in terms of feeding aren’t often talked about. So I want to share a proposal that would make a fantastic tradition of giving a 10 day growth spurt gift/IOU to every mom out there. Women Infant and Children (WIC) Director Peter Schlichting brought up the idea with intent to give new moms extra attention and love at a time when hormone levels are dropping and infant needs are increasing as a way to promote continued breastfeeding, but a 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift should be for all moms.

All moms can probably use a little extra attention during the postpartum period, but breastfeeding moms and their newborns may especially benefit from a reminder around the time of the first major growth spurt. The gift of time and companionship when a new mom is home alone with what may seem to be an insatiable newborn can be incredible. In the United States, breastfeeding initiation rates are almost 80% but rates drop to 40% by 3 months (CDC, 2014), a drop largely attributed to concerns regarding milk supply (Li, R., Fein, S., Chen, J., & Grummer-Strawn, L 2008). Often this is misguided: it is not necessarily a supply issue but a growth spurt. If we can help moms get through the first growth spurt, maybe we can help increase breastfeeding rates at 3 months and beyond.

The gift can be anything from a pedicure, massage, lunch date or anything special for the mom. It should be something for the woman, not for her baby, and adaptable to whatever the moms needs are at the time. After giving birth, focus shifts from the woman to her baby, a new mother’s hormones are in flux and if she is like most women, she has lost a little sleep since her darling little one arrived. The combination of a baby with a growth spurt and a hormonal shifts can be rough on Moms to put it mildly, so a little extra attention and focus on the Mom can help her adapt and give Mom the boost she probably needs.

Getting out of the house might be a treat at this stage, but not all women are ready to venture out, so keep in mind your friend’s perspective. If you plan a trip out- you might want to include an hour of your time to help Mom get out the door with her little one, and to offer to drive. For Moms who aren’t ready to leave home, bringing take out lunch from a favorite restaurant or having a home visit by a massage therapist with postpartum experience can be phenomenal. Take the time together to ask how she is doing, if she’s getting enough help and how breastfeeding is going for her.

The first growth spurt usually occurs between 10 and 14 days and comes at an often difficult time for breastfeeding moms. Whether breastfeeding has started off without a hitch or with challenges, the breastfeeding mom may feel that things should be getting easier. But then a few weeks after birth the baby will increase the frequency and often amount of time spent at feedings. Uplifting mother centered support can be the light that helps her get through the frequent feedings that come with growth spurts. When you give her the 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift, talk with her, she how she’s doing, and ask her if she has noticed a growth spurt, and if she hasn’t yet, you can remind her to expect one soon.

Some points that are important to know about breastfeeding that can help Mom, family and friends understand breastfeeding are:

Milk production is triggered by demand. The more a baby nurses, the more milk will be produced.

Frequent feedings are normal for a few days during growth spurts but typically space out within 2-3 days.

Breastfeeding takes more time in the beginning but long term is less time consuming than formula feeding.

Breast milk is easy for babies to digest. It moves through their digestive system with ease. That’s why babies need to nurse frequently. Formula is more difficult to digest.

Newborns should breastfeed 12 or more times in 24 hours. At the same time, it’s important to watch babies hunger cues, and not necessarily go by the clock.

Babies may cluster feed, or feed several times over several hours, then take a break. This is normal.

If your friend who has planned to breastfeed is having trouble or has questions, many communities have La Leche League Chapters (find them here http://www.llli.org/webus.html) which typically hold monthly woman to woman support meetings. LLL leaders, Breastfeeding or Lactation Counselors, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and other professionals who specialize in breastfeeding are great resources too!

A little extra support, a treat, and a reminder about normal developments can help a new Mom when things may seem hard. Let’s do our best to help new moms transition into motherhood. Let’s make sure new Moms know they have a community that cares, who they can lean on, and that there are resources. And most of all, let’s take care of them.

Alex Rounds, Doula

In a nutshell, Alex Rounds is a moderately well-adjusted human being.  She is a member of La Leche League, a Breastfeeding Counselor, and Mom with a total of 8 years personal experience breastfeeding, not all of which were easy.  She has three fun, quirky and ever-challenging sweet kids. Presently, Alex’s time is consumed with homeschooling, studying midwifery, volunteering, providing breastfeeding support, and attending birth as a doula.

 

Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care

Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care

Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care during pregnancy is something that we have always encouraged for our students. The reasons for this are many and can  include:

-Increased comfort during pregnancy. Back pain during pregnancy is a common problem that can be helped with chiropractic. The benefits can extend beyond this issue and help other sources of discomfort like SPD.

-Improved positioning of the infant for birth. Webster certified chiropractors are famous for their ability to adjust the pelvis and release the round ligament on the pregnant mom and thus allow the baby to move into a position that is more advantageous for the birth. This can help with breech presentations as well as posterior or other variations.

-Faster labor. Many midwives notice that their clients who have regular chiropractic care from a skilled practitioner have faster births than those who don’t. This may be due to the improved positioning of the baby which can allow it to more easily navigate through the pelvis.

The benefits of chiropractic care can even extend beyond the birth of the baby and into the breastfeeding relationship. Some lactation consultants refer to chiropractors for latch issues or trouble breastfeeding.

Dr Hosaka adjusting an infant
Dr Kristin Hosaka, Birth Boot Camp Advisory Board Member, adjusts a baby.

The video below briefly describes how and why we include chiropractic in our online childbirth classes and encourage our live instructors to invite a local chiropractor to their own classes.

We believe that chiropractic care can be an important part of achieving a natural birth.

Looking for a chiropractor for your pregnancy? Check out this article on how to find one for you.

References-

This small study found that chiropractic adjustment could relieve back pain during pregnancy:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1829312?dopt=Abstract

This small study also found chiropractic care to give significant relief to a high percentage of women: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16399602?dopt=Abstract

This case study chronicles the labor pattern of one women and quick progress after adjustment: http://chiropracticpediatrics.sharepoint.com/Pages/2009_1002_dystocia.aspx

Three patients discussed whose labor quickly proceeded after chiropractic adjustment: http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/chiropractic-care-of-women-during-pregnancy-and-the-possible-success-at-resolving-dystocia-a-case-series.html

30 pregnant patients undergo Webster technique adjustments and most see improved fetal positioning: http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/patients-with-malposition-and-malpresentation-pregnancies-cared-for-with-the-webster-technique-a-retrospective-analysis.html

5 patients with breech babies undergo chiropractic care and all have improved positioning: http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/the-webster-in-utero-constraint-technique-a-case-series.html

A survey of chiropractors practicing the Webster technique finds a high percentage of patients have resolved breech presentation following adjustment: http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/the-webster-technique-a-chiropractic-technique.html

Review of chiropractic during pregnancy evidence: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18722200

9 examples or studies of chiropractic benefiting the breastfeeding relationship or improving latch: http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/Breastfeeding-Difficulties/

 

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Dress That Bump- Easy Halloween Costumes For a Pregnant Belly

Happy Halloween all you lovely pregnant ladies! Need a quick idea for the party this weekend? Here are a few from our favorite women and fabulous Birth Boot Camp instructors.

D'Andra is an instructor in  Oklahoma. How clever and funny is this?!
D’Andra is an instructor in Oklahoma. How clever and funny is this?!

Too cute! Meet D’Andra, She teaches birth classes in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. An “Easy Button” costume. Love it!

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With just some paint and fake brick you can transform your preggo belly into a lovely nursery rhyme- Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall. Adorable!

A pumpkin belly- classic!
A pumpkin belly- classic!

With a little paint and a round belly you are super festive and ready for Halloween! Easy as pie. This is Shazia and she teaches birth classes in Arlington, TX.

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Here is Shazia again in a couples pregnancy costume. Just a t-shirt and you are ready to party!

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Another painted pregnant belly.

This gorgeous pumpkin belly comes from instructor Melissa who teaches childbirth classes in Corvallis, Oregon.

And if you aren’t really showing but want to announce that lovely little growing person in your belly, isn’t this the CUTEST idea ever?!

 

A bun in the oven.
A bun in the oven.

Daniella teaches Birth Boot Camp childbirth preparation classes in Fort Worth, TX.

Have a wonderful Halloween!

 

8things

8 Things to Consider When Choosing Doula Certification

8things

There are a variety of doula certifications available for women venturing into the thrilling and rewarding work of supporting families at the time of birth. There are so many available that it can be hard to choose when you are new to the birth scene. We love this list of things to consider when choosing a doula certification. Written by our very own Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer, Amanda Devereux, she simply knows what she is talking about. Not only is Amanda an experienced and successful doula, she, along with Maria Pokluda, helped form the stellar Birth Boot Camp DOULA program. Enjoy her words and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We would love to help!

8 things you should consider when choosing doula certification-

1. Will I learn how to support a woman during labor and birth?

Of course, a doula training should actually train you to do the work of a doula. One of the doula’s main jobs at the birth is hands-on, physical support and knowledge during the labor and birth of the baby. Online or distance courses simply can’t provide this in the same way an in-person training can.

2. Will I learn how to support a woman’s partner during labor and birth?

Birth support is more than just supporting the laboring woman. The doula should not be the center piece, the partner is her hero and champion; the doula is the partner’s life line!

3. What type of business support and training will I receive?

Having the skills of a doula is just part of this. Learning to be an entrepreneur is equally important. Will you learn interview skills? Will you be provided contracts? Will you gain networking tips? Will you be prepared to leave training and launch a successful business? The skills to support at birth will find little foothold if you lack the ability to implement them and let people know about the incredible service you offer.

Nancy Rebarchick (left) and Maria Pokluda, part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA team, show off some of the beautiful materials we have created for our doulas.
Nancy Rebarchick (left) and Maria Pokluda, part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA team, show off some of the beautiful materials we have created for our doulas.

4. How will this certifying body market me?

You pay a good chunk of money for training and certification. What do you get from this? Is your certifying body promoting you? Providing marketing materials? Anything else?

5.What type of lactation training is provided?

A doula typically helps with baby’s first latch and then with some breastfeeding support at a postpartum and often times in between. You should know what training is provided for this. You should be comfortable not only with providing support during this time but with knowing when to refer. Truly being able to help in the precious first days of breastfeeding will often require more than just personal breastfeeding experience or attendance at a La Leche League meeting.

6. Is the philosophy of the program congruent with my own ideas of birth work?

A certification agency should offer you something – a community- and this is most beneficial to you when the philosophy of the program is one that promotes your work and passion. Ideas relating to birth abound! Find an organization that you can truly get behind.

7. Am I comfortable with the Scope of Practice and Code of Ethics?

Do you find it limiting? Does it help you build your professional practice? Does it result in greater professionalism? Doulas are present for one of life’s great events. A doula who doesn’t understand how to practice in an ethical way or within her scope can cause heartache for the entire community.

8. What do I gain from re-certification?

Re-certification, in professional fields, is important to show that an individual is current in their area of expertise, is safe to practice and is maintaining their knowledge and standards as a professional. You should gain more than the maintenance of letters at the end of your name. Doula re-certification should offer you personal growth as well as continued business, education and/or marketing support.

Amanda-Devereux-web
Amanda Devereux, Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer


I am proud to say Birth Boot Camp DOULA offers all of this and more.  Learn to doula beyond “The Birth Partner.”  Whether you are an aspiring doula or an experienced doula, we offer you MORE.  Join us in 2015. 

Click here for a Birth Boot Camp DOULA application.

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