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Pregnancy and Postpartum Nutrition Tips From Alexandra Paetow

Pregnancy and postpartum nutrition plays such an important role during these amazing periods in a woman's life but it can often be difficult to focus on your nutrition or know what the best nutrition to have is. I talked with Alexandra Paetow MD RD CDN who is founder of Thrive and Bloom Nutrition. Below is some information she shared during our chat.

Do you want to shift your diet when you're trying to conceive versus when you're pregnant?

Most of the recommendations would be beneficial to follow through from preconception through postpartum. There would be certain nuances, certain nutrients that you'd want to focus a little bit more in the different areas. It also depends on the person. And if they have any particular health conditions or any symptoms they're working through, then we would focus on different foods. In general, really emphasizing a variety of foods is the key because the different foods have different nutrients and you want to make sure that you're getting exposure to all of them. So fruits and vegetables we really want to focus on, eating the rainbow, the different colors because each of the different colors provides different antioxidants, and those are key for fertility and then for pregnancy as well. Leafy greens, avocado anbd legume are really important to be eating, especially earliest days of pregnancy or prior, and then some of my other favorite would be fatty fish, something like salmon to get the Omega threes, especially the DHA. That's really critical for baby's development and Mom's health as well. Anti inflammatory potential influence in reducing risk for postpartum Depression. Another favorite would be yogurt, so that would give you the probiotics. So healthy gut is essential to reproductive health as well, and so kind of nourishing your bacteria in your intestines. That can be really beneficial.

If you are experiencing morning sickness during pregnancy, what would be your advice to try to maintain nutrition if you're having a really hard time keeping anything down?

Yeah, So the first thing would be to give yourself a little bit of grace there and know that in most cases it's temporary, and it doesn't last the entire pregnancy there. Knowing that it's okay if you have some days that are not, you know, peak nutrition, you're not eating all your leafy greens and that's okay. Try to get your prenatal vitamin in to have that baseline of nutrients that you're getting. And then if you have certain periods of the day that are a little bit better than others, just trying to optimize the good times. Some people respond well to ginger. If you can incorporate that, for some people it might be too hard to do with their severe nausea. And so just finding things that make things a little bit easier for you, whether it's altering the temperature. Some people could tolerate colder foods a little bit better, or some want it completely like cooked veggies might be easier than raw veggies. Even smells, having cut lemon that you could sniff a little bit, too. It's a trial and error because everyone's symptoms are so different on just trying to find foods that that work for you and knowing that it's a changing thing. You might one week be really averse to certain foods. And in the next week you can tolerate a little bit better. And so it's it's a moving target trying to figure out ways to optimize the nutrition the best we can

What are some some tips and great foods for after you've given birth.

Some tips are just to remember first of all, how important nutrition is during that period. There's so much emphasis on nutrition during pregnancy, what foods to include and what you shouldn't be eating. So it makes intuitive sense that these foods are important, they're going right to the baby. And then sometimes once you have the baby, there is that disconnect of maybe I don't need to eat as much. There is that pressure of bouncing back, and I need to be back to my pre pregnancy eating routine, but you actually need more. During this phase, the postpartum recovery is more nutritionally intensive than even that third trimester of pregnancy because during the third trimester you become a little bit more depleted in nutrients yourself because you are providing nutrients to the baby and then throughout labour and delivery, which is very intensive. You have fluid loss, blood loss, just energetically know we hear the equivalent of it's like you're running a marathon when you feel exhausted afterwards. And so just like sports athletes need to refuel after intensive workouts. So, too, does a new mom need to replenish the depleted nutrients. So just having kind of that mindset and knowing that it is okay that you're starving and that you need you feel like craving more food. And it's biological because you actually do need it. As much as you can, preparing before postpartum is so helpful if you can have stocked freezer meals or even just like stocked pantry items that are easy, um, and kind of staples that you can go to when you're exhausted. You're not going to be able to make the meals that you were doing before so some of the foods and the nutrients that are especially important, especially the early days. Iron is a big one because of the blood loss. And so we want to make sure that you're repleting that iron me is a good source. Food like bone broth, rotisserie chicken, like really slow cooked are really helpful because it has the collagen, which is critical for wound healing. We want to focus on nutrients that are helpful to heal the tissues and help with that cell rebuilding and tissue growth to heal the internal wounds from delivery and external regardless of whether it was a vaginal delivery or Caesarean section. So focusing a lot on kind of recovering nutrition, similar to recommendations that we would make for surgical patients who have to be healing. So it's more protein. It's more vitamins like vitamin C and O. Again, the fruits and veggies. Zinc rich foods. So again, the meats or, um, nuts and seeds and legumes. These types of foods are really helpful for the healing process.

I love that you mentioned is the pressure that we do have to bounce back so quickly, and I think that can be so difficult. I know that I was way hungry or postpartum, that I was pregnant. And it's interesting that you mentioned that that's biological, too. So is there a period of time that, um, that that kind of is ramped up and then does it does it slow down around like, four or five months? Is there a time frame for that?

It depends on the person, but typically the biggest changes in hunger would be in those early months, probably the 1st 3-4 months while you're breast milk supply is kind of regulating. And during that or intensive recovery stays where your body does need more nutrition, it still could be higher months later, especially if you continue breastfeeding. Um, but yeah, it's it's an individual process Sleep has a really big impact on kind of our cravings, and it can affect our blood sugar. And so our body tends to want that quick energy source when it is feeling exhausted and deprived. And so that's the reason why a lot of people have those carb cravings or sugar cravings, because again, it's physiological.

So let's talk about breast feeding a little bit. And what are some of the foods and tips? I guess, especially in the early days. And then, of course, continuing on for however long you end up breast feeding your baby. But what are some good, nutritious foods that will help with your milk supply?

Yes, so there's a lot of information out there on how to boost milk supply. The research, unfortunately, isn't super robust. There's not solid evidence that a certain food will have this beneficial impact there. You'll have a lot of anecdotal stories about what foods are helpful for certain women. Some of the popular ones would be oats or brewers, fennel and flaxseeds. A lot of them have beneficial nutrients. They taste good, so it's kind of like no harm to include them. But you might not notice a crazy impact from them in terms of your milk supply. Really, the key things for milk supply, nutrition wise, are just making sure you're eating enough. As long as you're not severely restricting or malnourished, your body will continue to produce milk the same with hydration. You don't need to be guzzling down gallons. It's just avoiding dehydration. You know, you're busy maybe forgetting to drink fluids, especially if it's hotter weather, things like that. So just making sure that you're drinking enough and that you're eating enough. But in terms of specific foods, there's not really one that is going to be, you know, the one that's going to give you extra ounces or anything like

Alexandra Paetow, MD RD CDN is a Registered Dietitian and (soon-to-be!) mother of two, who specializes in prenatal and postpartum nutrition. She is the founder ofThrive and Bloom Nutrition, a nutrition practice that empowers moms and moms-to-be to use real food to nourish their bodies and go from surviving to thriving. You can find her on instagram talking about all things postpartum nutrition @postpartumnutritionist or visitwww.thriveandbloomnutrition.comto learn more. Listen to the full episode which is E23 on Season 2 of the podcast.

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