What’s it like to eat before, during and after pregnancy? I’ll start out by saying that it’s unlike anything I have experienced. I have already written about the fitness challenges and body image issues on my journey to having my first baby.
There may be some women out there, who actually enjoy being pregnant. I am not one of them. One of my bucket list items back in 2008 was to become a surrogate parent. Hah! That one is crossed off in bold, permanent black marker.
One of the most challenging parts of pregnancy for me was eating a nutrient rich diet. I had listened to several podcasts with men talking about what women should do during pregnancy to produce the optimal environment for their babies. Thing is that these men had never experienced pregnancy themselves, so they did not have the hands-on, practical advice from someone who’s “been there, done that.” They talked about their wives as if they were flawless fertility goddesses who never sneaked in a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, no matter how cruel their cravings.
Because I’m a nutrition nerd, I’ve been asked about what I ate and continue to eat during the postpartum period while nursing our 5-month-old daughter. Here you go.
Because our baby girl was an unexpected surprise, conceived with my copper IUD still in place, I was not eating a preconception diet. I was eating a very strict bodybuilding diet with high protein, low fat and moderate carbs. If I had been preparing for conception, I would have eaten a diet similar to the Weston A. Price Foundation recommendations or that of Naturally Knocked Up.
Months 1-3: These were the most challenging months for me because I had severe morning sickness (at all times of day). I could barely keep down anything, especially protein. I ate whatever settled in my stomach. Sometimes, that meant downing ½ box of Kraft macaroni and cheese or a couple Costco chimichangas. As guilty as I felt eating this way, I could not stomach anything else.
Months 4-6: I still had issues eating my normal, healthy foods. I was able to eat some protein, though still could not handle chicken. I was extremely frustrated that I still was not eating an optimal WAPF diet. I was working at a new startup job in downtown San Francisco and raided the fridge/freezer on a regular basis, consuming too many of their frozen dinners to “save money.”
Months 7-9: I slowed down my lifestyle and moved to the San Bernadino mountains and quit my full-time startup job. I was able to eat a much better diet at this point, because I had a bit more bandwidth to prepare nourishing foods. By the end of the pregnancy, I was physically uncomfortable, but at least I could get in my bone broth, healthy carbs and adequate protein.
Months 1-3: I ate whatever my body was telling me to eat, though it was very close to the Bulletproof Diet. I could now stomach most of my pre-pregnancy foods (except beef liver). I was a bit concerned about losing weight and getting back to my exercise routine, but I paid especially close attention to getting in quality fats and moving closer towards a low carb diet. The challenge was trying not to obsess about my weight loss during this period and trying to get enough sleep while nursing on demand.
Months 4+: I began my former bodybuilding training, and I discovered that the lower carb Bulletproof Diet just doesn’t give me the energy I need to lift heavy. I feel better eating carbs 2-3 times daily instead of just eating them at dinner. With this minor adjustment, I feel like superwoman. I can still lift heavy things, keep up my energy levels, still have a great milk supply and can even begin tightening up some of that stubborn pregnancy skin. The challenge right now is not losing too much weight because my milk supply will drop, and I need those extra 5 pounds to be able to produce breast milk.
There you have it! What I’ve been eating for the past 14 months. Is this what I would recommend to pregnant and postpartum moms? Nope. But then again, the lesson I learned through my own experience was not to judge other preggos and postpartum moms. Heck, we’re all doing the best we can with these crazy hormones, wacked out bodies and new little ones in our lives.
My 11-year-old stepdaughter commented earlier this week, “Wow. You already have abs! So cool.” That comment was the sweetest thing she could have ever said to me during this challenging time. I guess eating well and exercising intensely 3x/week is working for me. :)
My advice would be to listen to your body and just don’t get stressed out about whether you’re doing everything perfectly. You’re not. Just get over it and enjoy the roller coaster ride of parenting.