If you want to give birth to a healthy baby, there is probably one thing, and only one thing, within your control to achieve that. The one thing that increases your chances of being a healthy Mom and growing a healthy baby is GOOD NUTRITION. Good nutrition during pregnancy consists of: eating 80-100 grams of protein daily, 2600 calories daily, and salting food to taste, and drinking 1/2 your numeric body weight in water – DAILY!
WHAT YOU EAT AFFECTS YOUR BABY’S HEALTH AS WELL AS YOUR OWN
Dr. Tom Brewer was an obstetrician in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Through his medical school education in the 40’s, and his study of the research of Hamlin, Strauss, Burke, and Ferguson, he concluded that the main cause of some pregnancy complications was abnormal blood volume, malnutrition, and food deficiency.
Bottom line – a poor diet can cause a lot of pregnancy problems
More recently, a Harvard study concluded that women need a minimum of 75>grams of protein daily to prevent pregnancy complications. (Abubakar & al., 2011) (Haas, 1995) Eat well and it dramatically increases the chances that you and your baby will have excellent health.
It’s common sense. “Malnutrition results from an imbalance between intake and protein-energy requirements resulting in tissue losses with adverse functional consequences.” Understanding the pathophysiology of malnutrition for better treatment.
American Pregnancy Association says, ” Experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein per day. Protein positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy, and it plays a role in your increasing blood supply.”
These two books, above, are the most up to date if you want to know more, find recipes, and dive into how to create the healthiest pregnancy, mother, and baby.
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH)
- Preeclampsia, toxemia, HELLP syndrome
- Placental abruption
- Intra-Uterine Growth Retardation (IUGR)
- Preterm labor and bed rest
- Drugs to reduce blood pressure and halt preterm labor
- Small for Gestational Age (SGA) babies
- Premature babies
If you live in the U.S. you may think you have access to a lot of good nutritious foods. Well you are right. Most Americans do. But even those who have access to good food, may not be eating enough calories and protein to fully nourish their body and their baby. They may not be choosing foods wisely. Many of the above pregnancy complications have serious risks, including death.
Now that is definitely serious enough to pay attention to what you eat in pregnancy!
CHANGE YOUR DIET
Dr. Tom Brewer worked as a medical student with a high-risk population on a “toxemia ward” in a hospital. He noticed malnutrition in the expecting mothers. By changing their diets, he was able to reduce their toxemia rates from 25% down to 2%. Now, good nutrition isn’t going to solve every pregnancy complication, but good nutrition certainly can’t hurt a mom or a baby. Good nutrition is going to help ensure a safer birth and a healthier mother and baby.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Dr. Brewer wrote, “Prior to our arrival at Lallie Kemp Charity Hospital, 25% of the pregnant women there had toxemia. To go from a situation where one out of four women has hypertension, edema, and protein in the urine to where there’s none at all, was what I call a learning experience.” After this experience, Dr. Brewer decided he needed to get the word out. So he wrote a few books. Dr. Brewer wrote about the optimal pregnancy diet in his books: What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know and The Brewer medical diet for normal and high-risk pregnancy: A leading obstetrician’s guide to every stage of pregnancy.
4 FACTORS OF THE BREWER DIET
There are 4 important factors in building a new baby, new blood, and growing uterine muscle, and maintaining good health and energy needs for the mother. Following the Brewer Diet requires pregnant mothers to:
- Eat 80-100 grams of protein daily AND
- Eat 2400-2600 calories daily AND
- Salt your food to taste
- Do not restrict weight gain
Protein – Every cell is formed from protein: uterus, baby, placenta, blood, bones, amniotic fluid, amniotic sac. If you eat enough calories but not enough protein, you are depriving your baby of the protein building blocks needed for a healthy start to life.
Calories – If you eat enough protein but not enough calories, your body will use the calories from protein to fuel your body. Your baby will not get the benefit of those calories.
Salt – Salt is required for building blood. By the end of your pregnancy, you have 50-60% more blood volume than when you are not pregnant. Salt is a key component to blood volume expansion which is necessary for a properly nourished baby. Without enough salt, osmotic pressure in the veins decreases. If this happens, moms blood pressure can rise, and complications ensue.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
One of the first and most important things I have my Bradley Method childbirth students do, is write down everything they ate and drank the day of the first class. Many of them discover they did not eat 80 grams of protein. Mainly, they just didn’t know that’s what is needed to feed themselves and their baby. Doctors don’t talk about nutrition during prenatal visits. Doctors know very little about nutrition in pregnancy.
KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL
I then assign students to keep track of their food intake for 2-3 days, or more. Many moms are surprised about how much their nutrition is lacking. Some find it very challenging to eat 80-100 grams of protein, while others are thrilled and more motivated. Use this checklist, below, of foods to eat to make sure you’re feeding your body and your baby the nutrition you both require.
YOUR DAILY MINIMUMS CHECKLIST:
|1 oz. PROTEIN||1 oz. PROTEIN||1 oz. PROTEIN||1 oz PROTEIN||1 oz PROTEIN||1 oz PROTEIN|
|1 oz PROTEIN||1 oz PROTEIN||1 cup MILK||1 cup MILK||1 cup MILK||1 cup MILK|
|1 EGG||1 EGG||1 cup DARK LEAFY GREENS||1 cup DARK LEAFY GREENS||WATER (1/2 your numeric body weight)||NUTRITIOUS FLUIDS (ie; bone broth)|
|1/2 cup WHOLE GRAINS/
|1/2 cup WHOLE GRAINS/
|1/2 cup WHOLE GRAINS/
|1/2 cup WHOLE GRAINS/
|1 cup YELLOW FRUITS/
|SALT to TASTE|
|1 cup VITAMIN C FOOD||1 cup VITAMIN C FOOD||1 tsp FATS/OILS||1 tsp FATS/OIL||1 tsp FATS/OIL||ANYTHING EXTRA YOU WANT|
- Protein: 6-8 servings – Daily protein from all protein sources should total 80-100 grams
- Milk/Milk Substitutes: 4 servings – Extra Calcium (if using a substitute): 2 servings/ substitute
- Eggs: 2
- Dark Leafy Greens: 2 servings
- Whole Grains/Starchy Veggies/Fruit: 4 servings
- Foods High in Vitamin C: 2 servings
- Fats: 3 servings
- Yellow or Orange fruit or vegetable (Vitamin A foods): 1 serving
- Liquids to stay hydrated: ½ your numeric body weight in ounces
- Salt to taste
Eat 6 to 8 Servings of Protein Daily
Normally, when you sit down to a meal, you eat about 3-4 ounces of protein. Since it’s best to eat every couple of hours while you’re awake, a Brewer serving of protein is about 1 oz. It’s a lot easier to eat 1 ounce of protein every hour than to try to stuff in 3-4 oz at a sitting. This task can be overwhelming for some moms, but it’s easier if you think of many small meals rather than 3 big ones. Start with these protein snacks, below.
IDEAS FOR PROTEIN SNACKS
Here’s a list of foods to snack on that are high in protein:
- Jerky – beef, chicken, turkey
- Trail mix – nuts, fruit, seeds
- Turkey or cheese roll-ups – wrap some veggies in a slice of turkey or cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Vegetables and Greek Yogurt Dip
- Vegetables and Hummus
- Vegetables and Nut Butter
- Hard Boiled Eggs or Egg Salad
- Almonds, Cashews, Pumpkin Seeds
- Roasted, Salted Chickpeas
- Apple Slices with Nut Butter
- Chia Seed Pudding
- Edamame, Salted
- Avocado Stuffed with Black Beans and Salsa
Once you get in the habit of keeping track using the checklist, it’s not so overwhelming. To get the other fruits, and veggies, try my smoothie recipe here on Youtube.
- Haas, A. (1995). Preventing Preeclampsia, PIH, Toxemia and HELLP by Good Nutrition. Midwifery Today .
- The History of the Brewer Diet – http://www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id74.html
- Abubakar, A., & al. (2011, Aug). Lipid Profiles and Platelets Counts of Pre-eclamptic women in Selected Rural Areas of Northern Nigeria. WebmedCentral PHYSIOLOGY: http://www.webmedcentral.com/article_view/2121
- Role of nutrition in the prevention of toxemia. D Maine1