Paleo and Pregnant

by (30) Updated December 09, 2010 at 7:38 PM Created December 09, 2010 at 1:58 AM

Short term lurker, first time post:

I have been Paleo for a for a about 4 months now and am in the middle of my first trimester (3rd baby, 4th pregnancy). I have read some things about not having as much protein as I did when I wasn't pregnant, but I'm wondering if there are any other changes that I need to make. I'm going to meet with my OBGYN next week and I am going to let her know about the dietary changes I have made, and how my pregnancy may be a "special case" due to my eating habits (is there any way of getting out of having to drink that horrid drink for the 20 week glucose test!?!). I need to hear from others who have had a 100% Paleo Pregnancy, it's tough to find information since we are such a small group!

How does/did being Paleo compare to other pregnancies? Did you take prenatal vitamins? Are they still necessary for a Paleo? What things do I need to know? Did being Paleo make delivery/recovery any easier?

Let me know your experiences... not just for me, but for my fellow lurkers too :o)

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6 Replies

183 · December 09, 2010 at 2:41 AM

I had been eating "paleo"ish (with dairy) for at least a year before I got pregnant (also my 3rd). While I was unable to stick to with it strictly, especially during the first trimester, I ate a healthier and more paleo diet than I had with my previous two pregnancies. (I tried hard, but somehow, sourdough bread with butter and ice cream just were too good to refuse.)

I gained very little other than baby weight for the first couple of trimesters, but in the third trimester (summer), I started to retain water -- a lot. I ended up gaining 40lbs, and peed out a lot of it within the first week postpartum. Baby's now 4 months and I'm only 6lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, but still have a bit of a pot in front -- perhaps stretched out abdominals (as well as some added fat)?

I started drinking iced lattés made with 10% cream instead of milk. Those were good, and I loved that I was shocking people with my disregard for the high fat. lol -- at home I made them with 35% cream! I also didn't restrict my diet -- I ate soft cheeses like brie, drank raw milk, ate sushi, had the occasional beer or wine, etc...

I had a great pregnancy. Only mild nausea when hungry at the beginning (just like previous pregnancies), hormonal mood swings were definitely happening, but manageable (an improvement over previous pregnancies), but the edema at the end was worse. I think the extreme heat we had was a contributing factor.

As for the glucose tolerance test, I didn't do it. I was followed by a midwife from a centre where it is the norm that patients make informed decisions about which tests to do or not do. I also chose not to have certain u/s tests. The midwife agreed with me that there was no indication that the glucose tolerance test would be of any benefit for me.

There was so much that I did differently this time round that it's hard to say what was from diet, and what was from opting out of the mainstream Ob/Gyn care. However, I think it's also possible that I made different choices as a result of the better diet -- I was much more confident and thinking a lot clearer, and not depressed at all.

I had the baby at home in my living room, in a birthing pool. I laboured in the backyard with my husband and mom in attendance, I ate a slow-cooked lamb shank drowned in sour cream while in labour a couple of hours before I hit transition, and the midwife arrived in the middle of a thunderstorm just as I was getting ready to start pushing. Pretty primal, if you ask me! :)

Oh, and now I have a placenta in my freezer!

Edited to add: Oh, I took folic acid, omega 3, and roughly 5,000iu of Vitamin D. The midwife was recommending lower doses of everything except the folic acid.

2241 · December 09, 2010 at 2:27 AM

Paleo made my 3rd preg much healthier than my previous ones. Plus, avoiding dairy and grains (gluten definitely, though I did have rice occasionally) made for a happy baby with no allergies or intolerances to foods. Baby boy is going to be 1 in January and he has been the happiest baby yet and I really believe diet played a big role in that. I was not low carb really. Just lots of fat, low low sugar and average protein. Also took green pastures fermented cod liver oil. It tastes horrid but cannot be beat as a supplement Never had a problem with glucose test (yuck!). I'd say to definitely eat a lot of eggs (yolks especially) and liver a few times a week. See the blogpost on The Daily Lipid on choline in pregnancy. Really good stuff. Good luck and Congrats!!

40 · December 09, 2010 at 7:38 PM

I ate paleo-ish (with dairy) during my pregnancy and did modified crossfit. This was my first pregnancy and it was a breeze. I took some prenatal vitamin, about 1/3 of the recommended dosage. My diet was not low carb, just "lower" carb. I ate plenty of fish, meat, dairy, veggies and fruit and stayed away from bread and sweets. It was actually pretty easy, as I didn't crave bread and sweet food at all. I had no problem with the glucose test and will probably skip it the next time around.

Now my son is 4-months old, I breastfeed and I still eat paleo. He showed signs of dairy sensitivity (green stool) and I ended up cutting out all dairy. He is the strongest, happiest and healthiest baby.

I am not back in the gym just yet, partly because I don't have much time and partly because I'm afraid that crossfit may reduce milk supply. (I take long walks with my son and swim every other day, but nothing too crazy.) If anyone has experience with crossfit while breastfeeding, I'd love to hear it.

Congrats on your pregnancy and good luck!

2357 · December 09, 2010 at 11:18 AM

I'm in the middle of my first trimester too. I told my midwife I was not going to take the prenatal vitamin prescribed to me and she said she would leave it up to me. I'm taking fermented cod liver oil, though there is some conflicting opinion about that (some say Vitamin A levels are too high). In addition to 4,000IU Vitamin D3, I'm adding an iron supplement with folic acid and vitamin C. Pre-conception, I was taking 800 mcg folic acid. Also eating lots of butter, seaweed, eat yolks, bone broth, coconut oil, liver and other WAPF-friendly stuff. I generally trust the WAPF diet, though I skip the soaked grains and crazy amounts of raw dairy they recommend.

I too am worried about the OGTT. I asked my midwife about it and she says she doesn't do it fasting, so I can eat a protein-rich breakfast as long as it's at least 2 hours before. And she uses 50g glucose, as opposed to 75g.

Also, there is evidence that too much protein is not a good idea while pregnant. I'm sticking to 50g, or 10% of calories: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=196

2593 · December 09, 2010 at 6:52 AM

Richard N recently did a post on a paleo pregnancy that generated a lot of great comments, many with links to yet more great info. If you haven't already, definitely check it out. I wrote a comment on my wife's moods being much improved taking O3 fish oil supplements.

As for Vitamin D, I think Hollis & Wagner have the most recent randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Summary here, among other places. Note, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are the gold standard, much better than the usual population studies we get. They recommend 4000IU/day. In another study they found nursing mothers should take 6400IU/day. So, you should be totally safe with 5000IU/day.

One more thing, I'd keep taking a multi-vitamin, though in a nod to Dr. Cannell at the Vitamin D council, make sure it does not have the retinal or palmate forms of vitamin A. It should be beta-carotene. My wife took them every other day or so. B vitamins are very important and absorption seems to decrease with maternal age and certain genetic preconditions;, albeit there is some doubt, at least among the French. (As the French seem to eat the best, it could be folate deficiency, perhaps one cause among many, does not effect them.)

Also, expect a lot of resistance from your OB. They are rightfully conservative on a lot of things, unfortunately conventional wisdom is so wrong that their conservatism is a disservice.

4531 · December 09, 2010 at 4:45 AM

Remember the doctors/nurses work for YOU, not the other way around. In regards to the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test, just say "NO". And don't submit to the test. You can get a much better picture of blood sugars with a cheap glucose meter from any drug store and track your numbers at home, real time and after real meals you eat. Rather than testing some aberration of a "meal" of 100g of pure glucose.

During pregnancy you may have peripheral insulin resistance to help push nutrients to the baby. It's normal and natural, but tracking blood sugar at home with a meter is easy to do. Understanding diabetes can help you understand the mechanism at work during pregnancy, diabetic and normal alike. Google up some Dr Bernstien for starters.

Keep on the paleo/whole foods track. Many generations of humans can't be wrong!

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