Nutrition During Pregnancy & Postpartum

First off, I'm not a registered dietitian or nutritionist. I've taken a small amount of nutrition classes during my educational career for my field of study (athletic training, then physical therapy). This is not meant to serve as medical advice for pregnant and postpartum women.

Prior to becoming pregnant, I ate a very clean diet- I would estimate 90% Paleo. This worked well for me, as my body seemed to be very sensitive and responded negatively to some food groups. I have never weighed my food, counted macros, etc. Eating clean was enough for me to feel good and I was pretty happy with how my body had responded physically.

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, the "morning sickness" set in- however it was more like 24/7 nausea. I went from eating two salads plus snacks of raw veggies a day, to not being able to stomach veggies. The thought of my beloved veggies made me nauseous. Instead, my body was craving lots of carbs, deep fried comfort food. Upon speculation, this was probably due to me being at my leanest prior to becoming pregnant & my body wanted to make sure I could carry a baby without jeopardizing it's or mine's health.

With my hormones changing, I was able to eat foods that had been previously been an issue for me- causing inflammation. I took advantage of this a bit (I'm only human!), but also tried to "clean my diet up". It semi-worked. I tried to not be too hard on myself, as I was balancing a lot professionally, personally and physically. In total I gained 50# during my pregnancy.

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After giving birth to Tori, I was tempted to count macros or weigh my food, as I wanted "my old body" back desperately. Luckily, I had submerged myself among a positive group of women via Brianna Battles coaching group, other friends/family who understood where I was at- who helped me stay focused on what was important: fueling my body for Tori and I, and sleep. 

There have been several times during this postpartum journey where I've felt the urge to track or measure my food. But deep down, I know that I have personality traits and tendencies, coupled with the hormonal changes & everything that happens postpartum, that could be a recipe for an unhealthy focus on eating >>> an eating disorder. I did not want to go down that road, for both myself and my family.

December 2016 (not pregnant) vs March 2018 (5.5 months postpartum)

December 2016 (not pregnant) vs March 2018 (5.5 months postpartum)

So I'm almost 10 months postpartum, continuing to breastfeed (goal is 1 year), and am currently about 7# above my pre-pregnancy weight. My body composition is not as leans as I want, but I'm not even going to think about it until after our breastfeeding journey is over- I think it's unrealistic to expect my body to be super lean while feeding my baby & helping me perform in CrossFit.

40 weeks pregnant (September 21st, 2017) vs 40 weeks/9 months postpartum (July 1st, 2018)

40 weeks pregnant (September 21st, 2017) vs 40 weeks/9 months postpartum (July 1st, 2018)

That is my personal story. Based on my knowledge as a physical therapist and Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism coach, here are some thoughts I'd like to bring up:

  • If you weigh/measure/track your food prior to becoming pregnant, consider that your nutritional needs are going to change. Your body is doing so much work on the inside, growing that baby, it needs enough fuel! Consider discussing this with your physician, a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Those who use nutritional coaching from another source, ask if they have experience working with pregnant clients.

  • Your body composition is going to change. It's designed to happen biologically, so our bodies can grow, support and birth a baby into this world. It is hard to watch your body change & not be in control of it. Try to focus on the miracle of life that's happening!

  • Each day is a new one. Try to fuel your body as best as you can. If some of those choices aren't the healthiest, it's ok. Fuel yourself and enjoy yourself.

  • You will still look pregnant when you leave the hospital after giving birth.

  • You may still look pregnant at 2 weeks or more postpartum (I did).

  • During postpartum, again try to fuel your body as best as you can. But most importantly, fuel your body. There were times were I forgot or just couldn't eat because of trying to sleep or take care of Tori. My husband began making me shakes, and sometimes that was the only thing I got to eat before lunch, but it was something & easy to grab out of the fridge.

  • I really don't recommend jumping back on the weighing/measuring/tracking wagon until you're out of the 4th trimester (12 weeks postpartum). So much will happen during that time with your hormones and body naturally, let all that happen and focus your energy on your new baby.

  • Once past the 4th trimester, try not to let eating and working out be your focus. It's natural to crave the "normalcy" of our pre-baby world, however our world is forever different. We are forever different. Eat healthy, add movement (see a pelvic floor PT first!), and enjoy this new journey.

  • If you're breastfeeding, your body is going to need more fuel and nutrition. If you are working with someone on nutrition, be sure that they are aware of your situation and know how to adjust appropriately and safely.

I hope you found this post enjoyable & perhaps slightly informative. Nutrition is extremely individual to each person. I would recommend consulting with an expert/educated individual over taking the advice of someone who is coming from personal experience only.