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Pregnancy Diet Hot Buttons: Mercury & Soy

Apr27

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Pregnancy Diet

Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi Amy

After years of one or both of us being in school or not quite having enough money, my husband and I are finally ready to have a baby! I am super excited about the prospect of getting pregnant. I have (mostly because of my academic background but also because I have always been really interested) read a ton of books about pregnancy and labor and delivery, and we plan on (probably) having a home birth. My problem is that I don’t really like the technomedical model of birth and prenatal care, but I’m not so hippy-tree-hugger to buy into quite all of the spiritual midwifery type of framework either. I want some reliable information on nutrition before and during pregnancy that is not just crazy scare tactics.

One question in particular I have is about protein. I know my diet now is a bit too meat-centric, so I want to start eating more fish and tofu, but I have concerns about mercury (in fish) and hormones (in tofu). Can you give me a reasonable explanation about these foods, and anything else I should eat/not eat while trying/getting pregnant, and also any resources you find particularly reliable?

Thanks!!!

I have a vague memory of wandering down to the pregnancy aisle of the bookstore, once upon a time, with the specific purpose of Buying A Book About Food And Diet And Stuff. Which I did not end up doing, because I found all of the offerings alternatively preachy, unrealistic or crazy guilt-inducing. They just…all expected you to be so GOOD, all the time, you know? I mean, sure, fine: a daily breakfast of an egg-white omelette with whole-grain toast and a fresh-fruit smoothie is certainly a better option than a cup of coffee and five strips of microwaved Trader Joe’s turkey bacon. I KNOW THIS. But do I really need the guilt of being told in excruciating detail just how I’m depriving my embryo of EVERYTHING IT NEEDS IN LIFE because I’m throwing up everything other than chicken nuggets, so CHICKEN NUGGETS IT IS?

Anyway. Point is: I will have to leave book recommendations up to the commenters, because I have always ended up approaching pregnancy nutrition the same way I approach non-pregnancy nutrition, without going from one singular source or definitive guide to the Do’s and the Do Not’s. Common sense, general wariness of overly processed, chemical-laden foods, a preference for simple, homemade options full of Actual Pronounceable Things, yet providing a wide aisle of cutting myself a break when dealing with irrational cravings and aversions…peppered with some targeted online research (albeit with my b.s. detector turned up to 11).

Kinda the way I view the whole breast vs. bottle debate. Yes, breast is best, but in the end, it’s more important that you FEED THE BABY. Same goes for many of the high-aiming “perfect” diet plans for pregnancy. Yes! Carrot sticks and leafy greens are a very healthy snack choice! But leftover Easter candy is ALSO VERY DELICIOUS.

So. Let’s move on to your protein questions. First up, fish. Mercury in fish (which can affect brain and nervous system development) is a very real thing, but luckily not in all fish. You just need to bookmark some handy lists and go from there. Here’s a list of high vs. low mercury levels in fish, and another one specifically for sushi varieties (yes, sushi!), both courtesy of the American Pregnancy Association. As you can see, there are only four types of fish that should be avoided completely because of mercury levels: shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish. Ahi or bigeye tuna is also considered high mercury…but other tuna varieties, like yellowfin or canned albacore or chunk light, can be consumed in moderation. (Lots more details about what, exactly, equals “moderation” at that first link.) I personally have eaten the occasional tuna-fish sandwich based on these same frequency guidelines, and continued to eat lower- or lowest-mercury fish like salmon, trout, tilapia, bass, shrimp, scallops…and occasionally even lobster and oysters throughout my pregnancies. We also go for wild-caught as opposed to farm-raised, which in general tend to have higher mercury levels.

Tuna sashimi, however — my absolute favorite favorite — I steer clear of, but have since made it my regular official First Meal of Choice after giving birth and coming home from the hospital. (You still want to watch your mercury levels while breastfeeding, but it doesn’t pose nearly the danger to your baby via breastmilk as it does in the womb, and one pig-out-fest is not going to equal doom and destruction.)

Now. Soy. This one is a bit more…contested, I suppose, as there’s a lot of conflicting info and studies and cries of corruption and influence and fear-mongering on both sides. You don’t see “soy” listed among the usual “Is It Safe?” suspects on pregnancy sites like aspartame or caffeine, so what’s the deal?

Personally, in my family, we do not eat much soy. We never have, and probably never will, since I have read enough to make me cautious and skeptical about soy’s place as a healthy food choice. In a bloggy nutshell, here’s a good overview of The Problem With Soy. (Go read it. I’ll wait.)

So we do not substitute soy as a primary protein in our house. We don’t buy soy milk or soy ice cream or soy formula or soy cheese or oh my God what DON’T they make out of soy these days? If I do buy the occasional block of tofu or edamame or soy sauce, I always buy certified organic that is clearly marked as containing no GMOs (genetically modified organisms), thus at least removing one big personal concern of mine. Ezra likes frozen edamame beans, and tofu does make a nice toddler finger-food or binder for homemade veggie burger patties…but he also likes frozen peas and regular old black beans, and I’ve found that mashed lentils and/or ground oatmeal work just as well in those burger recipes.

For non-meat-based meals, we usually opt for stews and curries with lots of beans and lentils — a nice Indian-style daal, served over rice or another grain, and even my mega-carnivore husband doesn’t see the point of adding meat substitute or soy crumbles or whatever the hell. Since we’re fortunate enough to be allergy-free, we eat a LOT of nuts for snacks. Cashews, almonds, walnuts — I buy them raw and unsalted and toast and/or mix them with dried fruit myself to avoid the crazy sodium/preservative levels found in a lot of commercially-packed trail mixes.

Again, it’s probably more about moderation than anything else. I’m content that my family gets enough protein from a wide range of sources throughout the week to skip the soy patties and such. We’re not vegans or even vegetarians, which admittedly makes the dilemma much easier since I don’t have to go and replace entire food groups. If you are concerned about your red meat intake, try stepping down gradually, substituting ground turkey or bison for ground beef. (We use turkey or bison almost exclusively now for those quickie weeknight staples of burgers, chili, tacos, etc.) Eat fish from the low-mercury lists with confidence and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Focus on finding some really killer and not-fried-or-drenched-in-dairy chicken recipes, try some lentil or bean curries in the Crock Pot, or grab some almonds tossed in sea salt instead of the entire bag of potato chips.

But if you find yourself nine weeks pregnant and barfing into the toilet at the mere thought of ANY of these foods, well, I will personally come and draw a Circle Of Back Off No Judgment around you if you decide that a dinner of summer sausage, canned black olives and a can of Coke is about all you can handle that day. BECAUSE LO I HAVE BEEN THERE GIRLFRIEND.

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If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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32 Responses to “Pregnancy Diet Hot Buttons: Mercury & Soy”

  1. Christine Apr 27 at 12:33 pm Reply Reply

    So….
    I likely am going to be a little bit flamed for this response to the post, but regardless I have to say something.  First, know that this comes from a pediatric ICU doctor, so yes, I am super into all that high tech medicine stuff the OP seems adverse too.  Although, I’ve seen my high tech medicines and tubes save a lot of little lives.  I’m also the doctor that tends to see the kids with a lot of chronic medical issues from birth trauma.  These kiddos can be very fragile and very frequently find their way into my ICU.  A lot of them have issues because something went wrong in a home birth and increased medical attention was not sought at all or was sought too late.  Oh wait!  You say that this is the way humans have given birth around the world for centuries.  And I’ll point out to you the death rates of both mom and baby during those time periods and in those countries.
    I’m not saying that you’re absolutely wrong in wanting less medical intervention and a home birth, but I’d like to you look into other options in your area.  This isn’t an all or nothing option by any means.  Just because you happen to have an OB doesn’t mean you will have a scheduled elective c-section.  There are many nurse midwives that will work in a hospital birth center, in conjunction with an OB, with a very home-like environment, with less intervention but the proximity to extra help if needed.  This was even an option at the extremely large and well known university hospital I gave birth at just 3 months ago.  Just knowing that people are choosing home births for fear of too much intervention makes me a bit afraid for the kids I’ll be caring for in my ICU.  So, please check into this option as well, I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find.
    As well, I want to agree with everything at Amy has said in her response.  I’ll also say that if you’re concerned about fish and Soy, please make sure you’re doing everything to minimize the pesticides you’re exposed to while pregnant.  I’ve never been a big proponent of organic food in the past, but more evidence is coming out for the past 6 months or so regarding pesticide exposure, especially while in utero.  So, while I was pregnant unless I was going to peel something (like an orange), then I went organic.  I also used my fruit & veggie wash like crazy (usually I’m a bad girl and just use water).  I also upped my f&v intake quite a bit, resulting in 2-3x a week trips to the produce area.  I did what Amy mentioned and included more nuts in my diet to add protein rather than meat (I’m also not a soy fan, but I love cashews and almonds).

  2. Olivia Apr 27 at 1:01 pm Reply Reply

    Christine, I won’t flame you for it, but I think your comment is off-topic. You of course see the bad outcomes from homebirth, but not the good outcomes, so perhaps a little respect for the OP and trust she has/will do her research and decide what’s best for her. 

    I chose a homebirth, and transfered to the hospital because baby was malpositioned for a safe vaginal birth. My transfer was done safely with the guidance of my midwife because she is a trained professional with the health of her clients/babies as top priority. And even though I transferred, I preferred the midwifery model of prenatal care and will choose that again in the future. 

    On topic, I agree moderation is the best “no going crazy” pregnancy diet. I don’t eat soy very often, but I did eat tilapia, salmon and tuna occasionally.

  3. Mary Apr 27 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve had three intervention free deliveries. The first two were hospital births, the last was at home. I do not have a chip on my shoulder about standard OB care but I obviously believe that midwife care is a valid option. I was bothered that the OP seems to think that a midwife will not be quAlified to offer her valid nutritional counseling. If she doesn’t trust her midwife’s qualifications she should not be using her.

    Unfortunately there are some shady practitioners out there who seem to be more focused on avoiding the hospital at all costs than the health and safety of mom and baby. Avoid these women. A reputable midwife, on the other hand, will be very cautious and not hesitate to make a hospital transfer.

    To Christine, I’m always wary when people bring up declining mortality rates as evidence against midwife care. There are too many factors–like better sanitation–involved for this to be an easy answer. The fact is if you compare our birth outcomes here in the US with outcomes in other first world countries we’re doing pretty poorly. The obvious difference is that other countries rely much much more on the midwife model of care. I think this is a very important subject and I’m bothered that there seem to be so many people on both side who refuse to have any sort of meaningful conversation about it.

  4. Heather Apr 27 at 1:37 pm Reply Reply

    Since someone brought up the birth topic, I’ll throw a book recommendation out there: Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, by Peggy Simkin. My views were similar to the OP, though I decided to give birth in the hospital (so the care was there in case something did go wrong), and I had an amazing natural birth there. I found that book to be very helpful. It does have a slight natural birth bias (the authors are midwives, after all), but it was very informative. I especially liked all of the charts listing the various interventions and their pros and cons (because despite all your best efforts, you might need some of them, so it pays to be informed about your options). About food, Amalah is right on. Only certain types of fish present concerns. I read a lot about diet as well (You Having a Baby, What to Expect, Dr. Sears, the Brewer diet that is extolled in Bradley classes, etc.), and I essentially boiled it all down to this: dont’ overthink it. Eat the healthy diet you normally would, plus a little extra food, and just try to eat more protein and veggies/fruits if you can. And take your prenatal vitamins. Also, be realistic, since your stomach may not accept the various items you feel you “should” be eating. I spent the first trimester only being able to stomach macaroni and cheese, saltines, and the mere thought of chicken not in nugget form made me nauseous. Fortunately, fruit was a major craving so I also made lots of smoothies and ate greek yogurt (great non-meat source of protein!). (That probably balanced out the weird craving I had for KFC biscuits).

  5. YaChun Apr 27 at 1:57 pm Reply Reply

    I’ll actually take a crack at answering your question~

    I have had good luck with ‘raw’ recipes – which I often end up baking just because I like my food warm. But the recipes are sound – low in salt but high in nutrition and flavor.

    The main book I have been using is The Complete Book of Raw Food. The recipes contain nuts and seeds for protein, sometimes soaked beans. They make heavy use out of your food processor. But we’ve liked all the recipes and my husband has even been happy! We are down to meat (incl fish) maybe 3-5 times a week. We also eat eggs without abandon.

    As for fish with pregnancy and nursing, I eat alot of sardines – and now my baby likes them too! Lots of calcium, fatty acids. Small fish so no mercury.

    One other things to think about is not over doing dairy.

    Good luck and I wish you a healthy pregnancy and baby!

  6. hodgepodge Apr 27 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

    I’m not going to touch the homebirth / hospital birth debate with a ten-foot prod, because that’s not what OP asked.

    I’ll say this about fish – I ate lots of wild-caught fish while pregnant and my kids now eat it at least once or twice a week. We certainly suffered no ill effects. Remember that you can even eat the higher-mercury fish once in a while and be fine – it’ll take some of the stress out of choosing your pregnancy diet. (Not that I’m saying you should chow down on mercury; just that you’d have to eat pounds and pounds of the stuff to really cause issues.)

  7. Jeannie Apr 27 at 2:16 pm Reply Reply

    FWIW, I had midwife-assisted hospital births and was very happy with my care and birth experiences. But this was in Canada in a province where midwives are licensed and regulated; your area may be different. I think that a middle ground — if you have a low-risk pregnancy — between high intervention care and having access to life-saving technologies should you need them is a good thing.

    Secondly, as far as diet goes … I agree with everyone else. Eat as well as you can — ingredients you can pronounce! Fewer processed foods, reduce additives, preservatives, pesticides. Organic fruits and veggies if you can. But it’s just as important not to worry about it and if you really want the burger ( or whatever) to just eat it.

    For protein when pregnant I ate lots of eggs. Nuts as well, and beans and lentils. I’m not vegetarian, I just suck at cooking meat. I laid off some fish, but didn’t add soy into my diet. It all seemed to work out ok!

  8. Pogita Apr 27 at 2:19 pm Reply Reply

    I want from being highly carnivorous to practically vegetarian during my pregnancy. Meat just GROSSED.ME.OUT.

    I ate lots of nuts, beans, and eggs. I indulged in cheese and tons of yogurt. The baby was fine. You will be too. Focus on eating lots of fresh and unprocessed foods. Give yourself some slack – it will be good practice for when the baby comes and you discover that you can’t do every single thing perfectly.

    This is from one academic to another – trying to embody the latest in research and living the best way for your family and situation are sometimes two different things. :)

  9. Suzy Q Apr 27 at 2:21 pm Reply Reply

    It’s always interesting to see what people will latch onto from these columns and the comments.

    For me, it was the mention of turkey bacon. Because “overly-processed, chemical-laden” food = turkey bacon. Eat the real thing; turkeys weren’t meant to be (or become) bacon.

    As an aside, even though she’s already encountered resistance, I would like to thank Christine for commenting. Any time a doctor will take her time to participate in a forum such as this and share her knowledge and experience is a Good Thing, to me.

  10. Anne Apr 27 at 2:26 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Mary. It doesn’t sound like the OP has sufficient trust in midwives to use one for the birth of her child. If you don’t trust someone to give you reliable, non-crunchy advice on nutrition, how can you trust her to deliver your child?

    I am 21 weeks pregnant and delivering with nurse midwives in a hospital, so I feel I have the best of both worlds. Also, my midwives are not hippies at all. Yes, they support moms who want to give birth naturally and they even do water births, but they also prescribed me anti-nausea medicine when I couldn’t keep anything down first trimester, and their nutrition advice was very common sense and similar to Amalah’s. I’ve avoided raw fish, cold cuts, and unpasteurized cheeses, and I’ve limited my tofu and seafood to once or twice a week. I’ve also upped my nuts, meat (I didn’t used to eat much), calcium, and F&V. I also went whole days first trimester where I ate nothing but carbs. You do the best you can, and hopefully that’s good enough.

  11. EmilyG Apr 27 at 2:31 pm Reply Reply

    I bought the cookbook “I’m Pregnant! Now What Do I Eat?” and I still use a ton of the recipes with my 18-month old. It’s a great book, written by an ob and a chef. It has recipes as well as general guidelines. Good luck!

  12. Carie Apr 27 at 2:37 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t usually comment but thought I might have some advice. First off not sure if anyone noticed but she did say probably a home birth in parentheses which means she is still weighing options which is good. I chose to have a hospital birth because I live farther away from a hospital than I was comfortable with. I ended up being induced due to low fluids. At first I was worried about too much intervention but the OB was great. My doctor was not available so I had the on-call doc and I was able to labor mostly the way I wanted. She mentioned breaking my water but when I said I wanted to wait then she was fine with that. I did opt for an epidural when the pain was too much and even that was no problem and I had a 9 hour uncomplicated delivery and a healthy baby boy.

    What’s most important is that the person caring for you knows your wishes and that what you want is reasonable and doable. Also be flexible because circumstances like high risk pregnancies or other complications can change what your options are.

    One thing I noticed when I was pregnant is that EVERYONE will start giving you diet advice, even people who have no kids! So just be prepared if you eat fish for people to ask, “are you sure you can eat that?” It drove me so crazy so just smile and think of some polite response lol.

  13. Lydia Apr 27 at 2:38 pm Reply Reply

    I’m pretty sure what Christine wrote would be considered “meaningful conversation” about this topic. And she was clear about her bias up front…lets all be glad we have so many good and safe options to choose from. In the same way we should all be glad formula exists, even if we don’t use it.

  14. Melanie Apr 27 at 2:45 pm Reply Reply

    Amy,
    Please share your homemade veggie burger recipe! I like to try to work in one or two meatless meals per week and I haven’t been able to get my husband on board with any veggie patties. I could probably get him into the idea if they were homemade!
    Love your column, and I think you had a lot of helpful info on this answer.

  15. Laura Apr 27 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    I think the secret to pregnancy nutrition is to find healthy food options that you like preparing and eating and not just choosing foods because they are good for the baby. Not being a big meat-eater myself, I was also a bit worried about getting enough protein while I was pregnant. My key sources were eggs, dairy, nuts, beans/legumes and quinoa (a complete protein that can be used as a substitute for rice or couscous). A good site for quick, easy to prepare, delicious recipes is http://www.whfoods.org.

  16. JCF Apr 27 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    A great book for pre-conception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding nutrition (and baby’s first foods, too) is “Real Food for Mother and Baby” by Nina Planck. She explains what nutrients you need and why, in a very easily readable and not-too-long book. I highly recommend it.

    I think soy, especially non-organic soy, is best avoided, for many of the reasons that Amy mentioned. Fish is good, especially the fatty, oily fishes (like salmon) and ones that are lower in mercury. The baby needs the Omega-3s for brain development. If you’re looking to up your protein, I think you’re better off sticking with meat, but using grass-fed organic meats, if you can afford it, rather than switching to soy. Grass-fed meats are way higher in nutrition that conventional meats, and you’re baby needs that protein, fat, and various other vitamins contained within.

  17. Mary Apr 27 at 3:05 pm Reply Reply

    Lydia, Christine’s comment did not leave me with the impression that she considers homebirth to be a “good and safe option.” That said, I thought her comment was respectful and I apologize if mine didn’t come across the same way.

  18. Heather Apr 27 at 3:21 pm Reply Reply

    One thought that I used when thinking about soy was along the lines of “could a Japanese woman have eating this 100 years ago”? I think the more we manipulate soy the less healthy it is for us, so I was ok with tofu but stayed away from Soy isoflaven power bars.

  19. IrishCream Apr 27 at 4:40 pm Reply Reply

    I like Feeding Baby Green, by Dr. Mark Green. Helpful for pregnancy and for feeding your baby/toddler.

  20. Jen Apr 27 at 5:50 pm Reply Reply

    My approach during my two pregnancies has been similar to Amy’s. I probably reduced my tofu intake (down to once a week), but increased other sources of protein. I have “non-mercury” fish once or twice a week; I don’t like the other types of fish, so that hasn’t been a problem. I don’t specifically avoid tuna sandwiches, but I don’t seek them out either (maybe once a month). I mostly stick to chicken, ground turkey or lean beef, and probably have a “treat” meat (steak or lamb chops, etc.) once every two weeks. The hardest thing for me about pregnancy nutrition has been avoiding too much weight gain. I don’t normally eat breakfast, but need to do so during pregnancy. That pretty much uses up my “extra” calories right there, but I am totally more hungry all day long, so that is a struggle…

    And to stray into topic hijacking territory, I just want to second some of what Christine said. As a pediatric neurologist, I cringe when someone mentions homebirth. A disproportionate number of the babies/kids I see with severe birth brain injuries were delivered at home. That being said, the vast majority of homebirths go just fine, and I think there are ways to do it relatively safely. Most of the tragic outcomes I have seen were in the setting of inadequate supervision (either a, in retrospect, not-very-good midwife making a bad decision or homebirths with no midwife at all). The key thing is finding a really good midwife that you trust and who will seek help when neded. And, don’t confound midwife care with homebirth – they are two separate issues. I have currently pregnant and being followed in a practice with both midwives and OBs. I actually prefer the midwives, and schedule specifically with them. An OB delivered my son, but interventions were minimal. I pushed for 4 hours (which is past the point that many OBs go to c-section), and at times there were concerning fetal heart rates, etc., but I avoided c-section. Not all OBs would have done that, so I am still grateful to her.

  21. Jen Apr 27 at 6:23 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, I forgot to emphatically second Christine’s other comment about pesticide exposure. There have been a few recent and decent studies (I think you can find good summaries on nytimes.com) linking increased levels of pesticide exposure in utero to lowered IQ. So, buy organic when possible and wash well. If you have the patience, peel skins if technically possible and it is not organic. You can find lists online of which types of produce are the worst in terms of pesticide levels. I’ve been trying to increase my fruit and veggie intake — now seeing these studies (and knowing my lazy habits in the past), I worry that my attempt to improve my diet may have done more harm than good.

  22. T Apr 27 at 8:09 pm Reply Reply

    Not pregnant yet here myself… but I just want to second the recommendation for Nina Planck’s “Real Food for Mother and Baby.” I read her original “Real Food” and so picked up the other one when we started thinking seriously about a baby. I really like her approach to nutrition in general, and thought this was a really good guide without inducing panic and all that :) However, I should forewarn that I am of the ‘meat, eggs and dairy are perfectly healthy if they’re grassfed’ mindset, and I know not all people subscribe to that theory, which she bases her advice on (and explains).

  23. melissa Apr 27 at 8:23 pm Reply Reply

    I’m vegetarian and in week 14 of my pregnancy/14th week of “morning” sickness. Previously I ate a primarily vegetable & grain based diet and ate tofu maybe 2x per week. I limited my consumption of the really processed soy burgers, dogs and other stuff as occasional substitutes for easy dinners.

    The last 8 weeks I’m lucky if I can get some plain pasta and couple of soy nuggets in me for dinner because they don’t make feel like puking. (unlike the homemade lentil soup that my Grandmother made me.) I had every intention of continuing my healthy eating habits but seriously sometimes the best laid plans just don’t happen. I hope to eat a salad again before I deliver in October :)

    Additionally, as someone who is surrounded by lots of vegetarian and vegan friends – I have never heard a reported childhood problem due to soy. It seems to me moderation is key and recognizing what has actually been documented to be a problem (listeria) and what has been speculated (like avoiding tree nuts).

  24. Kogepan Apr 27 at 10:44 pm Reply Reply

    Here is a helpful link regarding fish: http://www.ewg.org/safefishlist

    Also farmed salmon should be avoided due to serious concerns about PCBs.

  25. Bear Apr 28 at 7:43 am Reply Reply

    We’re vegetarian at home (so, veggie about 85% of the time for me and the little dude, and 100% for my partner) and we eat a range of foods, including tofu and TVP. So far, so good. We too have a somewhat…variable relationship to processed foods, depending substantially on how much better/better for you the homemade variety is. We make our own sheep’s milk yogurt, and then we buy a slice from under a warming lamp and share it as a snack. I prefer to think of this as integrated living and not wildly inconsistent behavior. YMMV.

    In the realm of feeding pregnant people, I really have only one significant contribution to make, which I will make here: Last Month Of Pregnancy Cookies.

    When my partner was 36wks, and experiencing both Return of The Nausea and its regrettable sequel, The Heartburn Strikes Back, the combined effect was not, shall we say, exactly conducive to big appetite. 
    When I mentioned this to my mom, she came up with a recipe for a high-protein, high-fiber peanut butter oat cookie that she evidently used to feed my brother and I as kids when we were in picky phases. They’re tasty but not very sweet, except for the few chocolate chips, and two of them are a pretty long-lasting energy snack. My mother also pointed out (perhaps in case I though she was crazy for feeding us cookies as children when we wouldn’t eat enough) that oatmeal is high in vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. 
    Anyhow, I made a batch for my partner, which were a huge hit. Just sweet enough to be tempting to even the nauseated, filling, good energy and (sorry, but) easy on the system if they have to come back up. They are also wheat-free and can become dairy-free by substituting margarine for the butter (same amount). And so I am passing on what at our house will now, and probably forever, be called Last Month Of Pregnancy Cookies
    Ingredients:
    1/2c butter (one stick), softened1 1/2c sugar1 1/2c packed brown sugar4 eggs1tsp vanilla2c chunky peanut butter6c quick oats1c semi-sweet chocolate chips2 1/2 tsp baking soda
    Method:
    Use a large soup pot or roasting pan, this recipe makes a /lot/ of batter.
    • Take the butter out of the fridge an hour or so before you start.
    • Beat together butter and sugars.• Blend in eggs and vanilla.• Add peanut butter, mix well.• Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and baking soda. Mix well.• Drop scant (leveled or slightly underfilled, not heaped) 1/4 cupfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork to 2 1/2 inch diameter.• Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes• Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute, then remove to cooling rack
    Makes about 3 dozen large cookies. If you don’t want that many at once, so all steps up to the baking and then put the tray in the freezer instead. When frozen solid, remove from tray and put into a freezer bag. To bake cookies from freezer, let come to room temp for about half an hour, then bake as directed.

  26. Olivia Apr 28 at 8:59 am Reply Reply

    Thank you for the recipe, Bear! I am so making these cookies this weekend. My toddler is fairly picky and I’ve been struggling with finding a healthy snack she will eat. She likes peanut butter, but usually just licks it off the bread.

  27. Hillary Apr 28 at 10:30 am Reply Reply

    Just wanted to congratulate the OP for thinking about this stuff in advance! Now that we’re feeding my 14 month old, and paying a lot more attention to what we think is safe for her to eat, it means that all of our diets are changing. I wish I’d thought of this stuff before I got pregnant, not just to ensure she was getting the best nutrition in vitro, but also because changing how you grocery shop, cook and eat is hard work and with a toddler around! :) I’m always a little ashamed when I think that I am willing to go to such great lengths to make sure my daughter is eating well, but before having kids I never cared about my own body enough to make these changes.

  28. jennifer Apr 28 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

    Where did the original poster say that

    1) She had a midwife?

    2) That she didn’t trust that midwife’s nutritional advise?

  29. Emily Apr 28 at 9:41 pm Reply Reply

    I did a ton of research about nutrition and pregnancy diets prior to getting pregnant. I had bookmarked online menus and charts where you recorded daily or weekly servings of all the things you were supposed to have. Then I got pregnant. And for the first 12 weeks, I wanted nothing. Nothing nothing nothing. Then the second trimester started and I could eat again. I wanted to get on the nutritional menus, but man, they were having pregnant women eat all day long. and I simply wasn’t that hungry. and I didn’t have any cravings my entire pregnancy (poor hubby was sad not to be the dutiful father-to-be running out at midnight for whatever I HAD TO HAVE NOW!). I just didn’t. In fact, I don’t think I really increased the amount I ate at all. Some days it seemed like I ate more, the next, seemed like I was full on a lot less. I had a full on chicken aversion that dwindled from chicken to ‘any chicken other than this chicken’ to ‘any chicken except those 4 types’ to just recently (7months PP) being able to eat all the chicken in the world without gagging. Well, not all at once, anyways. My advice: your body will tell you what you need. Listen to it. I ate a ton of salads. With avocado and orange bell peppers and spinach and hard boiled eggs and lots of other lovely things. If I thought I didn’t have enough veggies on other days, I’d drink a V8. If I thought I didn’t get enough protein, I’d drink a protein shake. I stay away from Tofu. One, I think it’s gross. and Two, it’s soy. And soy isn’t good for fertility issues (we had some). My little girl came out healthy and happy.

  30. Emily Apr 28 at 9:45 pm Reply Reply

    oh.. and I don’t like fish.. so I stuck to tuna. The equivalent of 1 can a week max.

  31. Alix May 02 at 2:27 pm Reply Reply

    I absolutely agree with Emily- your body will tell you what it needs. Although, I’m pretty sure mine needs vegetables, yet I was inexplicably veggie-averse for, oh, the first 20 weeks or so. Anyway. I’m a huge fan of moderation in general and just can’t spend too much time researching food guidelines or I will freak out and go crazy (old ED issues rearing their ugly head). I’m also a huge fan of cutting yourself a break, especially if you feel like crap in the first tri. Nothing is worse than only being able to stomach the idea of, say, Kraft Mac n’ Cheese and then also beating yourself up because oh, the processed horror!

    Best of luck to the OP!

  32. Mad Merlot Mama May 03 at 7:57 pm Reply Reply

    I simply could NOT stomach any form of meat for 6 months. Beef, the sight, made me hurl and the smell of chicken made me worship Ye Olde Porcelain. In return, I would eat spoonfuls of peanut butter. As for the mercury, I “treated” myself to exactly what I was craving: Outback deep fried shrimp. Occasionally, a tuna sandwhich. I was also told that if you’re craving something, your body obviously needs it and to let it do what it wants. IE: I craved water ALL THE DAMN TIME. So, I ended up drinking something like 130 ounces a day. (Did wonders for my skin.) Listen to your body, and MODERATION.

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