This post appeared here for Paleo on the Go
Healthy Children and a Healthy Mom – Diet and Time Matter.
You just got married and someone immediately asks ‘When are you having a baby?’ Or perhaps you give birth to your first bundle of joy and before you’ve even adjusted to caring for another being someone asks ‘When are you having your second?
The pressure to reproduce in abundance can be felt for new moms. However, hold your hormones, it’s all well and good to get your family up and running, but there are a few good reasons why it’s better for your health, your new baby’s health and the health of your baby-to-come, to wait. So, the question is, how long do I wait? In a perfect world the recommendation is to wait three years in between babies. However, please don’t freak out if planets have aligned earlier. Miracles happen and should be celebrated. Plus, there are things you can do even if your time between births is not ‘the ideal’.
When you’re pregnant, it’s nature’s design that your developing fetus can take all that it requires from you. The go between to ensure that this happens safely is the placenta.ll the benefits of Mom’s nutritional stores, primarily fat soluble vitamins A and D which are critical to optimal fetal development are found here. The placenta passes nearly 7 grams of fat a day to the growing baby, while also tapping into mom’s “iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B9, iodine, and selenium stores. Omega-3 fats like DHA and specific amino acids from proteins are also passed along to baby. On average, a mom’s brain shrinks 5% in this prenatal period, as it supports the growth of the baby (much of the brain is fat and remember 7g a day is passing to the placenta). So, it turns out that ‘baby brain’ is a physical reality! This re-engineering of the brain supports creation of the ‘baby radar,” which is essentially great awareness of your baby, but it wears a mom down. This could become dangerous for the mom if she is not supported.
The statement above leads us to the main reason it’s better to wait this magical three years. One of the most interesting traditional practices reported by Dr. Weston Price was the deliberate spacing of children in primitive societies. Throughout Africa and the South Seas, it was considered shameful to have a child more than once every three years. That’s well and good all those years ago, but what does this have to do with the present?Modern science validates this practice today. Recent research and technology shows that the ideal interval for preventing physical birth defects is three years. This is also the optimal spacing for the emotional health of children. Allowing at least three years between pregnancies also permits the mother to recover her nutritional stores between children and to provide sufficient attention to each child,and to her marriage!
Recovering her mineral stores include consuming fat-soluble vitamins that are necessary for growth and development. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is necessary for brain development. Biotin during pregnancy increases folate, boosts growth and decreases the risk of birth defects. Choline causes a lifelong increase in memory and attention and the amino acid glycine is required for growth. WAPF recommends a dose of high-vitamin cod liver oil per day to yield 20,000 IU of vitamin A, 2,000 IU of vitamin D, and 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (about 1 3/4 teaspoon per day).
Grass-fed animal fats supply vitamins E and K2. Palm oil, fresh fruits,vegetables and nuts are also sources of vitamin E. Fermented foods are great sources of vitamin K2. Leafy greens supply vitamin K1. Biotin can be obtained from liver and egg yolks. Raw egg whites should be strictly avoided while pregnant and cooked egg whites should be consumed in moderation. Egg yolks can be added to smoothies and ice cream to boost biotin status. Folate can be obtained from liver, beets, and greens. Choline can be obtained from grass-fed dairy, egg yolks, liver, meat, cruciferous vegetables and nuts.
All in all, it’s not just what goes into making a placenta but what goes into making a mom to make a placenta! It’s not just because being a parent is hard—physically, the process of growing a baby takes a significant toll on mom. Mom can eat all the best prenatal foods, as she should when she’s expecting, but it’s kind of like studying for an exam the night before – you can’t rush it or you’ll miss something. There are a lot of nutrients that aren’t that easily replaced. Some mineral stores go bone deep and can’t be replaced instantly. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t options to supplement your already pregnant body to make up what you can. This especially applies to the fat-soluble vitamins which take the most time to rebuild in the tissues. Unless mom makes a concerted effort to replenish these stores between (or within the midst) her pregnancy(s) with these foods, the health and ability of later children will very likely suffer as a consequence.
Looking at the listed foods above, it’s easy to see the real food values in the Paleo diet. Choosing Paleo could be the best start a mother could give herself and her baby(s).