Intuitive Eating in Motherhood

After speaking with my midwife the other day, we came to the conclusion that I may need to eat more foods rich in iron. I did not take a formal test or anything but just have been feeling tired again lately. In a pregnant woman’s second and third trimester, it is really important to increase her protein intake because this is when the baby is growing the fastest. This will also help keep the mother’s energy levels up.

I am proud to say that this had been on my radar before my midwife suggested it. And that in general, pregnancy has made me a better eater. I was never a bad eater, always leaning towards the healthy side of things. There was an 8-year stint where I was a vegetarian after declaring one day in junior high school that I didn’t like meat. And I was a strict, young vegetarian, never consuming ANY products with meat (including fish) in them. During that, there were short times when I tried to be vegan because I love animals so much but I love cheese, chocolate, and ice cream more. Then there was a long stretch of college where I thought I was superwoman and worked full time and attended school more than full time (18-21 credits per semester). This ended the vegetarianism. I was too burnt out, and too poor to afford expensive veggie protein to feed myself properly, and too busy to be creative with meal choices to increase my protein so I turned to the dark side and ate some chicken. Fast-forward about 7 years and now I enjoy all foods equally and still have a soft spot in my heart and belly for veggie delights!

My point is; through my life of relatively healthy eating, I have never felt as healthy as I do since becoming a mom (which I count as finding out I was pregnant with my first baby). From that point on, my eating changed from what I want to eat, to what my baby needs to eat and what foods my baby needs to nurse and grow big and strong. I have developed a way of eating that I call “intuitive eating”. I did not read a book about this though I know that they exist. I literally, just plan out my meals, shop for foods, and stand in front of my refrigerator and think “what does my body need right now?”, “what does the baby need right now?” “Have I had my protein for the day?” “My grains?” “My fruits and veggies?” etc…I eat really clean, part for my love of the farmer’s market and part because it’s easiest for me. I buy a bunch of fruits and veggies for the week, protein for each day in the week, and dairy (and dairy alternatives). I always have healthy fats (peanut butter, avocado, olive oil, butter, etc ) and grains in stock. Each day I put together whatever combination of what I have based on my hunger and nutritional needs for the day. heart_vegetables1

When I was pregnant with daughter #1, I gained 35 lbs. I did not try/ try not to gain this amount of weight, I just listened to what my body needed and in return it gave me an easy natural labor and birth process and a healthy baby girl. My midwife said that “every woman’s body is perfect for her baby” when women get snarky comments from observers for “looking too big, too small, etc. I love this. Anyway, after she was born I lost 20 lbs of it almost instantly (baby’s weight, uterus, fluids, placenta) and then breastfed her. In addition to the 35 lbs I gained, I lost an extra 15. I did not “work out”. I just listened to what my body needed, ate healthily, consciously, and the weight came off. There were times where I would pass on dessert and that’s pretty much it.

When you have a baby that you nourish through nursing, you are responsible for how they are growing. Even if I wanted to, was tempted to, for my daughter’s well being I could not develop an unhealthy way of eating. It truly saddens me that women are blasted with media that talks about “getting your body back after baby” and that celebrities flaunt their bikini-ready bodies weeks after birth. In my experience, there was no way I was going to work out on a consistent basis with a newborn. AND there was no way I was willing to try ANY kind of diet. What I look like in a skimpy outfit is not important, what is important is the health of my child and myself. What worked for me is truly listening to my body’s needs, my baby’s needs, and making conscious choices.

This entry was posted in Baby, Breastfeeding, General, Natural Childbirth, Pregnancy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Intuitive Eating in Motherhood

  1. Naomi says:

    I know exactly how you feel! I remember being pregnant and feeling so empowered that I knew what nutrients my body needed more of. It’s so awesome that when you take responsiblity for your body and your choices and you start learning more about how bodies work that you notice things like that! Good for you!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I have a dear friend who, when she was pregnant with her first, was suddenly consumed by a crazy craving for liver. Went to the supermarket, bought it and ate it raw in the parking lot! Sometimes your body really just KNOWS what it needs.

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