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Your Top Pregnancy Questions Answered!

I have been slowly cataloging all the pregnancy questions I received while pregnant…what prenatal vitamins I took… whether I’m vaccinating my baby… what foods I avoided… how did I prevent stretch marks…did I do a birth plan? I answer all these questions (and more!) This list will be updated regularly so if you have more questions, please ask in the comments below and I’ll update this list and let you know! 

My sweet Harley at one week old 

Photography by Little Nest Portraits

What preparation did you go through before getting pregnant?

I have been on a journey for over 10 years to get my health back on track, which helped to prepare my body for pregnancy. Over the years, acupuncture has helped tremendously to balance my hormones and heal my body. I also stopped taking birth control pills years ago, because they were preventing my body from doing what it is naturally supposed to do. I’ve restored my gut bacteria back to normal with a whole foods diet, supplementing with effective probiotics, and eating fermented food daily. 

My books The Food Babe Way, Feeding You Lies, and Food Babe Kitchen will show you how to provide the cleanest foods for your body to prepare it for pregnancy. Another great book that I love and read (twice!) was How to Conceive Naturally: And Have a Healthy Pregnancy after 30 by Christa Orecchio, a member of my advisory council. This book is spot on about the nutrition you want to put into your body if you are trying to conceive. 

What foods did you avoid while pregnant?

Overall, I stuck with the same diet that I had before pregnancy full of whole nutrient-rich foods with a few indulgences into those cravings – organic grilled cheeses and pizza to be exact! However, there are a few foods that I didn’t eat during pregnancy…

  • Sushi – especially Tuna (and other high-mercury fish): You are supposed to limit it due to mercury content, so it’s not worth the risk. Although I ate fish during pregnancy, I stuck to lower mercury varieties of fish such as wild salmon. Other high-mercury fish to avoid are halibut, sea bass, swordfish, shark, marlin, orange roughy, and mackerel.
  • Processed foods: Anything that comes in a package or box or container, I ate way less of! I wanted to stay away from all the packaging chemicals that food can be exposed to when it is processed – stuff you do not see on the label. Also once a food is processed, nutrients are degraded – I wanted to the get the maximum micro-nutrition out of all my food to make sure there are plenty of nutrients the baby could assimilate. 
  • Soda and sugary drinks: Sugar in general is bad, but it goes down way too easy when you drink it! 
  • MSG, yeast extract, hydrolyzed proteins, natural and artificial flavors: In the second trimester, your baby can actually start to taste the food you are eating! Knowing that gave me serious motivation to stay away from controversial food additives and processed foods that screw with your sense of taste or satisfaction. You don’t want them tricked by the food industry before they’re even born! 
  • Processed and cured meats like sausage, ham, and deli: These are more likely than other foods to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause a miscarriage or infect your baby. 

Did you drink raw juice while pregnant?

Yes, smoothies and juices made with mostly vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help to keep your immune system strong during pregnancy. As always, I take care to thoroughly wash my vegetables before making a juice and fill up my blender or juicer with greens like romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, and collard greens. I tried not to overdo the beet juice though! I did that once in my first trimester and let’s just say it did not stay down! It’s always good to remember natural foods when juiced can be very potent too.

What did you do about cravings for bad food?

I’ve never had such a roller coaster of cravings before in my life (I know you other pregnant women can relate!). Read more about that here. One of my obsessions was frozen grapes to curb that sudden sweet tooth. I took my commitment to staying on track with my eating principles even more seriously while pregnant, even while indulging in the occasional treat. I’d indulge – but I made sure the ingredients were organic. If I wanted cookies – I’d eat them, but they need to be organic first to avoid any unnecessary toxic pesticides and chemical additives!

What strict pregnancy guidelines did you adhere to? Did you eat soft cheese? Have a glass of wine? Etc.

I didn’t drink any alcohol, but did have some soft cheeses on occasion when I knew they were either heated or pasteurized. I continued my habit of drinking lemon water with cayenne pepper first thing in the morning, drank kombucha on occasion, reduced the amount of caffeine I used to have in half (from 8 ounces of coffee or tea to 4 ounces), and tried to eat fermented foods everyday (See more important info on pregnancy habits from my advisory council member Dr. Amy Shah here).

Can you give us a breakdown of what you ate on a daily basis while being pregnant? What are some things that are completely off limits aside from the obvious foods? 

As always, my diet consists mostly of plants like fruits, vegetables, seeds, beans and nuts, but there are some specific foods that I ate more of during pregnancy. This is such a big topic that I wrote an entire post about it with links to my favorite recipes! Check it out here

Did you drink that awful glucose drink to test for gestational diabetes?

These drinks (also known as “Glucola”) are essentially sugar water with hazardous artificial colors and preservatives for a VERY LONG shelf life. They are no better than most sodas on the market – and truly not something you’d want to consume while pregnant. While it’s certainly important to monitor your blood glucose during pregnancy, there are safer alternatives to drinking this toxic sugar water. I simply asked my doctor what my options were and she was ready with 5 alternatives! I was able to monitor with simple blood tests and it was reassuring to see that my blood sugar was on track. Specifically, I took my blood sugar two times a day for 3 days over one week and reported the results back to her. Be sure to ask your health care provider for options! In my opinion there is no way in hell any doctor could convince me to drink something with flame retardant, artificial dyes made from petroleum, controversial preservatives and GMOs, pregnant or not!

Did you wear nail polish while pregnant?

Only on my toes since it lasted longer and I didn’t need to paint them as often. I am generally doing the same thing while breastfeeding and handling my newborn as well – although I do occasionally paint them for events and here is a link to some safer nail polish brands I’ve used.

How did you handle being around a computer and wireless phone all the time?

One of the things that I absolutely could not live without during pregnancy was my Belly Armor Belly Blanket. I worked from my laptop almost every day, but knew that it wasn’t safe to expose my baby to all of the radiation that emits from laptops and wifi. Radiation exposures during pregnancy can increase risk of miscarriage and are also linked to developmental issues – and there was no way I was willing to take that risk. So I found an amazing solution! I just placed this Belly Blanket over my pregnant belly whenever I was working at my computer or using my phone for an extended period of time. The blanket is made with special fabric that neutralizes electromagnetic waves and blocks the radiation from reaching my belly, keeping my baby safe. This really gave me peace of mind! Now that she is born, I continue to use my Belly Blanket to protect her while I’m on my computer. As a new partner of Food Babe, Belly Armor is offering you a special deal:

Get a free baby hat ($19 value) if you spend $50 or more in their online store with the code “foodbabe” at checkout. (Note: the code will only work once you have the baby hat in your cart! These are found in their “Nursery” section.)

How did you handle the exhaustion?

Before getting pregnant, I couldn’t remember the last nap I took! But once I became pregnant, I needed at least a 30 min – 1 hour nap almost every day, otherwise I would fall asleep at 8pm.  Your body needs more sleep during pregnancy, so don’t fight it. I also drank unsweetened iced tea or kombucha to perk myself up on occasion! 

What do you recommend for prenatal supplements and vitamins?

I didn’t take prenatal supplement formulas because the ones available on the market are one-size-fits-all and not everything in those supplements work well with my body. I worked with my doctor to come up with a supplement regimen that worked for me. I took a whole food based organic multivitamin with no fillers and synthetics, following these guidelines. I also took extra probiotics, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium – which helps with sleep. Of course, I also eat The Food Babe Way and have been limiting the amount of sugar in my diet.

What did you do to help you sleep?

I was able to sleep pretty well throughout my pregnancy, which I’m thankful for. The vitamin and mineral supplements that I took (see above) were helpful, but I also took nightly baths with epsom salts. This really helped me to relax and ease discomfort! I did not buy any special pillows, I just used a king size pillow between my legs while I slept on my side. 

How did you handle heartburn naturally?

This simple remedy worked wonders for me: 1 tsp apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water. Take up to 2 doses, as needed. I also slept at an angle propped up on two pillows and took a 10 min walk after eating to help prevent heartburn. 

What did you do for exercise?

Getting out in the fresh air makes a huge difference in everyday life! Although I didn’t go at it as hard as I did before I was pregnant, just doing a little bit of something improved my mood. I kept it part of my routine and made sure to get up and go – showing up to my exercise class every day, whether I could do everything or not! For example, I took a pilates barre class (Hilliard Studio Method) all the way up to my due date. I loved spinning in my first and second trimesters. And I lifted heavy weights with my trainer and took long walks the entire pregnancy. 

What did you do for your nausea?

I drank ginger tea, woke up and ate first thing in the morning and had smaller meals spaced out through the day. Exercise always helped too!

What did you do to prevent stretch marks?

I found the most effective thing to do to avoid stretch marks is eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods while your tummy is growing. All those vitamins and minerals strengthen the skin’s elasticity! I also used organic coconut oil and/or sesame oil on my body every day. 

Did you take the flu shot during pregnancy?

I don’t normally take the flu shot because it has shown to be not effective (so I don’t take the risk) and I would personally never consider it as a pregnant woman. I want my body to react naturally to the environment and to fight viruses on its own. I take steps to prevent the flu – wash hands often, reduce stress, exercise, drink lots of filtered water, eat fermented foods, and avoid industrial toxins. I believe that living a healthy lifestyle sets you up for a healthy pregnancy.

Did you have a natural birth?

Yes, you can read my birth story here. 

Did you encapsulate your placenta?

No, I did not. I discussed this with my doctor and doula, researched options and there was not enough convincing evidence for me, although I have heard it does benefit some women. 

Did you do something for your baby shower registry to specify “no plastics”? If so, how did you make those requests known?

The awesome women throwing me the shower put my preferences on the invitation. I had an eco baby shower, for example, instead of bringing a card with a gift, they requested guests bring an inscribed book instead. I also registered for a lot of eco-friendly items at Sprout San Francisco

What was your Birth Plan?

My birth plan is below, this is highly personalized and you should talk about these choices with your family and health care providers before determining your own. 

This list is intended to express our preferences under normal conditions.

Labor Preferences:
A Natural Birth. I will use natural pain relief techniques. Please do not offer any medication, I will ask if needed. I have an adverse reaction to most pharmaceuticals.
Interventions only following opportunity to discuss options with husband and doula.
I prefer minimal internal exams. A vaginal exam only when I ask to be checked.
I prefer to move freely during labor and eat and drink as needed.
I prefer only intermittent monitoring when needed.
I prefer to have no IV but will consent to a saline lock, if medically necessary.
I prefer no induction of any kind. I prefer the bag of waters to break on its own.
I would like perineal support with massage, hot compresses and various positions to avoid a tear.
I prefer no episiotomy unless required for baby’s safety.
I prefer that no vacuum or forceps are used.

Birth Preferences:
Please place baby on my bare chest immediately.
Please do not cut cord for 15 minutes or until it stops pulsing. Father will plan on cutting cord.
Please allow placenta to expel on its own.

Newborn Preferences:
Please conduct newborn procedures in arms, at least 2 hours after birth.
We have chosen to DECLINE: erythomycin, Hep B vaccine (baby will follow up with Pediatrician), and Vitamin K shot (baby will be taking liquid Vitamin K per Stanford University Protocol).
We consent to: newborn screening (including PKU), necessary emergency treatment. Please conduct all in room. Father will accompany baby for hearing test.

Afterbirth Preferences:
Baby will be breastfed exclusively. Please do not offer sugar water or formula.
I wish for baby to remain with me following birth. Father will accompany baby out of room if needed.
I do not wish to receive any medication post labor, including stool softener.
I prefer to leave the hospital as soon as possible after birth.
Should a transfer be necessary for baby, please allow me to accompany baby.

In case a Cesarean becomes necessary:
Husband and doula present in operating room.
Father holds baby immediately for skin-to-skin and stays with baby continually.
Doula present continually during recovery.
Newborn reunited with mother as soon as possible.

Did you take any classes?

Yes! I did the Mama Natural Birth Course from start to finish and loved it so much. This is a digital course that you watch from home on your own time, and on your own schedule. It is super informative and I left each lesson feeling empowered and confident. I can honestly say that I don’t believe I’ve ever enjoyed an online course as much as this one. You can sign up here for free and Mama Natural will send you weekly pregnancy updates and you can find information on the Mama Natural Birth Course here.

Are you going to vaccinate your child?

The most powerful thing you can do for your health is become educated about everything you put in your own and your family’s bodies – whether it be the food you eat or the pharmaceuticals you inject. Vaccines are not one-size-fits-all and I feel that is way too simplistic of a view – and my doctor agrees. Not all vaccines are created equal. It is really important to recognize that what can help one person, has the ability to hurt another. Each vaccine needs to be evaluated individually for its benefits and risks relative to your personal situation.

Understand that I’m not an expert on vaccines recommended by the CDC for children, but now that I’m a parent I feel that it is my obligation to become as educated as possible on the subject… so I’ve been doing A LOT of reading! I have checked out or ordered just about every vaccine advice book under the sun and am doing a thorough personal investigation to become as educated as possible about my choices. I have also been taking the time to talk to my own doctors and trusted advisors to make the best decisions. I encourage you to do the same and make the decision for yourself as to what you feel comfortable with. Here is one of my favorite books I read about the topic.  

What type of meal plans can I follow to help get me ready to become pregnant or while pregnant? 

Join us in the Food Babe Meal Plans For Health Program. I’ll stick with you day after day to get rid of the food additives, chemicals and extra baggage that can weigh us down in this over-processed food world. If you are looking for more help in the kitchen or are struggling with figuring out what to eat, the best brands to buy, and how to follow a non-GMO, organic diet, then this program is the perfect fit for you. Sign up and download your guides here: https://foodbabe.com/eat 

For more…

While I was pregnant, I did a pregnancy Q&A on Facebook Live with my great friend and doula Latham Thomas of Mama Glow – you can watch the entire video here

Please share this post with all your mamas and mom-to-be friends!

I’m so excited to share my pregnancy journey and now on to motherhood with you. This has been the most amazing time of my life. Remember to follow along on Instagram at thefoodbabe & foodbabemama to see all my fun antics and pics!

Xo,

Vani

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91 responses to “Your Top Pregnancy Questions Answered!

  1. Love your post and keeping us informed. Congratulations and Blessing on your new little one…he is adorable! I was really excited about the belly armor blanket. I went to their site and have read that the blankets are layered with aluminum-infused fabric. This was very concerning to me, my Ma-Ma(grandmother) passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease and since then I do NOT do anything with aluminum. I know some claim it has nothing to do with it but there are concerns with aluminum in deodorants and cookware…so I stay clear from it! I really just wanted to make you aware. Thank you for your fight and God Bless!

  2. Hello,

    I enjoy reading about healthy things. Keep those recipes coming. I am looking for a donut pan that ISN’T non-stick to make healthier donuts with. Any suggestions on where to find one?

    Thank you.

  3. Hi! Did you take DHA at all while pregnant? My organic prenatal vitamin does not have that. I do take an organic flaxseed oil, but the only omega 3 it contains is ALA. Thanks!

  4. What form of magnesium did you take during your pregnancy? Did you take it during the entire pregnancy ? I took magnesium citrate before I found out I was pregnant but have since stopped. I would like to start taking magnesium again but I am not sure what kind.

  5. As a science major I am of course pro vaccination. I got the shot for the chicken pox at age 13 I believe and I have yet to contract it. In fact I hear about it less and less as time goes on. That’s a relatively harmless disease and I can’t imagine living in a world where the more horrendous diseases are widespread. Also, I think people have to remember to factor in diet and lifestyle and how much the world has changed. Let’s talk the 1940s and before. First off a lot of children tended to die young which is why many families had multiple children. Second, we did not eat as terribly as before which has been shown to increase issues that we haven’t seen before. We didn’t know about many issues that people had back then. Remember there was a time when your child wasn’t autistic but considered slow and stupid. We didn’t have such inactive lifestyles and we walked to many locations. Our parents were stronger because of their closeness to earth but many of them died young. But they are living longer. Why? Vaccines and medicine. The truth is there are millions of vaccinated children. I’m hearing that the majority of them are doing pretty well.

  6. Our 11 mo old is going to transition from breastmilk (my supply is dropping quickly) to milk in the next couple of months. I’m struggling with picking a milk…from what I’ve read it needs to have adequate protein, fat, etc. which disqualifies most milk alternatives. I’m between organic dairy milk (not loving the idea of animal hormones etc) and pea milk (not loving that Ripple is not organic and contains some additives). I’d prefer to avoid the need for milk altogether but she doesn’t eat much so I don’t think I could pack enough fat/calories/protein into her. Which “milk” would you give your toddler?

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