Healthy pregnancy support with diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client names and identifying information changed
Heather came to me after she had a miscarriage. Her doctor said this was quite common and not to be concerned because all would be well next time around as her body would be more ready, but of course this didn’t stop Heather from worrying.
After a few tests, we found out that Heather’s thyroid was slightly sub-optimal (underactive) and that she had one genetic mutation on the MTHFR gene so she needed to have more natural forms of folate from her diet rather than from the supplements with synthetic folic acid.
Heather’s progesterone level appeared to be lower than normal, so because I was uncertain whether this was an issue during her pregnancy, I advised her to include progesterone supportive foods in her diet and to get her levels checked later when she fell pregnant again.
Interestingly the foods that support a healthy thyroid are the same as those that support healthy hormones (including progesterone) and healthy pregnancy, which makes things easier.
The only addition for Heather’s thyroid was iodine rich foods which are also good for pregnancy, which she could get by eating the occasional sushi roll or some iodised salt. Note: I advise to make sushi fresh at home so you control what goes into it, rather than what is on offer at sushi shops, where there could be a higher potential of food poisoning which you want to avoid during pregnancy.
With tests, we also discovered that Heather’s digestive system needed to improve, so I started her on a gut repair program, then supported her thyroid with nutrients such as zinc (which was very low), B6, B12 (also low in Heather) and selenium (showed very low in Heather’s hair mineral analysis). Heather’s Vitamin D was also quite low, which was needed for hormonal balance, so I encouraged her to have a few minutes in the sun at lunchtime or 20 minutes in mornings or afternoons.
After a few months, Heather’s levels and tests showed her body was in balance. She felt much better and had more vitality, so it was time for her to try again for a healthy pregnancy. She fell pregnant easily and through the first trimester we made sure that she ate plenty of high folate foods, as the first trimester is the most important time to protect against miscarriage and neural tube defects.
First trimester went by quite well, although she had some morning sickness, so we increased her B6 foods and added some fatty foods like coconut and avocado which helped to settle the liver down (often the cause of morning sickness because the liver can’t handle the hormonal load). The second trimester onwards went really well and she glowed with love and health.
In the last trimester, we made sure that Heather had healthy fibres and extra probiotic rich foods to feed the good bacteria, ready for a healthy birthing process and good bacteria for the baby to develop its immune system as it slips through the birth canal.