Ask Mary, blog

Eating while pregnant and breastfeeding

It’s no secret that women even me are curious or even scared about the condition their body will be in after having a baby. Our heads spin with questions like,  “will my body ever be the same, how will people see me differently, how can my stomach grow that large and let’s not even discuss the delivery!”

(c) HMFG copyright 2016 photo by james moran

(c) HMFG copyright 2016 photo by james moran

When I was a healthy and fit woman of 30, I got pregnant for the first time. Tears of joy don’t even begin to describe my excitement. After trying for two years without any success, my yearning for a baby decreased those frustrating thoughts of losing the body I’d come to know and grown to love over the years.

From a very young age, I was tall and thin to the point of frustration. Everyone would say how lucky I was to be tall and thin. It came with challenges; clothes never fit, I didn’t mature like everyone else and I was taller than most boys my age. It took years (literally years) until I loved my body, and once I did I came into my own. I finally found brands of clothes that fit me and I even learned to love the fact I was taller than most boys. I had come into to my own and was finally comfortable inside and out. So it was only natural that I feared having a baby would change both my insides and my out.

As each month came and went, I watched my body grow in the most amazing ways. In the beginning, I was sure I’d be the only woman in the world who wouldn’t grow a pregnant belly, but to my surprise, I, like generations of women before me, grew a big beautiful belly with an incredible baby inside.

My anxiety waivered from one day to the next. Some days I knew the life inside was worth the sacrifice of my body and I would deal with what it looked like after the delivery. Other days I would stand in front of the mirror observing my body noticing every change and stressed that things would never go back to the way they were.

Not only was I dealing with my personal concerns of gaining weight, but, also because of a past back injury, I was instructed to gain only 20-25 pounds, which seemed impossible with my cravings. Halfway through my pregnancy, I was exhausted from worry and consumed with fear of all the ‘what if’s’ of pregnancy.

I decided to let all my fears go. Being a nutritionist, I knew that whatever number was on the scale after the birth would not have to be a permanent number. After making that decision I felt free to love myself and experience the joy of being pregnant and marvel at the body’s ability to change and transform in a way that was almost magical.

I found that letting go of my fears was the first step in accepting and loving my new body. I happily gained the allotted amount plus a little extra. I listened to the needs of my body and ate what my body needed and what I knew was right for both of us.

When the day finally came to bring a new little one into the world I felt enormous and proud beyond my wildest dreams. After five months out I wore my body like a badge of honor. There were changes I was positive that they would never go back to the way they once were, but to my surprise they did. Every change was worth it and I still feel that way today.

Today, I’m a fully engrossed in motherhood with two boys- 5 and 2. Life with kids has been the greatest gift in my life and I would do it all again knowing what my body would be like after.

Eating while pregnant (A few tips):
  • Whole foods
  • Lot’s of fruits and vegetables
  • Proteins (organic when possible)
    • Beef
    • Chicken
    • Lamb
    • Fish (stay away from fish with a high level of mercury: tuna, swordfish)
    • Beans
  • Eat as few processed foods as possible (processed foods can give you extra calories)
  • Stay away from caffeine
  • Whole grains
  • Stay away from soft cheeses that are unpasteurized
  • Stay away from lunch meats


As your size increases:

  • Stay away from large meals
  • Reduce acidic foods: lemons, limes, tomatoes
  • Enjoy a variety of food before the baby is born if you are breastfeeding. The first few weeks of breastfeeding will require a limited variety of foods.
A suggestion when to introduce foods into your diet when breastfeeding.

Eating for you and your baby the first six weeks-

  • Chicken soup
  • Rice, pastas, breads
  • Turkey and chicken sandwiches
  • Chicken, turkey
  • Avocados, leeks, red peppers, carrots, celery, potatoes
  • Stay away from spicy foods
  • Stay away from onions, garlic, strong herbs and tomatoes
  • Stay away from dark greens


Eating for you and your baby the second six weeks-

  • Everything from the first six weeks
  • Butter lettuce, romaine, iceberg lettuce
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Olives, pickles

Eating for you and your baby the third six weeks-

  • Everything from the first 12 weeks
  • Artichoke hearts and hearts of palm
  • Slowly introduce red meats, white fish
  • Slowly introduce greens

Eating while breast feeding the first few weeks after birth-

  • Try treating your body right after giving birth like it’s sick- think soups loaded with iron dense vegetables (kale, spinach, meats)
  • Start the day with a good meal even though you have literally been up all night and don’t feel like it.
  • Watch out for foods that can give the baby indigestion- garlic, broccoli, tomatoes.
  • Babies can be sensitive to dairy (not mine but it does happen)
  • Drink lots of water and liquids.
  • In the middle of the night when you’re having to breast feed try keeping apple juice close by,  it always made me feel better after breastfeeding.
  • More questions check with a dietitian or your doctor.

After you finish breastfeeding it’s time to kick it into high gear

  • Add tons of nutrient dense foods into your diet to reload your body
  • Eat fruits and vegetables
  • Slowly decrease the amount of food you intake daily. (Breastfeeding burns calories; which allows you to eat more than your body needs with out breastfeeding).
  • Cut back on the sugar in your diet
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
  • Weigh yourself once a week and monitor your progress
  • Journal your foods so that you’re aware of what you’re eating


If you liked this post check out cooking with a child on my hip.


Thanks for reading let me know how your pregnancy is going. This post was from a few years back with my first child. If you have any questions I am definitely willing to share.