Discover How You Can Have A Safe, Full-Term Pregnancy And A Healthy Baby…while minimizing your risk of complications, miscarriage and developmental disorders.
The Healthybaby Guide for an optimally healthy pregnancy
Written by The Healthybaby Team
October 25, 2022
- Preconception + prenatal care focuses on women’s and men’s health to increase the chance of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. You can make lifestyle choices that have a huge impact on your baby’s health.
- When preparing for pregnancy and during pregnancy, focus on taking a comprehensive prenatal supplement, reducing toxic exposures and stress, and eating a clean and complete diet to support the overall health of you and your baby
- Pregnancy can deplete the body’s nutritional stores while also increasing nutritional demands. You need a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to create the healthiest environment possible for your baby.
- While avoiding all toxic exposures is hard in our modern world, there are strategies that can help reduce everyday chemical exposures.
- Supplementing with a prenatal regimen helps to ensure that you and your baby are fully supported as you grow together. We formulated our prenatal supplement using evidence-based recommendations for the optimal level of each vitamin and mineral.
- Regular exercise and prioritizing your mental health can go a long way toward improving the health of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a whirlwind season of discovery, discipline and discernment. During this time of rapid development, it is critical that pregnant moms understand which foods are best and what foods to avoid when filling their plates. Certified Nutrition Consultant, Julie Matthews, teaches the importance of healthy eating during pregnancy and shares savvy nutrition tips to best support mother and child.
Julie Matthews received her Bachelor of Science from the University of California and completed the Nutritional Consultant program at Bauman College of holistic nutrition and culinary arts. She is a respected nutrition expert, award winning author of the book, Nourishing Hope for Autism, and has over 20 years of clinical experience and scientific research with a focus on Autism and ADHD.
Most people know the importance of eating fruits and vegetables but many are surprised to learn that vegetables should comprise half the plate at every meal. Not all vegetables are created equally, dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and produce with a wide variety of colors are preferential to empty starches like potatoes or corn. “Each of the different colors correspond to different phytonutrients, try to eat a rainbow of foods, “shares Matthews. Fresh, whole fruit is superior to fruit juices or dried fruits, both of which have little fiber and are high in sugar.
Essential fats and amino acids are critical building blocks for baby and animal protein should make up the remaining ½ of the plate. Fish like salmon or sardines are high in heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids and better than larger sized species like tuna or swordfish which tend to contain higher amounts of the neurotoxin, mercury. Red meat contains carnitine which supports metabolism and the body’s immune system. Pregnant moms should aim for getting 90 grams of protein in each day. While it is important
Whether you’re thinking about getting pregnant, actively trying, or already pregnant, there are essentials steps you can take to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. Wherever you are in your journey, start now!
With so much of your baby’s initial brain growth and development occurring in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy before you conceive is important. However, with about half of the pregnancies in the United States being unplanned, preparing for pregnancy can be challenging for some families.
You and your baby will benefit from taking steps to improve your health at any point in your pregnancy. You can improve your health by focusing on taking a comprehensive prenatal supplement, eating a clean and complete diet, reducing toxic exposures, and reducing your stress.
The environment you provide baby’s developing brain and body during pregnancy matters!
The burgeoning field of epigenetics has revealed that our genetic code is in constant communication with our environments, instructing our genetic code how to express itself. As a result, the genes you pass on to your baby are just one factor in who they will become, and their environments matter too!
A mother’s body is baby’s very first environment and provides the foundation for growth during an incredibly important window of time for their rapidly developing brain and bodies. A newborn baby will arrive with an estimated 100 billion neural connections already formed!
Healthy lifestyle choices before and during pregnancy can positively impact your baby’s health – and we call this preconception care.
Preconception care focuses on women’s and men’s health to increase the chance of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. It means taking control of your health and making a plan for the future to get there!
Preconception health for men is essential too.
While preconception and pregnancy health often focuses on a women’s health, men should also prioritize their preconception health to support a healthy pregnancy and baby. Men are encouraged to follow similar recommendations as women to increase the quality of their sperm and to improve the chance of conception and a healthy child. This is even more important in men who are 40 years or older.
Infertility is also a common challenge that can affect both men and women. In at least half of all infertility cases, a male factor is a contributing cause. This means approximately 10% of American men attempting to conceive suffer from infertility. However, the evaluation of men’s fertility can frequently be overlooked until after the failure of assisted reproductive technologies in women.
Steps you can take for a healthy pregnancy:
1. Take a Comprehensive Prenatal Supplement.
Your baby’s brain will start developing as early as the third week of pregnancy, using your body’s nutrient stores and daily intake as the building blocks for optimal growth. While eating a healthy and complete diet can provide sufficient amounts of most vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, the truth is, most of us don’t eat an adequate diet! Supplementing with a comprehensive prenatal regimen helps to ensure that you and your baby are fully supported as you grow together.
- When possible, start taking a prenatal supplement at least three months before you become pregnant, so your body has all the nutrients you need for the critical first few weeks.
- Take your prenatal throughout the entire course of your pregnancy
- Wait at least three months after stopping oral contraceptives before conceiving to allow hormone and vitamin levels to restore to healthy levels. Oral contraceptives can deplete your body of B vitamins and zinc.
- If you’ve recently had a child, wait 18 months before conceiving again. It is recommended by the Neurological Health Foundation (NHF), an organization dedicated to helping women have healthy pregnancies, to space your pregnancies to allow your body to replenish vitamins and minerals that were depleted during pregnancy.
- Check with your doctor, and test for common nutritional deficiencies. Many women have nutrition deficiencies that may not cause obvious health problems in an adult, but can be an issue for a growing child. Your doctor can help identify problems to address before pregnancy to ensure you are in the best health possible. Iron and vitamin D are some of the most common deficiencies during pregnancy. 40% of women develop iron deficiency during the third trimester, and with iron’s critical role in making new red blood cells and transporting them to baby’s brain, iron levels should be tested at preconception and retested during the third trimester.
Not all prenatal supplements are created equally.
It may be a surprise to know that the FDA has no published standards or regulations for prenatal supplements. This regulatory gray area leaves the burden of finding high-quality prenatal supplements on parents.
Concerned about the standards of prenatal supplements, James Adams, Ph.D., the co-founder of the Neurological Health Foundation, evaluated 188 prenatals on the market and found that the average prenatal had only 44% of the NHF’s recommendation, and none met the standard, until now…
Our Prenatal Supplement System
The Most Comprehensive and Customized Prenatal Supplement System.
To formulate our prenatal supplements, we partnered with Dr. Adams and the Neurological Health Foundation (“NHF”) to leverage insights from his research on 350+ of the newest studies on optimal prenatal supplementation for a developing baby and pregnant mother. We used evidence-based recommendations to include the optimal level and form of each vitamin and mineral, and our prenatal meets 99% of the NHF’s recommendation. Our formulation is also customized by trimester to meet the changing demands of pregnancy, from preconception to pregnancy through recovery.
2. Eat Clean.
A healthy diet is a cornerstone of good health. Consuming a diet rich in a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, protein, and fat is essential to meet your bodies nutritional needs, with the help of a prenatal.
When choosing produce it is important to mindful as it’s estimated that 70% of produce sold in the US is laden with harmful pesticide residues, and pesticides are a burden on your body and babies developing body during pregnancy. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed a relationship between exposure to organophosphate pesticides during pregnancy to lower birth weight and an increased probability of ADHD among other effects.
- Eat organic produce when possible. Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, protein, and essential fats. Eating organic will help reduce your exposure to herbicides and pesticides.
- Organic food can be cost prohibitive, shop smarter with EWG. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to help families navigate which produce can be safely purchased conventionally (non-organic) and which should ideally be purchased organic based on pesticide residues. If eating conventional produce, it is important to always wash and peel the skins first.
- Avoid canned foods to reduce exposure to chemicals since the interiors of most cans are coated with a lining containing bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine or hormone disruptor.
- Begin taking probiotics during the preconception phase to improve gut bacteria. Many factors help to shape your baby’s gut microbiome, including your own microbiome during pregnancy. Vaginal births also support specific strains of your microbiome being passed to your baby. Unfortunately, babies born by cesarean do not have these particular strains in common with their mothers. Studies have shown that babies have a reduced risk of developing allergic symptoms when their mother takes probiotics.
- Use safe cookware. Avoid non-stick coatings and aluminum. Safer alternatives are stainless steel, cast iron, glass, ceramic, porcelain, or enamel.
3. Check your water source
Federal funding gaps and water safety standards that lag behind the latest science on contaminants leave many Americans at risk when they open their tap at home. For some communities, tap drinking water can contain a cocktail of industrial chemicals at unsafe levels including lead, arsenic, and ‘forever chemicals’ called PFAS. These chemicals have links brain and nervous system damage, fertility problems, hormone disruption and other health harms.
Understanding your water source and how to filter for cleaner water is vital to a healthy pregnancy.
Start by using the EWG Tap Water Database to look up the quality of your local water system. The EWG has compiled annual test reports from 2014-2019 produced by almost 50,000 water utilities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to help you understand how polluted your drinking water can be.
Once you have an understanding for the quality of your drinking water, EWG can help you find a water filter that’s most compatible with your drinking water, as well as other ways to seek out uncontaminated water.
4. Clean up your routines
Our modern environments expose us to hundreds of industrial chemicals that linger in our food, water, and air. To get a sense for the scale of these exposures, in the United States we use 1 billion pounds of pesticides annually, 99% of people have PFAS (‘forever chemicals’) detectable in their blood, and approximately 137 million people live in places with unhealthy and polluted air.
Many of these exposures can be associated with concerning health and wellness consequences for mothers and children, and data shows are rapid increase in the rate of developmental disorders among children. The CDC reports that 1 in 6 children will be diagnosed with a developmental disability, and 1 in 44 children will be diagnosed with Autism
Chemical exposures in the womb can be much more harmful than later in life.
The umbilical cord carries vital nutrients for your baby, but many chemicals and pollutants can also cross the placenta. A recent study by the EWG found that the umbilical cords of newborns were polluted with as many as 300 industrial chemicals. While avoiding all exposures is impossible, there are many steps that you can take to reduce exposure to some of the more toxic chemicals.
- Look for the EWG VERIFIED™ It can be overwhelming to know which products are safer and healthier for you and your baby. The EWG VERIFIED™ mark does the work for you to ensure the product is free from EWG’s chemicals of concern and meets the strictest standards for your health. Find safer products by visiting EWG’s Skin Deep App.
- Recognize and avoid toxins in your personal care and cleaning products. Areas of focus in your home to start with include your cleaning products, skin care products, wipes, shampoos and soaps, feminine hygiene products, cookware and dinnerware, and home fragrances. A few quick tips for avoiding everyday toxins include:
- Using products with fewer ingredients and ingredients you recognize. Many products can include unlisted ingredients. To earn the rigorous EWG VERIFIED™ mark, companies must disclose their entire ingredient and material list.
- Avoid disinfectants and antibacterial cleaners when possible which may be too harsh on the natural ecosystem of your house and home.
- Avoid fragrances when possible. Fragrance contains endocrine-disrupting chemicals that often don’t appear on labels. Opt for fragrance-free laundry detergent, perfume, lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc.
- Skip air fresheners and candles that can release volatile organic compounds and even heavy metals into the air.
- Avoid bug repellants that contain DEET, cyfluthrin, and pyrethroids that be can be harmful to your health and the environment. Also avoid mixing chemical sunscreen and bug sprays: The sunscreen chemical oxybenzone has been shown to enhance the absorption rate of DEET.
- Avoid plastics. The chemicals bisphenols (BPA) and phthalates are used in many of our plastic products and have been linked to reproductive problems in both men and women. A few tips to avoid plastics include:
- Bringing your own non-plastic food container when eating at restaurants.
- Avoid plastics in toys and items that babies may teethe on or put in their mouth.
Our suite of Healthybaby home and personal care essentials are designed with you and your developing baby in mind, and we’re setting a next generation standard for safety and transparency. From our prenatal, to home cleaning solutions, to deodorant when you’re preparing to welcome baby to the first ever EWG VERIFIED diaper and wipes for when baby arrives, you can discover our entire suite of safer essentials for you and baby at healthybaby.com.
5. Get Physically & Mentally Healthy with Exercise and Stress Reduction
Pregnancy is a significant stress on your body. Focusing on mental and physical health goes a long way toward improving the health of your pregnancy, a safer delivery, and a healthier baby. A few tips to support your mental and physical health include:
- Build a support system. Focus on building healthy relationships by discussing your pregnancy journey with your partner, family, and friends
- Practice lifestyle behaviors that decrease stress, such as walking, yoga, and meditation.
- Exercise. We recommend building up to 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity and muscle-strengthening activities two or more days per week.
- Get at least eight hours of sleep and avoid caffeine and sleep medications. Instead, rely on a regular bedtime routine, daily exercise, and a cool, dark, and quiet room.
Congratulations on starting your journey to a healthy pregnancy! We know there is so much to consider when trying to provide the best environment possible for you and your growing family. If you focus on a clean and complete diet, reducing stress and toxic exposures, and taking a comprehensive prenatal supplement, you are on your way to the healthiest pregnancy possible.
- Adams JB, Kirby JK, Sorensen JC, Pollard EL, Audhya T. Evidence based recommendations for an optimal prenatal supplement for women in the US: vitamins and related nutrients. Matern Health Neonatol Perinatol. 2022;8(1):4. Published 2022 Jul 11. doi:10.1186/s40748-022-00139-9
- Adams JB, Sorenson JC, Pollard EL, Kirby JK, Audhya T. Evidence-Based Recommendations for an Optimal Prenatal Supplement for Women in the U.S., Part Two: Minerals. Nutrients. 2021;13(6):1849. Published 2021 May 28. doi:10.3390/nu13061849
- Environmental Working Group (EWG). 1:16 / 22:26 “10 Americans” By Environmental Working Group.; 2012. https://youtu.be/0-kc3AIM_LU. Accessed October 4, 2022.
- Neurological Health Foundation (NHF) – Unlock Your Child’s Potential. Neurological Health Foundation (NHF). https://neurologicalhealth.org. Published 2022. Accessed October 4, 2022.
- Ackerman S. 6 the development and shaping of the brain – NCBI bookshelf. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234146/. Published 1992. Accessed October 20, 2022.
This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone immediately.
- Attendees will have access to watch each session completely free as it airs or viewers can upgrade to the VIP All-Access Pass for lifetime access.
- This interactive event also includes a Q&A section with opportunities to the ask the experts your personal questions so that your experience is completely tailored to the concerns that matter most to you.
- Questions? Visit www.healthypregnancysummit.com to learn more.