Last but not least is our final installation of the Healthy Pregnancy Diet series. We are talking the five core essential nutrients that lay the foundation for a tip-top healthy pregnancy, birth, baby, and postpartum experience. If you didn't catch the earlier ones you can find Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here.
Omega 3’s are a family of fats made up of three essential fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA.
The human brain is about 60% fat, and basically it takes fat to make fat.
One of these fats that plays a particular role in brain makin' is DHA.
In the last trimester babies brains grow by four or fivefold, and DHA is the lady in charge of all that happening.
"Your baby is literally pretty much sucking you dry of your DHA reserves and he/or she will continue to do so even after birth through breastfeeding when brain growth is moving in the fast lane."
Your breast milk is only as good as your diet is.
So if you want to pass on Omega-3’s in your milk you gotta eat em'. Also, it’s not just the quality of your milk but also the quantity as Omega-3’s play a crucial role in making breast milk to begin with. Women who are deficient often have issues with low milk supply.
Once again takes fat to make fat.
Going even further, Omega-3 fats not only affect your babies, brain but it also effects YOU!
You have a brain and body that need essential fatty acids to function as well!
Women who are low in Omega-3’s have shown a sixfold greater risk of developing postpartum depression as well as obsessive compulsive disorder and this risk can hang around even two years after the birth of your child.
Life is difficult enough. Life with an infant is difficult enough. And life with an infant and postpartum depression is heart wrenching.
Obviously PD can show up regardless of diet, but to know that we can do something to decrease our risk for it should be at the top of our priority list.
We know that with each pregnancy you have, you get depleted in your Omega-3's. So if you don’t put some effort into replenishing yourself after baby, the next pregnancy will deplete you even more.
We also are beginning to see that these things may be passed on. So if your mother did not have enough DHA, she passed that onto you. If you don’t do anything about it, you pass even less onto your daughter and she comes out and continues the cycle with her kids.
Single best way to get your Omega-3's in is by eating fish 2-3 times a week.
Countries that have high consumption of fish like Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden also have some of the best infant and maternal mortality rates, smoothest labors, and lowest postpartum depression issues. Obviously that’s correlation not causation BUT something to take note.
We have a bit of a fear with fish in this country because of the mercury issue. There are fish that you should avoid. They are tilefish, swordfish, shark fish, blufin tuna, and king mackerel. But don't let that dissuade you!
There is way more of an assortment that you can choose from compared to those that you can't.
Top picks are wild salmon, trout, halibut, and sardines (canned or fresh). You can find a handy dandy wallet sized cut-out, listing all the fish do's and don'ts, in our Perfect Pregnancy Nutrition fun sheets (sign up below). Pop it in your wallet and whip it out for easy reference when shopping or eating out.
Bottom line is: you need to get smart about your fish but don't shy from it completely.
In fact the importance of Omega-3's on fetal brain development have become so apparent that the FDA and EPA have recently revised their previous recommendations of throwing caution to pregnant women about eating fish to actually encouraging them to get at least 8 ounces of low-mercury fish in per week.
All in all I think it's fair to say that there was a real reason why primitive cultures back in the day would go to great lengths to get access to fish products just to bring back to their childbearing ladies in the village. They knew it was vital to a healthy pregnancy and baby!
If you don’t like fish, no way no how, get your hands on a quality Omega-3 supplement. I always say nothing beats the real thing, but it's better than nothing.
So that's it! Get your Calcium, Protein, Vitamin D, Folate, and Omega-3's in every day and you will be well on your way to rockin' this pregnancy thing out!
Isn't it amazing to see how powerful our food can be?!