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Pre-Conception Confusion

July 24, 2011

I had never heard of “preconception planning” before this summer, but when my mother put me in touch with a nutritionist who specializes in preconception, prenatal and pediatric nutrition, it seemed like a brilliant idea. The idea seemed brilliant because changing our eating habits *after* a baby would obviously be impossible. We eat pretty well, but hey, an expert opinion sounded pretty good. I had no idea what I was getting into, and I am so glad that I accepted help as early as I did.

Our baby plan, before I ran headlong into this preconception planning world, consisted of the following: talk about it in 2012, probably in March. If we decided “yes,” we’d get try to get pregnant. If we decided “no,” we’d talk about it again in three months. Why 2012? That is a story for another day, but, basically, there are some prescription medications that I would really like to live without before I get pregnant.

So what’s our baby plan, now? Eat, learn, read, buy even more groceries, eat even more things I have never heard of, try to get used to swallowing lemon-flavored cod liver oil (with extra vitamin D). That covers THIS WEEK. Maybe this month. Next month? I don’t want to think about next month.

Why am I overwhelmed? As it turns out, and I’ll be posting more about this, I could potentially manage my chronic migraine headaches as well as my anxiety and depression with food. *This applies to ME, to my lifestyle, to MY SYMPTOMS, and is NOT general medical advice!* So there’s a lot of information about why and how that works. Then, there’s the baby. I thought I had already made my eggs, Nathan had already made his sperm, done and done. Not true?! What we eat 100 days before conecption has a huge impact on the fetus?! Whoa, do I need time to understand *that* science.

My goals for this blog include:

  • Record my thoughts and experiences, which seem to be speeding by far too quickly, so that I can go back and look at them later.
  • Share my thoughts and experiences with anyone else trying to make sense of this mountain of information–chances are, you could use a “friend” to confirm that, yes, this is really that confusing.
  • Learn even more from anyone willing to read and comment here.
One more thing: I want to post a Nutrition Question once a week. Please keep in mind a few restrictions placed on my diet because I suffer from chronic migraines–no nuts, no cheese, no chocolate, no alcohol. Also, I hate raw tomatoes, beets and peas (unless they’re still in the pod). This week’s Nutrition Question is… Can anyone add to my list of protein-rich foods? I’m trying to cram protein in at every possible opportunity, so I’d like as much variety as possible.
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Steel cut oatmeal
  • Grass-fed beef, organic chicken
  • Salmon, cod and other cold-water fish
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Pumpkin seeds (roasted, no salt)
Thanks for your help! I hope my questions can help anyone else out there with baby-related confusion. If you’re looking for professional help (with nutritional questions) by all means, read this lady‘s book and get in touch with her! She’s amazing! 
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2011 1:44 am

    A few other high protein foods: quinoa, peas, and tofu 🙂

    • July 30, 2011 2:42 am

      I can only eat peas if they’re raw and still in the pod… Does that count? Otherwise, the texture grosses me out. Oh, and I’m experimenting with seitan this week! New recipe. The key, apparently, is to blot it dry with paper towels to get it to brown.

  2. August 5, 2011 12:41 am

    Why so much emphasis on protein? I also used to suffer from chronic migraines, if you haven’t tried it before I highly recommend it!!! After seeing a chiropractor twice/wk for 3 months I went from having 2-3 migraines a week where I’d have to lay in a silent dark room to 1/month. Turned out I have scoliosis so mine were almost directly related to spinal curvature, but any misalignment in the spine can not only affect nerves related to tension and headache, but organ function throughout the body -only 5% of nerves in the body are sensory. OK, that’s my soapbox 🙂

    • August 5, 2011 8:27 am

      The emphasis is on pumping me full of the amino acids that the body needs to build cells and already-made cells need to repair themselves. Combined with the fish oil, this is supposed to prop up the work that research shows is already happening when the meds + therapy combo works–the brain actually creates new pathways for serotonin and teaches itself how to avoid “reuptaking” what’s already in there. [That is a really short summary of a lot of science! I hope it makes sense. I’ll do a post on it.] About the spine thing–I’m about to try Rolfing, which works with the connective tissues in the body. Mostly because I really hurt between my shoulder blades before and after each headache. Sounds like the same principle! I should end up with better posture/better alignment. Note: Since I went off birth control two weeks ago, the headaches have dropped dramatically. Definitely the cause of a huge number of them.

  3. Peggy Garte permalink
    August 15, 2011 10:46 am

    Could you switch to a prenatal daily vitamin? It’s mostly just a regular multi-vitamin, except it also has *some* amount of Omega 3s (maybe to at least cut down on some of your lemon oil doses?), and a few other things good for baby that, in actuallity, are good for all of us! Many OBs recommend going on a prenatal vitamin up to a year before pregnancy. With both of my previous pregnancies, my OBs just started me on the prenatals as soon as I found out that I was pregnant, but next time I think I will start them beforehand- mostly because, why not?

    • August 15, 2011 10:57 am

      I will do that, actually, in a couple months. The reason not to is because they’re a lot more expensive than multi-vitamins. It seems that if they put anything to do with babies on a label, they can charge more, right? You are totally correct, though, and not the first person to suggest this–one of my colleagues at the child care center took the prenatal for five years (they had some trouble getting pregnant). My nutritionist will switch me when we get closer. Oh, and unfortunately, the lemony fish oil is not just for the Omega 3s. It’s weird and kind of gross, but the molecular composition of fish oil is really close to that of the fatty substance that acts as a conductor for our brain cells–messages get sent through fat, in other words. It’s where serotonin and dopamine hang out before we “reuptake” them (anti-depressants are designed to delay that). There’s not about a million pages of research that suggests this super-cool development: people who are depressed get less depressed when they take a teaspoon of fish oil every day. They think that what happens is that by improving the quality of the stuff between the neurons in your brain, they communicate better and do a better job handling the “happy” chemicals. My therapist has read it the research and finds it pretty exciting. It’s mainstream now. I’m probably stuck with the stuff forever. But fish oil is better than anxiety!

  4. Peggy Garte permalink
    August 15, 2011 10:55 am

    Also, I second the suggestion above of tofu as a great alternative source of protein. We typically eat in about twice a week. Sometimes, I lightly dust small cubes in flour and saute in olive oil, as a topper for salads. Other times, I simmer small cubes in a yummy, bottled simmer sauce (Trader Joes makes some great Thai variaties, among others) along with some broccoli, or sliced red pepper and onion, and serve over rice. That kind of dinner could NOT be easier.

  5. August 15, 2011 11:09 am

    Nathan does an amazing grilled tofu on our counter-top grill. The salad idea is great! But Peg. You know that Nathan won’t eat red peppers or onions! Have you tried seitan? I’d forgotten about it, but it’s super high protein wheat gluten. The box is a bit scary, because it says “Chicken” or “Beef” and I always think why do you try to mimic meat textures?! The key is drying it off–patting it with a paper towel. If you do that and get most of the excess moisture off, you can sauté it and get a really lovely browned crispy outside. It’s also good on salads.

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