Paleo Helped Me Have A Healthy Pregnancy

aimee-36-weeks-sm.jpgAlmost two years ago, I wrote a blog post about Paleo and fertility, which also discussed my personal history with autoimmune disease and infertility. The blog was called Can Paleo Make It Easier To Have A Baby? and it was written while I was still struggling to find the right combination of dietary and medical help to stop my miscarriages and to ultimately have a successful pregnancy.

Fast forward 18 months, and I am happy to report with certainty that yes, Paleo can make it easier to have a baby. I know because I am now the proud, grateful, and exhausted parent of a four-month old boy. While Paleo wasn’t the only factor in my being able to have a successful pregnancy, it certainly contributed to how healthy I was during my nine month stint as an expectant mother. Because of my multiple autoimmune syndrome (MAS), I was classed as high-risk, and was very closely monitored. Because I have an autoimmune clotting disorder, as well as other genetic clotting disorders, I had to be on blood thinners for the duration of the pregnancy. Every day that I was pregnant brought both joy and terror as I was thrilled to have made it one step closer to holding my child, but always fearful that I would lose the baby at some point along the way. After seven miscarriages, it was only natural to be afraid.

aimee-pregnant-200x300.jpgPaleo and Prenatal Health

Even though I was high-risk, and I battled a severe case of pregnancy “morning sickness” that lasted all day, every day, for the entire nine months, I was actually very healthy. My Hashimoto’s thyroid disease went into remission. My inflammation levels were low. My blood sugar looked better than those of most non-pregnant people. My blood pressure was excellent. And my weight gain was normal. My baby, too, grew steadily at a healthy rate.

I passed my gestational diabetes screening with flying colors because my diet did not include any refined sugar, gluten, or grains. I was certainly eating a carb-heavy diet because protein became harder to digest during those many months of pregnancy. When seemingly everything makes you nauseous, any food that you can keep down becomes a victory. There were days where I literally only ate carbs, and I did not feel bad about it. I was doing the best I could to nourish myself and my baby, and because I was choosing quality Paleo food, it didn’t matter that my micronutrient ratios were not perfectly balanced every single day.

Paleo and Postpartum Health

After my son was born, I assumed that I would be able to seamlessly return to my normal Paleo way of eating. I assumed it would be easy since I would no longer have to deal with the pregnancy heartburn and nausea. Instead, I continued to deal with nausea (lingering effects of an unplanned cesarean and lots of pain medication), hormone upsets (those first few weeks of postpartum life are not messing around!), and of course — extreme fatigue. The first six weeks of my son’s life are a blur. I do not remember eating. I don’t remember being hungry. I don’t remember once looking in a mirror. But I do know that I recovered quite well, and that my son and I are both here to tell about it!

I gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy, and I lost 30 of those in the first few weeks after my son’s birth. While I am now four months postpartum and those last 10 pounds are still hanging around, I credit my overall speedy recovery from a cesarean and the general shock of giving birth to eating an anti-inflammatory Paleo diet. My son was hearty and strong when he was born a week before his due date, and for that I also credit Paleo.

Even though the first weeks of my postpartum recovery were a blur, my husband and I were able to enjoy Paleo food every day because we had purchased several meals from Paleo on the Go. Instead of cooking meals and washing dishes, we cared for our son and slept as much as we could and we didn’t have to sacrifice food quality for it. (And no, this is not sponsored by them — I am just a happy consumer who benefitted from their meal delivery service at a time that I needed it!)

Paleo and Total Body Health

I get asked by many women if Paleo is a good fertility diet, and to that I must answer a resounding yes. Not only did it help me have a healthy pregnancy, I’ve worked with countless clients who found success with Paleo for fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and postpartum weight loss. Paleo eliminates refined foods, artificial nutrients, and chemical additives and so, at its root, it promotes balanced hormones. Without balanced hormones, the reproductive system can’t function well. Even if you’re not looking to become pregnant, Paleo is the best diet to help achieve and maintain hormone balance in both men and women, and that’s a major part of total body wellness.

Even though I am no longer using Paleo as a fertility diet, I will continue to eat Paleo for the rest of my life because in the nine years that I’ve followed it, Paleo has helped me find remission from multiple autoimmune diseases, lose a substantial amount of weight, reduce inflammation, balance my hormones, and yes — have a healthy pregnancy.

Aimee McNewAimee McNew

Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid disorders, autoimmunity, and fertility. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Healing Plan for Managing Symptoms Naturally (Simon & Schuster, 2016). Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.