From your first doctor visit to confirm that you are pregnant, you are bombarded with pamphlets, magazines, lists, and rules. Some of them I agree with. Some of them….I don’t. Here are a few of the rules I am breaking.
I am not a doctor. I encourage you to speak to your doctor to make your decisions. I am not trying to encourage or discourage you from making health decisions. I am simply sharing what I have decided to do for myself.
Myth #1: Avoid Unpasteurized Dairy
All of the mainstream pregnancy books and literature from my doctor & midwife says not to consume unpasteurized dairy while pregnant. I am a raw milk drinker and follow the Weston A. Price diet as laid out in the book Nourishing Traditions. Some facts about raw milk:
- Contains enzymes, probiotics, amino acids, good carbohydrates, phosphate, calcium, good fat, and vitamins A, C, & D. A lot of that nutrition is destroyed during pasteurization.
- A main concern cited in regards to pregnancy and raw milk is the risk of listeria, a severe illness that can cause fetal death or premature birth. In 2003, the USDA/FDA reported 515 more illnesses from listeria in deli meats than raw milk. Pasteurized milk came in at 29 times more illnesses from listeria than raw milk. Here’s a recent listeria outbreak from a pasteurized milk product (Blue Bell ice cream) that so far has 3 linked deaths. Read more about the contamination here.
- Between 1998-2005, there were 199,263 documented cases of food borne illness. Raw milk accounted for 0.4% of those cases.
As an added bonus, raw milk has been reported to significantly reduce morning sickness during pregnancy. As I am writing this, I am 21 weeks pregnant and I haven’t been nauseous a single time. No food aversions, no nausea, no morning sickness, nada. There are many factors that contribute to morning sickness, but I’d be willing to bet that raw milk contributed to my lack of it.
When I am talking about “raw milk,” I am referring to fresh, full-fat, unpasteurized milk from healthy, grass-fed, pasture raised cows. I personally wouldn’t touch raw milk from factory farms. I purchase my raw milk directly from the dairy and I have seen the happy, healthy cows.
Weston A. Price suggests that pregnant and nursing mothers drink 1 quart of raw milk per day. I do drink a glass of milk once or twice a day. But my favorite way to get my raw milk fix is by drinking a smoothie made with homemade raw milk kefir.
My son was born with severe allergies. I firmly believe using a raw goat’s milk formula is what reversed his allergies. When he came home (he was adopted), he was on a prescription formula that was 57% corn syrup and took 4 medicines daily. I switched him to raw goat’s milk and he was off all meds within a week. He is now 2 years old and has zero allergies. Read more about his story here.
You can find a raw milk dairy near you here. My closest dairy is about an hour away from me. But raw milk freezes great. I buy about a month’s worth at a time and freeze it.
Myth #2: Get Gestational Diabetes Screening With Glucola
I was recently given information on gestational diabetes screening and told to come in between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, My midwife gave me a sheet with screening instructions and told me to stop by sometime for the test. There was very little information on what the test actually was. It just said to come in between specified hours, that it would take an hour, and not to eat sugar 2 hours prior to the test. The instruction sheet was handed to me and she left the room. I am a person that is going to ask lots of questions before I have a test done. So when I wasn’t even given the opportunity to ask questions, I was skeptical. So I started asking lots of questions. And this is what I found:
- The screening involves drinking a drink called glucola. This is a drink high in glucose with the following ingredients:
- Brominated Vegetable Oil: A flame retardant banned in Europe and Japan that can leave residues in breast milk.
- Food Dyes: Including FD & C yellow #6 and red #40
- Dextrose: Often from GMO corn sugar
- Possible side effects of the drink include nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, and fatigue.
- The test is not very accurate. It has a 76% sensitivity rate. That means for every 100 women that have gestational diabetes, only 76 will test positive. Additionally, 24% of positive results are false positives. Other factors such as time of day taken and what week you take it affect the results.
Should pregnant women be monitored for gestational diabetes? Absolutely! Gestational diabetes is a serious condition that affects up to 18% of pregnant women and early detection is important. But the glucola test is not how I am going to be monitored. Between the horrible ingredients in the test and the low accuracy rate, it’s just not the test for me. If you choose to opt out of the glucose test, you can talk to your doctor about other options. Your option will probably depend on your level of risk. Factors that increase risk include:
- Personal and family history of diabetes or conditions associated with diabetes
- Hispanic American, African American, Native American, South or East Asian, Pacific Islander
- Over the age of 25
- Pre-pregnancy weight over 110% of ideal body weight or excessive gestational weight gain
- Previous delivery of baby over 9 pounds
- Previous unexplained perinatal loss or birth of a malformed infant
I am over the age of 25 (I am 35). Other than that, I am low risk. In addition, treatment for mild cases of gestational diabetes is to monitor blood sugar levels, eat healthy (as described in this book), and exercise. Those are things I am already doing, which also decreases my risk.
So what are options for testing and monitoring other than drinking glucola?
- Since my level of risk is fairly low, I am doing an at-home urinalysis to test my glucose levels in my urine. I am using this test. My glucose levels have been normal. So that combined with me being low risk, I am not currently doing any other testing.
- You can also monitor blood glucose levels with a finger prick blood test like this at home test. Like the urine test, one test is not enough. The blood test is more accurate than the urinalysis test. Continual testing and discussing the results with your doctor is necessary.
- Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) test is a blood test that can be done early in pregnancy. It may provide early detection that can suggest dietary changes. You can make the dietary changes and retest at 24-28 weeks.
- Learn more about these and other options here.
Probiotics and Gestational Diabetes
Probiotics have been shown to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. This study shows that probiotic intervention during pregnancy reduced the risk of gestational diabetes and states that probiotic supplements could be a safe and cost-effective tool in addressing the metabolic epidemic. Read more about probiotics, gestational diabetes, and pregnancy here.
Myth #3: Eat a Low Fat Diet
Before I switched to a midwife, my doctor gave me a copy of this 14 page document on nutrition put out by the USDA. While it was full of advice that I completely ignore because it doesn’t follow the Weston A. Price whole food diet, there was one topic that came up over and over that I completely disagree with. Low fat. Here are some excerpts:
- “Switch to skim or 1% milk.”
- “Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.”
- Examples of solid fats they say not to use are coconut oil, butter, and cream
- Examples of oils they say to use are canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, tub margarine
- “Look for ‘reduced-fat’ or ‘low-fat’ on the label.”
- “Butter is not part of the dairy food group.” Ummmm…..when I am able to get my hands on fresh, raw cream, I make homemade butter. The only ingredient is cream. Last I checked, cream is dairy.
- “Routinely include low-fat or fat-free dairy foods with meals and snacks.”
When I am referring to fat, I am talking about unrefined saturated and mono-unsaturated fats including butter (preferably grass-fed), lard, meat fats (from clean animal sources), palm and coconut oils, olive oil, and cod liver oil. In other words, fat from real food sources, not fat from artificial sources.
More and more studies (like this one) are coming out that the low fat diet fad Americans have clung to over the past couple decades is unhealthy and doesn’t work. When I first started following the Weston A. Price diet and started eating a high fat diet, I started to magically lose weight. Or at least it seemed like magic at the time. But it wasn’t magic, it was simply following a real food diet. Read more about my weight loss here.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble. That means we need fat in order for our bodies to process them. All of those are immune boosting vitamins. So in order to maximize their immune boosting properties, your body needs fat to be able to process them. Vitamin A is needed to process protein. So fat is needed to process vitamin A and vitamin A is needed to process protein.
Our brains are up to 60% fat. Fat is needed in our diets to support our brains. And these good fats are important for pregnant moms to consume to help our babies develop healthy brains.
Myth #4: Get a Flu Shot
I don’t get the flu shot normally and I definitely am not getting the flu shot while pregnant. Ingredients in the flu shot include aluminum, formaldehyde, preservatives, and MSG. These ingredients can trigger allergies, autoimmune or neurological disorders, and inflammation. Inflammation is a common source of pain. Given my back surgery history, the last thing I need while pregnant is inflammation.
In 2013, the CDC reported that the flu vaccine was effective only 56%. The package insert states that “safety and effectiveness have not been established in pregnant women or nursing mothers” for these flu vaccines. The reason it says this is because studies on pregnant and nursing mothers simply haven’t been done. Studies have shown that “influenza infection had no significant impact on labor outcomes, health of the newborn, or maternal well being.”
You can reduce your risk of getting the flu with nutrition. Vitamin D boosts immunity and is an effective antimicrobial agent that kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. Children taking just 1,200 IUs of vitamin D3 per day, which is considered a low dose, were shown to be 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu. Here are the ways I’m getting vitamin D everyday:
- A great source of vitamin D is the sun. I’m due in August so I will have a good part of the summer to spend outside. I also have a 2 year old that loves to play outside, so I will have no shortage of sunshine (and an added bonus of exercise).
- Fermented cod liver oil is another natural source of vitamin D. Read about it here and buy it here. I am taking 2 teaspoons a day while pregnant.
- This vitamin D3 supplement contains 1,000 IUs in each drop.
Myth #5: Get the DTaP Vaccine
Ok, I know. This is the 2nd time I’m mentioning vaccines in this article. I am not anti-vaccine. But I do think children are given too many vaccines, too often, and too quickly. My husband and I vaccinate our son on the delayed / alternative schedule laid out in this book by Dr. Sears. When my son starts kindergarten in a few years, he will only be behind the CDC schedule by 3 shots (1 dose of chickenpox and 2 doses of Hep A), aside from flu shots which we opt out of. We will follow the same schedule for baby #2.
However, I personally am not comfortable with getting vaccines while pregnant.
- The DTaP vaccine ingredients include aluminum, formaldehyde, and preservatives.
- “Eighty-one percent of 2010 California pertussis cases under the age of 18 were fully vaccinated children. In a pertussis outbreak in Texas, the CDC statistics show that 81.5 percent of cases were fully vaccinated with four DTaP shots. Washington State health officials are saying this year’s pertussis cases could top a 60 year old record in spite of approximately 84 percent vaccination coverage. Reuters recently reported that according to the CDC, the number of pertussis cases is growing – in the fully vaccinated population!” (source)
- This study shows that of 171 cases of confirmed pertussis (out of 135,000 people in the study), the vaccine effectiveness was 41% for ages 2-7, 24% for ages 8-12, and 79% for ages 13-18.
- Possible side effects of the DTaP vaccine include fever, vomiting, seizures, coma, and brain damage.
- Whooping cough is on the rise but that is contributed largely to better diagnosis and reporting, as well as misdiagnosis.
- “It does not appear that anti-vaccination sentiment among parents has contributed to … the national rise in cases … The number one reason why pertussis continues to remain at high rates in our country is that the vaccine doesn’t work very well, even in the short term, and wears off fairly quickly, leaving even fully-vaccinated kids susceptible to the disease.” (source)
Given the ingredients in the vaccine, the possible side effects, and the ineffectiveness, I have decided to opt out of the DTaP shot while pregnant. According to the delayed vaccine schedule, the DTaP shot will be administered at a later date for our baby. Here are some natural treatments for pertussis.
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