Lindsay Clarke, 33, knew she was healthy and fit when she became pregnant last August. She’d hiked and done manual labor in the Peruvian Andes early in the summer, then played frequent Ultimate Frisbee when she returned home to Portland. She was eating locally grown produce and meat, and had been taking prenatal vitamins “for years.” She’d even cut back on her caffeine intake.
Still, when she learned she was pregnant, Clarke said, she had a long list of questions for the midwives she had retained. Many of those questions had to do with nutrition.
“The vast majority of time I eat a vegetarian diet,” Clarke says. “I’m not strictly a vegetarian, but the only meat I eat is meat from a friend’s farm.”
Clarke was concerned that her once-weekly meat serving meant she was short on protein. But after consulting with her midwives at Back Cove Midwives in Portland, Clarke said, they identified calcium and iron as two areas where she might be coming up short.
“My multi-vitamin gives enough of everything but iron and calcium,” Clarke says.
The solution? More yogurt for calcium, and a little more meat for iron. Another decision Clarke made was to eat more kale, often in smoothies that include Greek yogurt (for protein and calcium). An added benefit, Clarke says, is the helpful additional fiber the smoothies provide.
Clarke says that in addition to answering her questions at each visit, her providers have offered general reassurance regarding nutrition.
“They said the baby is going to get all the nutrients it needs,” she says. “The risk is that you end up deprived of the nutrients you need. Honestly, that put me at ease. What I really care about is the baby. I know I can get myself healthy or healthy again if I need to.”
One element working in Clarke’s favor, she says, is that she eats a balanced diet and never skips meals.
“I eat,” she says. “I eat all my meals and I eat meals in between meals. I’ve always been like that.”
Clarke says she also has never had to worry about her weight, though she says she was “curious about what would happen” to her body as a result of pregnancy. That curiosity began at the outset of her pregnancy, she says.
“My eating was weird in the first trimester. I wasn’t having strict food aversions and I wasn’t vomiting. I was just kind of queasy,” she says.
“I feel like all I was eating was plain pasta, and I hate plain pasta. That’s the food I would most avoid in my normal life. The last thing I wanted was a green salad,” Clarke says.
Those eating changes “made me wonder how my body would take this pregnancy.”
But at about 12 weeks, Clarke says, her diet returned to normal. She says that at 20 weeks she had gained about 15 pounds.
“I don’t feel like I’m hungrier than usual. I don’t feel like I’m needing to eat more than usual,” Clarke says. “If I’m eating more than I normally would, I’m not necessarily noticing.”
Clarke says she continues to consult with her providers as her pregnancy progresses.
“I’m getting good guidance,” she says. “I definitely feel like my midwives are very holistic. I can ask all my questions. They are there as a resource.”