Friday, February 18th, 2011

Is It Safe To Drink Green Juice While Pregnant? A Reader’s Question.

by Kristen Suzanne in green juice, pregnancy

I was emailed the following questions, and thought I’d share my response for everyone…

Hi Kristen!

I just found your blog after googling and I have a question I was hoping you could answer. I just found out I’m 5 weeks pregnant and my diet is mostly raw, no dairy, no meat, and I always start my day with  2-3 organic raw (kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery, cucumber, and apple) green juices I buy from an organic juice press shop that uses the Norwalk press. I would like to know if it is safe to continue to drink my beloved juices daily and my Sunwarrior Ormus Supergreens? Everyone says something differant and I’m confused. I would like to keep my mostly raw healthy lifestyle because it is what works best for me. I also was wondering which were the best supplement suggestions you can offer, … chorella, spirulina etc. Are these safe during pregnancy? Please help! All the best, G

Great question! For starters, you know I’m not a doctor or midwife. I’m a chef who reads a lot – lol – and has a passion for nutrition and health. That being written, here is how I handled the situation when I was pregnant.

There is indeed a risk of contamination when consuming raw foods while pregnant (well, anytime really, but for pregnancy it has its own dangerous implications). However, I wasn’t about to give up my raw foods. Therefore, while I was pregnant, I did not consume any fresh juices unless I made them myself (except on perhaps three or four different occasions while traveling). It wasn’t worth the risk in my opinion. In fact, even making them myself was not risk-free, but I believe it was greatly reduced because I thoroughly washed and scrubbed my ORGANIC produce. To wash them, I often used food grade hydrogen peroxide (this is the not the stuff you buy in the drugstore). The same rules applied for salads and other fresh foods that I didn’t prepare. I had them on occasion at a restaurant, but I knew the possible risk of doing it, so I didn’t do it often. And, for the times I did do it, they were usually vegan or raw places that didn’t serve meat products which is helpful (exception  - the veg burritos with fresh salsa and guacamole from Chipotle – lol – I had those a few times).

Overall, my pregnancy was mostly high raw with some times that were all raw and some times that were moderately raw. I stayed away from green powders because they (at the time) had an ingredient or two that just didn’t seem good to me in a pregnant state after researching all the ingredients. That being said, I have read about a number of women drinking green powders while pregnant. If I were to become pregnant again, I would probably consume Greener Grasses because that is a powder that seems both nourishing and gentle (I am drinking this now while breastfeeding and it’s wonderful). Again though, this is just how I would do it. There are many others who might differ in their successful and healthy pregnant experiences.

As for supplements, I wrote about them in a previous blog post here. I can’t claim their safety because as you’ll notice they probably have labels warning against taking while pregnant or lactating. However, I was excited to take chlorella because of its recognized ability to take toxins out of breastmilk according to one study (details here). I also took wheat grass tablets, probiotics, prenatal, and others. My most important supplement suggestion would be to take Vitamin D. I encourage you to get your levels tested. I would read The Vitamin D Solution for recommendations on how much to take while pregnant. The amount in your prenatal are not enough in many professionals’ opinions. (I highly recommend that book to everyone reading this post.)

Thanks for your question!

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Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Pregnancy (Nutrition / Supplement) Questions From A Reader

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy

I received the following on one of my posts about pregnancy but thought I’d also include the information here.

Kristen! 

I’m newly preggo for the second time (first time being 4 years ago). My diet and knowledge have changed a lot since. I’ve been researching your blog and have a couple of questions. First what prenatal vit did you end up liking the best? Why did you stop taking vitamineral green and fruits powders while you were pregnant? And, just out of curiosity, why do you use both hemp powder AND seeds in your smoothies and not flax? 

Love your blog, you rock. 

 

Thanks, 
Jamie

Here is my response:

Hi Jaime,
Congrats on your pregnancy.

You ask great questions….

1) I was partial to Vitamin Code’s prenatal in spite of the controversial vitamin D3 being/not being vegan, especially for people who couldn’t get enough vitamin D from sun exposure due to where they live. However, I have since learned that vitamin D2 (vegan) is just as effective as vitamin D3, so supplementing with extra vitamin D2 and taking a truly vegan prenatal is an option. The high amount of vitamin D in Vitamin Code is great - they are way ahead of the curve with respect to this. I don’t know of any other prenatals doing that and it’s so important while pregnant. I also like that Vitamin Code uses capsules instead of tablets…. usually means less processing.  However, New Chapter is still great. They’ve been around a while and have many happy customers. :)

2) I stopped Vitamineral Green and Fruits of Earth while pregnant because of ingredients that could be questionable during pregnancy. I know of women who took VG during pregnancy, but I opted not to. You could consider their other product Greener Grasses though – good stuff! I’m taking it now while breastfeeding. (I think they might’ve changed their VG formula since then because I don’t see one of the questionable ingredients in there. There is parsley juice in it though, and parsley is known for affecting breastmilk, so it still might be better to go with Greener Grasses. If you decide to go with VG, you might want to double check with your midwife or physician.)

3) Hemp has a more ideal ratio of omegas than flax (read more about this here). I also like the higher protein in it which is why sometimes I used both hemp powder and hemp seeds.

Thanks for reading,
Kristen

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Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Monday’s All Raw Food Intake – Pregnancy Food Journal

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy


  • Magic herbal tea blend given to me by my goddess midwife 
  • 3-4 T Kaia Foods Garlic Salt Sprouted Sunflower Seeds (mega yum!)
  • 2 cups organic green juice (cilantro, grapefruit, carrot, collard green, tomato, celery)
  • 1/2 serving Kaia Foods Fruit Leather (OMG YUM!)
  • Raw vegan chocolate (about 4 bites worth)
  • 7.5 oz jar of Rejuvenative Brand’s Kim-Chi (ate the whole jar!)
  • Huge organic salad with lip smacking awesome dressing, red bell pepper, carrot, and gorgeous romaine from the farmer’s market
  • 2 servings Kaia Foods Fruit Leather (OMG YUM again!)
  • Go Raw’s Ginger Snaps Cookies (maybe 1/2 the bag?) Mmmmm!!!!!!!
  • Huge organic salad (same as above)
  • Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake! (This recipe is making the Internet rounds and the feedback is AWESOME! Have you tried it yet?)
Tuesday’s plan (here is why I love planning my food intake):

  • Magic herbal tea blend
  • Organic green juice (cucumber, celery, collard green, tomato)
  • 3 T Kaia Foods Garlic Salt Sprouted Sunflower Seeds
  • 4 Organic prunes
  • Huge organic salad with lip smacking awesome dressing, cucumber, carrot, and romaine
  • 1 serving Kaia Foods Fruit Leather 
  • 2 scoops Sun Warrior Brown Rice Protein Shake
  • Crunchy Buckwheat Biscuit with Rejuvenative Brand’s Kim-Chi on top
  • Spicy-n-Sweet Fitness Noodles (from my Hemp recipe book)
  • If I’m still hungry? Then a Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake!
I walked on Monday and will also get in my 2 mile walk Tuesday, too. 

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Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Midwife Visit – All Is Great With Pregnancy

by Kristen Suzanne in breastfeeding, pregnancy

(Happy mama at almost 6 months) This week we had our monthly visit with our amazing midwife, Shell (see why we are choosing a midwife / homebirth here). Everything is going wonderfully. My weight gain is healthy (weighed in around 145 today), my urine analysis is pristine, my blood pressure is low and healthy, and overall, I feel great. Shell mentioned that I don’t seem to have some of the issues many pregnant women seem to experience (swollen extremities for example). I attribute it to my healthy lifestyle.

We’ve declined the use of any more ultrasounds since the last one we had around 13.5 weeks, and we’re not going to use doppler either (I just don’t completely trust either of those, and unless it’s warranted for something that could be actionable, then I see no reason to use them). We’re going old school and using a fetascope which can be tricky to use in hearing the heartbeat unless you have a practiced person doing it. I bought one on Amazon to use myself, but I’ve yet to find the heartbeat in my attempts. Shell heard our baby’s heartbeat today and it is normal. :)


She also gave me some magic pregnancy tea. I call it magic because anything this woman makes or does is magical for my baby. She’s just so awesome. My instructions are to drink a quart a day. Yum! I can’t wait!

After our appointment, we went to one of my favorite places for lunch, Chakra 4 Herbs. They are organic and have many raw and vegan dishes. I always get a bowl of their (cooked) soup because it’s the best soup in the whole world. Truly. And, then I usually get one of their giant organic wraps that is stuffed with greens, veggies, olives, and raw vegan cheese. On our way out I noticed they had a “breastfeeding friendly” sticker on the door so I had to take a picture of it. They rock!


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Thursday, February 4th, 2010

High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – Pregnancy Food Journal – Wednesday

by Kristen Suzanne in Bora Bora, pregnancy, young Thai coconut

I’m 21 weeks along now in my pregnancy, and I’m so crazy super happy. Every day I wake up filled with so much joy at the thought of sharing my whole day with the growing life inside me… waiting for those fun kicks and jabs I get from him or her, and smiling all day long.


Nutrition is something I get really excited about; I’ve always had a passion for it and as such I’ve been researching it for about 15 years. Now that I’m pregnant, I take it even more seriously and I get really excited about all the foods I’m feeding both myself and my baby. It’s a pretty proud feeling to know that I’m consuming the healthiest foods in the world. To tell you the truth, I’m grateful that my body is craving these foods and has since day one of being pregnant except for about 10-14 days when I didn’t want anything unless it was bland. But, even during my weeks of intense all-day-morning sickness, I still craved fresh salads and juicy fruits most of the time. Don’t get me wrong… I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there are times a donut sounds REALLY friggin’ tasty (not the norm for sure, but it has happened a couple times), but I’m not about to give in to something like that. Every bite of food is a chance to make my body and baby stronger and healthier… or not. I choose stronger and healthier.


Here is today’s High Raw, All Vegan food intake:

3 cups Organic Brown Juice
It was brown, instead of green, so let’s call it that. And, it was soooo yummy. I was actually surprised that it tasted as lovely as it did. I made it with my Hurom juicer and strained out any little bits of pulp using a nut milk bag to make it extra smooth. My brown juice was made from delicious, locally grown organic beets, beet greens, and oranges (the oranges were from my mom’s tree), plus organic cucumbers I bought at Whole Foods.

1/2 cup Organic Green Pudding

I made this a few days ago and have been having it for breakfast every morning since. It had chia seeds, shredded coconut, greens, and fruit. It was fun, vibrant, filling, and yummy.


Huge Organic Salad

I used organic, locally grown (from our awesome certified organic CSA) red leaf lettuce and carrots along with an organic cucumber and apple from Whole Foods. I added organic olives to my husband’s plate. The dressing is watered down Cayenne Tahini Dressing from my Salads and Dressings book.

3 cups Chocolate Spiced Hemp Shake

Exercise is important while pregnant to help build endurance for labor and to help maintain a healthy weight. The kind of exercise can vary depending on the woman and her prior routine. I’m opting for lots of walking during my pregnancy (about 2 miles 5-6 days a week). In fact, my midwife says walking is the best exercise for pregnancy and labor preparation. Today, I went on a fast paced, 2 mile walk with my dog which pumped me up a bit – fresh air, blood circulating, and good tunes on my iPod. When I came home, I was famished and made a satisfying protein shake to feed my hungry cells. It was scrumptious!

Chocolate Spiced Hemp Shake
Yield 3 cups
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com

1 cup water
1 cup ice
3 small bananas
1/4 cup hemp protein powder
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons raw chocolate powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Blend it up and enjoy this delectable shake. :)


2 cups Young Thai Coconut Water

I looooove fresh coconut water – it’s beautifully refreshing and delightfully tasty. Unfortunately, the coconut water I had tonight was not organic. In fact, there is controversy over whether young Thai coconuts are very healthy based on the processing they undergo to help them stay fresh during their transport. As a result, I will do one of two things. I either don’t consume them very often (I buy them at Whole Foods Market when I do), or I’ll buy a case of them online, where they’re both organic and minimally processed because they’re shipped quickly after harvesting. I haven’t done the latter of the two yet, but I plan on placing an order soon and separating the meat and water and then freezing them. My desire is to have it available during my homebirth to replenish electrolytes and keep me hydrated. (Read about my I’m having a homebirth here.) 


Organic Sunshine Burger, Guacamole, Salad
My husband had a meeting tonight so I was on my own for dinner. I decided to have a date with one of my favorite documentaries, Food Matters, and enjoy a healthy dinner. Food Matters should be in everyone’s home library so it can be viewed on a regular basis – we like to watch it every month or two. Dinner consisted of 2 Sunshine Burger patties (available in the freezer section of Whole Foods Market). These burgers are wonderful. Even thought they’re cooked, I think they’re one of the healthiest veg burgers on the market: all organic, non-soy, non-dairy, non-gluten, minimal ingredients, and packed with nice flavor (more details on their website here). One of my favorite ways to have their burgers is with my Cheezy Hemp Nacho Sauce on it, but I didn’t have any of that, so I whipped up a little batch of mini-guacamole (avocado, lime juice, Himalayan crystal salt) and topped the burgers with that. Next to it, I enjoyed another organic, locally grown salad with red bell pepper, carrots, and cucumber dressed with lemon juice, raw olive oil, Himalayan crystal salt, and black pepper.


1 cup organic Peaceful Mama Tea from Earth Mama * Angel Baby 

Yay! I have been given the green light from my midwife to have organic tea blends including red raspberry leaf (I loved drinking organic red raspberry leaf tea from Traditional Medicinals and Mountain Rose Herbs while I was trying to conceive to help strengthen my uterus, so I couldn’t wait until my midwife said it was safe to drink it again). I was sent a sample box of Earth Mama * Angel Baby Organics tea. The Peaceful Mama flavor is pretty good, although a little light in flavor. I really enjoyed their Morning Wellness Tea because I’m a big fan of spearmint. It smelled so good that I would spend about 5 minutes smelling the tea bag before I put it into the hot waterl.


There is a good chance that I’ll want to snack on something else later in the evening and if I do, I think the organic mango and pineapple in my refrigerator are going to call my name. Tropical salad – yeehaw! I think I’ll wear my shell necklace that I brought home from our wedding in Bora Bora to complete the experience. ;)

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Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Chocolate While Trying To Conceive or Pregnant

by Kristen Suzanne in chocolate, pregnancy, raw chocolate

I’ve received a number of emails and blog comments from women asking about the consumption of chocolate while trying to conceive and/or while pregnant. It’s a great question. I know that during previous blog posts I was avoiding chocolate when trying to conceive, and at the time I imagined that I’d also be avoiding it during pregnancy. That said, it’s important to constantly reassess values, ideas, and plans on an ongoing basis to see if things change when new information becomes available (or when hormones take over, LOL… just kidding. Mostly.). But in all seriousness, as you’ll read below, yes, it’s true: I have enjoyed some Raw chocolate while pregnant. So. What changed? Read on…

As many of you know, I’m not a midwife or doctor, so the information I’m sharing is about what I am doing and is in no way prescriptive for you.

Chocolate While Trying to Conceive
When I was TTC (trying to conceive) I eliminated virtually all caffeine including chocolate, coffee, and tea. I might have had one or two bites of Raw chocolate over a span of a couple of months at a time, but you get the picture. Chocolate has a limited amount of caffeine and so I was avoiding it. It also has another “stimulating” type of ingredient called theobromine, which interestingly literally means food of the gods.

Do I think chocolate needs to be avoided completely while TTC? Not necessarily. I do think there are some bad forms of chocolate and I think there are some healthier options. Personally, I would avoid the bad forms, i.e. processed, non-vegan, loaded-with-crap chocolate. The healthier option would be Raw, organic, vegan, dark chocolate. That said, not everyone responds well to chocolate, raw or otherwise, so that should be taken into consideration.

Chocolate While Pregnant
During my first trimester, I don’t recall having any Raw chocolate… I might have had a bite, but I remember staying away from it, so maybe I had my chocolate in a dream? :) When I think back, I didn’t have a solid reason for my choc-abstinence, other than thinking it might be too stimulating from the caffeine (albeit limited) or theobromine, or that having it meant also having the sugar (like the agave in many chocolate recipes). Interestingly, I have since read of a study showing a link between regular chocolate consumption and reduced risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. Go figure.

Now that I’m in my second trimester, I have had a couple of pieces of Raw organic vegan chocolate here and there. What changed? Honestly, I don’t know that I can pinpoint it exactly. For starters, I am sticking to the Raw variety while pregnant, so I have that going for me. The other thing that happened to me was that, frankly, I really wanted a piece! It sounded so good. I was having a number of headaches at the time and maybe my body was telling me I needed magnesium. Raw chocolate is a great source for that. My hormones were raging, too, so perhaps my mind craved chocolate’s calming effects. Perhaps there was a magical force drawing me, as though by instinct alone, to my freezer where the Raw chocolate was just sitting there, waiting to be eaten. I’m guessing it’s all of the above.

I spoke with my midwife and she is fine if I have some chocolate. I’ve since learned that many healthy pregnant women I know indulged in chocolate happily and without guilt while pregnant – I was suddenly the weird one for having stayed away from it. To be sure, I continued with my research and found that prenatal chocolation is fine according to some other books and sources as well. For example, in Shazzie’s wonderful and colorful book about pregnancy and birth, Evie’s Kitchen, she writes, “…We also discovered that researchers had found babies born to chocolate-eating mothers were happier.”

Overall, I feel comfortable enjoying my Raw chocolate in moderation. I might add that it tastes so wonderful – it feels so wonderful – that I’m confident it’s spreading good feelings and vibes through my body when I have it, which are shared with my baby. Within reason, happy mommy = happy Monkey.


I totally understand if some women avoided it altogether and I would also understand if someone had some (although I wouldn’t recommend consuming large quantities). Based on all of the conflicting points of view on this subject, I’m of the opinion that there is no broad consensus as of yet on a “right answer” that can be confidently prescribed for all women. And remember, every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. As always, if you have concerns, a good place to start is by discussing the matter with your midwife or doctor.

So, I’d love to hear your feedback. Did you eat chocolate while you were pregnant? Why or Why Not? If so, how much?

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Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Protein During Pregnancy

Although I don’t normally subscribe to people getting lots of protein in their diets, there are two groups that I believe should get a little more – pregnant moms and growing children. How much is “a little more?” Well, that is a good question and I don’t really have an answer. But, here is how I’m handling it with my pregnancy (I’ll address growing children and protein when I have one). I’m not a midwife or a doctor or a nutritionist, so I’m taking in information from various experts I know and sources (including lots of books and online research with my MacBook), and I’m adding my own mama intuition to weave my own blanket of a plan.


I’ve been advised by some people (as well as what I’ve read in some natural childbirth books) that a pregnant mom will do well with a daily protein consumption of 75-90 grams a day (the higher range being extra recommended during the third trimester according to some experts – for baby brain development). Some of these books and experts support a vegetarian diet for pregnant moms, so I know that they “get it” at least to some degree. 75-90 grams a day is a bit high for me when I’m consuming mostly raw… unless I want to drink protein shakes with Raw sprouted brown rice powder. I do this on those days that I want to tip the scale higher for protein (it’s easy and quick). But, I don’t always want to rely on it for protein because whole food sources are healthier. On the days that I have cooked organic vegan protein such as beans, lentils, quinoa, organic tofu, etc… it’s easier to get a higher quantity. However, having one meal like that doesn’t always get my day’s total to 75 grams when the rest of my day is Raw. That being said, I also believe that Raw protein is better assimilated and better digested. Therefore, I probably don’t need as many grams as 75-90 most days since that recommended 75-90 grams is likely based on cooked protein recommendations (not much is written about pregnant moms and Raw vegan protein), and it probably takes more cooked protein to assimilate what I might get with a Raw diet. Hhmmm… but I don’t have the magic answer.

So… what makes me feel most comfortable is to have a mix. Some days I get higher protein with both Raw and cooked vegan protein sources. Some days I get whatever protein comes naturally with my Raw food intake. Plus! I consume various superfoods (I just love that word… makes me feel like a superhero, Wonder Woman – lol – I’m a kid at heart). Pretty much on a daily basis I have hemp foods. Did you know that a mere 2 tablespoons of Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds contain a whopping 11 grams of complete vegetarian protein? And, I also add Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder to some of my smoothies (2 heaping tablespoons give about 15 grams of complete vegetarian protein). Then, probably 3-5 days a week, I take spirulina tablets, wheat grass tablets, and chlorella tablets. Those pack a nice punch of protein.

So… what do you think about the protein debate with respect to children and pregnancy?

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Monday, December 28th, 2009

My 1st Baby Bump Picture!

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy

Drumroll please… ta dah! Here it is –> the long awaited for 1st baby bump picture. :) We took this a little over a week ago. And, all I can say is… I’ve grown (in many places) since! I think I’m a little bigger everywhere – LOL – face, butt, belly, legs, you name it… it’s all good though because I’ve got my little monkey growing in me.


My weight gain is normal according to my midwife (I’ll introduce her to all of you in a future post soon – she’s wonderful). I haven’t been doing much exercise during this pregnancy, but that is going to change now. I’m committing to a 1-2 mile walk 4-6 days a week.

As of this writing, I’m about 15 weeks, 6 days along. I’m past the all-day-nausea (whew!) but I have had some headaches (on and off) during the past 10-12 days. At first I thought they were from allergies because many others had them, but they just didn’t feel like that. They feel hormonal, almost sick-like… hard to describe. My neck and upper back have been cracking a lot, too, so maybe my posture hasn’t been very good. I’ve heard that many women (naturally) find themselves hunching over a bit when they’re pregnant, in a protective way. I’ll work on reminding myself to sit up / stand up straight.

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Sunday, November 29th, 2009

How to Detox & Get Healthy for Pregnancy

I’ve been asked many times about what I did to detox and get my body, mind, and spirit healthy for pregnancy. I’m happy to share my plan. It’s lengthy though, so get yourself a nice green smoothie or green juice, sit back and relax as you read through it all. Please keep in mind this necessary disclaimer… I’m not a midwife or a physician, and anyone thinking about getting pregnant should consult one of the aforementioned professionals to discuss your options. We are all different and we all have different toxic loads, experiences, ages, fitness levels, environments, etc. I will mention that a midwife is more likely to understand detoxing and using foods, supplements, etc for helping with pregnancy preparation over a medical doctor. So, with that out of the way… here is what I did.



The Timing
I started the process during the early part of summer (2008). My husband and I had the intention of cleaning our bodies and home for about 6 months before actively trying to conceive. I became a little antsy so we started trying a little sooner, to no avail, but in hindsight, I’m glad our baby waited a little longer so that my body had plenty of time to clean out (6-12 months is recommended).

It was important at the offset to get a good handle on my monthly cycle. I was pretty regular, but timing is everything when it comes to conception, so knowing your body is very important. One way I did this was with the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor. There are old-fashioned (tried and true) methods such as taking your temperature every day (immediately upon waking). I did that as well, but with my goofy sleep schedule, it proved hard to do. On the advice of a good friend, I bought the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor to track my cycle. It was really cool. I simply peed on a stick every morning, inserted the stick into the device, and received a reading for my daily fertility. It was fun, especially when I saw the little egg symbol meaning that it was the right time to try if we were ready. Be warned, it’s not an inexpensive gadget (neither the monitor nor the sticks you must continually replenish) but I decided it was worth it.

The reason I started using it early was because it can take a couple of months to “learn” your cycle, and because I was dying to know if an egg would show up. (Whew! It did!) I had a lot of confidence in the monitor already, because the Amazon reviews were terrific. Some tips I learned along the way: 1) make sure you use the first pee of the morning and 2) pee for a full three seconds on the stick (count 1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi, 3-Mississippi).

My History
It’s true that I’ve been vegan for about 6-7 years and I’ve been all Raw (or High Raw) for the past 4-5 years. It’d make you think that my body was already ready for a baby. But, my journey to healthy eating had not happened overnight. I had been pretty clean for a long time, but it took some extra work to get to the uber clean place I am today. For example, a year ago: I would drink a cup of coffee from time to time. I took the occasional over-the-counter drug when my period cramps were too intense. Some of the cleansers in my house were environmentally friendly, but not all. (That was a work in progress.) Perhaps the worst offender was that I was coloring my hair every 4-6 weeks. I was using some hair and body products that were eco-friendly, and some that weren’t. I had amalgam fillings in my mouth. I ate mostly organic, but it hadn’t always been like that. And, the years before getting into Raw, I was on heavy medication for migraines and painful headaches. I had no idea how thrashed my liver was from that. Not to mention, from my bodybuilding days, I had taken loads of energy supplements and eaten tons of animal products, which I’m sure had heavily taxed my adrenal glands, kidneys, and liver. From this long history of toxic exposure and potential build-up, I had no idea how long it would take my body to clean out once I cleaned up my diet and environment.

Fast forward to my deliberate pre-conception house and body overhaul… I got rid of every source of toxicity that I could. Today, this means: eating all organic foods except for the few occasions we go to a restaurant where they don’t offer it; totally green cleaning products for our house; totally green makeup, hair, beauty, body care products; an expensive visit to the dentist to have my amalgams removed; and an extremely clean Raw vegan diet, including brief periods of juice fasting to cleanse my body even more. I’ll touch on each of these in a moment. But first…

The Start of My Plan: Creating a List

This picture depicts a little list that I had taped to my kitchen cupboard to remind myself of the many ways I was going to get my body and home super healthy and clean for pregnancy. That list was written way back when we started, and it evolved over the course of our attempts to conceive. However, it was a great exercise to start somewhere. The list included some important nutrients I wanted to make sure I was including in my diet, the sources I planned on getting those various nutrients, as well as some details about overall cleansing plans for my body and home.

My Home Environment

As much as I could, I removed synthetic chemicals from my home. I aired out our place daily to mitigate the effects of continuous outgassing from carpet, paint, adhesives, and other chemicals used in home construction. I used only environmentally friendly cleansers, many of which I made myself (blog post here about the green cleaners I use).






My Beauty Regimen

I stopped all toxic body care and stopped coloring my hair (blog post here about my decision to go natural after having been blond for 20-some years - I will eventually put up a brunette picture as soon as I have the time to get one taken – you’ve already seen my videos with my brown hair). I only used products that had great ratings on the Skin Deep website for body care/makeup, or products where I could read and understand all of the ingredients. Some of my favorite companies are listed in this blog post. I’d like to add Morrocco Method (hair and body) to that list as well as 100% Pure (makeup, body care – some of their products are vegan and some vegetarian… I stick with the vegan ones).

Heavy Metal Detox – Amalgam Fillings Removed
I did a heavy metal detox for one month where I consumed a liquid nanized supplement after having my amalgam fillings removed. Having my amalgams removed was one of the first steps in the detox, getting healthy for pregnancy process. I did not want any mercury to leak into my breast milk if I could help it. I don’t know how long it takes for heavy metals like mercury to leave the body, but I had to keep in mind that I had the fillings in my mouth for many years, and they were no doubt leaking over time. Plus, with the actual removal of them, there was a chance that some leaked during the procedure (so it’s never too early, even if you don’t intend to have kids for years). In addition to the liquid nano supplement, I did the following to help remove the metals: exercised (sweating plays an important role for helping detox), taking chlorella tablets, consuming cilantro in smoothies and green juices, and I generally relied on my overall healthy diet (including some days of juice fasting to accelerate the process).

My Diet In General

I spent a lot of time planning my diet. For example, when I wanted extra protein I included beans, lentils, greens, hemp and rice protein powders, etc. To strengthen my liver, I added ground milk thistle seeds that I added to shakes for a set period of time. I wanted to get enough selenium, iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C, so I consumed Vitamineral Green (which is, by far, my favorite green powder) and Fruits of the Earth fruit powder, as well as obtaining other specific nutrients with things like Brazil nuts, greens, and fresh produce. (Note: I do not consume the Vitamineral Green or Fruits of the Earth now that I’m pregnant, but I plan to resume after delivery.) UPDATE {2/9/11}: I am still not taking Vitamineral Green because I’m breastfeeding. I am taking Greener Grasses by the same company.

I consumed plenty of fresh organic green juices, green smoothies, soups, salads, home grown sprouts (see my video on how to grow your own sprouts here), fresh produce, homemade sauerkraut (see my video on how to make your own sauerkraut here), hemp and sprouted rice protein powders, other Raw foods like veggie pastas, lasagna, desserts, dips, etc. I also made sure to consume healthy Raw fats such as chia seeds, avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, flax, etc. You know… a super healthy Raw vegan diet.



I consumed occasional cooked vegan foods (more during the colder months) including lentils, beans, brown rice, oatmeal, steamed veggies, non-GMO tofu, miso soup, and an occasional veggie burger or burrito, etc. I made sure to keep my diet balanced and not consume too much of any one thing at one time. For example, I rotated my greens and produce (easy to do when you eat seasonally). I basically made sure that my greens “took turns.” One week I bought spinach, and the next week I made sure to consume more kale or swiss chard. Another week, I upped the romaine in my diet, and another week I had more cilantro and parsley. And so on.

A healthy detox and diet plan isn’t just about what I added to my diet. It’s also about what I eliminated from my life. For example, I stopped ingesting any caffeine, even in tea or chocolate… no, this was not easy! I no longer had the occasional glass of organic, vegan wine. I stopped all medications. For menstrual cramps, I used a heating pad and, frankly, just endured the pain, especially on the first day. I used ice on my head and neck for headaches, and enjoyed calm, warm baths. It was not always easy, but I took some comfort in knowing that women have done just fine for thousands of years without modern pharmacology and its accompanying toxicity and unintended consequences.

Supplements
Some of my supplements changed over time (for both my husband and myself – remember… he needed to be healthy, too. You need strong swimmers to get to that egg!).

Kristen’s Supplements
  • vegan DHA
  • Vitamin B-12
  • pre-natal vitamins
  • chlorella
  • wheat grass tablets
  • spirulina (didn’t take much of this, I’m taking it more now though)
  • milk thistle (did this for a little over a month)
  • Vitamineral Green powder
  • Fruits of the Earth powder
  • raspberry leaf tea
  • probiotics
  • Vitamin D
  • And… I made sure to consume foods that gave me plenty of zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, b-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, and protein.
My Husband’s Supplements
He mainly followed my lead with the supplements I took above, but I added more for him, especially over time as we learned that some of our struggles with conceiving had to do with his sperm health. In general, we tried to get as much as we could from the whole foods in our diet, but I wanted to make sure we were getting everything so we covered all of our bases by adding supplements. For my husband, I added maca, extra vitamin C, vitamin E, his own multi vitamin, acetyl l-carnitine, pycnogenol, and beta-carotene.


Exercise
I’ve always been a gal who makes exercise a priority in my life, so this wasn’t something I suddenly added. But it’s important, so I wanted to mention it here. My exercise routine always changes. Sometimes I do outdoor activities like hiking, walking, etc., and sometimes I go to the gym where I do different forms of cardio as well as strength training. I’m a firm believer that having a healthy, strong body that can handle weight training and cardio is going to really help me when I’m giving birth, as well as helping me lose weight after birth. (I’ve never really been one to do yoga, although I suspect it’s wonderful.)

With respect to physical activity, it’s not a good time to try new things when trying to conceive. It’s important to remember once you’re actually trying to conceive (meaning it could happen any time), that there is a two-week period after ovulation where you won’t know you’re pregnant. During these two weeks, it’s pertinent to “act as if” you’re pregnant just in case. So, during this window, trying new things with your body isn’t necessarily the best time. However, if you’re smart and planning things out in advance, like 6-12 months prior to conception, then it should be fine to add something new to your routine, such as yoga if you don’t normally do yoga.
Mental Health, CDs, and Deep Breathing
I’ve never been one to meditate much. I wish I were, but it’s always been a little tricky for me. However, I realized soon after trying to conceive that having a calm mind was essential for conception, at least for me. So, I took the time to deep breath during various periods throughout my day. I would simply take a few minutes and breath deeply, listening to my breath and thinking of nothing else. That was very calming. I also bought some fertility meditation CDs and listened to them when falling asleep at night, before a daytime nap, or in my dressing area while getting ready in the morning. I am very fond of the CDs that came with my hypnobirthing book and that my hypnobirthing instructor gave me. They are actually aimed at helping women who are already pregnant, but I loved that aspect of it despite my not being pregnant yet. It helped me visualize actually being pregnant, which was fun, therapeutic, and likely to help my odds. I also purchased these visualization CDs.

Trying to conceive is a beautiful thing. It really is. But, for me, it didn’t come without a little anxiety as each month passed without success. Meditation was very helpful for me, and I’m so glad I included these tools in my pregnancy tool box.


Research, Research, and More Research
I wrote a blog post quite some time ago, when I knew that my husband and I would eventually want to start a family, in which I discussed various aspects about birth, raising children, etc. I knew there were things I needed to research before getting pregnant. I’m not a last-minute kind of person, I like to be prepared, so I was looking into this stuff well in advance. I’m so glad I did because there’s a LOT of information to cover. In that post, I briefly touched on:
  • Home birth (there are many considerations for the birth itself – location, midwife, doula, birthing classes, water birth, etc)
  • Circumcision
  • Vaccination
  • Breast feeding,
  • Homeschooling, and our
  • Raw vegan diet
What I didn’t bring up in that post, but I am now also researching and planning to do:

In future posts, I will share what I’ve researched and experienced.


Midwife & Doula
Part of my research was finding a midwife and doula with whom I wanted to attend my birth. I did this months before we tried to conceive because I knew that once I was pregnant, time would fly and I’d have my hands full with a million details. It can take time to find the perfect midwife and doula.

In my case, I actually went with the first midwife I interviewed because I liked her well enough. But, over time, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions via email and found that perhaps we weren’t quite as good a fit as I previously thought. She was a lovely, capable, skilled woman, but I have certain ideas about my home birth experience and I decided that I should probably try to find another midwife who was a better fit. Fortunately, I did just that. Through the advice of my amazing wonderful lovely doula, I found a midwife who fits my needs exactly. Because I had both of these women picked out well in advance of being pregnant, I was able to tap into their expertise when we were trying to conceive, which was extremely useful. (I will be sharing a post later detailing who these women are and why they’re so amazing.)

Now, I’m sure my first midwife candidate would have done a fine job, but had I not begun this process early, I probably would not have had the opportunity to make a course correction and find somebody with whom I felt truly comfortable. So the moral of the story is to start your research well ahead of time.

Conclusion
I’m so glad I took the many months I had to research and learn everything I wrote about above, and I’m still researching lots of things:
  • Vitamin K shot at birth
  • Which prenatal tests I want or don’t want
  • Post-natal eye treatment for baby
  • Which birthing classes to take
  • Newborn screening (drawing blood to test metabolic processes)
  • Finding a pediatrician that I’m happy with, who is knowledgeable and friendly toward my High Raw Vegan diet, my breast feeding plan, and supports my informed consent and personal decisions regarding whatever I want to do with vaccines)
The time to begin ALL of this is before getting pregnant. Waaay before getting pregnant… months, or even years… because it takes a lot of time, attention, and is the only way to make informed decisions without feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or pressured to yield by default to the constant advice that suddenly comes from just about everyone you talk to, whether or not they share your health values or life philosophy. At times like this in particular, I find that having done a lot of research beforehand really equips me to have that discussion, or sometimes tactfully avoid it altogether.

Furthermore, it’s smart to start early because you have no idea how you’ll feel once you’re pregnant. I have spent many weeks ill with all-day “morning” sickness and it’s kept my butt on the couch for days on end. The last thing I would’ve felt like doing during that time was reading books, especially dense books with topics like vaccinations and home birth. I also wouldn’t have felt good enough to interview midwives or doulas. Therefore, I’m grateful that I had that all figured out well in advance.

That pretty much covers everything I’ve considered and done prior to getting pregnant as well as a few things I’m still doing now that I AM INDEED PREGNANT! YEEHAW!!!!! I feel deep down into my bones and cells that my baby is growing inside an extremely healthy body and I’m so proud of that.

One last note: The purpose of this post was to discuss what I did to detox and get healthy in preparation for pregnancy. Once I became pregnant, I maintained some of the practices, but I also changed some. What I’m doing now that I’m pregnant deserves its own future post (or two or three).

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Thursday, November 26th, 2009

My High Raw, All Vegan Food Intake – 11th Week Pregnant!

by Kristen Suzanne in pregnancy

Tuesday marked the beginning of my 11th week of pregnancy. I officially have the “glow” and I’ve realized some other perks of being pregnant… for example… after I finish eating a big meal, I don’t have to suck in my stomach. Sweet!


Many of you want to know what I’m eating while pregnant. I’m still experiencing nausea, but it comes in waves now. It’s not all day long like it was for a few weeks there. Nonetheless, when it hits, it hits. When the nausea first started, it killed my appetite so I basically ate whatever vegan food sounded remotely good to me. It varied from bread to lentils to lots of fresh watery fruit. One thing for sure… I seem to be quite thirsty in spite of my liquid consumption. For about 2 weeks, my diet was half Raw, all vegan, and mostly organic (the “mostly” part comes from eating out – if more restaurants offered organic, it’d be much easier to keep my diet 100% organic; everything I make at home is organic).

Then, even though I was still nauseous a lot of the time, my body directed me back to mostly Raw. So, these days I have mostly High Raw days and I have some medium Raw days. For the Raw stuff: I’m consuming (all organic) green juices, green smoothies, fresh fruit, veggies and dips, a Raw dessert here and there, Raw granola, nut butters, sauerkraut, fermented veggies, protein shakes made with nut/seed milks and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder, chia seeds, etc. For some of the cooked vegan foods: I’ve had homemade organic bread (banana bread and cranberry orange bread), organic saltine crackers, organic brown rice and steamed vegetables, organic lentils, hummus, veggie burger, etc… there are other things, but that gives you a good idea.

Here is an example of what I had Tuesday (everything is 100% organic):

Green Juice
I made 6 cups of green juice with my Hurom juicer (see my juicer review videos here). I drank 3 cups of it. I saved 2 cups for my soup later. I saved 1 cup for my husband. The juice had so many things: garlic, lemon, orange, cucumber, carrot, celery, kale, romaine.

Weird Protein Seed Milk Shake
I made a shake with 2 cups water, 1 large apple, 4 Tablespoons Hemp protein powder, 2 tablespoons Hemp seeds, 2 T ground chia seeds, and 1 T of a mixture made from raw chocolate/agave/coconut oil. I know. Weird combo. I’ll admit, it wasn’t one of my star recipes, but it filled me with plenty of omegas, protein, and nutrition. I drank it on my balcony while getting my Vitamin D from the sun.

Salad & Crackers
I made an enormous salad of romaine lettuce and rainbow chard. I also chopped up a red bell pepper. For the dressing, I made a mixture of water, lemon juice, coconut vinegar, black tahini (I love making recipes with black tahini, it’s so cool looking), Himalayan crystal salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and garlic. I had about 5 small saltine crackers with it. I was having an intense nausea period.

Energy Soup
I took the 2 cups of green juice that I had stored and used that as my base. I blended it with 1 carrot, 1 large apple, dulse flakes, and 2 Tablespoons hemp seeds. It was pretty good. It made about 1 quart.

Ants On A Log & Salad & More Crackers
The salad had romaine lettuce and red bell pepper with Himalayan crystal salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. I had a few more saltine crackers. And, the Ants On A Log were celery stalks with nut butter and raisins. Hmm! Just as good as when I was a kid.

Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie
I made a couple of pumpkin pies last week. I’m saving one for Thanksgiving, and I made the 2nd one for my husband and I to share over the week before Thanksgiving. The recipe is awesome and it’s from my holiday book/ebook available here.





Next week, I’m blogging about what I did to detox and get healthy for my pregnancy. Be sure to check back!

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