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Paleo Pregnancy Journeys with Paleo Mums – Part 1

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We get a lot of questions from readers about following a Paleo diet and lifestyle during pregnancy, so we thought we’d interview a few real life ‘Paleo’ mums to get the low down. As part of our Paleo Journeys series, we have a 2-part post (here is part 2), in which a few  gorgeous women share their personal experiences. We didn’t seek out a specific positive or negative experience, so the stories we’re featuring are those of women who came forward willing to tell their stories as they are.

In our first post, we hear from two lovely ladies in their late 20s – Steph Powell who has a toddler and is currently pregnant with her second child and Iris Waschke, whose daughter Emilia was born in August. In our second post, which we will publish next week, we have three other women with their own experiences, so stay tuned for that as well.

We’d also love to hear from you – what was your experience (positive or negative) of following a Paleo / Primal / dairy free / real food diet while pregnant? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: this article is not intended as medical advice or to replace guidelines supplied to you by your medical professional. Make sure to consult a medical professional before undertaking a new diet or exercise regime, especially while pregnant.

Paleo Pregnancy with Steph Powell

Steph is in her late 20s, and has been gluten free for 5 years. She is the mother of a toddler and is currently pregnant with her second child (at the time of this interview she was due in 6 weeks). After gaining 30kgs in her first pregnancy, Steph has found that eating Paleo during her current pregnancy has helped her maintain a more stable weight.

Pre-pregnancy

How was your health before you were pregnant?

I am gluten intolerant. I have been gluten free for about 5 yrs after getting very sick for a long time – eliminating gluten fixed the problem.

How was your diet prior to your pregnancy?

I had started eating Paleo a couple of months before falling pregnant again as I was having trouble with fatigue and energy levels despite eating a gluten free diet. Going Paleo made a big difference.

Did you have any issues with conception?

No problems conceiving.

During pregnancy

How would you describe your current diet?

I eat predominantly Paleo with a little bit of cheese (maybe once a week) and on a rare occasion I will have a treat of 70% dark chocolate.

What was your experience with morning sickness, tiredness, energy levels, cravings? Were any of these symptoms affected by your diet?

I had morning sickness so at that time I didn’t eat Paleo – I was living on gluten free toast and vegemite. My energy levels were awful and that’s when I decided to go back to paleo as soon as I could stomach it. My energy levels definitely picked up again at that point.

Do you feel that your weight gain during this pregnancy has been more stable and healthy as a result of your diet?

In my first pregnancy I gained 30kgs – way too much! So eating Paleo this time around has helped to keep my weight gain stable.

What does your Dr. think of your diet? Were you concerned about any nutrient deficiencies, and if so did you get any tests?

I haven’t actually discussed it with my Dr. but all standard tests have been perfect.

Did you have to take any supplements during your pregnancy?

No – I have not needed to take any supplements during the pregnancy.

Mainstream health advice tells us that dairy is important for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Are you consuming any dairy during your pregnancy?

Minimal amounts – just some cheese and a chocolate treat occasionally.

Do you think your diet will change when you start breastfeeding?

No – I see no need to change my diet unless I have some problems.

Do you plan to feed your baby Paleo foods when they begin to eat solids?

Yes – I plan to feed my baby Paleo foods the same as my toddler.

Are there any other experiences you would like to share? Would you do anything differently next time?

I would eat Paleo from the beginning of my pregnancy next time and see if the nausea is better in the early stages. I would definitely recommend a Paleo lifestyle to anyone wanting to improve their energy levels as this has really helped me both before and during my pregnancy.

Paleo Pregnancy with Iris Waschke 

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Iris is in her late 20s and lives in Berlin. She runs a German Paleo blog Paleo Lifestyle. She had her first child in August, a gorgeous girl named Emilia (aka ‘Paleo baby’).

How would you describe your current diet?

I would say 80% Paleo, 20% primal. Certainly gluten free!

Pre-pregnancy

How was your health before you were pregnant?

Pretty good. Luckily, I have no auto immune conditions or lactose intolerance. I had some problems digesting food containing gluten. However, this didn’t bother me so much that I needed to completely change my diet.

How was your diet prior to your pregnancy?

Before I knew about Paleo, I would have described my diet as balanced and healthy which was based on the conventional food pyramid of the USDA.

Did you have any issues with conception?

Fortunately, I didn’t have any difficulty conceiving.

During pregnancy

What was your experience with morning sickness, tiredness, energy levels, cravings? Were any of these symptoms affected by your diet?

I’m so grateful that except for the tiredness in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, I neither had morning sickness nor cravings. I’m convinced that the Paleo diet has a huge impact on energy levels and cravings. Paleo food is the ideal fuel for your body. Especially as pregnancy demands a lot from your body. But eating the right nutritional food helps your body to cope with all the changes and still provides you with enough energy. The blood glucose metabolism is highly altered in a normal pregnancy which means that glucose levels rise and the pregnant woman becomes naturally insulin resistant. This is due to the fact that the fetus needs glucose to develop properly. The sugar stays in the blood and can cross the placenta to reach the fetus. So the glucose is not packed away in the mother’s cells. I guess the natural insulin resistance is one of the main reasons for cravings. However, I guess it’s worse when you’re not following a Paleo diet which means you eat “empty” carbohydrates like noodles which leads to even worse blood sugar spikes and completely driving the main important hormones like insulin, leptin, glucagon and cortisol crazy. Despite the alteration of blood glucose metabolism during pregnancy, I guess the Paleo diet helped me to control my blood sugar levels resulting in no binges of ice cream.

Do you feel that your weight gain during pregnancy has been more stable and healthy as a result of your diet? Did you also follow a specific exercise regime?

I didn’t put on much weight during pregnancy, I gained only 6.5 kg. So one day after giving birth I wore my pair of skinny jeans again! Certainly, the Paleo diet and my exercise regime (weight training) 4 times per week helped me to stay fit and healthy and to prepare my body for the physical exertion of birth.

What did your Dr. think of your diet? Were you concerned about any nutrient deficiencies, and if so did you get any tests?

Obviously my doctor has been quite sceptical. However, my pregnancy proceeded smoothly without any complications and most importantly my daughter turned out to be a healthy and happy baby. My (several) blood tests during pregnancy were all great.

Did you have to take any supplements during your pregnancy?

My doctor advised me to take supplements even before he had the results of my first blood test. However, I listened to my midwife who told me that the right diet doesn’t require any supplements throughout the pregnancy. The last 4 weeks of pregnancy I had low iron levels, so I took supplements then. Nevertheless, I’m sure that I could have managed it by eating a little bit of offal ;-)

Mainstream health advice tells us that dairy is important for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Did you consume any dairy during your pregnancy?

No, I didn’t.

Post-pregnancy

Do you breastfeed your baby? If yes, how is this going, and have you made any changes to your diet while breastfeeding?

Yes, I do breastfeed my daughter. I continued eating Paleo after giving birth but I’m not following a low-carb Paleo diet as breastfeeding needs lots of energy. Therefore, I eat food which is rich in fibre and glucose – mostly vegetables such as sweet potatoes. Although I did work out even until the day before I gave birth and thus, also ate fibre and glucose rich Paleo food during pregnancy, I even consume more calories now because breastfeeding always makes me hungry.

Do you feel that your diet helped your recovery time after giving birth? How are you energy levels?

I left the hospital together with my daughter just three hours after giving birth and actually had to force myself to slow down the first week after giving birth as I felt great! My daughter sleeps quite well during the night. So I think that this is one reason for me not feeling tired during the day and having constant energy levels. However, before I was a mother and before Paleo, I always struggled with ‘food coma’ and I had low energy levels especially after eating lunch or dinner. This is no problem since I’ve been eating Paleo and this also applies to the post pregnancy period.

Do you feel that eating Paleo helped you get back to your pre-baby shape quicker? Do you also follow a specific exercise regime?

My first workout was 8 weeks after birth. I didn’t push myself to start earlier, although physically this wouldn’t have been a problem for me. I just wanted to enjoy every minute with my baby as a first-time-mom. And as I fitted into my skinny jeans right after giving birth, I didn’t stress myself to get back to squats very fast. Paleo really helped me to gain only as much weight as necessary for giving birth to a healthy baby. Actually my weight has been the same after birth than before pregnancy and I didn’t count calories during pregnancy. I just ate a Paleo diet.

Baby’s health

How is your baby’s health?

The pediatrician says that he’s very content with her health and she’s developing very well.

Does your baby have any allergies?

So far she doesn’t have any allergies. As every mother I’m worried that she might develop one. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that allergies are mainly due to certain additives, preservatives, colourings, flavours and other undesired substances in the highly processed food we eat nowadays. So I hope a Paleo diet is one of the best diets to prevent allergies.

Do you feel that your diet affected the health of your baby?

Yes, absolutely. I believe my diet provided all the necessary nutrients for the fetus to develop properly which Pizza, pasta & Co do not.

Do you plan to feed your baby Paleo foods when they begin to eat solids?

Yes, I do.


Check out more Paleo Pregnancy Journeys in our Part 2 post next week and for other stories and inspiration look here.

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2 Comments
  1. It’s fantastic to see some anectodes around this topic. I was following a Paleo lifestyle before I became pregnant so when I became pregnant it was easy for me to maintain it. It was also essential for me to ensure that I repair my gut and eat nourishing foods to ensure that my son had the best start to life. I’m not sure how much weight I put on but I imagine it was the average. I was lucky to wear my normal jeans throughout the entire pregnancy. The only real downfall was my dislike of meat for the first 12 weeks so I predominantly ate veggies. I didn’t experience any real cravings, I didn’t feel that I lack any nutrients although I did take a good prenatal supplement. At the third trimester I did increase my good carbs as recommended by my Chinese accupuncturist. My son was born healthy and happy. I was fortunate enough to breast feed and he put on weight at a rapid rate! He doesn’t have any allergies and he now follows mainly a Paleo diet. He’s now a toddler and burns a lot of energy so I have added rice and gluten free pasta to his diet. I have also introduced fermented foods and milk kefir to his diet. I did find that whilst I was Breastfeeding and up numerous times a night I did struggle with energy so increasing my proteins and fats were critical. I do believe that following a Paleo lifestyle was what gave my son the best start in life.

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