What is Proper Conception Nutrition?

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Reviewed April 2017

Today’s topic is optimal nutrition during pregnancy. Now, if I had my way, of course, everyone would start eating right long before they conceived, but that’s not in the real world. In the real world, people say, oh, my God, I’ve just found out I’m pregnant. Unfortunately, I had three glasses of wine last night with dinner. Ahh, is my baby going to be okay?
Well, now this is the really good news. The body is so forgiving that I’ve delivered babies in women who didn’t even know they were pregnant until they went into labor. I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it? That’s a real mind-body split. God, I mean, what is that moving around? I guess I really had bad indigestion. Anyway, all that to say, the babies were born fine, and that’s because Mother Nature usually gets it right.

However, to help it along, you want to follow the 80/20 rule, 80% of the food you eat should be whole and unprocessed and hopefully organic, and 20% can be some french fries if you want. The data on caffeine is mixed. Many women when they’re pregnant just don’t feel like drinking coffee, so I would avoid it. If you want a cup now and again, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I would keep the sugar to a minimum.

The main thing, particularly if diabetes runs in your family, or if you’re starting to get what’s called gestational diabetes, where you’re starting to spill sugar, please understand that a diet that contains optimal amounts of protein and lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains will often cure gestational diabetes.

It’s all about the glycemic index of food. Glycemic index is a measuring system for food that basically determines how fast a certain food will raise your blood sugar level. So a high glycemic index is a food such as white bread. That’s got a very high glycemic index. You take a piece of Wonder Bread and it will be sugar in your blood in about two seconds. Keep that food to an absolute minimum. Keep the whole, unprocessed fresh food to a maximum. Eat enough protein and get a little exercise, and your pregnancy should be fine. Also, of course, if you listened to that preconception nutrition podcast, you know that I am a major fan of omega-3 fats. Eat fish a couple times a week. In fact, all the major authorities, including the American College of OB/GYN are saying that the benefits of fish outweigh any risks of mercury, but you don’t even have to take in any risk of mercury if you get wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, which is available canned or frozen, or if you take your omega-3 fats as a supplement, either fish oil or supplements made from marine algae.
You also need enough magnesium and calcium and vitamin D is really important. Many, many women are deficient in vitamin D, so, and this is the good news, the fish oil often has vitamin D, or get out in the sun a little bit.
Also, please understand that your thoughts and your emotions are also being processed and digested by your baby’s nervous system. So think as positively as you possibly can. Oh, and one more thing, do not let those naysayers come up to you, pat your belly, and start telling you horror stories about labor. Just walk away.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


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