Joy Shen, MS, RDN
Happy Mother's Day to the Moms-to-Be
Updated: May 15, 2019
November 12, 2016 was a day that changed my life forever: I found out I was pregnant! This is when I started identifying as a mother--I was already taking care of the beginnings of the beautiful baby my daughter Zoey would become.
My positive pregnancy test was a bit of a surprise for me, and it caused me to immediately change my nutrition habits. No more Thursday night beers with The Heartbreakers. No more 2nds and 3rds (and, um, sometimes 4ths) from the coffee pot. No more over-easy eggs on top of my homemade mini-pizzas made from Stone & Skillet English muffins.
My first week as a mom-to-be, I felt a little unprepared as I thought about all the specific nutrients I'd learned in my training as an RDN that pregnancy requires. I immediately started taking prenatal vitamins (something BTW you should go ahead and take if you're thinking of trying to get pregnant soon), understanding the biochemical importance of each of these molecules. I had a bit of Checklist Nutritionism going on in my mind--Zinc: check! Iron: check! Folic acid (L-methylfolate, to be precise): check! It was a little stressful.
Pregnancy was an important turning point in my own nutrition, because I became personally aware how foods have an array of benefits beyond mere identifiable molecules. I tend to gravitate to routine, and my diet had usually exemplified this. But as a mom-to-be, I naturally widened my variety. I grabbed nearly every kind of fruit--juicy peaches, Bartlett pears, dark red grapes. I started eating more fish--salmon, cod, scallops. Knowing I was feeding my forming little baby, my grocery lists lengthened as my diet diversified.
Nutrition is the most profound way a mother takes care of her unborn baby. What a baby receives in the womb determines, to some extent, its health for life. Expectant mothers usually get the gravity of this. Our nutrition is not our own personal domain anymore; our baby is wholly dependent on our choices.
Today, on Mother's Day, I wanted to bestow a special word of congratulations and encouragement to the moms-to-be. Everyone tells you how different your life will be when your baby is born--the selfless giving from a heart full of love. It's true you haven't yet had diaper blowouts smudge alllll down your clothes, or been awakened 5x in one night when those awful molars finally cut through, or had to graciously withdraw from a meetup because your toddler was disrupting (more like obliterating) the peace by having an epic meltdown. But the changes you make in pregnancy in your nutrition are the start of the lifelong love you'll give to your baby, as you nurture and care for them, mind, body, and spirit. Congratulations, and Happy Mother's Day!