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Food for Thought! Covering Nutrition in Your Childbirth Classes

The topic of nutrition in pregnancy (and for breastfeeding moms) is an important one to cover, but may not get a lot of attention during your childbirth classes.  Women may also be “squeezing in” birth classes late in their third trimester, so the opportunity to make dietary changes during their pregnancy may not be feeling quite as “urgent” and they are very focused on preparing for labor and birth, as well as the postpartum period.  Hopefully, pregnant women are having an evidence based conversation about nutrition with their doctor or midwife during one of their early prenatals (or even better, during a preconception appointment, if they have had the opportunity to have one) at the start of their pregnancy.

Resources for Parents

Lamaze International’s “Giving Birth With Confidence” blog has several fantastic articles written by nutrition experts that you may want to review.  After reading these nutrition themed articles, you may very well want to consider sharing them with your class students as between class homework, highlighting them in a newsletter or just directing your students to the links.

Cara Terreri, the Community Manager at Giving Birth With Confidence states “Pregnant moms encounter so much conflicting advice on nutrition — from family, friends, doctors, the internet. First-time moms especially are known to stress over getting their nutrition just right. Educators can be an excellent resource to help moms find the most credible information.”

GBWC articles available include:

Choose My Plate

Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a very user-friendly, easy to read section on nutrition for pregnant and breastfeeding women in the “Choose My Plate” website.  Included in this section, is a “Daily Food Plan” personalized for each woman.  By creating a customized profile, using the SuperTracker tool,  a mother enters information, including her prepregnancy weight, her height and her due date.  The program creates a Daily Food Plan personalized for her pregnancy progress.  There is also a place to track foods eaten and the ability to produce reports to see how a mother is meeting suggested requirements.

I created a sample profile, as a pregnant woman, and found it very easy to move around and find useful information designed just for me. I suggest you take a few minutes to play around with it also, so you can share your experience with your classes.

Learning Activities

I teach nutrition in a variety of ways during my childbirth classes.  One of my favorite activities is to ask each family to bring in a food that is good for pregnant and breastfeeding women to eat.  We go around and have each family share what they brought, what nutrients, vitamins and benefits that item provides, how much makes up a single serving and finally I ask them to share their favorite way to eat it.

 I teaching method I use to share the nutritional needs of a pregnant or breastfeeding woman is to pass around my “lunch box” filled with laminated or plastic/fake food item.  Each family draws something from the lunch box and has a few minutes to look up information about that particular food, (see above) before sharing with the class.  I have some nutritional handouts and books in class and of course, the families all seem to have smart phones.

How do you teach nutrition?

Sharing nutritional information for pregnancy and breastfeeding is an important component of childbirth classes that often gets short shrift or overlooked all together.  If you are a childbirth educator, please share how YOU teach this important topic in your classes so that we all can create a diverse group of teaching tools to keep things lively for our students and ourselves.  If you are a provider, how do you talk about your client or patient’s nutritional needs during the childbearing year?  I look forward to reading your comments, suggestions and thoughts!  Thanks for participating.

Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Giving Birth with Confidence, Newborns, News about Pregnancy, Preconception Care , , , , ,

  1. April 25th, 2013 at 14:10 | #1
  2. April 25th, 2013 at 15:34 | #2

    Shelagh, that is awesome, some really nice stuff on the OHSU site! i will add it to my resource list!

  3. avatar
    Sara R.
    April 25th, 2013 at 19:26 | #3

    I do offer nutritional counseling as part of my doula business, but I do NOT teach MyPlate or anything remotely like it. There is NO FAT on that plate, however fat is such an important part of a healthy diet for pregnant women and their babies. Weston A. Price found that in societies that ate a diet of properly prepared grains, whole raw dairy, organ meats, butter, etc…had easy pregnancies, childbirths, and healthy babies. Today women are told to eat low-fat diets, which are the opposite of a healthy pregnancy diet. I advise women to avoid GMOs, processed foods, and pretty much all mainstream diet advice. Eat liberally of foods naturally high in vitamins A and D, folate, etc. Yes I think that nutrition is vital, but many women are being hugely let down by what the government and their doctors say is healthy.

  4. April 25th, 2013 at 20:55 | #4

    We start talking about nutrition at our first appointment . This is good information!

  5. April 26th, 2013 at 08:38 | #5

    I offer a separate class on Prenatal Nutrition at Shining Light Prenatal Education, taught by a nutritionist. However, it has one of the lowest attendance rates. I think it’s an important topic, but I wonder how the mothers feel about it. I get the impression they already get a lot of information from a number of different sources on nutrition. How do we help women understand that nutrition during pregnancy needs to be a priority?

  6. avatar
    Augie Rigual
    May 1st, 2013 at 13:36 | #6

    I do a four-class series and do nutrition on the first night. I know they are most interested in the “other things”, so I get to it at the beginning.

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