Transcript: Healthy Eating During Pregnancy and Postpartum

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Healthy Eating During Pregnancy and Postpartum and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

There’s never been a more important time to ensure you eat well than when you’re pregnant! After all, during pregnancy, your baby is taking much of your nutrition, so it’s extremely important to ensure that your body gets what it needs.

You need to ensure that what you consume fuels both you and your baby and sets the scene for after they’re born and your breastfeeding.

It’s also going to set the groundwork towards your own recovery, making it increasingly likely that you’ll have an easier and quicker recovery post birth.

In this episode of First Time Mum’s Chat, I’m talking with nutritionist and food scientist, Kate Boyle who shares some great tips and insights on how to ensure your diet during these early stages, supports your recovery and nurtures your little one as they begin their precious journey.

Helen Thompson: Hi, Kate and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m delighted to have you here. I’ll get you to tell us a bit more about what you’re passionate about.

Kate Boyle: Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. It’s always nice to chat with a fellow health enthusiast in different ways, but yeah, so I run my business is, My Movement Health and I am originally a dancer that was injured very long time ago now, in my teenage years and my career path was to be a dancer.

I was set on becoming a dancer and with the injury that didn’t happen. So I had to diverge and find a different way. And that’s how I ended up going to university and studying and becoming a nutritionist. Having been a dancer and suffering a lot with eating disorders and things like that, I thought it would be a great thing to sort of segue into the nutrition field and enjoyed it, but found sitting at a desk all day wasn’t the thing for me, since I was so used to doing so much movement and one of the girls that I was teaching dancing with at the time, said, why don’t you go do the Pilates course. You’ve got a lot of injuries from dance, you’d be great at teaching people, you’ve done Pilates before and I went, yeah, sure, that actually sounds like a good idea. So. I did the course part-time while I was working and healed my own body from a lot of injuries.

And on the nutrition side, I’d been suffering at that point, it was diagnosed as IBS. I later found out it was fructose intolerance and so I did my own journey of healing my own body, and then starting to work with other people to heal their bodies, not just through nutrition, but then also movement and then finding that marrying the two together and diving into holistic health, finding that my clients were getting so much more benefit when we were focusing on other modalities rather than just being solely on nutrition or solely on movement. And so I married them together and created my own business, Minor Movement Pilates, which is an in studio business, which is, nutrition and Pilates classes.

And then recently in the last couple of years, with everything that changed with the world, I went online and that’s how My Movement Health came about. Is offering Pilates workout. We’ve got a membership with nutrition and Pilates and health experts come in for masterclasses, but it’s an online version that everybody can access. So it’s been a bit of a transition over the years.

Helen Thompson: Wow. So you’ve come a long way from being a dance teacher. I know how important nutrition is for moms, for everybody, nutrition is so important.

Kate Boyle: Yes and especially having my own kids. So I’ve got two girls and going through the pregnancy and the births and I had a couple of difficult labors and recovery, and then working with so many women during pregnancy and postpartum, to keep their bodies functioning really well, to stop the back pain, you know, with Pilates.

And then also to optimize their nutrition, I just found a real passion working with women and trying to help support them during that time and then beyond because, your body goes through so many changes through that time. And it can be a bit overwhelming. So yeah, that’s kind of how I segue into that as well.

Helen Thompson: And I think with women, you mentioned back pain, with women, when they’re pregnant, you can get a lot of back pain. And I know that Pilates and yoga, but particularly Pilates really helps with that. But bringing it to your experience as nutrition, how does nutrition help the pre-birth mum, when she’s pregnant before she’s had a baby?

Kate Boyle: Well, there’s a kind of a combination. So generally with the Pilates side we’re working on building up that strength, that core strength, that’s going to help with the delivery. It’s going to help with their recovery, to help prevent diastasis recti, and obviously pelvic floor, because if you’re having a vaginal birth and even if you’re not, even if you’re having cesarian, just the weight of the baby, during pregnancy will weaken the pelvic floor. So we do a lot of work with that.

And then on nutrition side, it’s really optimizing nutrition. So during pregnancy, the baby takes so much of your nutrition and most women during pregnancy, they will find that they’ll become deficient in, iron is a very common one. Vitamin D and vitamin B12 are probably the top three. So we just check in, make sure that they’re really eating to fuel both baby and them because obviously energy needs are going up as well. And if they’ve got that optimal nutrition throughout pregnancy, it also means when post-baby, when they’re breastfeeding, that they tend to go to have better levels of those nutrients, which means they’re gonna have better energy levels, because we know once we’ve had baby, we are not getting full night’s sleep.

Your body is recovering from birth. So there’s a whole lot of repair work going on. So just having these optimal nutritional levels going into birth just means you’re going to have an easier and a quicker recovery too post birth.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. And I know some women have cravings when they’re pregnant. Do you think that’s got anything to do with the fact that they’re lacking a certain thing in nutrition and that’s why they’ve got that craving?

Kate Boyle: It is, there’s generally a, a vitamin or a nutrition deficiency. So during my first pregnancy, I just wanted orange juice. Funny thing to crave, but vitamin C. So I really just needed that orange juice. I mean, it has its places, some people crave, cheeseburgers from McDonald’s. So we need to look at, okay, well, what is it within that food that your body is needing? And then can we find a better option for that? But sometimes those cravings, when you’re pregnant, the need for it is just so overriding, but we need to look at the nutrition behind it and what our body may need.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. It’s interesting. You craved orange juice, but McDonald’s is not exactly full of nutrition.

Kate Boyle: No. And look, even when it comes to orange juice, there are better forms of vitamin C, so eating your leafy green vegetables, strawberries, eating the citrus fruit itself. So, it’s going okay I can have that craving but what is my body trying to communicate that it needs and what are other ways that I can get it into my body in a healthier way sometimes too.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. Cause I think a lot of people with nutrition they don’t know that food can actually give you so much nutrition. I know that from my own experience, I have a little list up on the wall and if I’m craving something, I’ll look right well, what does that give me? And I realise that might be vitamin D or it might be vitamin C or, or whatever it is.

Kate Boyle: Definitely and sometimes cravings can come back to our emotional states as well. Are we in a good headspace, are we stressed, are we tired? So you might have those cravings increase. Usually it’s mid afternoon and we need to know, okay, what did we have for lunch? Was it lunch that really fueled us and was a good combination of protein, fats and carbs, or was it quite hard carbohydrate and our blood sugar levels have just crashed. And that’s why we’re getting this craving for some high energy food. So, looking at those balanced meals really has a big part of cravings as well.

Helen Thompson: So with balanced food, people always talk about a balanced diet. And it’s to do with carbohydrate, protein and there’s another one as well, I can’t remember what it is. But it’s basically making sure you have a mixture of carbohydrate and protein when people talk about a balanced diet. Is that correct?

Kate Boyle: Yes. So generally, like with everything, diets need to be individualized depending on your blood work and where you’re at in your life and what stage with your hormones. But when we’re looking at a balanced approach and if we’re really trying to stabilize our blood sugar levels, which is really important, especially when you’re pregnant. Yeah, we want to make sure that we do have a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fat at every meal. So if we’re just looking at your dinner plate, we want to make sure that maybe your protein portion might be some grass fed beef, or it could be some fatty fish, like salmon or chicken or it could be a portion of say, egg or legumes if you’re vegetarian or vegan. So we want protein, our carbohydrates want to be complex carbohydrates. And I think this is where the information gets confusing because people like, oh, well, carbs are bad, so I shouldn’t eat them. But complex carbs, they’re our sweet potato, our wholegrains. These are the types of foods that are going to give us energy, but they’re going to drip it out in our blood sugar quite slowly. Prolonged release of energy. And those types of carbohydrates are really beneficial. It’s not the same as eating sugar in the sense of lollies or white bread or that type of thing.

So either the whole grains, again, beans, lentils, those types of things that are high in fiber are really going to be really helpful in balancing that blood sugar. And then fat is the final thing that a lot of women get a bit afraid of, I think, and at least times have changed. Now we know that there’s good fats and bad fats, but we want to be opting for those good fats, like extra Virgin olive oil, avocados, walnuts, walnut oil. Cooking with those types of oils. Fatty fish. Omega 3 is like chia seeds and things like that. And steering clear of the vegetable oils. So things like canola oil and sunflower oil. We know that they promote inflammation in the body. And so they’re actually going to be to our detriment if we’re consuming those types of fats.

Helen Thompson: Hmm. I didn’t realize that about sunflower oil. I don’t use that, but I thought sunflower oil wasn’t bad.

Kate Boyle: Yeah there’s eight seed oils. So, rapeseed, sunflower, canola. The eight seed oils when they’re produced in the manufacturing process they’re produced with oxidization petroleum. So they’re detrimental to our health. The problem is they’re found in so many processed foods. You’ve only got to turnover a packet, whether or not it’s crackers or, maybe it’s something like, frozen chips in the vegetable aisle. Cakes, biscuits, anything like that. If you turn over the packet, you’ll find that there’s usually canola oil in that, and it is very inflammatory for the body. So the less we can have of those, the better we’re going to be.

Helen Thompson: That’s good, especially for a mum because they put on weight while they’re having the baby, but it’s baby weight, not fat. And I think you’ve got to get that balance don’t you?

Kate Boyle: And I think too, it’s really trying to find foods that are going to be nutrient dense that are going to feed us. But food is our building blocks of our bones, of our muscles and our tissues. So whatever we’re eating, that’s, what’s building our baby. So that’s why that nutrition during pregnancy is so important because what we eat, we are what we eat. And so is our baby. So if we can feed it the best stuff then, like anything we’re going to give our baby and ourselves, the best chance we can.

Helen Thompson: And I guess when you’re pregnant and you’re feeding your baby good stuff, when they’re born, they’re getting it from your breast. But then when they go on solids, they will be used to having good quality food.

Kate Boyle: Yeah, and exactly right. And it follows through. Like you just said with breast milk, whatever you’re eating is traveling through the breast milk, the same thing. So again, we want really good nutrition that we’re eating and it not only fuels our body and helps our repair, but again, it helps with the brain development of the baby. Making sure that we’re eating our Omega 3’s and those types of things too. So, like you said, it has that flow on effect that if we’re eating healthy and it’s just our normal everyday routine, then we’re going to bring up our kids that way too.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. So they get used to it so that when they’re going on to solids, they’ll think, oh, I’ve had this in the womb, it was rather nice. I quite like it.

Kate Boyle: That’s it, it’s just a natural sort of flow on effect, essentially.

Helen Thompson: Yeah so we’ll talk about a little bit about the Pilates. With Pilates and nutrition, how do you combine. If I was to come to you for a session, as a pregnant mom or a mum who’s just had a baby how would a session of yours look like?

Kate Boyle: It depends what they come to see me for. So I’ll get referrals from people and it’ll be from their doctor because they’ve gone to the doctor with back pain. And so therefore, they really need to work on strengthening up the muscles in their core and stabilising their pelvis. So it doesn’t get worse during pregnancy. And then, it might be a segue from that because they might say, oh, well, I just had my glucose tested at 20 weeks and I’ve got gestational diabetes. And then we might book in a consult and chat about nutrition and stuff.

So it really depends on how people find me and who they’re referred to as to which path we sort of go down. And sometimes we might be going down one path and it might be the nutrition side and they start telling me that they’re getting cramping and they’re getting a lot of pain and then, they might be like, what can I do? And then we talk about the benefits of Pilates and then they come in for a few sessions. So it’s a bit individual, depending on the client.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, it’s good that doctors refer you because a lot of doctors wouldn’t refer for nutrition.

Kate Boyle: So I’ve got a couple of doctors, a couple of osteos, a couple of physios that know what I do. So maybe they’ve seen me themselves, or they’ve had clients that have seen me and that sort of referral network especially when you’ve got an in-person business is invaluable. And word gets around within your town, you get known what for. I’ve had my studio for just over 12 years now.

Helen Thompson: Yeah that’s good. I think nutrition, it’s slightly different from a naturopath.

Kate Boyle: Yeah. So naturopath focus a lot more on the herbs. Nutrition tends to focus more on the food directly. Yes. Not to say that we won’t add in herbs, depends on the person, but really first and foremost, we look at food and we look at those changes. And then, some of my clients might see me for diet and then they will see their naturopath to, maybe look at optimizing supplements or herbs that they might want to take just to help improve things as well.

Helen Thompson: You mentioned fructose intolerance. What I believe from my understanding of fructose, that’s fruit and all the nutrients you get from fruit, like apples, oranges and it’s a natural sugar. I’m asking you as an expert because I know a little bit. If you’ve got a fructose intolerance and you’re pregnant and you want to eat things like oranges and apples and pears, is that going to impede on your fructose intolerance?

Kate Boyle: It can be different for everybody. Sometimes it gets worse for people. Sometimes it can be a little bit better. Fructose intolerance, you’re right. It’s a sugar. So, like lactose, which is found in say milk and dairy, fructose is found in a range of different foods, not only fruits. So yes, apples and pears, stone fruits like nectarines and peaches, but it’s also in things like garlic, onion, artichokes.

All of these delicious foods that are so great for you nutritionally. So it is in a myriad of different things. And I was originally diagnosed with IBS and this went back 20 years ago and then they brought out, you can go to the doctors and you can get either a lactose tolerance tests or a fructose tolerance test and so mine ended up being fructose. I have learnt to manage my fructose intolerance for me, one of the biggest sort of contributors was stress. So I know that if I manage my stress levels, once upon a time I had to cut out nearly all of my fructose. Now I know that say onions just doesn’t agree with my gastrointestinal tract.

I usually get a bloating and gas and things like that from onions. Both. So somebody else suffering fructose intolerance could be completely different and they might have a higher allergic reaction to garlic and apples. So it depends on the person. It depends on their current diet and if they have other things going on with their gut health.

So if you’ve got leaky gut in the sense that you’re maybe not looking after your health a hundred percent and there’s that holes in their stomach. And so those molecules can escape through into the bloodstream. Then you’re going to have a lot more problems with fructose intolerance or lactose or whatever it may be than if you had a really healthy gut. So working on gut health, and that means, going back to whole foods, vegetables, lots of fiber, those types of things, and obviously supporting your gut health with great sleep and movement and exercise and reducing stress. If you’re having great gut health you usually have less of a reaction, but if you’ve got a lot of other things going on, then reactions are generally worse.

Helen Thompson: Hmm, that’s interesting. I didn’t realize that onions and garlic was fructose. I’m glad I’m not fructose intolerant because I love my garlic. Onions are okay if they’re cooked, but I don’t like raw onions, but cooked onions are fine.

Kate Boyle: Yeah and that’s it. It’s just individual. I can tell that if I have something and it’s, like a salad and I didn’t see that bit of red onion and stuff in there then I know later on that I’m going to have some bloating and issues because of it. So it’s getting to know your body really well. If people are out there and kind of suffering, they can go get their test at the doctor and then, you know, either work with a nutritionist or a dietician and you may think it’s just food, but it’s looking at your overall lifestyle and sort of seeing that, what’s your inflammation levels in your body and, and how you’re sleeping and what’s your stress levels because that all affects our digestion in different ways.

Helen Thompson: And if you’re pregnant, your body’s changing, your hormones are changing and everything’s changing. So you probably get stressed more when you’re pregnant because of all those hormone changes. So somebody like you would be good to come and have a chat to when you’re pregnant, because at least you can help them and say, right, let’s have a chat to see where they’re coming from.

Kate Boyle: Yes and you’re growing a baby, so there’s definitely a lot more stress on your body. Your body is having to do so many more processes. That’s why we need our sleep so much. And we get so tired when we’re pregnant as well. Plus our immunity is sort of fluctuating during pregnancy. I myself, when I was pregnant, I didn’t realize I’d had a very low lying egg allergy and during pregnancy it came out. I was a lover of scrambled eggs. I’d have scrambled eggs. I’d feel really sick, thinking what’s going on. And then after a couple of goes, I’m like, nah, something’s wrong here, I’m going to go get some allergy testing done. And sure enough, I had an egg allergy, that was always there, just not at the level that my body was sort of reacting to it. And during pregnancy, because of changes in immunity and everything like that, I now have an egg allergy. Yeah, so lots of different changes can occur during pregnancy. And I think, the more that you can just look after your body and to start with the basics of good nutrition, the easier your pregnancy is going to be.

Helen Thompson: I think good nutrition is so important and that’s why talking to somebody like you, who knows about this kind of thing. I think it’s good for moms because a lot of moms don’t know how to look after their body, particularly when they’re pregnant. They tend to eat lots of things because they feel that they’re going to eat for the baby. Yes. you need to eat for the baby, but you need to eat healthy for the baby. And I think you’ve got to get that balance.

Kate Boyle: Yeah, definitely. And sometimes, busy lifestyles leading up to getting pregnant, we sort of fall into the habits of relying on, takeaway or convenience foods and all these types of things. And while they can be really convenient, they’re not always delivering the best nutrition and we might be able to get away with that when we’re, younger in our twenties and stuff, but then when we’re pregnant and we’re really needing that extra energy to build a baby, it might sort of translate across that you’re just not feeling that great anymore. And that’s where if we can just really look at the diet and make some changes from that early stage, it can really be beneficial later on as well.

Helen Thompson: Do you think morning sickness has got anything to do with not having a good nutrition when you’re pregnant?

Kate Boyle: No. I think, even from my personal experience, it’s very different from pregnancy to pregnancy. So with my first I had morning sickness all day, all night, for pretty much the entire pregnancy. It was very full on and I’d see clients and I would say if I have to sit down for a second, it’s just because I’m not feeling very well. And they’d say, oh, well you do look quite green in the face. And that might be at two o’clock in the afternoon. And with my second pregnancy, I had morning sickness in the first trimester and the third, but I felt great during the second.

So a lot of the times. Yeah, it’s very individual to the woman and it’s usually based on obviously your genetic makeup and then obviously the baby’s genetic makeup, cause it’s made from two different types of genes coming together and sometimes it’s how compatible those genes are with your body as well that can sometimes sort of influence the amount of morning sickness you have.

Helen Thompson: So it’s a bit of an imbalance between you and the baby. That’s interesting. I just often wondered about morning sickness and nutrition, that’s why I asked.

Kate Boyle: Yeah and I mean, look, sometimes, I’ve worked with women and they’ll say, I just can’t eat in the morning. I feel really sick with morning sickness. So then we look at other options that it might be okay. Well, we want to make sure that we can get some nutrition into you. So maybe we’re looking at like a smoothie that they could have instead around mid-morning, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. Sometimes just the sight of food when you’re pregnant can make you feel sick.

So, it’s making sure you put that smoothie in some sort of a flask or a drink bottle, you don’t even have to, to see it essentially. And you can just sip on that throughout the morning. So you’re still getting great nutrition. You’re not actually having to eat food, essentially. Yeah, it’s again, a very sort of individualized approach, but a lot of women that have it all day, then we would have to find ways to get nutrition into them because you need to eat. So, exploring those ways and what works for them is what we ended up doing.

Helen Thompson: Even if it comes up, you’ve still got to replenish it. Even if it comes back up, you just still have to keep gently putting it in a bit like a drip.

Kate Boyle: That’s it. And sometimes people prefer smaller foods that they may snack on whether or not it’s a handful of almonds or some trail mix or something. And then other people, prefer to have something just like a smoothie so that they can just have a drink and not have to physically eat. So just depends on your morning sickness and, and what suits you.

Helen Thompson: And I know with allergies, it’s really tough these days, especially the nut allergies and all that. You’ve got to be so careful. If you’ve got a nut allergy, I guess it’s likely that your baby will have one but if you don’t have a nut allergy and you eat nuts, it might be that your baby will. I know it depends on each individual, as you say.

Kate Boyle: Yeah and even with my egg allergy, my brother had an egg allergy when he was a baby. So he’s always been allergic to eggs. So it wasn’t a surprise so much for me when I was pregnant to then develop an egg allergy. But, so far, my girls are fine and they don’t have any egg allergies, so it can just be very different.

But we do know the more foods you can expose yourself to in pregnancy. So if you don’t have any allergies and you can eat, eggs and nuts and things, that there is a slight reduced risk for the chance of your child to have that allergy too. So we really encourage women to eat a wide variety of foods, so that we can try to help reduce that risk, just, even slightly when they have their babies.

Helen Thompson: That’s good because I think it’s good to encourage moms to eat those kinds of things anyway.

Kate Boyle: Yeah, some of the studies are now showing that women that have a much more restricted diet do have a higher increase of their children having allergies.

Helen Thompson: That’s interesting. So if anybody wants to get in touch with you and find out more about you where would they find you?

Kate Boyle: Sure. So there’s a few ways. They can head on over to the website, and I’ve got a few pregnancy programs on there and postnatal programs, which are Pilates workouts that are specifically designed for either pregnancy or postnatally with nutrition included in that as well. I’m on Instagram at Mind Movement Health, and I’m on Facebook as well.

Helen Thompson: So I will add that all into the show notes. Is there anything else that you’d like to add that we haven’t discussed.

Kate Boyle: I guess just talking about pregnancy and postnatal, there are so many changes that happen and occur within a woman’s body and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming and you don’t know about them all. I think, whether or not it’s learning that, oh, once you have your baby, you do start to lose some of your hair or the recovery might be a lot harder than you think. So I guess I’d just encourage women to really find a good support network, whether or not you’ve got friends that you can relate to, you’ve got a really great doctor that can refer you on or an osteopath that you can work with. Just having that support network can be really beneficial during pregnancy and post-natal.

Helen Thompson: Thank you that’s a good tip, because it’s good for moms to have a good support network. So thank you so much, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you Kate. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Kate Boyle: Well, thanks so much for having me on the podcast. I always love coming on and chatting with other fellow women about helping women’s health. So it’s been great coming on the show.