Body Image And Nutrition During Pregnancy: Podcast Episode #162
Kristin and English Goldsborough chat about body image during pregnancy and the importance of nutrition. English owns The Nourishing Tree and is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and a certified lactation counselor. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Hello. This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I’m joined today by English Goldsborough. Welcome, English!
English: Hi, Kristin.
Kristin: And you are with The Nourishing Tree and a functional nutritional therapy practitioner. So let us know what type of training you go through to – you know, I understand functional medicine, and I understand nutritionist, but this is a whole other category, so I’m really interested to hear your journey in this.
English: You know, it’s kind of marrying those two things together. So I went through the Nutritional Therapy Association. It was back when we actually got to meet in person before things changed. So now it’s all online, but we actually got to meet in person and do some body work and stuff like that. We basically learned all about the ancestral diet, you know, how cultures ate in the past, where things kind of took a turn, not for the better, as far as the industrialization of foods, that kind of thing. The turning food into not food, that kind of thing. A lot about how the whole body works as a whole system and how when we put the right foods in the body, it works how we want it to. When we feed it foods that it doesn’t realize is foods, it doesn’t necessarily work like we would want it to. So I started there and then went on to some extra trainings after that to tie in the lab work and things like that. But very Weston A. Price foundation type.
Kristin: Nice. And you’re also a certified lactation counselor, so that works very well in conjunction with the nutrition and functional medicine.
English: Yes. I like to tie in the whole preconception, prenatal, postpartum, lactation, the whole nine yards, right?
Kristin: Yes, because it’s so important to focus on the food that you’re putting in your body when you’re feeding your baby. So I really love that you combined all of that.
English: Thank you. I find it important. I mean, I find that a lot of couples come to me when they’re struggling to conceive, and they say, okay, well my goal is, let’s get pregnant, and what I give them is a goal that’s so much bigger than that, you know, with affecting the child’s health long-term for their whole life. So something that’s not talked about, I guess, a lot, but so important.
Kristin: Yes, it’s key. And you look at allergies and other things during the breastfeeding stage, and so working with a nutritionist like yourself if you need to cut out dairy or other foods would be very helpful.
English: Absolutely. Yes. Absolutely, because there’s so much we can do, right? You don’t have to suffer. The baby doesn’t have to suffer. We can really get things back on track, for sure.
Kristin: So English, I would love to hear how – you talked about pre-conception, but when your clients are in the early phase of pregnancy, what is it like to work with you? How are you checking in with their health and progress?
English: Yeah, so a lot of times we will actually do some blood work, but we’re looking at it through the lens of pregnancy, right, because a lot of things change as we’re going through pregnancy. So we definitely have to keep that in mind and not look at this bloodwork and compare it to someone who’s not going through pregnancy. So we’ll look at that, but, you know, we’re really looking at nutrient status, you know, things that the mom is going to need, the growing baby’s going to need, that we’re going to need once we get into breastfeeding. I think a lot of women initially come to me because perhaps they maybe lost weight before they got pregnant or they’re worried about gaining that back, so weight, I think, is at the forefront of a lot of women’s minds where they’re like, well, how can I have a healthy pregnancy without gaining unnecessary weight. So a lot of it is working through what is actually – what your body wants to do, how we can honor that, those kinds of things.
Kristin: Yes, that makes complete sense. We have an online course that we launched during the pandemic called Becoming A Mother, and our first module goes into a lot about that body image and how you feel as your body’s changing, especially for women who’ve had past issues with weight fluctuation or just their overall body image in general. And so getting on that scale for every appointment can be triggering if someone has had an eating disorder or is feeling pressured about weight gain, especially carrying multiples and so on.
English: Yes, very triggering, and a lot of times, the body, especially in those first two trimesters, right – and I’m sure you all touch on this in your program – but the body’s just doing what it was designed to do, and it’s putting reserves away for that third trimester where in that third trimester, the baby’s going to need all those glucose stores. So the mom then starts to burn her fat stores, so in those first two trimesters, the body’s preparing for that, and it can just feel a little unsettling if you don’t know that, if you’re not prepared for that. It can just feel so different. We just have to find that healthy balance where we’re not undereating and not overeating those processed foods.
Kristin: Exactly. So many people that pregnancy is an excuse to fulfill every craving or go get that fast food. I tell my clients focus on eating whole foods and healthy and nourish your own body and your own baby.
English: You are my kind of person. I think sometimes when we utter those words, right, where we tell someone – especially when someone’s pregnant, you don’t want to offend them, so a lot of people think, oh, well, you shouldn’t tell a pregnant mother what she should or shouldn’t be eating. You should just let her do her thing. But it really is kind of a disservice because it’s not setting the mom or the baby up for health, and that’s not fair.
Kristin: I love it. I mean, it sets the foundation for everything and can really – I mean, there’s so many studies now showing that getting proper nutrition during pregnancy can prevent things like preeclampsia. I mean, if you’re low in vitamin D3 or vitamin C and so on. So just really focusing on your health can prevent a lot of issues.
English: Absolutely. I mean, our diet, our lifestyle, infections that you came into pregnancy with, stress – I mean, the stress that a mom feels during pregnancy has that – I guess it’s called stress hardiness with the baby and it teaches the baby whether stress comes and goes or whether it’s constant, that kind of thing. And that can come in the form of diet, too. So yes, not saying, oh, I’m 12 weeks pregnant; my baby needs a whole chocolate cake. Hmm. I don’t think baby is the one that wants that.
Kristin: Exactly. Do you ever get into what cravings mean, like if someone’s like, oh, I’m just craving, like, a Big Mac or whatever, and what certain – whether it’s savory or sweet foods, what might lead to an imbalance?
English: Yeah, so I don’t offhand remember what each of them are, but for sure. I mean, it goes back to an example I use with a lot of clients to where you can sit down with a bag of chips and eat the whole thing and still feel like you’re hungry, and that’s because those chips are not giving your body the nutrients that it actually wants. So your body keeps telling you, we’re hungry, and it’s not because it’s hungry for more chips or more calories even. It’s hungry for those nutrients that it’s not getting. So when we really honor the body’s signals and start eating a lot of healthy fats and vegetables and fruits and meats and the things that it really does need, the hunger signals can be satiated. So, yes. And I think I do have a chart that I use with clients as far as, if you’re craving this, then you need maybe some magnesium, or if you’re craving this, maybe more vitamin C. And cravings really do – once you start to eat all the whole foods and not so much the processed Frankenfoods, the cravings really start to go away. At least in the sense of like, oh, my God, I have to have that right now kind of thing.
Kristin: Yes, I would think so, and I’m sure you work with clients who are dealing with gestational diabetes or other forms, you know, type A and so on.
English: Yes. And we kind of can get into a tough position if we’ve let it go for a while, right? So we have to set realistic expectations as far as how long it’s going to take to really get the insulin sensitivity back, but it’s never too late. We can always make progress. But yeah, realistic.
Hey, Alyssa here. I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming. Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between. You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood. You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more. You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most. And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls. If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check it out at www.thebecomingcourse.com. We’d love to see you there.
Kristin: As you’re working with clients and they’re preparing for the postnatal phase, what are your top tips for simplifying meals, making things easy again, avoiding processed foods, as they’re in the nesting stage and doing all of the baby prep?
English: Yes. So one, leaning on the people around you, I find to be super helpful. Not that a woman can’t do it on her own, but I think a lot of times we as women put all that pressure on ourselves to get it all done, right? So we are going to birth. We are going to breastfeed. We are going to make our own meals and clean the house and do the dishes, and we don’t have to do those things. We can ask for help, and we should get help, and that’s fine. And then as far as meals and stuff go, smoothies have always been really helpful. Things that super simple, like picking a meat; picking a vegetable; pick a fat. It doesn’t have to be these complicated meals. Sipping on bone broth throughout the day. Adding avocados to things, those healthy fats that are really going to help nourish the body are really helpful.
Kristin: And I always say focus on hydration with breastfeeding moms and snacks throughout the day and don’t limit it to those three meals because then you need to build up your milk supply.
English: Yes. You need more calories during the breastfeeding phase than you did during the prenatal phase, right, while you were growing the baby, and society tells us, okay, well, right after you have that baby, you should go back and be back to your prebaby weight. That’s not – yeah, that’s not – that’s not what we want to do. That is not honoring our body and our baby, and society just sends us those terrible signals with that. Because I do have a lot of women that are like, well, I’m X amount of weeks out of pregnancy, you know, since delivery. Why is the weight not coming off? And then we have to have that discussion of, that’s because your body doesn’t want the weight to come off. It needs that weight. It’s there for a purpose. So let’s continue eating what we should because depriving our body of the nutrients that it needs is really just going to backfire in the end, anyway. So it’s there for a reason, and we can work on it later, but forcing your body to lose weight is never going to be the answer, anyway.
Kristin: Yeah, just to get back into those jeans when you’re not supposed to be working out initially. You’re healing. You’re supposed to be resting and bonding with baby. Yes, but there is – you’re so right, English. There’s just way too much pressure on women to get back to work, get back to keeping the household, to look a certain way. And it’s just – we need to give ourselves a break and like you said, ask for support. I mean, our postpartum doulas, we can do some light meal preparation, get snacks and household things so you can really again focus on rest and bonding. We offer feeding support. There are so many other services you can look into, but that’s just one. You know, hiring a housekeeper is helpful.
English: I saw a meme that kind of just stuck with me – or we can call it a meme, I guess – that it was like all your friends come over to see you after you have your baby, and they all want to hold the baby, right, but really what we as friends should be doing is doing some housework for the new mom. Let the mom spend the time with her new baby, and we can help pick up the slack around the house. And that kind of stuck with me. We go see this new baby and we want to love on the new baby, but that’s not what we should be doing. We should be more that tribe that supports the new mom and helps her around the house instead.
Kristin: Exactly. Traditional cultures, it’s all about caring for the mother, and of course, helping with newborn care, but really nourishing her and allowing her to heal. Like looking at Malaysian cultures and, again, other traditional focus on the first 40 days as being a primary time for rest and bonding and nutrition. If only it were like that here!
English: I know. It’s just interesting, the pressures that we put on ourselves, I guess, you know, because you see it around whether it’s a movie or just societal or what have you, the perfect way that you should be. And it’s just – that’s not real. It shouldn’t be, anyway.
Kristin: Yeah, and then like you said, friends asking how you can help, and I find as a birth doula one of the most important things that a friend can do is really ask how you’re doing and allow the sharing of the birth story or whatever is going on or just talking about the changes of being a new mom or having yet another baby and really hearing the woman out versus talking about how cute the baby is. It’s like there’s so much focus on that new baby, and then the mother can sometimes feel lost.
English: Yes. Right? And there’s not much education – and I’m sure there is, you know, if you’re a doula, right, which is why it’s so important, but if somebody doesn’t have that resource, there’s not much education that goes into how the postpartum period is going to go. So there’s probably a lot of surprises, and you’re just not sure how to navigate that. You might feel alone. You might feel like you’re weird, that nobody else went through this because nobody else talked about it. So there’s almost a little bit of suffering on your own. There doesn’t need to be.
Kristin: Exactly. The same applies for us. We love to walk with clients from the moment they conceive through the first year of a child’s life, but if someone has had their baby and they want to reach out to work with you, what does that look like?
English: Like I said, it’s not like it’s ever too late because those first 1000 days, that critical 1000 from conception to age three is so important for shaping the epigenetics of the baby for the rest of their life. So we can work through that. We can work through mom’s health. You know, even if you didn’t necessarily prepare pre-conception, that doesn’t mean after, we can’t work on those things, especially because pregnancy tends to steal those nutrient stores. We just kind of work on your realistic goals, right, like if we’re breastfeeding, there’s a lot of things that we’re going to put on hold until that’s finished, which the breastfeeding is going to be more important, right, and that’s fine. But just getting those minerals back, those nutrients back, working on resting where we can, stress management, adjusting to new life.
Kristin: Do you have a different focus with twins and triplets as far as working on a plan than you would if someone were pregnant or newly postpartum with one baby?
English: Yeah, I actually have only gotten to work with one female who had twins. So that’s not a huge experience that I’ve had. Now, I will say I have twin sisters, so my mom had twins, and it was baby five and six for her, and I can tell you, she was super nutrient depleted.
Kristin: I’m sure, yes. And there weren’t any resources.
English: Yeah. Had I had this education now – I mean, I was young at the time. I didn’t have it. But so many things I would go back and be like, oh, mom, you really need to work on this because you grew two whole humans. Or in the case of triplets, three whole humans.
Kristin: Exactly, and if they continued to breastfeed, then they’re even more depleted than feeding one baby. So yeah, and obviously, you customize to whatever the needs are: health issues, dietary issues, celiac, and so on.
English: Yes. And I did hear that breastfeeding actually cuts the risk of celiac in the babies down, like, some odd 57% or something like that.
Kristin: Wow, I had not heard that. That’s amazing.
English: There’s not much research on it yet, and there’s even less research on how the genetics and the health of the babies changed just in birth, whether it’s vaginal birth, C-section birth, what drugs are used, not used, that kind of thing. But the breastfeeding – yeah, it cuts down a lot of celiac, IBS, that kind of thing. Kind of magical, really.
Kristin: That is amazing. So any final tips for our listeners as far as focusing, whether it’s body image or anything we discussed? I’d love to hear your top takeaways.
English: I think the main thing that I would like to remind everybody is that pregnancy and postpartum is such a tender time, and you use so many resources, and it’s just so beautiful, that we all really just need to cut ourselves not necessarily slack but give ourselves grace, I guess, is how I would say it, and just honor the fact that the body knows what it needs to do. So fighting it isn’t necessarily what we need to do. Honoring the ebb and the flow of gaining some weight and that is okay. It’s going to get us farther in the long run.
Kristin: Perfect. Yes. 100% agree. So English, how can our listeners and our clients connect with you, and what virtual options do you have if our listeners are not located in Kentucky?
English: They can find me at my website. My Instagram is @nourishingtreelou. There is a link on there where they can schedule a complementary consultation. So we can really just sit down and discuss what stage of life you’re in, what your goals are, that kind of thing. But everything is really Zoom now.
English: It makes it super easy, right? And it’s a little different because you don’t get that face to face interaction, but it’s super convenient for anybody anywhere, really across the world, right?
Kristin: Yeah, you can help anyone in the world now.
English: Yes. It is – it’s cool. It’s definitely a different vision that I had kind of going into business, but I like it, and it works.
Kristin: Same. With us, we’ve changed. We’ve had to pivot. Many of our classes are virtual, and we’re just going back to some in person and created a course due to the pandemic. I love being able to reach people outside of our footprint in Michigan.
English: Yes. And it’s so different than 20 years ago when people had a business. It’s cool.
Kristin: Exactly. So what’s next for you?
English: Oh, wow. Well, in personal life, we’re actually headed – we’re going to try out a couple different cities. Now that everything is virtual, we’re going to kind of “live” in different cities for a month at a time. I call it “virtual virtual” because I already see everybody virtually, so it’s just a little bit farther away, maybe, each time. So we’ll be doing that. Just kind of continue seeing clients one on one, eventually get back into some group work with some couples. That’s kind of what’s on my plans. I’m always open to whatever the world throws at me.
Kristin: Awesome. Well, maybe a book will come your way.
English: That’s really not my strong suit. I’ve heard that’s a lot of work.
Kristin: Yes. We are in the process, so it is a lot of work.
English: I was going to say your yes sounded like a yes from personal experience. It’s probably so worth it, but I have heard it is quite the beast to take on.
Kristin: Yeah. There’s so many ways to reach people with social media. I love it. Well, thanks so much for your time, English! It was so good to get to know you, and I love all of your tips.
English: I appreciate you having me on! This is a joy. Thank you.
Kristin: Thanks. Have a great day!
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