Photo Credit: jainaj
In March, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my relationship with food changed (you can read more about my love of food here). Sure, we all go through phases. We diet, we fall in love with an ingredient, and we enjoy seasonal treats. But nothing sets you on a dizzying food phase frenzy like pregnancy.
During that first trimester, I stopped cooking. This isn’t unusual for pregnant women. The smell of certain (in my case, most) foods is not appealing, or it makes them sick to their stomachs. Let’s just say, she who rarely buys a processed food was living on almost nothing but boxed macaroni and cheese and milk. Going out to dinner was an anxiety-ridden experience. If the smell of the restaurant outside did not sit well with me, I couldn’t enter. Once I did find a place, sat down and ordered, the likelihood of wanting to eat the food set before me was slim. The lack of control frustrated me. My body was calling the shots now. Three months of this, and I thought, How will my baby get what it needs? These months are crucial for the development of the little one. Alas! Body knows best. Biologically, our palates narrow to reduce the chance of consuming something that could make us sick (Thank you, hormones!). Of course, our bodies aren’t always so specific, and the result can be a dislike for all your favorite, nourishing foods.
The months passed quickly, however, and again a change. SOOOO huuuuungry. Now, I don’t mean I was stuffing my face with whatever I could get my hands on, but my cravings widened. My body communicated with me clearly. “We need carrots, NOW!” “Milk, a big glass, STAT!” “Berries. A big bowl of colorful berries, IMMEDIATELY!” And, occasionally, “Just eat that brownie. You know you want to.” This was my second trimester. Things just tasted so much better. Every week I’d have a new food love. One week it was pb&j sandwiches and the next it was toast with goat cheese I’m glad I enjoyed it because phase three, the third trimester, has not been a cakewalk (mmmm… cake).
The third trimester was a food game-changer and continues to be as I near the end of my pregnancy. In preparation for our natural birth (yes, I’m one of those soon-to-be mamas), my husband and I began taking the Bradley Childbirth Course. There is an incredible focus on diet within the last trimester to encourage healthy growth for mama and baby, as well as to curb the onset of scary illnesses that can manifest in late pregnancy (Google “preeclampsia” for more information). Every day, I chart what I eat, especially noting protein, greens and grains. With these calculations and very deliberate meal planning, food has taken on more meaning. The joy I get out of food, however, has diminished under the weight of my belly. Discomfort takes the stage now as I work to find a comfortable position to sit, sleep and stand in. The support from my husband, my family and my class help remind me of the importance of what I eat. This is helpful because it’s less work for me. I can focus on meditation, exercise, bonding with my little visitor and getting as much sleep as my body asks for.
It is as true in the beginning of the pregnancy as it is now: food=baby. Once egg and sperm are donated, EVERYTHING that the cluster of cells becomes and what the fully-grown, term baby will be, is made of food. The powerful machine that is my body breaks down all I consume to basic, simple forms to be used to create a human being. How amazing is that?
When my child makes its debut, my relationship with food will change again — in a big way. Nursing first, and then introducing my child to their first solids. I am honored to be the appointed chef for a new person and introducing them to a world of wonderful flavors and food made with love.
A note to my husband: Thank you for waking me up every morning with gentle kisses and a cold glass of orange juice. They are both so satisfying, I can’t decide which I like more.