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A few posts back I mentioned that my wife and I are expecting. Lori’s pregnancy is at 39 weeks now, which means our hospital bags are packed, the gas tank is full, and I’ve got the driving route to the hospital so memorized that it’s all I dream about.
In this post I write about Lori’s journey as it relates to her diet, her “modified” intermittent fasting, and her usual exercise routine.
Pregnancy in Later Life
I’m in my early 40s and Lori’s 38. At this stage in life, fertility is generally a concern. And if the woman manages to become pregnant, doctors group her pregnancy into the high-risk pregnancy category.
All this, of course, is based on statistics. But we also knew the stats are based on factors that can be controlled, especially in pregnancy where nutrition and lifestyle have a significant influence.
So even before we attempted to make a baby, Lori implemented a diet I’ve promoted for years — mostly whole, real food. This simply means she generally eats food that’s closest to its natural physical state.
In particular, she minimized (but not eliminated) refined food. This means she ate very little grain-based food, such as bread, pasta, etc, even if labeled “whole grains.” Here she followed the Paleo principles of avoiding phytotoxins such as lectin and anti-nutrients like phytates, found in un-sprouted, un-soaked grains, legumes and nightshade vegetables.
We are not, and have never been, militant about the Paleo diet. We still enjoy non-Paleo items, just in reasonable amounts. The primary key has been for Lori to consume nutritious food and to avoid excessive weight gain.
Nothing has changed from what The Lean Saloon has been promoting.
I haven’t seen studies proving short-term fasting (~12 to 18 hours) is dangerous to the mother and fetus, and there are countless case reports throughout history of women fasting for religious reasons and yet experiencing successful full-term births to babies that grow into healthy, normal adults.
I’ve searched through the literature on short-term fasting and pregnancy, concluding ultimately there’s no concern for us, and that the best plan was for Lori to listen to her body.
And perhaps the greatest benefit she gained from her prior experience with intermittent fasting was learning to let go of an arbitrary eating schedule and the stress and obsession that typically come with one. She eats mostly whole, real food and she eats whenever she feels hungry.
She exercises twice a week, each time doing a combination of strength training and some metabolic conditioning. On other days she just moves around a lot. She and I walk often to our favorite coffee house, Philz, to sit in their outdoor patio, enjoying the sun and a good cup of coffee (yes, Lori drank quality coffee throughout her pregnancy).
Her exercise in summary: she lifts some weight, she elevates her heart rate for short spurts, she walks a lot, she moves around. She is definitely not obsessive with working out.
What has been Lori’s experience?
- At her age, Lori was quite fertile — got pregnant super easy. (Because we ate the same diet, I probably remained happily fertile, too.)
- Her glucose tolerance tests were consistently perfect — zero sign of gestational diabetes
- Her urine tests (at every doctor’s appointment) showed normal proteins, etc.
- Blood tests, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., always well within normal limits
- Fetal growth and stats were consistently normal
- Fetal heart rate was consistently within normal range
- All ultrasound sessions could not make the doctor any happier
- Lori has not experienced the common negative symptoms of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, cravings
- She has not exhibited the negative physical changes commonly observed in pregnancy, such as swelling, varicose veins, mood swings, etc
Life as Normal
Perhaps the most liberating part of the experience was that Lori experienced physical “normalcy.” (I would not be so presumptuous as to write this post without Lori’s personal account.)
For Lori there has been no strange cravings. Her maternal weight gain has been well within normal. She experienced absolutely no fatigue. She moves like she’s not even pregnant. I often suspect that she’s hiding a medicine ball under her shirt.
As of this writing, Lori is 3 centimeters dilated, yet today we walked a couple of miles at Stanford Shopping Center, enjoying the sun, the beautiful weather, and even shared a small cup of Hagen Daz ice cream.
A wonderful afternoon.
Perhaps we ought to knock on wood, as there’s still the big moment to come. As such, our hospital bags are packed. I think Lori’s had enough of the baby’s roundhouse kicks to her bladder.
I’m not claiming that a Paleo(ish) diet and intuitive intermittent fasting made Lori’s pregnancy smooth sailing, but her pregnancy is a reflection of how a healthy body can support the rigor of pregnancy.
And we all already know what to do to create a healthy body.