Guess what? I’m pregnant! I know. It’s crazy.
Sometimes I feel like I am the only person in the world this had ever happened to. Like it’s the most special thing that has ever occurred in the history of the universe. (and….obviously, it is). Other times I feel connected to the millions of women who have come before me and grew and birthed and given their lives and bodies to be mothers of us all. All of the time I feel honored to have gotten this far and received such a blessing. We’re so excited.
I had my blood drawn last week and turns out I am slightly low on the RBC cell count and at the lower end of the hemoglobin scale. This all points to slight anemia and I thought I would share my plan for boosting my iron and blood count.
I’m so glad all my studies ingrained the importance of nutrition 6 months prior to conception (as well as the entire pregnancy and 6 months post birth). We try to eat a nutrient dense diet and loosely follow the teachings and finding of Dr. Weston A. Price. If you’re never heard of him, please check out the Foundation here and learn about this hero of mine.
Turns out the first trimester is really hard to stomach. Literally. I thought I would have time to ease into being pregnant. Not really. Heightened sense of smell (making even opening the refrigerator totally disgusting)? Check. Aversion to food for no good reason? Check. Inability to cook for oneself? Check. Extreme fatigue? Check. Lightbulbs about why we as human beings don’t live in a vacuum (read: I need someone to take care of me)? Check.
So, here I am espousing all this rhetoric about eating liver a few times a week, greens daily and bone broth ad libitum and yet in practice I am gobbling down mashed potatoes, nibbling buttered toast and craving pasta. Even the prenatal vitamins starting looking like tiny foes. If it wasn’t a fruit, starch, seltzer water or heavy cream it probably had no business being near me. Now, let me say that hyperbole is very dear to me. I’m probably exaggerating this for the sake of getting my point across. I do believe that if vegetables accompanied starches I could accept them as a minor intrusion. I ate adequate protein mainly from eggs thanks to our pastured layers. This wasn’t an exclusive sugar and fat fest, but it was far from the ideal I had mapped out in my head. I guess this was just my first test of motherhood: Even the best laid plans go out the window and you have to make do with the best (or anything) you can muster. Check. Understood.
And just like that the 6 months of preconception nutrition made so much sense. If you’re physically unable to eat nutrient dense food for the first three months of pregnancy what is your baby going to draw on other then your blood, tissue and bones resources? This new life is literally strip-mining my body and I need to boost my reserves as much as possible.
I have an herbal tea that I am have been drinking a few times a week, but will now be imbibing daily. The nettles are especially important for boosting iron levels and keeping the blood strong, easing the extra stress on the kidneys and mineralzing the body. I am using thimble berry/wild strawberry leaves as a local substitute for the much lauded red raspberry leaf, which help strengthen the pelvic floor. Chamomile, rose, lavender and linden are all beautiful, fragrant and gentle nervines. I have been missing my herbal tinctures, which are made with organic alcohol and no longer appropriate for daily use, hence this tea:
Pregnancy & Nervine Tea
- 2 parts Chamomile flowers
- 2 parts Nettle leaf
- 2 parts thimble berry/wild strawberry/red raspberry leaf
- 1 part Linden flowers and bracts
- 1 part Rose buds
- ½ part Rose hips
- ¼ part lavender buds
Part two of my plan. Liver.
I know, you don’t like it. Too bad. You have to eat it.
I had a friend over this weekend who made me lightly curried deer liver pan fried in bacon fat for breakfast along with poached eggs, toast and artichokes with homemade aioli. Just a few bites on buttered toast. It was delicious. If I can do it anyone can.
Here are some resources to help you along:
Weston A. Price Foundation again. The Liver files. Why you should eat it. How you should eat it. Why it is safe. Recipes. Nutritional comparisons of different animals. Liver around the world.
A super simple way to make frozen liver pills you just swallow on the daily.
We have a freezer full of deer, lamb, wild boar and cow livers from all our hunting and gathering expeditions over the past few years. That being said the mildest liver is chicken.
As soon as I can get some good chicken livers again I am making this pâté.
The Third Prong
This week I will be making a yellow dock syrup preserved with black strap molasses. This is a building tonic that is great for anemia. Molasses is rich in micronutrients and has a long history as a blood builder to boot. You can add dandelion, red raspberry leaf and nettles to this decoction as well. I will be doing the yellow dock syrup plain this time as the other herbs are already in my daily tea. I’m not going to claim that yellow dock contains iron; I’m sure this statement would lead to all sorts of arguments, rebuttals and nit-picking. All I know is that this works and that it works way better than iron supplementation, which is hard to absorb and leads to constipation (already a common pregnancy complaint). Floradix is a commercial product similar to this syrup, but this is so cheap and easy to make you should try it. Let me know how it goes!
Yellow Dock Iron and Blood Building Syrup
- Start with 2oz. dried yellow dock root (Rumex spp.)
- Add it to 16oz of water in small sauce pan.
- Simmer until 8oz liquid left
- Strain into clean jar or bottle.
- Preserve with 4oz. blackstrap molasses.
- Store in fridge.
- Take 3 TBL/day.