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When is the Diet Important?
The Brewer Diet is important in all three trimesters of pregnancy. In the first trimester, the Brewer Diet is important to prevent ketosis, and to help prevent or minimize morning sickness. It also promotes blood volume expansion and tissue building (baby cells and uterine muscle cells). Since the placenta is small in the first trimester, the mother can start with a lesser version of the Brewer Diet and gradually work her way up to the complete Basic Plan by the end of the first trimester, being careful to stay in tune with her overall needs.
In the second trimester, good nutrition is important for optimal placental development. If the mother doesn’t smoke and has been on the Brewer Diet, she won’t have to worry about the placental function decreasing if the baby happens to become overdue.
In the third trimester, the diet is important to maintain fluid reserves for labor, and to ensure that the placenta is well nourished. It is also important to eat well because the baby’s brain goes through its most rapid rate of growth in the last two months of the pregnancy. It’s at this point when the problem with limiting a mother to a certain number of pounds presents itself. Mothers will often reach that number before their due dates, and many will starve themselves for the rest of the pregnancy, to the detriment of the child’s development.
Some birth attendants discourage mothers from using this diet, predicting that the weight gained will be difficult to lose after the baby is born. This concern often shows an unfamiliarity with the weight loss usually associated with breastfeeding. It can also show that they are not properly weighing the risk against the benefit of this nutrition therapy. When this test is applied to the Brewer Diet, the benefits of avoiding severe complications with the pregnancy, labor or baby easily outweigh the risk of possibly being slightly overweight for a year or two after the baby’s birth.
The Brewer philosophy is that the number of pounds gained by a mother during pregnancy is not as relevant as the kind of food she eats to gain those pounds. The average weight gain on the Brewer Diet seems to be about 35-45 pounds. However, if a woman can show that she is eating well, and that she’s not trying to artificially limit herself to a certain number of pounds, a weight loss of 5 pounds might be healthy, and a weight gain of 60-80 pounds (or more, for a multiple pregnancy) could also be healthy. The bottom line is that the first question for a pregnant woman arriving for a prenatal visit should not be, “What have you gained this week?” Rather, the first question for every mother should be, “What have you been eating?”
Taking Care of Your Nutrition
1) Check your diet. Copy the weekly record from the Brewer Pregnancy Diet website and post it on your refrigerator (home.mindspring.com/~djsnjones/id89.html). No protein or calorie counters are necessary. All you have to do is put a check mark in each box. When you have filled all the boxes, you will know that you have fulfilled the basic minimum of 2,600 calories, 80 to 120 grams of protein and salt to taste.
2) Try eating frequent small meals, or hourly snacks such as nuts, cheese, eggs or yogurt, along with some kind of fruit or vegetable.
3) When choosing a prenatal class, find out if the Brewer Diet is taught there. The Bradley Method, for example, teaches the Brewer Diet, and the HypnoBirthing (Mongan Method) class teaches something similar.
4) When choosing a birth attendant, find out if he or she supports the use of the Brewer Diet and unrestricted weight gain. For a list of pro-Brewer professionals, check the Brewer Pregnancy Diet Registry (home.mindspring.com/~djsnjones/ id97.html), which includes caregivers from 13 countries and 49 American states.
About the Author:
Joy Jones, R.N., is a midwife’s assistant and the creator of the Brewer Pregnancy Diet website (home.mindspring. com/~djsnjones/). She has worked as a childbirth educator, doula, breastfeeding consultant, author and conference speaker. She and her husband are parents of two grown sons who continue to make them proud.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #23.
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