Ask the Expert Recap: Pregnant and Hungry

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We recently welcomed Kendra Aronson for an Ask the Expert activity. Kendra is the the founder of founder of Pregnant and Hungry, a subscription-based website with pregnancy-safe recipes, created a one-stop resource for everything you need to know about what to eat, and what not to eat, during your surrogacy journey.  You can hear her in conversation with Nazca Fontes, CEO of ConceiveAbilities, here. 

Thanks to Kendra and all the members who participated in this activity. Every member who submitted a question in this activity was entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and we're pleased to announce that @LindzRN was the winner of this random draw! 

Kindly note: Our recipes are developed under the caring guidance of an RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) in addition to a Licensed Midwife in good standing with the California Medical Board who’s also a Certified Professional Midwife as granted by the North American Registry of Midwives and a professional Lactation Consultant as certified by the IBCLC (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners). While we refer to trusted sources from peer-reviewed medical journals to information from highly regarded worldwide health institutions, this website is not intended to replace medical advice. Consult your personal midwife, doctor, or nutritionist with health questions related to your pregnancy and postpartum journey.

—Kendra Aronson, Founder of Pregnant and Hungry

Q: I always try to get in as many fruits/veggies as possible at baseline but especially so during pregnancy. When I’m not pregnant I use naturelo raw greens powder. Is that or something similar safe during pregnancy? @Mlmeier

KA: Fantastic question! I am unfamiliar with the Naturelo brand and the Raw Greens Powder product myself — but after a quick Google search I see it’s loaded with organic superfoods and herbs, without the addition of GMOs, soy, preservatives, and sugar. At a quick glance, speaking very casually from one friend to another, it does seem like a pregnancy-safe supplement. However, speaking as the Founder of Pregnant and Hungry, I would say that this is a shelf-stable product, and therefore it is heavily processed. I firmly believe that fruits and vegetables in their purest form (raw) or minimally processed (home cooked meals) will result in the highest nutritional value that our bodies can easily absorb and pass onto the babies we carry. We are big fans of wholesome nutrition at P&H, you can find lots of easy, delicious, and nutritious recipes on our site featuring fruit, vegetables, proteins, grains, and more!

Q: Third trimester my appetite has gone down drastically. I make spinach and fruit smoothies to get nutrients in yet is there something I can add to the smoothies to help make sure I’m getting all my nutrients in that the baby needs? - @lesliekayw

KA: Congrats! You’ve made it to the third trimester, wahoo! Please know we are rooting for you and hope you have a gentle, swift, calm birth to round out your pregnancy :) I suggest adding a generous scoop of whole milk yogurt or your favorite nut butter to thicken your spinach and fruit smoothies up with some extra calcium and protein! 

Q: When I’m not pregnant I typically drink around 24oz of coffee a day. I just really love coffee (hot or cold!). When I was pregnant with my own children I tried to cut that down to 1 mug a day and in my second pregnancy I lost my appetite for coffee all together. I know during pregnancy caffeine should be limited. What are the reasons for that and do you have some suggestions on drinks that are great alternatives while pregnant? - @LindzRN

KA: While studies indicate moderate caffeine intake (approximately 16 ounces of coffee) is okay during pregnancy, you won’t find any recipes calling for it on our website Pregnant and Hungry. Why? Well, this stimulant is a diuretic (not so great since your recommended daily water intake is higher during pregnancy) which increases blood pressure and could result in preeclampsia, a disorder of pregnancy characterized by the onset of high blood pressure. Caffeine may cause heartburn and nausea. Plus, it doesn’t add any nutritional value to your life, Mama. Instead, try boosting your energy by: getting more sleep, reducing stress (easier said than done), eating a nutritious diet (we got you), avoiding high-sugar foods, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and being social.

Be sure to check out our downloaded Freebie PDF guide on Energy-Boosting foods:

Q: First of all, this is SUCH a cool idea! Kudos to you for coming up with it and seeing it through to fruition. I have to drive around for my job. My car is my office! I usually have no access to a microwave. When I’m not pregnant, I tend to do lunch meat sandwiches. What have you found to be some good and nutritious “on the go” meals while pregnant? - @Graves_cassidy

KA: Thank YOU so much for the sweet compliments on my site — it was a true labor of love (pun intended!) that took years to come to life. It’s kind words like yours that fuel me up with motivation, thank you! :)

Side note: I strongly suggest you get a nice seat wedge for your car so your hips/pelvis are higher than your knees. This will help with baby positioning inside the womb and it should provide some lower back relief to you as well! When I hit my third trimester I took my seat wedge with me everywhere :) Hope it helps you too! 

For an easy interchangeable on-the-go recipe sans microwave idea to pack in a mini cooler / lunch box in your car, I suggest making hefty grain salads with homemade dressings on the side, you can choose your own adventure:

  • Grain salads (quinoa, barley, brown rice, wild rice) 
  • Hearty greens that are raw or wilted (kale, spinach, swiss chard) 
  • Loads of veggies, raw or roasted (zucchini, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, butternut squash, asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, eggplant)
  • Toasted nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts)
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas, edamame, lentils)
  • Cheese! (feta, blue cheese, mozzarella)
  • A sprinkling of seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pepitas)
  • Plus your favorite salad dressing on the side!

Q: I have heard that you have to consume X amount of calories when you're pregnant, but is your approach more of "eat X amount of veggies, fruits, etc?" I feel that I did a decent job eating a wide variety of veggies and homemade foods when I was pregnant with my twins but feel that I am more nervous this time around as this is someone else's baby, if that makes sense haha. I also developed the worst migraines at the beginning of the second trimester with my children and my specialist told me to drink a cup of coffee and take medication; is this what you would recommend as well? - @larissalien

KA: First off, congrats on your twins (!) and thank you for being a surrogate! You are incredibly impressive and very inspiring to me! :)

We aren’t “calorie counters” at Pregnant and Hungry, rather we focus on loading up on a complete wholesome diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, seafood, legumes, herbs, seeds, dairy, grains, while staying very hydrated. 

I’m so sorry to hear you’ve experienced horrible migraines, that’s the worst! It may be helpful to keep a log of the food and drink you are consuming to see if there are any ‘trigger’ foods that cause your migraines to flare up, and then eliminate those items to see if the migraines are less severe moving forward. Make sure you stay extra hydrated as well, here is a PDF guide with liquids and foods that are naturally hydrating:

If I were in your shoes, I would try natural remedies first before reaching for coffee and medication. For example: taking naps in dark rooms, using cold compresses, listening to hypnobirthing/meditation recordings, getting massages or acupuncture that address the upper shoulders, neck, and head region. Best of luck!