Can you do a low carb diet while pregnant?
A special note from Julie:
Ironically, I sit here writing Dawn’s story up for this week’s edition of the CarbSmart Magazine on September 11, 2002. Perhaps it’s by chance that today was the day I happened to be telling Dawn’s story, with the hopes of helping, even one mom to bring a healthy low carb baby into the world like Dawn did. Low carb and pregnancy can work.
In honor of today (September 11th), and with Dawn’s permission, I would like to dedicate this article, and any hope or help it may bring any of you, to the memory of Dawn’s brother, Brian G. Warner, who was working for Cantor Fitzgerald when he was killed in Tower One, on September 11, 2001.
And now on to Dawn’s story.
Dawn in South Carolina is 32 years old and 5′ 6″ tall. Dawn contacted me, expressing the desire to share her success story with pregnancy and low carbing. Dawn had been doing the Atkins program for three years. Her pre-pregnancy weight was 133 pounds, and just prior to her delivery, she only weighed 157 pounds!
“I first heard about Atkins plan when one of my friends was on it to lose weight. She looked really good and had lost about 15 pounds. This sparked interest in the plan for me so I got the book. As I read, I noticed that it was not recommended for women who were pregnant or nursing. At the time I was nursing my second child, a six-month-old son. I decided I would start the plan when he was completely weaned. (He is now three-and-a-half .)”
“At this same time, I was battling a yeast infection with him known as thrush. He and I were both using medication, but it just wasn’t helping. I was very sore and looked to the La Leche League website for answers on how to deal with thrush. One of their recommendations was to eliminate white flour and sugar from your diet.”
“Having just read Dr. Atkins’ book and knowing that was the gist of his plan, I decided to try Atkins’ program. He said to give it two weeks. I thought to myself that if in that time, had I noticed anything was wrong with Chris (my son), I would stop it and pick it back up when I was done nursing him. But I got incredible, almost instantaneous results! I was thrilled, especially since Chris was showing no ill signs of my change in diet.”
“So I continued to follow Atkins’ plan until I got pregnant with my third child. I was not sure what to do at that point. My husband was encouraging me to abandon Atkins and go back to the high carbohydrate/low protein plan I had been following prior to starting Atkins, but I just didn’t want to give up all the good food I was eating. I joined the Pregnant Atkids support group online at Yahoo Groups and was encouraged and educated by those women who went before me on this journey. They have helped me tremendously, if only in making up my mind that what I was doing was the right thing. They also encouraged me to tell my obstetrician that I was following a low carb plan, just so he knew of my eating choices. I did that, and while he wasn’t thrilled at least he knew of my plans.”
“During my office visits I was constantly given compliments by other moms, the obstetrician, and the staff. They said that I looked great! No one could believe that I was the mother of two young children and expecting my third. I gained weight only around my belly. My neighbors didn’t even know that I was pregnant !” Dawn laughed.
“What a shock! Following this plan I was able to keep my weight gain in check. I gained the healthy amount of weight I was supposed to, but no more. I had plenty of energy to play with my four-year-old and my one-and-a-half-year-old boys. I also exercised six days a week right up to the day before my scheduled C-section!!!”
“I was following Terry Ross (from Yahoo Groups Atkins Support List) turtle menu plans as my guide for meal planning. It was much healthier than what I was eating before low carbing. The people there, and their tips and advice were invaluable to me. I ate much more vegetables with this plan than any other time when pregnant. I was allowing myself what my body needed (fat, protein and vegetables) for the baby and then was able to add to that my low carb treats. I was able to add a few low carbohydrate indulgences because I could afford a few more carbs. I ate a piece of Myra’s Low Carb New York Style Cheesecake every day, and ate low carb muffins, not every day, but as a treat. Fortunately, my hunger was not a problem.”
“I want to encourage all the women out there who are pregnant, thinking of getting pregnant, or who are nursing not to put off this plan. I was very healthy, of normal weight, and had no complications with any of my earlier pregnancies, so I knew what I could and couldn’t handle.”
“I believe that this is a very healthy plan for moms and kids. On the Pregnant Atkids list we have had some heated discussions about ALL the issues relating to pregnancy and low carb (ketosis, artificial sweeteners, etc.), so my suggestion to you is to get as much information as you can before making up YOUR mind. Remember, my husband did not support me the whole time I was low carbing while pregnant, but, when he saw our beautiful, healthy daughter he was reassured.”
“I don’t feel that pregnancy is a license to go ahead and eat all the foods you were deprived of when you went on Atkins in the first place. You still need to eat sensibly. As for low carb eating and pregnancy – IT CAN BE DONE!!!!!!!
My daughter, Amy, is now 18 months old, and she is happy and healthy. She has had not a single complication. The pediatrician says that she is developing on target. She is not as big as her brothers, but I am reminded that I want a petite little girl, not a strapping young man.”
“I have those last 10 pounds to lose before I reach my pre-pregnancy weight. But I know that it will come off when Amy is weaned. Until then, I will continue my low carb eating and enjoying all the delicious food I can have!!”
“I would like to add some of what I feel are the most important points to remember:”
You know your body best, so just go with it. That goes for both pregnancy and for this way of eating in general. After a while you will know what foods are your intolerance foods. You will also know what you can get away with in terms of carb levels during pregnancy. If your obstetrician says to add some carbohydrates in but you feel comfortable with where you are, I say, go with that.”
“I truly believe that exercise is (and was) my saving grace. I exercised six days a week while pregnant. Being a stay-at-home mom, taking care of my two boys, if I could fit it in so can you. It was really helpful. It gave me energy and allowed me to add additional carbohydrates.”
“What also helped me when I first started low carbing was to learn as much as I could about the food I could eat. I did not eat meat regularly and needed to learn how to cook it. I collected recipes from all different sources on the world wide web. I would stay up until 2 AM on weekends in the first few months of my eating low carb to print out recipes. I now have three big binders full of low carb recipes! There is a low carbohydrate substitute for just about everything. It was fun, and I have learned a lot. Just research the Internet; there is a ton of information out there!”
“The one tip I have to share is: While pregnant I experienced leg cramps that were so bad that they would wake me up at night almost every night. I tried everything that was suggested. I added lite salt for the extra potassium, potassium pills 3 times a day; calcium, magnesium, zinc tablets. All this without any relief. Then I read the book, Life Without Bread. What a godsend! Not only did it say that it was OK to low carb while pregnant (keeping to 60 grams of carbohydrates per day), but it had the answer to my cramps. The book sited a study done on twins and said that L-Carnitine worked for any type of cramps. When I started to take that, I got relief immediately.
Dawn’ s online support groups are: