When you are pregnant with your little one - it is a time to take in a lot. There are struggles and excitement at the same time. While your baby is growing - you start your best preparation. You try do every A-Z thing: have doctor’s visits, eat right, be active, buy all the important baby clothes/food/bedding, etc.
In all of this excitement - you might not be that conscious of some changes that may be occuring in your body. That is why we have tried to bring you 8 important things that you must keep in mind about a condition like gluten intolerance during pregnancy.
1. What is gluten intolerance during pregnancy?
Gluten intolerance is a physical condition.
- It can be called a wheat allergy, celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity - based on the seriousness of the problem.
- Gluten intolerance occurs usually due to your genetics. If you have the genes that encourages gluten intolerance - you are at a risk to have this condition.
- Yet, not all individuals carry the genes and not all who carry the genes develop the condition later in their life. In addition - the same applies to your children that you might give birth to.
There are important nutrients for the health and safety of a good pregnancy.
- These include zinc, selenium, and folic acid. Gluten intolerance is a condition that causes you to lose these important nutrients when you are pregnant.
- It occurs in your small intestine, causing a number of signs or symptoms like deficiency of nutrients, late onset menstruation, infrequent periods and early onset menopause.
Some doctors say that this condition is an autoimmune response.
- During pregnancy, your body is more invested in keeping the baby protected till delivery.
- If you have the allergic genes, this is why your body might end up having a poor response to eating gluten foods. In other words, your body starts attacking itself with the foreign gluten foods as all your immunity is working on protecting your baby.
- As gluten intolerance can be an autoimmune response, it is a condition that can be induced by some hormones in your pregnancy.
- This is all a reason why you might sometimes not be able to test whether you are pregnant - unless you directly go to your doctor. You will not able to recognise the usual symptoms of pregnancy as they are masked by gluten intolerance many a time. A lot of women have experienced implantation bleeding, but have wrongly assumed it is their normal menstrual cycle.
2. Nutritional needs
You will need to make sure that you have all the important nutrients that are required for a good and happy pregnancy for you.
- Folate. This is a vitamin that women in general should have. Yet, it is especially a must for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. After checking with your doctor, you can decide on an appropriate amount and form of folates that you should have. You can either have supplements or foods like beans, lentils, spinach, asparagus, avocado, broccoli and dark leafy greens.
- Zinc and copper are minerals that are very essential for a healthy fertility. The foods that have these important nutrients are cooked oysters, beef, pork, beans, yogurt and cashews.
- Iron. Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common observed symptoms of gluten intolerance when compared to other deficiencies. Your baby is given a needed amount of a six month iron supply from you. This can make not only you weak but also cause danger for your baby’s future iron supply. Thus, it is important that you ask your physician for a way to monitor or regularly check your iron counts.
When you compare animal proteins (like lean beef, chicken, pork and turkey) with vegetable proteins - animal proteins are very easy to get the most of the needed iron absorption. In fact, the same is possible and beneficial when you combine iron foods with vitamin C foods.
If gluten intolerance is left untreated - doctors say that unrecognised symptoms can lead to a higher risk of:
- Unexplained and frequent miscarriage, infertility, intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight babies and stillbirth due to malnourishment.
Thus, it becomes very important for you to immediately visit your doctor when you have any questions, doubts or observation of any of these signs.
- No studies have able to prove whether the condition gluten intolerance can be permanently prevented from being transfered or cured as the nursing period starts.
- In the end, breastfeeding is very important and nutritious for your baby’s major developments. While it may not be able to help you get cured, it is important that you continue to follow the diet if you are intolerant. That way your baby is not harmed.
- Regardless of whether you have the condition, it is important that you avoid a gluten diet during pregnancy. It will be better safety for your baby and will be beneficial when nursing after delivery.
4. ...but preventable
There is no need to freak out or be worried! There are tips and ways you can keep both yourself and your baby safe:
- Having a strict and organised gluten-free diet can help prevent the above complications. This will give you a happy, successful and healthy pregnancy. In addition, your body will also have an easy and better nutrient absorption while your intestines are able to heal with enough time.
- Doctors say that for different women and their body types, their diet will have different durations. It could be just 9 months to waiting a year to control the intolerance. So, always keep in contact with a professional.
In a gluten-free diet, any food that is consumed should have only 0.002% of gluten.
- You must avoid simple carbohydrates like bread, regular flour, standard baked food, etc. Instead, you should add more healthy gluten free food to your diet. This includes foods like chickpea, coconut flour, corn, vegetables, millet flour, almond, cashew, chestnut, pecan and walnut, potato flour/starch, rice flour, etc.
- It is very easy for you to keep a good snacking and meals schedule with support and control. Doctors advice that you should try having smaller meals that are frequent, not missed and healthy.
- When you are on a gluten-free diet, it is also important that you go dairy-free or casein-free. This, in turn, can cause an added pressure to your morning sickness. Thus, make sure to ask a professional of all or any healthy alternatives that are needed to keep you healthy.
5. Gluten for your child
If your child is also affected - say later after delivery - giving gluten in their diet might be a little dangerous.
- With a doctor’s assistance, you can come to a rough time period of when it is safe for you start with your child’s gluten diet.
- Many professionals say that this time is safe earlier than 4 months, or later than 6 months. This knowledge will always help your child from experiencing lesser problems of symptoms as you had to in the past.
6. Professional advice
Always remember that your doctor wants what is best for you and your baby.
- So, it is important that you know and recognise any issues or difficulties. That way your doctor will actively plan and prescribe activities that can help you out positively.
- Sometimes, talking to other women who are facing the same symptoms of gluten intolerance can help a lot with getting different views.
Assistance and support will always help you do the right thing at the right time!
7. Keep hydrated
Fluids - especially water - will help and continue to keep your food digested and cause lesser symptoms of constipation.
8. Do not stress!
If you are more calm and happy - you will not get affected negatively. Stress or anxiety will only end up creating something worse like depression, signs or headaches. So, take support and know that there is a solution to any problem.
Eat healthy, have a happy and informed pregnancy!