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Beautiful Babies: Nutrition for Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Baby’s First Foods

5 Stars

I am very excited to recommend another resource of interest to our community.  Kristen Michaelis of Food Renegade created a self-guided online course, followed by a book, which I’ve decided to highly recommend via our Amazon affiliation.

My review of both the course and the book:

As a former teacher and learning specialist, I found that the course to be extremely well-organized and fairly comprehensive. I am the kind who learns best with structure and clarity. Each lesson has a section for goals, workbook, reading, video, “bringing it home” assignment, and “further up and further in” opportunities. Following each lesson is an a forum which allows one to comment, ask questions and discuss with fellow students and the teacher, being Kristen.

I like the way the workbook takes you step by step through the lesson, instructing you to watch videos, read articles and then answer questions.  For example, “Think about everything you eat and drink in a typical day. Now, compare this to the common principles of traditional diets found in Sally Fallon Morell’s segment of the video above as your guide. How does your diet measure up? What sorts of things are you resolved to improve, if any?”  I also think that the inclusion of the first person testimonials in every section whereby mother’s share their birth stories is extremely valuable.  The reader has an opportunity to glean the pearls of wisdom each story offers.

I didn’t preview every video because there are over 20 hours included however, it appeared to me that they were a mix of originally created narrated slideshows by Kristen  and some video content created by others.

The self guided course consists of 12 lessons:

  • Lesson 1 – Why Nutrition Matters
  • Lesson 2 – Dangers of Industrial Foods
  • Lesson 3 – Why Real Food?
  • Lesson 4 – Preventing Autism, Allergies, and Behavior Problems
  • Lesson 5 – Traditional Fertility & Pregnancy Diet
  • Lesson 6 – Mythbusting
  • Lesson 7 – Alternative Medicine: Crackpot or Beneficial?
  • Lesson 8 – Natural Childbirth Options
  • Lesson 9 – Importance of Breastfeeding
  • Lesson 10 – Baby’s First Foods
  • Lesson 11 – How To Prevent Post-Partum Depression
  • Lesson 12 – Making it Real

As the book’s  Table of Contents reveals, the book covers much of the same content, however it also offers 34 pages of recipes.

Part One: Nutrition for Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, & Baby’s First Foods

1. Paradigm Shifts
2. Why Nutrition Matters
3. Just Say No
4. What to Eat Instead
5. Taking Care of the Gut
6. Eating For Fertility and Pregnancy
7. Nutritional Myth-Busting
8. Beyond Nutrition: Exploring Alternative
Treatments for Fertility & Pregnancy
9. Breastfeeding and Homemade Formulas
10. Baby’s First Foods

Part Two: Recipes for Sacred Foods

11. Snacks and Condiments
12. Odd Bits: Organs & Bones
13. Seafood
14. Eggs
15. Beverages
Appendix A: Understanding Food Ingredient Labels
Appendix B: Eating Real Food on a Budget

Breastfeeding in a field of grass


I found myself particular engaged in Chapter 9 of the book:  Breastfeeding and Homemade Formulas.  Kristen reviews breastfeeding basics, offers troubleshooting guidance and includes simply, step-by-step illustrations which include different holds. I really like Kristen’s personable writing style and much of it resonated deeply with me. In the “Is Breast Always Best?” section she writes,

In my opinion, the scariest place to learn about nursing is the internet. Sure, you can type in a search query and instantly find an answer. But you could also wander into a breastfeeding forum, let drop that you don’t co- sleep, and be labeled the devil incarnate because you dare to put your new- born to sleep in a different room from yours! Or, you could be reading a blog about breastfeeding, comment with a bit about how you’ve had to wean your eight-month-old daughter because she went on a two week long nursing strike, and quickly be berated by an angry horde because you “gave up” on nursing “without even trying!” These are called Mommy Wars. And they’ve infected the internet like flies on poop. Zealous moms do research, become impassioned advocates for a particular way of doing things, then insist that it is absolutely right for all parents, all mothers, all kids, everywhere, and for all time. When moms with opposing views get together in the same online space—watch out! In the middle of the Mommy Wars, it’s not uncommon to read someone rabidly profess that breast milk is always best. No matter what you eat, they say, your breast milk will be perfect. Your body will always make the most amazing milk possible, even at your own expense. It will prioritize nourishing and protecting that baby. This—there’s no other way to put it—is bunk. Pure myth.

It goes against all common sense. We know that the composition of breast milk is always changing due to the mother’s environment and diet.* The more nutrient-dense the mother’s diet, the more nutrient-dense the mother’s milk. We also know that the opposite is true—the less nutrient-dense the mother’s diet, the less nutrient-dense her milk. How many news stories do we need to see before we believe it? In 2011, a Russian mother was charged and found guilty of killing her baby with alcohol poisoned breast milk. She’d been binge drinking, nursed her baby while she was wildly drunk, and her baby died. It’s utterly tragic, but it’s also common sense. We know that what you eat and drink changes your milk. It’s why we tell moms to practice common sense when drinking and nursing. Want a beer? That’s okay. Just drink it after you put your baby to bed at night, don’t drink to excess, and wait a few hours for the alcohol to leave your system before you nurse your baby. (Be warned that alcohol actually reduces milk supply, so you shouldn’t indulge if you have any supply issues.) Earlier in 2011, a vegan mother was charged with criminal neglect after her exclusively breastfed infant died of nutrient-deficiencies common to vegans—lack of vitamins B12 and A.8 Clearly, her nutrient-poor diet made nutrient-poor breast milk. And her baby, her little bundle of joy, died. We can’t keep perpetuating this myth. Is breast universally, always, unequivocally best? I think it’s clear that in some cases, the answer is obviously no. This should give us pause. It is not enough to simply breastfeed your baby. Your own diet matters!

* Prentice, Ann. “Constituents of human milk.” Food and Nutrition Bulletin. The United Nations University Press. 17.4 (1996). Print.

What Kristen wrote above reminded me of an article I wrote that asserts that not all breast milk is created equal.

Is it worth it?

Krsiten asks, “Do you want your child to never have an ear infection? Never need glasses or contacts? Never need braces? Did you know that the way you eat when you’re pregnant can either give your child a wide face with high cheekbones — or a narrow face without enough room for all his teeth or tonsils? Did you know that what you eat while pregnant can actually make a long-term difference in your child’s health?”

In my opinion, none of us who teach about the timeless nutritional principles outlined in Beautiful Babies can promise that your child will never have an ear infection, or need glasses or braces.  Nor can we ensure their wide faces with high cheekbones. Sometimes it takes more than one generation to reverse the trend of physical degeneration, and sometimes a child still develops crooked teeth despite it all.  Yet, what I think we can assert is that your child will have more likelihood of radiant health and wholeness if you follow the traditional dietary wisdom clearly described in Beautiful Babies.

I highly recommend the book and a self guided course that includes a plethora of reading and viewing content!  I will be adding Beautiful Babies to our recommended reading list, with Sally Fallon Morell’s blessing I might add.