When women are nourished, we thrive. Yet women, especially mothers, are often depleted because we lack the Nutritional CareTM our bodies need. We deserve more than being in constant survival mode. We deserve a better way forward. Here’s why.
1. We need radically more nutrition than what our earth can provide
We wish we could rely on food alone to support our nutrient needs. While our ancestors were able to live from the earth for thousands of years, dramatic changes over the last few decades in how our food is grown have left our earth depleted and our food system disrupted.
A major shift in farming practices has changed the quality of the soil in which our food grows. The push to grow more, grow faster, and reduce pests introduced a wide range of industrial chemicals and detrimental practices that favor crop yield over soil health.
The food that grows in depleted soil has been a focus of research in recent years. Read more on how our nutritionally depleted earth affects the food we eat here.
So like the soil, our bodies are left depleted. Without proper supplementation, it becomes nearly impossible to meet our nutrient needs on a daily basis. Add in the complexities of pregnancy, like food aversions and nausea, and the increased nutrient demands of the perinatal stages, and the problem is further magnified.
2. Minimalistic nutrition is leaving women deficient in key nutrients
We live in a world where you have to actively seek out nutrient-dense whole foods. Our homes are disconnected from the farmers that grow our food, and our grocery stores are lined with packaged and processed foods that are devoid of the nutrients our bodies need.
Nutritional needs before, during, and after pregnancy are especially demanding. Unless supplemented, the blood levels of many key vitamins, including iron and choline decrease during these stages, leaving upwards of 95% of women nutritionally depleted.
3. Conventional prenatal vitamins aren’t closing the gap.
Minimalistic nutrition causes many people to turn to supplements to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, most supplements are based on outdated research and designed with efficiency or the status quo in mind. They are offered as one or two pills per day, with the bare minimum amount of nutrients included, often in forms that are not optimally used by the body. And the scope of the problem is broad. 97% of women take a prenatal vitamin during their pregnancy, yet 95% are left nutritionally depleted.
When women enter the nutritionally demanding perinatal stages, their deficiencies only magnify. Left unaddressed, nutrient deficiencies can cause long term health concerns and can pass to their children.
Take Vitamin D, for example. Vitamin D deficiency in the womb can cause dental enamel defects and lower bone density. In a 2019 double-blind, randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, researchers found that children of mothers who supplemented with a higher dose of Vitamin D (more than three times higher than the current recommended intake) in the third trimester had a 50% lower incidence of enamel defects as measured at age 6 years old.
4. Women’s health research is underfunded and understudied, especially in the perinatal stage.
Women are grossly underrepresented in health research. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are only included in 17% of studies which inform nutritional guidelines for these life stages. These studies also lack racial and ethnic diversity. Outdated research practices, combined with a lag between research and product development, have led to a crisis in which women’s optimal nutritional needs in their childbearing years, pregnancy and postpartum are not widely accepted or addressed.
5. Health care isn’t championing the vital role of nutrition.
Nutrition is one of the most significant and most overlooked decisions made in the pregnancy journey,
Most women turn to their doctors for guidance, but medical doctors receive limited training in nutrition. Even with comprehensive training, the average prenatal care appointment in the US is only seven minutes long, which leaves time for only the bare minimum amount of nutrition advice. Women are left to do their own research, in a category that’s crowded with misinformation. They are often told to “take any prenatal, it doesn’t matter which one”. This is incorrect, and detrimental to the wellbeing of a woman and her baby.
To truly change perinatal health for the better, we need to put nutrition at the top of the agenda. We need to center care around the woman–not just her baby, her nutrition–not just her symptoms, and the nutrition experts–not just her doctor, to help her uncover what she needs
6. Maternal and infant health is suffering as a result.
When we look at the combination of all of these factors - a depleted earth and depleted food system, supplements designed with bare minimum dosages, and a lack of research centered around women’s and perinatal health, the problem is clear. Because women are not nutritionally supported, their health, and the health of their babies is suffering.
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation, and it is continuing to climb.
7. Pregnancy is a time to thrive, not just survive.
Pregnancy is among the most nutritionally demanding times of a woman’s life, but also one of the most miraculous. It should be a time for a woman to enjoy optimal health while she creates a new life. But instead, society has normalized the struggle. We shouldn’t accept feeling like we’re stuck in “survival mode” and sacrificing our health in order to grow our families. We deserve to be optimally nourished in order to thrive, not just survive.
8. It doesn’t have to be this way.
We’re fired up because we know there’s a path to a radically better future. The research is unequivocal that nutrition has the power to change outcomes. That’s why we’re shouting from the rooftops: nutrition is vital to improving pregnancy outcomes and should be at the top of the perinatal health agenda.
We can’t immediately change our food system or change the standard of care overnight, but we can improve access to Nutritional CareTM and do the work through Needed Labs to prove unequivocally that nutrition matters and can no longer afford to be ignored.