Raw Pregnancy: A Journey Through Disappointment to Peace | Indie Birth

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Raw Pregnancy: A Journey Through Disappointment to Peace

August 24, 2008

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit when necessary. With 11 children and 16 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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As many of you readers know, I have been following a raw food diet for almost 2 years. This has had tremendous positive results on my health in all areas: physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual. It is something that I love and am very passionate about. In December we found out that we are expecting another addition to our family. Filled with such wonderful news, I was excitedly looking forward to continuing on my raw food path as I created this life within me on the most nourishing, loving foods that I could provide. Thoughts of me munching juicy fruits with a beautiful big belly brought such a smile to my face and joy to my heart. So, you can imagine my dismay when my vision of a perfectly raw pregnancy started to blur.

We had had a potluck the night before finding out I was pregnant, and I had filled my family and friends with wonderful, tasty raw food creations that they all raved about. When I woke up in the morning I took a pregnancy test, as I had a suspicion that I might be pregnant. When those two lines showed up on the stick, I woke my husband up to share our good news. After which, I spoke to my dear friend who would be our midwife. After sharing my family’s good fortune, our conversation turned to other topics, such as what we were doing that day. I told her that I would have my smoothie and then run some errands. We made plans to have dinner at their home later that evening.

Following my usual routine, I had many days that first week where I continued to follow my raw diet without problem. Then, just when I started to think, “Hey, I am really doing this raw pregnancy thing!” it hit…morning sickness. Not just any morning sickness either. This was the all day, don’t let me see, smell, taste, or hear any food being made, or eaten. We’re talking serious morning sickness. My memory went back to my pregnancy with my daughter, Ivy. With her, I had 9 months of morning sickness HELL. I became quickly discouraged. I didn’t want to go through that again! Every thing I had read thus far on raw pregnancy said that women on a raw diet don’t get morning sickness. It was one of the main things I was looking forward to with this pregnancy. I tried to tell myself that maybe it was a fleeting thing and that it would go away soon. I just needed to stick to my raw diet.

For the next month I struggled with feelings of guilt and confusion as I tried everything I possibly could to get rid of my morning sickness with no success. I tried eating small amounts every few hours, in case it was a blood sugar thing; I tried Nux Vomicus and Pulsatilla homeopathics, and they didn’t work either. Ginger provided no relief, nor did lemon water, Chinese dried plums, or any of the other numerous things women have said alleviated morning sickness through the ages. I was so confused. Everything that was in my raw diet as a staple prior to pregnancy sent me running for the toilet as soon as I saw it, or sometimes even thought about it. No greens smoothies, salads, nuts or seeds. I was still able to eat fruit, but I felt I needed more. But what? I finally broke down and decided to try some cooked food. I started out with toast and brown rice. These were things I knew people ate if they had stomach problems (BRAT diet), so I thought they would be the best bet. They made me feel a little better, but still nothing like eating raw used to do for me before this pregnancy. I even tried bending the “raw rules” by going on the theory that raw doesn’t have to mean vegan. So, I tried some raw smoked salmon. At first I thought that it helped, but then the feelings of guilt set in. I began to struggle less with not wanting to eat anything and more with the thoughts that what I wanted to, or even dare I say needed to eat was not raw.

I now had a moral dilemma on my hands and in my heart. Do I eat what my body is saying that it wants (on the premise that it didn’t send me running for the toilet), or did I stick to my “image” of being a raw foodist? I teach raw food classes, I make raw food meals, I am the matriarch of a raw food family- what would people say if they saw me eating something cooked! I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Around the same time as all this was going on, I had a few Psych-K rebalancing sessions. One of the balances is called a “Core Belief” balance. In this session, I found out that I had a core belief that was out of balance. The belief was “ I accept change in my life”, along with the affirmation “I joyously release the past, and look forward to the future”. For many weeks after the session I worked on this core belief. I also meditated and asked for help from the universe on what I should really be eating and thinking during this pregnancy. The universe listened, as it always does, and responded in many ways to affirm my worst fears.

My first conversation with the universe came in our local coffee shop when I ran into an acquaintance that I had met a few months back and had seen a few times at some gatherings of a friend of mine. I told him that I was pregnant and struggling with my food options. He responded by telling me a story from Meher Baba, a religious leader from India. In the story, Meher Baba was speaking to a large group of people. After he was through, a man from the crowd came up to him. Meher Baba asked him what ailed him, as the man looked frail and weak. The man said that nothing was ailing him, but that he was trying to follow the vegetarian teachings Meher Baba spoke of. Meher Baba asked what the man did for a living, and the man told him that he was a hard laborer. Despite his teachings, Meher Baba explained to the man that he should eat meat…for the soul has no place to live if the body is not well. And, our goal on this earth is to nourish and empower the soul. My second conversation with the universe was more brief, but just as empowering. Speaking with another friend of mine, I recounted my food struggles as well as the afore mentioned encounter in the coffee shop. I emphasized how confused I was because I hated hypocrisy and did not want to look like a hypocrite to the people in my life that use me as a good “role model” for living a raw foods lifestyle. She asked me quite bluntly “Is it more important to you to have a healthy pregnancy, or to put on an image?” She went on to say that the people that are really important in my life will understand if I have to change what I eat to ensure my health and happiness, as that is what they want for me an d my baby – a very wise woman indeed. But, I still wasn’t quite ready to accept that I needed to change.

My final, and most convincing, conversation with the universe came the day that I woke up and craved sausage. Not only was it not raw…it was meat, cooked meat at that! I finally put up my hands and said, “I surrender”. I will change. I will listen to my body and stop fighting it on the issue of cooked food. I hadn’t wanted anything to eat thus far in my pregnancy. So, for a craving to appear out of nowhere was enough to get my attention. My husband and I went out to a restaurant in search of sausage. But, only after he promised me that he would not mention it to our children, and wouldn’t give me a hard time about it either. I cringed as I ordered the sausage, and again when it sat in front of me on my plate. What was I doing?! I checked in with my body again, just to make sure it didn’t just have a momentary lapse in sanity. Nope…it was sure. For the first time in this pregnancy I actually wanted to eat something. It looked good, it smelled good, and dare I say I was actually excited to try it. I lifted the fork to my mouth, and took a bite. It tasted o.k. But, o.k. was better than anything previous that I had tried, cooked or raw. After that first bite, I didn’t want anymore though. It was then that I realized that this was more a struggle in trusting my body than what I actually put in it.

Once I accepted that a change in my diet was o.k. , and sometimes even useful, things started to change. I tuned into my body and started eating what it said I needed. I remember 2 whole weeks where all I wanted was oranges, then grapefruit the next week. After about a month of intuitive eating, still mostly raw, but some cooked, my body started to feel better. My morning sickness subsided, and I started craving the wonderful raw foods that were so beloved to me prior to my pregnancy.
Now, into my 5th month of pregnancy, I am back to an almost 100% raw vegan diet. There are the occasions when I do eat cooked vegetarian/vegan foods, but now I don’t feel guilty about how I look to those around me. I even saw one of my students who had attended one of my raw food classes at our local Indian restaurant and didn’t feel like I had to hide. I won’t say that I’m not still a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to achieve the 100% raw pregnancy that I wanted; but, I have made peace with it. If it weren’t for the process of being raw prior to my pregnancy, I never would have recognized the signs and signals my body was telling me about the food that it needed. Being raw has taught me the fine art of intuitive eating, and to trust my body. I look forward to being more and more raw everyday, and raising our new child with the insights, love, and healthfulness that we have already experienced as a raw family. And, if for some reason I am never 100% raw again…I think I am o.k. with that now. I am still a lot better off being 80% raw than most people are who struggle to make sure they work a piece of fruit into their day.

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  1. Kristin Griffing says:

    Hello, Sunny Lee,

    After reading the outstanding and very heartfelt article you wrote I felt I had to communicate with you. First I’d just like to say thank you for sharing your story with others. Second, I think your story, journey and personal growth is just outstanding. Your story can be and is, I”m sure, helpful to all who have a chance to read about it.

    I am also a raw, vegan mother, who teaches raw food classes but is now expecting. I have not had any cravings yet for cooked food, I have not had morning sickness yet, I am keeping my fingers crossed since my last two children were 9 months of constant SICK! That was 11 years ago though so who knows…anyhow I felt so good after reading your article and it really gave me some food for thought for how I will handle any cravings or morning sickness. I’m only about 7 weeks along so the sickness could be right around the bend…LOL!!! I’m still just learning to take one day at a time as it comes the way it does…

    I have no plan to eat cooked food since I haven’t for many many years now but if the craving or the morning sickness comes up, this is the first article I am going to re-read in case I need a raw vegan pregnancy and balance reality check.

    I want to remain healthy and balanced, this article was just helpful beyond measure and I once again thank you for sharing it.

    Have a SPARKLING Day!

    Kristin

  2. Kristin Griffing says:

    Hello, Sunny Lee,

    After reading the outstanding and very heartfelt article you wrote I felt I had to communicate with you. First I’d just like to say thank you for sharing your story with others. Second, I think your story, journey and personal growth is just outstanding. Your story can be and is, I”m sure, helpful to all who have a chance to read about it.

    I am also a raw, vegan mother, who teaches raw food classes but is now expecting. I have not had any cravings yet for cooked food, I have not had morning sickness yet, I am keeping my fingers crossed since my last two children were 9 months of constant SICK! That was 11 years ago though so who knows…anyhow I felt so good after reading your article and it really gave me some food for thought for how I will handle any cravings or morning sickness. I’m only about 7 weeks along so the sickness could be right around the bend…LOL!!! I’m still just learning to take one day at a time as it comes the way it does…

    I have no plan to eat cooked food since I haven’t for many many years now but if the craving or the morning sickness comes up, this is the first article I am going to re-read in case I need a raw vegan pregnancy and balance reality check.

    I want to remain healthy and balanced, this article was just helpful beyond measure and I once again thank you for sharing it.

    Have a SPARKLING Day!

    Kristin

  3. Melinda says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I am in my first (and only) pregnancy. I have been vegan for several years and vegeterian previous to that. I absolutely plan on staying vegan. It must have been a difficult journey for you but it seems you listened to your body and became all the stronger for it. I would like to know if you were taking any supplements at the time of the “sausage cravings”.

  4. Melinda says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I am in my first (and only) pregnancy. I have been vegan for several years and vegeterian previous to that. I absolutely plan on staying vegan. It must have been a difficult journey for you but it seems you listened to your body and became all the stronger for it. I would like to know if you were taking any supplements at the time of the “sausage cravings”.

  5. DJ says:

    Thank you so much for this. I myself have been raw for two years now and am pregnant with baby #6 and so excited. Unfortunately my raw food love has not been well. As you said just the thought of preparing or even looking at raw food makes me sick. I finially gave in and made some potato and carrott soup, wow it was sooo pleasing to my tummy. I have made it several times now and today I actually was craving a hamburger, very strange. There is a local bakery that makes everthing from scratch so we went and got one, it also felt soooo good to my tummy, but the guilt is horrible. I feel as if I am harming my baby by eating this stuff, but it is the only thing that feels good on my tummy. Reading you post helped me feel better and gave me hope that maybe in a few weeks my tummy will get back to normal and the raw foods I love so much will be what I crave.

  6. Just came and read, this is wow! I was seek from many blogs, but here is the best, I love it.

  7. lisaloopa says:

    Gosh i just read your article. I am not a ‘raw’ food eater – although i do eat a very healthy diet, I know other Raw food only eaters and what puts me off is it seems to become an obsession, and my friends have become so fanatical about their diet, almost to the point that it defines who they are, their whole identity…My sister has an eating disorder and controversial as this may sound I feel there is a comparison to made here, its all about food and control. I do believe eating raw is very healthy and makes you feel and look great, however when it starts to define who you are or how you wish to be percieved, then i think psycologically the drawbacks are pretty big.

    defining yourself as Raw, and feeling guilty if you break the raw diet, worrying about how you are percieved, or losing that control…this is not healthy behaviour even if the food itself is healthy.

    ??

    Lisa

  8. Elena Weston says:

    I’ve practised raw food for over 6 years and before both my pregnancies was 100 % raw. But during the first stages of pregnancy I came off raw, feeling I couldn’t eat raw veg the same, just wanting bland food, finding raw too much! In my first pregnancy I stayed mostly vegan and about 50% raw, but during this, my second pregnancy I’ve eaten some meat too and raw dairy. Managing to stay higher raw this time at around 70-80% raw though. I’ve felt guilty, yes, but also trying to let go and except hormones and bodily changes have always unsettled me and to be gentle on myself for not feeling I can stay strong on being totally raw. Pregnancy is a big body change, you feel taken over and sometimes you just have to be more flexible with how you act and react in order to ride the experience a little easier.
    After my last pregnancy I went back to 100% after about 3 months breastfeeding. So my son has been brought up raw since.
    I hope I do this again after the birth of our second son. Once I feel I have my body back and get breastfeeding endorphins it seems easier to go back to healthier eating habits!
    Ive found the raw food diet is totally an emotional control diet, you have to feel clear and content to follow it, and life just doesn’t give us it that easy!
    I say – do what you can, as that is your best.

  9. Heather says:

    The body requires fats and certain fat soluble nutrients, especially during pregnancy, so it makes sense on a raw diet that one would crave meats.

  10. Marlene says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and what Beloved Meher Baba said. It makes sense that if you are working hard labor that you might need something different then someone with a more balanced lifestyle and it also makes sense that the body might crave higher caloric energy foods during a time that it needs so much energy for the baby’s development and possibly for the timely development of specific vital organs in that first trimester. But above all listening to your body seems to be the way to go! I applaud you for your efforts and for sharing your experience!

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit when necessary. With 11 children and 16 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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