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Do You Eat the Right Fat for Your Baby?

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 1 views
By James Goodlatte and Kimberly Nelli

As a pregnant or lactating mom, your baby’s cell structure and brain rely on the fats you eat in your diet. Despite popular suggestion, plenty of evidence suggests that a pregnant mom should increase high-quality saturated fats like butter, completely remove hydrogenated fats like margarine and shortening, and even reduce polyunsaturated fats like soy, corn, safflower, and canola oils. If these claims for saturated fats and against vegetable fats don’t quite fit into your current perception of fat, you must keep reading. As it turns out, the right fats may be the biggest missing ingredients in your baby’s developing body.

Animal fats that contain saturated fat and cholesterol are essential for your baby’s growth. Every one of your growing baby’s cell membranes is made of saturated fat and cholesterol. Saturated fat is also required for your baby to incorporate calcium into his or her growing skeleton. Saturated fats help your liver detox toxins that could be harmful to your baby. Cholesterol is a precursor to your reproductive hormones, necessary for allowing proper pregnancy and lactation function. Nutrition researchers Sally Fallon and Mary Enig state, “Babies and children need cholesterol-rich foods throughout their growing years to ensure proper development of the brain and nervous system.”

Your body is made to provide the most perfect nutritional food for your baby: breast milk. It is well known that your breast milk contains mostly saturated fat and has a higher proportion of cholesterol than almost any other food. If you don’t eat saturated fats and cholesterol, how will your baby receive them? They are vital to the health of your unborn baby and to the health of your breastfeeding baby. And be careful with commercial infant formulas. They are low in saturated fats and soy formulas are completely devoid of cholesterol, Fallon and Enig report. They also mention a study linking lowfat diets with failure to thrive in children. Mom, this means that you should eat plenty of high quality animal fats.

Have you experienced typical pregnancy discomforts? Does your pregnancy sometimes feel like an emotional roller-coaster? Is your pregnancy associated with a feeling of “being stuffed” where food seems to sit in your tummy all day, sometimes producing reflux, constipation, or heartburn? Not only is cholesterol needed for proper function of your body’s natural “feel good” chemical, serotonin, but cholesterol is necessary to produce digestive juices that might help these common pregnancy discomforts. Remember, your body will always send cholesterol to your baby’s needs first. If you don’t have enough for your own needs, you may feel more pregnancy discomforts, especially as you become more depleted toward the third trimester.

Amazingly, “healthy oils” like polyunsaturated soy, corn, safflower, and canola may cause health problems, according to Fallon and Enig’s book Nourishing Traditions. Polyunsaturated fats are unsaturated and, therefore, molecularly unstable by nature. They tend to become rancid both during the refining process and again if you cook with them. Rancid oils contain free radicals that are recognized to attack cells and can cause mutations in tissues.

Worse than refined vegetable oils is the hydrogenation process that creates trans fats. Hydrogenated or trans fats are a very poor food choice for the pregnant or lactating mom who wants to build a strong baby. “Trans” fats are not found naturally in our food supply. Fallon and Enig say these man-made trans fats are toxins to the body, but unfortunately your digestive system does not recognize them as such. Instead of eliminating them, your body incorporates trans fats into your cell membranes replacing natural fat molecules. This, of course, includes all the cells you make, including the cells of your baby. Nourishing Traditions sites research that hydrogenated fats are associated with a host of serious breakdowns in the body, including low birth weight babies, birth defects, and difficulty in lactation. The pregnant woman’s best bet is to avoid these fats at least while building her baby.

Here are several great sources of saturated fats and cholesterol to ask for at your local health food store. It is important to adhere to grass-fed, wild, raw and free range to ensure that these foods actually contain the right fatty acid profile.

  • Fresh grass-fed Meats
  • Fresh grass-fed Organ Meats
  • Wild Fish
  • Raw butter
  • Eggs from free range chickens

Cook with:

  • Butter
  • Lard (pork fat)
  • Duck, goose, and chicken fat
  • Beef fat or tallow
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil

Use liberally, but avoid cooking:

  • Olive oil

May you grow a healthy baby!


James and Kim are certified Nutrition & Lifestyle Coaches who assist pregnant moms and new parents to achieve optimal health. They can be contacted at

[email protected]

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or through their websites and

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