Friday, August 7, 2009

The Brewer Pregnancy Diet

When my friend Daedra found out that I was pregnant she offered to give me some pregnancy diet and nutrition advice. Daedra is a Bradley Method Childbirth Class Instructor. I thought this would make a great guest post for all of my readers. Daedra has been teaching the Bradley Method for about 4 years and has impacted many families during that time. She has also attended births and is trained as a doula. She has an adorable 4 year old son and is currently expecting another child in December. Please enjoy her post below and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

The Brewer Pregnancy Diet

This pregnancy diet is traditionally taught in Bradley Method® Childbirth Classes and was created by Dr. Tom Brewer in the 1960’s. At the time many doctors were trying unsuccessfully to treat pre-eclampsia with medical techniques and Dr. Brewer created a plan to attack the problem at its cause: poor nutrition. During the course of Dr. Brewer’s 12 years of practice over 25,000 women experienced healthy pregnancies with his diet.

The Brewer diet focuses mainly on adequate protein intake during pregnancy. This post will show you all the food categories and the importance of each for the pregnant mom. These food groups are all very important if you would like to stay low-risk and healthy during pregnancy and therefore have a normal delivery.

Proteins are broken down into amino acids by your body and used to repair body tissues and organs. Your baby will be built from these amino acids. Contrary to popular belief, you can not build a baby from the extra stores of fat on your hips (although, wouldn’t that be nice!) Inadequate protein intake can lead to fatigue, swelling, and even a lack of appetite.

The average non-pregnant person needs approximately 56 grams of protein per day. Dr. Brewer recommends the pregnant woman aim for 80 – 100 grams of protein per day. This may seem like a lot of protein to eat in one day but if you consider that a 3 ounce piece of chicken (which is about the size of a credit card) has 20 grams of protein one can easily obtain 80 grams. Oh, and check out a good healthy peanut butter, the one I eat has 10 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons! Yum!

Milk and milk products provide calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. They are important for bones, muscle growth, muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Eating a proper amount from this food group is essential for healthy blood, can ease insomnia, and helps regulate mom’s heartbeat. The Brewer Diet recommends 4 servings per day of milk products.

Eggs provide protein, vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, the anti-infection vitamin. Added together milk and eggs provide a protein, vitamin, mineral and calorie foundation for the rest of the pregnancy diet. The Brewer Diet recommends 2 servings of eggs per day.

Fresh, dark green vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly A and B complex which are necessary to help your body use the protein in other foods. Greens are also high in folic acid which is essential for good growth. Green play a role in the formation of red blood cells and therefore a deficiency could lead to anemia. The Brewer Diet recommends 2 servings per day.

Whole Grains
Whole grains are excellent sources of the carbohydrates you need to fuel your body. If you have too few carbohydrates in your diet your body burns the protein you eat for energy, thus robbing you and your baby of the building blocks for tissue growth and repair. Carbohydrates from whole grains are a good source of B vitamins which are necessary for growth and the normal functioning of nerve tissue. The Brewer Diet recommends 4 or more servings per day.

Citrus and other foods high in vitamin C are important for the body’s manufacture of collagen, the substance that holds tissue together. Without adequate vitamin C your uterus may not perform well in labor, and you will not have a strong amniotic sack (bag of waters). We all know that vitamin C is crucial in the body’s defense system against infection but did you know it’s also improves your iron absorption? The Brewer Diet recommends 1-2 servings per day.

Fats and Oils
Healthy fats and oils such as real butter and olive oil are needed to help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. Fats and oils also contribute to a fine-textured skin (aka: stretchy pregnancy skin). This food group is a concentrated source of calories, during pregnancy the calorie need is greatly increased to 2500-3000 calories per day. The Brewer Diet recommends 3 servings per day.

Yellow and Orange Colored Fruits and Vegetables
These specific foods are high in vitamin A, which again is known to fight infection. During pregnancy, when the pressure of the growing uterus on bladder is constant, extra vitamin A helps protect mom against bladder and kidney infections. The Brewer Diet recommends 5 servings per week.

A good quality salt such as Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt is an essential nutrient in pregnancy. Cutting back on salt can cause a decrease in the amount of blood circulating through your body and placenta (hypovolemia) thus reducing the supply of nutrients passing to your baby. Too little salt in the diet can lead to leg cramps, fatigue and even swelling. The Brewer Diet recommends salting your food to taste.

Did you know that water accounts for 75% of your baby’s total body weight at birth? Water acts as a solvent and a catalyst for biological reactions. Lack of water leads to dehydration which can lead to a 20% reduction of energy output. Dehydration can also lead to headaches during pregnancy. The Brewer Diet recommends drinking to thirst or approximately 8 – 8 oz. glasses of pure water per day.

It may seem daunting to eat all this food in one day on a regular basis but with the correct tools women who attend a Bradley Method® class become accustomed to the diet and can easily maintain it even when class is complete.

For more information or to find a local Bradley Method® class please visit



Moejaa said...

Your comments about how "Healthy fats and oils such as real butter and olive oil are needed to help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K." is correct and your site is one of the few who promote whole milk, eggs, and butter. Great job

JJ said...

I agree.

I would like to add that it is very important for pregnant women who want to use the Brewer Diet for the prevention of complications to understand that focusing on primarily on the protein of the Brewer Diet will probably not do the job. The Brewer Diet actually works properly as a triad--protein PLUS calories PLUS salt. Without all three components, the blood volume is likely to not expand as it should or be able to maintain that expansion. If the mother skimps on either calories or salt, the protein that she eats may not be enough to prevent pre-eclampsia and other complications associated with low blood volume.

I would also like to add that you can find additional information about the Brewer principles and diet on the following website...


Living A Whole Life said...

Thanks Moejaa and Joy for your comments and input.


Anonymous said...

[...]Pregnancy Eating Plan - Pregnancy is one happiest moment in our life. At that time, we have our baby grow in our womb. Not only physical closeness, pregnancy is also giving us emotional closeness with our baby[...]

rusty_steele said...

This is just to let you know that the address for my Brewer Diet website has changed. It is now as follows...

Best wishes,

JJ said...

That last comment about the address for my Brewer website being changed was actually from me. I accidentally was logged in under the name of someone else in my household.
Joy Jones
"The Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet"

Alenza said...

During the first trimester your baby would have developed all its major organs as well as finger nails, eyebrows and of course it's little beating heart. All of that is made from what you have eaten! Important nutrients are folic acids, B vitamins as well as essential omega oils and zinc.

JJ said...

Yes, exactly right. I agree that quality nutrition in the first trimester is very important.

And during the second trimester the placenta goes through the major portion of its development, so keeping up with the necessary amounts of protein plus calories plus salt is very important, to help to increase the mother's blood volume by 60%, for the prevention of hypoxia in the placenta, and the prevention of rising blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, toxemia, HELLP, IUGR, abruption of the placenta,premature labor, and low birth weight.

In the third trimester, nutrition is important for maintaining that expanded blood volume for the same reasons. Plus, the baby's brain goes through its most rapid rate of development and growth in the last 2 months of the pregnancy.

So it is vitally important that the mother not focus on the number of pounds of her weight gain, but rather focus on her amount of food intake and her quality of food intake for all three trimesters of her pregnancy.

Riitta said...

This is very interesting. I don't eat dairy or soy products, what would be a good substitute for them? I noticed dairy was one of the food groups in the brewer diet site and they recommend four servings of it - a lot!

JJ said...

@ Riiita, each serving is only 1 cup, as in the measuring cups that we use for cooking (not 1 glass, because our drinking glasses are not a standard size). Does that still seem like more than you could handle? If so, you could substitute almond milk for 2 of those servings, and look to see how much calcium is in that almond milk. If it is less than cow's milk, then you could add some of the foods in "Group 2" to get the calcium that you need. You could also substitute goat's milk, if that might agree with you better, or Lact-aid milk. You can also substitute 1 cup of yogurt for each cup of milk, or 1/4 cup of cottage cheese for each cup of milk.

Krystal said...

I have 2 children. My first pregnancy went well, no complications at all! My second pregnancy is another story! I got severe pre eclampsia and HELLP syndrome at 31 weeks, my daughter had IUGR and weighed only 2 pounds 6 ounces. I am REALLy hoping this diet works as I am 4 weeks pregnant with baby # 3. I am super excited yet also even more nervous. The doc said there is nothing you can do to prevent it and there's a chance of getting it earlier on in the pregnancy. I knew that if pre clampsia happens there NEEDED to be a reason for it and a way to be proactive about preventing it! I REALLY HOPE THIS WORKS! Any one have any sample meal plans to make all this food fit into some meals? lol

Maureen Muoneke said...

Healthy diet for a pregnant women is much more important than normal. Healthy Women gave birth to healthy Babies and they become Healthy and Active nation.

Maureen Muoneke

This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.