Expecting our paleo baby


Here is a picture of my partner. She usually does not want to appear on my blog, but I convinced her to make an exception today.

Judging by the not completely flat stomach, you might think that LCHF is bad for the weight. Although you’d also have to consider that she is nine months pregnant, with our first baby. We’ll see the final results around September 3. But so far avoiding sugar, bread, rice and pasta has been quite a success story.

Common Problems

Many pregnant women these days gain a disturbing amount of weigh, get all swollen and may be diagnosed with high blood pressure or even gestational diabetes. Check out the ring on my partners right hand. The midwife could hardly believe it when we were there last week, but there is not the slightest problem with rings. There is no swelling.

Perhaps my darling has drawn a lucky ticket in the genetic lottery. But this spring, that’s not what it looked like. She became increasingly swollen, especially over the lower legs, and it was getting painful. The difference is that she ate considerably more carbs back then, because all the recommendations said that is important during pregnancy. I didn’t believe in those guidelines. But that didn’t matter much – you don’t get to be a prophet in your own home.

The solution

The turnaround came during the low carb cruise in early May. She talked to Dr Michael D. Fox , a specialist in fertility, who said that of course the swelling would go away if she avoided carbs, and yes, it was completely safe. He said that pregnant women are usually extra sensitive to sugar and starch (something that professor Lustig has later explained the reason for).

So she abruptly stopped eating sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. And in two days (with plenty of urination) all the swelling was gone. And that’s was it. She has continued eating strict LCHF because it has worked so well.

She still feels great. Her blood pressure is perfect. The amount of weight gain is just right. The stomach grows just as it should (the curve follows the mid-line) and inside there seems to be a spirited little Paleo-baby. Now we’re just waiting to meet her.


More about fertility

LCHF for beginners

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  1. Fireballgirl
    I'm pregnant with my fourth and have heard conflicting advice. My Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist says that ketones have a "predilection for the developing neurons" and may inhibit brain growth. My neurologist is also concerned about negative impact (not so much during breastfeeding because he thinks the ketones will be digested by the baby whereas during gestation, they go directly to the baby from the blood supply. Any ideas?

    I really want to LCHF because my insulin is high, I'm afraid it will turn into gestational diabetes, and my weight keeps climbing (I'm over 100 kilos). How low in carbs did your partner go? Is it safe to do induction level (in your opinion)? I'm 20 weeks.

    Any thoughts?

  2. I'm also pregnant (30 weeks) and struggling with doctor's opinions on ketones.

    My blood sugars are always normal, thanks to the low-carb paleo-style diet I follow ... but my body loves to be in ketosis. My endocrinologist is strongly pressuring me to go on insulin. I've never heard of anyone being put on insulin for ketones alone, and I want to refuse, but I'm afraid things will get ugly if I do -- my midwives and their backup doctors all seem very concerned about ketones.

    Everything else is going great. I feel generally great, have no swelling issues, and am measuring right on schedule.

    Any advice for my situation? Are ketones really an issue? If not, how do I handle my docs?

  3. Zepp
    Do you have diabetes?

    I do think doctors is afriad about gestadional diabetes and/or starving, but they have probably dont even learned about ketogenic diets.

    Try to tell them that you eat a ketogenic diet.. they have probably never heard about LCHF.

  4. @Zepp

    "Do you have diabetes?" -- That's the million dollar question, right? :)

    Given how absurd and inaccurate the glucose tolerance testing is (especially for people on LCHF diets), I don't suppose it gives us much information that I failed the first time and passed the second time (both 1-hour screenings).

    The answer I've been getting is that, if I have GD, it's a very unusual presentation.

    And unfortunately, it appears that even for people on LCHF, this is somewhat odd. I talked to a homebirth midwife who has many clients on low-carb diets and she says that in 16 years, she's never seen anything like this. Now I'm just royally confused. :)

  5. @Joyce - perhaps if you eat more veg carbs before your next doctor visit you can demonstrate that your body knows what to do. If your eat above 40g or so carbs you won't be in ordinary LCHF ketosis.
  6. Zepp
    Yes to much ketonbuddies can be an issue, perticuly if they are more than diet induced.

    Did you tell your doctor that you eating a ketogenic diet?

    One can have to much if one dont have enogh insulin.. its like type 1 diabetes, but then they should have mesured our insulin levels, (C-peptid).. did they do that?

    Some times one cant se the forest for all the trees, and if your doctor dont know about ketogenic diets then they can draw the wrong conclusion.. but that can you also.

  7. Kathleen
    I recommend you write a book about your wife's paleo pregnancy so women are more familiar with it and are willing to try it, especially if they've had problems with their previous pregnancies.
  8. Maggan A

    If you read #0 you will see that doc´s partner does not want tho go public. As much as we would like it, we have to respect her wish for privacy.

  9. Kate

    Congratulations to you on a healthy happy pregnancy.

    Just wanted to comment that pregnant ladies shouldn't take observational evidence like this as general guidelines...

    My story:

    I'm 31, fit and healthy, and gave birth to baby girl 2 months ago. During my pregnancy i kept exercising (walking, gymnastics, and swim training - I'm a competitive swimmer) until week 36.

    I got diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes in week 24, despite that I already had a good nutrition going on (mom is a nutritionist, I cook from scratch a flexitarian diet low in refined carbs). Only deviations were the occasional pasta dish with vegetables and a piece of pastry on sundays...

    Because I wanted to avoid insulin I went extremely low carb then - but I still had to deal with rapid weight gain, edema, and various other lovely issues.

    My baby was riding the center of the growth curve, I had weekly scans for that and my blood sugars were in check all the time (after discovering that the morning value goes down if I have a glass of milk at midnight).

    However, at the final check up one day before her birth we found out that she gained almost a kilogram during my last week of pregnancy and she was born weighing 4.4 kgs!
    Her blood glucose was fine though, and the diabetician said she was "just a heavy baby".

    So please although the Dr.'s Mrs. sailed through pregnancy complication free on low carbs, that does not mean that this will be the same for everybody. Good news is that the edema will resolve itself after the birth anyway.

    Kate (also Dr.)

  10. Ruby
    Hi Dr.A,
    congrats on the baby and great website.
    As for India, and Asia in general, this story sheds some light in my opinion and is relevant to pregnancy:

    Basically it says that when a baby is carried by a mother eating low-cal diet, the baby's metabolism gets primed for this kind of environment and a very efficient calorie use. when this baby is born and suddenly enters a land of plenty and can't restrain itself, health problems like diabetes etc. follow. Just food for thought.

  11. Ruby
    and another link, perhaps useful for mothers-to-be
  12. heather
    Hi Dr. Eenfeldt,
    thank you for posting about your wive's paleo pregnancy.
    I have a question and I really hope you could help or direct me to a good info source on this.
    I've been eating an LCHF paleo diet for about a year now, and feeling better then ever in my life.
    I'm now 7 weeks pregnant (for the first time), and have kept on this style of eating.
    i had a blood & urine test this week and everything is fine, except for 20 mg/dL protein and 150 mg/dL ketones in the urine test.
    I'm a little alarmed by this, since conventional medical sites say that this is an extremely high ketone level, and that the protein level might mean something's wrong with my kidneys.
    i had a similar test in april (B4 i was preg) and had 0 ketones and 10 mg/dL protein.
    I guess ketones are a normal by product of LCHF, but how much is too much?
    also, If i'm using ketones as a fuel source, why is my body dumping them out through the urine? shouldn't I't be using it for energy?
    thank's in advance!
  13. Lro
    Hello! I was so excited to read this and was hoping to get an update on your beautiful wife & child?
    How was the labor, post pregnancy, & health of the baby?
    Thanks so much for sharing this info, I look forward to hearing back:)
  14. Rachael
    Gestational diabetes isn't always a result of diet. I follow a paleo diet and had 3 pregnancies without and this one I have severe gd. I have to take insulin because the hormones produced by the placenta has made me insulin resistent. I take insulin 4x a day as well as follow and very strict less than 50 g carbs a day which include only paleo friendly forms of carbs. Without the insulin my sugars would still be all over. I have ketones in my urine. My doctor is quite pleased. My sugars are very under control and I have only gained about 4 lbs (32 almost 33 weeks) lots of research suggests ketones are actually good for the baby and that the baby actually may produce their own ketones. It has more to do with the level of ketones. Ketosis is good, keto acidosis is bad.
  15. Laura
    I am 31 weeks pregnant with my 11th child. I have been eating Keto now for the past 6weeks. I was actually encouraged by a dietitian work with Sweet Success to eat low carb high fat. Failed my glucose tolerance 1 hour test so I was labeled with having gestational diabetes. Once I was on the LCHF diet, all my blood sugars stabilized and I felt great. Better than most of my previous pregnancies. I am on par for weight gain and feel so energetic entering my 3rd trimester. My obgyn is aware of my diet and slight weight loss and sees no problem with me eating LCHF diet.
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