The Brewer Diet is not really a “diet” per se, but a nutrition guide to help ensure a healthy pregnant woman and even to help a mother postpartum keep up the calories, intake, and nutrients needed to sustain herself and breastfeeding her child. The Brewer Diet is a large part of with the Bradley Method because every day, you’re supposed to record each thing you eat, how much protein is in it, and how well you’re doing getting a balanced diet. So if you’re taking a local Bradley Method course and would like to get a bit more info on the diet or you’re pregnant and looking for a pregnancy nutrition guide, here it is!
Thank you for supporting our family through affiliate link purchases in this article! As always, I am not a doctor, nurse, or in the medical field. All posts are informative, based off of my experience in labor and birth, with my care providers, and on the Bradley classes that I attended. Please make informed decisions with your doctor, midwife, and/or any other care providers.
So now that I have given you a recap of the first week of the Bradley Method and its exercises, I think that it is important to follow that up with those nutritional goals by addressing what the Brewer diet is and why it calls for what it does.
The Bradley Method of childbirth recommends Doctor Brewer’s Pregnancy Diet to help prevent pre-eclampsia, hypovolemia, anemia, and any deficiencies for you and your baby. So I am going to go through each of the recommendations, why they are recommended, etc.. You should know starting out that the biggest emphasis on his diet is protein. He recommends 80-100g/day for a pregnant woman, but this is also standard for most pregnancy diets. Even with my daughter, the pamphlet that my hospital sent home with me recommended at least 70-75g/day if not more and my current midwife recommends 80-100. Even with the emphasis on protein, the Brewer Diet is more than that- it is also about having a balanced and very healthy diet.
Daily recommendations using the Brewer Diet
Milk/Calcium (4 servings):
Dr. Brewer suggests having a quart of milk a day. Wow, that’s a lot of milk! I read your mind, I know. But this can come in any form, as long as you are getting dietary calcium. You can drink a glass, have some cheese, eat some yogurt , munch on some almonds, enjoy some kale, and finish the day with a bowl of ice cream if your heart so desires. I took a nutrition class several years ago and the professor (a registered dietician and doctor in his field) made it clear to us that supplements are great, but we need to try to achieve all of our vitamin and mineral needs through diet because only about 10% of supplements that you take, on average, are actually absorbed. Regardless of the percentage, we have all seen vitamin urine; therefore we have to know not everything is getting absorbed like it is supposed to in the end.
There are lots of options for calcium for those who are vegetarian or vegan including nuts, olives, broccoli, kale, etc..
Eggs (2 Servings):
The suggestion is two eggs per day. The whole egg – whites and yolk.
The egg really is the most wholly nutritious food that you can eat. It has almost every vitamin and mineral that you need. In fact, it has amino acids that are necessary for proper metabolism and that influence and help you synthesize the protein you are eating. Eggs even contain essential amino acids that affect your (and your baby’s) neurotransmitters. It also includes vitamin A which has many healing properties.
Generic Protein (2 servings):
This pretty much goes along with the egg consumption. However, two eggs are only about 12g of protein which is not enough. Your selection here can range from tofu to turkey and from beans to potatoes. SO MANY OPTIONS. Just choose what suits you best. Personally? I love adding a bit of hummus to my day for added protein and deliciousness.
Protein is very important because it supports tissue growth Back to those amino acids – They have the awesome nickname that you should remember: “building blocks”. Why? Because when you are having to eat so much protein remind yourself that you are giving your child the building blocks for better health, nutrition, and development.
Green Vegetables (2 servings):
Some of the notables are asparagus, broccoli, and spinach. I personally am not a fan of broccoli, but I love spinach. Want to know why I love spinach so much? Well, it contains the folic acid needed to help with neural development AND I can blend it uncooked into a fruit smoothie and not even taste it. This is an awesome way to kill multiple birds with one stone! So drink as many fruit smoothies with spinach blended in as you want. They’re great. And I am serious you cannot taste the spinach!
These greens again will help with digesting the protein of your diet and typically are a source of calcium too.
Whole Grains (4 servings):
Not just partial grains, 100% whole grains. This also means white bread, white rice, white almost everything is out. It is just not as nutritious for you or your precious baby.
These carbohydrates help give you energy and help your baby get energy too. You have to have energy – a pregnant body in itself is a little factory even if you’re not up and about all the time. Fuel it!
A lot of whole grains are also going to provide you with B vitamins that are essential to help your nerves both repair and function properly. Same goes for your little one.
Vitamin C source/Citrus (At least 1 serving):
Vitamin C helps manufacture collagen. Plain and simple. Don’t know what collagen is? It is responsible for holding tissue together. This helps us as humans build muscles and function properly. In fact collagen is one of the most important and abundant components of your cardiovascular system!
Plus, we should all know by now that vitamin c is helpful just in immune response and overall health.
Fats (3 servings):
Ok we are not talking hydrogenated oils in Oreos, French fries, and funnel cakes. This kind of fat is the natural stuff. So when you cook, use olive oil or real butter. Even foods like flax, walnuts, and avocados are great sources of healthy fats and therefore are great additions to your diet. Why do we need to implement these fats? Some of the vitamins that we need to ingest into our diets are fat-soluble like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
So I mentioned flax; I feel like I should give a side note here. It doesn’t “work” if it is not ground. You can buy it pre-ground or whole, but once it is ground it can go rancid very quickly. Therefore, whether you are buying it ground or using a coffee grinder at home, make sure that you store it in the fridge or freezer to keep it fresh. I prefer the freezer.
Also, ground flax can go in almost anything. Those fruit smoothies with hidden spinach? Hide some ground flax in them too. Again you won’t taste it. (You will only notice a texture change if you put in a lot). I have put flax in our meals for several years. I can hide it in enchiladas, chili, casseroles… you name it, it has probably had some hidden flax in it.
Fruits (At least 1 serving):
Oh finally, my favorite. This “one” serving is above and beyond the citrus/vitamin C source and all that. I still stick to my 5-9 fruits and veggies in a day like a regular diet. This is because I love fruit and it’s so good for me (and my child). Plus, I had no idea constipation was a pregnancy symptom… none here, thank you. (Have I mentioned how much I like making my own fruits smoothies lately?)
Drink to thirst. I have always tried to follow the rule that not only do I drink when I am thirsty, but I am also drinking as many ounces as half of my body weight. This is because it also ensures that I am drinking more water as I get more pregnant.
An example would be if you are 150lbs, then drink at least 75 oz. in the day.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, drinking water actually reduces water retention that is in swelling. SO drink up momma!
Salt any food to taste. But, don’t overdo it. And again like the bread comment, bleached table salt is not so nutritious. Opt for Kosher and Sea Salt varieties.
Salt can actually help you stay hydrated and lower your risk of pre-eclampsia if you’re not dousing your food in it and just adding it to taste. (You don’t have to add it, just make sure you have enough sodium in your system that you are lucid and not dehydrated please.)
I personally take New Chapter Prenatal Vitamins or Rainbow Light. They are whole food, non synthetic vitamins, meaning higher absorption rate and better for me and for baby. I also take Rainbow Light Calcium/Magnesium/D or Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Calcium. They are worth the extra money. I can tell a huge difference in how I feel taking them vs. cheaper synthetic vitamins and I know it’s better for baby.
Brewer Diet Weekly Recommendations
5 yellow or orange colored fruits/veggies.
This is because of their vitamin A content mainly.
But only have to eat it if you like it. (I heard that sigh of relief). To replace liver as something you eat, you can take Energizing Iron, which is an inexpensive supplement made from liver, but in capsule form. It’s what I use and definitely recommend it.
Whole Baked potato
This means you’re eating the skin and all. I usually opt for making some mashed potatoes with the skin in the mix. It’s whatever floats your boat, but remember the skin is just as important as the fluffy goodness even if you don’t like it. It’s got a lot of good stuff in that skin! Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, and (drum roll please) even protein!
Well I think you are officially informed. I hope anyway.
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!