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Pregnancy is not just a physical state. It is an initiation, a rite of passage into Motherhood.
Becoming a mother is one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience.
No wonder the process is accompanied by an overload of often contradictory feelings such as excitement, joy, ambivalence, anxiety, and fear, alongside the physical challenges of morning sickness, constipation, insomnia, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes, to name a few!
One of the first things women seek to learn when pregnant is what they can and can't eat. As Ceremonial Cacao spreads fast and wide across the globe among people of all ages, many women in their child-bearing years want to know which category it falls into.
If you are a Keith's Cacao drinker, you probably already know that ultimately, the answer to this is yours to give.
Your own body is in charge and will provide you with all the answers you need. However, here is what we know from scientific studies, ancient and indigenous uses, as well as anecdotal reports from contemporary midwives, birth doulas, and Cacao practitioners who have used Cacao themselves or are facilitating other women during their pregnancy and beyond.
As you read this, please remember that not all Cacao is born equal!
Most commercially available Cacao, even that which is labeled organic and fair trade, is often from larger seeded, easier processed, hybridized varieties that contain lots of caffeine.
With cumulative scientific evidence supporting that pregnant women and women contemplating pregnancy should avoid all caffeine, always opt for Keith's Cacao, which consistently tests very low in caffeine.
The first trimester can bring nausea and/or morning sickness, constipation, fatigue, food cravings, and aversions for many women.
A craving for chocolate is not uncommon, yet doctors rightly advise that we avoid consuming refined sugar products during pregnancy because of their low nutritive value and because they may increase the risk for gestational diabetes.
Good quality Ceremonial Cacao can both curb sugar cravings helping to manage weight gain, and help with fatigue, as it regulates metabolism and energy use.
A superfood rich in phytonutrients and healthy chemicals, Cacao increases the feeling of fullness, while the magnesium and theobromine it contains help raise our energy levels more gently and sustainably than both sugar and coffee!
Theobromine provides slow, steady, and sustained energy release, making Cacao the perfect alternative energy booster as an alternative to coffee.
Studies have also shown that Cacao, thanks to its theobromine and flavanols, regulates blood pressure in pregnant women by dilating the blood vessels, the magnesium and dietary fiber in Cacao help ward off constipation, and the combination of magnesium and B vitamins make Cacao a natural remedy for morning sickness.
If, however, you are new to Cacao, it may be a good idea to wait until you are further along into your pregnancy before introducing it into your diet. Then do so gradually, feeling out how your body responds.
Most women feel at their best while in the Second trimester, hence why it is known as the honeymoon period of pregnancy.
The most significant concern is preeclampsia, which affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from 20 weeks).
Although the exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown, it's thought to occur when there's a problem with the placenta, the organ that links the baby's blood supply to the mother's.
A milder concern is leg cramps, which are primarily associated with a shortage of calcium or magnesium.
Cacao is one of the highest magnesium sources and contains significant amounts of calcium, making it much less likely for expecting moms to be troubled by this condition.
The second trimester is also where fetal development really takes off.
Cacao's richness in flavanols, minerals such as copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, and iron makes it a most valuable ally during this crucial stage of the baby's growth.
Click on the video below to learn about Daniella Moyles's journey with Keith's Cacao during her pregnancy.
The third trimester of pregnancy can be physically and emotionally challenging.
The growing baby puts more physical demands on the mother's body, sleep becomes more elusive, and anxiety about the labor and birth is common.
The magnesium in Cacao helps the nervous system relax and is also good for muscular tension, helping the body become relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Moreover, it has a beneficial impact on brain function, calming the mind, which is vitally important for maintaining a healthy sleep pattern.
The flavanols in Cacao also help tackle exhaustion and lessen stress levels, the polyphenols improve calmness and contentedness, and phenylethylamine and anandamide boost your mood.
Clickhere to learn aboutLaura Durban's journey with Keith's Cacao during her pregnancy.
Great as its benefits are throughout the journey of pregnancy, it is perhaps at the time around childbirth that 'Mama Cacao' shines the most. Cacao can help Moms find a deeper connection and love with both born and unborn children.
"Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao," which examines the evidence of Cacao use among Mesoamerican cultures for a variety of medical needs, informs us that the San Blas Indians of Panama used the pulp in the Cacao pods to aid in child delivery, while the Seringuerios of Acre in Brazil used the bark of the Chocolate Tree in concoctions given to women immediately following birth.
Another ancient tradition denotes that Cacao was used to help promote the production of breast milk.
It is for this reason that midwives were usually depicted iconographically with carry-on cacao beans.
To this day, in Guatemala, Cacao is an indigenous midwife's standard medicine for birthing women, and the midwives themselves, exhausted from a lengthy birthing process.
In preparation for labor, Cacao helps release all those amazing hormones that bring the mother into that space of love and connection while helping the body relax and open for the miracle of birth to happen.
Keith's Cacao Practitioner and Birth Doula Grace Hall often encourages clients new to Cacao to introduce it into their diet at 36-37 weeks of pregnancy.
Packed full of nutrients, Cacao helps expecting moms recover from the toll of literally creating another body inside, providing them with enough energy, clarity, and calmness to enter smoothly into the nesting mindset that precedes labor.
Grace also uses Cacao with her clients postnatally to ease separation anxiety and post-partum depression in a ritual that acknowledges and honors the transition of the baby from the womb into the world and of the woman from pregnancy into Motherhood.
In the western world, nursing mothers are often told that eating chocolate when breastfeeding makes babies irritable and fussy because it contains caffeine. Perhaps that is true for most chocolate. Keith's Cacao contains less caffeine than decaffeinated coffee. If you have been drinking Keith's Cacao while pregnant, there is no reason to stop when breastfeeding. In fact, there is good reason to continue.
Cacao increases the release of oxytocin in the brain, the love and connection hormone needed to produce milk to breastfeed your baby. Many South and Meso American cultures consider Cacao to be a galactagogue and elders urge nursing mothers to consume a drink that is rich in whole grains and chocolate. In Mexico, they use a concoction called atole, typically made with cornmeal or oatmeal, Cacao, and a local sweetener.
With theobromine affecting a gentle yet long-lasting stimulation of the cardiovascular system, phenylethylamine increasing dopamine levels, heightening attentiveness and elevating our mood, and anandamide acting as a pain reliever, stress reducer, and happiness booster, Cacao helps create the perfect bond between mother and breastfeeding child.
As always, your own body is your best guide. Go easy on the dosage at first. See how your body feels and how the baby reacts and adjust accordingly.
Happy Mamas make happy -and healthy- babies. "The babies born to women who had been eating chocolate daily during pregnancy were more active and 'positively reactive' – a measure that encompasses traits such as smiling and laughter," according to a study published in the clinical journal Early Human Development (vol 76, p 139).
The same study concludes that "the babies of stressed women who had regularly consumed chocolate showed less fear of new situations than babies of stressed women who abstained."
Science has long established that depression and anxiety experienced by a pregnant woman can translate to behavioural or emotional troubles in children. Maternal mood seems to shape the baby's developing brain.
Cacao is one of the safest, gentlest mood uplifters on the planet. In this most remarkable journey of becoming a Mother, Mama Cacao can be your best ally, supporter, and guide, on a physical, emotional, and energetic level. Let her take you by the hand, and show you.
Of course we always encourage you to listen to your body, and consult with a medical practitioner or your holistic health team if you feel unsure if Cacao is right for you during the pregnancy and childbirth process.