Nutrition While Pregnant
The nutritional intake of a woman before she conceives and during pregnancy is now known to have an impact on the health and wellbeing of the infant in both the short- and long-term, even going on to affect the children they then may go on to have themselves.
Pregnancy therefore presents an ideal opportunity for consider positive dietary and lifestyle changes, as mums are often motivated to adapt their food intake and lifestyle choices to do the best for their unborn child. However, they then tend to receive a wealth of sometimes conflicting advice on what makes a healthy diet. Here we look at some of the key nutrients that mums need to be aware of, and how to incorporate them into their diet.
Folic acid in pregnancy
Folic acid (also known as folate) is a B-group vitamin that’s important for the healthy development of the foetus in early pregnancy. For women that are of child-bearing age, are pregnant, or planning on getting pregnant, it’s recommended to take extra folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The best way to get enough folate is to take a daily supplement for at least one month before conceiving, and three months after.
Iodine in pregnancy
A woman's thyroid uses iodine to produce hormones that are important for the normal development of her baby’s brain and nervous system. So it’s very important that mothers consume enough iodine when pregnant. Seafood, eggs and dairy products can all be good sources of iodine.
Calcium in pregnancy
Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. When pregnant, a mother's calcium needs do actually increase: Dairy foods (such as milk, cheese and yoghurt) and calcium-fortified soy milk are excellent dietary sources of calcium.
Long Chain Omega 3 fatty acids in pregnancy
Long chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosaxhexanoic acid (DHA), are very important for a baby’s neurological development. When pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s recommended that a mother consumes 200mg of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA daily. Eating 2 to 3 servings of fish a week can help achieve this goal.
Iron requirements in pregnancy
For a pregnant mum, increasing their intake of iron - either through diet or by taking a supplement* - can help them build their baby’s iron stores. Iron helps support the baby's blood formation, which helps transport oxygen around their body.
* You should always consult your physician or other qualified medical professionals.
Vitamin D in pregnancy
It is vital for a pregnant mother to consume vitamin D for their baby’s bone structure.
Oily fish, eggs and red meat are all good food sources
The myth of 'eating for two'
During first trimester of pregnancy, the extra energy needed is minimal. One extra piece of bread, or a glass of milk per day is enough. For the second and the third trimester, there is a higher need for energy and different nutritions. Pregnant mum can take more healthy snacks such as fruits, yoghurt, nuts to gain the additional nutritions. Most importantly to maintain a balanced diet. Remember it is unnecessary to eat for two!
Need parenting or nutrition advice?
Please contact our “First 1000 Days Nutrition Advisers”. Our team of registered nurses and nutrition consultants are here to answer your questions.