Pregnancy creates extra demands for certain nutrients, including iron, folate, calcium, iodine and many vitamins. I often tell my patients now that you’re a mum-to-be, it’s important to eat well. Good nutrition will make sure you get all the nutrients you and your developing baby need.
A pregnant woman needs to boost her nutrient intake, rather than her kilojoule intake.
A varied diet that includes the right amount of healthy foods from the five food groups generally provides our bodies with enough of each vitamin and mineral each day. However, pregnant women may need supplements of particular vitamins or minerals.
Make sure your diet is varied and includes adequate amounts of the following:
- Fruit and Vegetables
- Breads and cereals
- Dairy foods for calcium
- Lean meats, chicken and fish for iron.
Healthy weight gain during pregnancy-
Steady weight gain during pregnancy is normal and important for the health of the mother and baby.For women who are a healthy weight, it is recommended that you gain between 11.5 and 16 kg.
Dietary Guidelines recommend that you enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods every day from these food groups:
- Vegetables of different types and colours and legumes (such as chick peas and lentils)
- Grain (cereals) including breads, rice, pasta, noodles, oats, couscous, quinoa and barley, mostly wholegrain
- Include lean meat, fish, poultry, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans
- Include milks, yoghurts, cheese.
- And drink plenty of water.
- Limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake
- Choose foods low in salt
- Limit foods and drinks with added sugar
Iodine in Pregnancy
Iodine is another nutrient that is important for your baby’s brain development. To ensure adequate iodine either:
- Eat fish one to three times a week, or
- Use iodised salt or
- Take a multivitamin for pregnancy that contains iodine.
Folic Acid (folate) and Pregnancy
Folate (known as folic acid when added to foods) is a B-group vitamin found in a variety of foods. Folic acid helps protect against neural tube defects in the developing foetus, so it is important for pregnant women to make sure that they are receiving enough of this important vitamin.
For all women who are planning a pregnancy, and during the first three months of pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement that contains at least 500 micrograms of folic acid is recommended, as well as eating foods that are naturally rich in folate or are fortified with folic acid.
Iron and Pregnancy
Iron is needed to make red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. During pregnancy you need more iron because the volume of your blood increases and your baby’s blood is also developing.
For an Iron Rich Diet
Your diet must include at least two serves of meat, chicken, fish, legumes or nuts every day. Vegetarians can eat wholegrain breads, cereals and green leafy vegetables regularly.
Calcium in Pegnancy
The recommended dietary intake for non-pregnant women (1,000 mg a day for women aged 19 to 50 years and 1,300 mg a day for adolescents or those aged over 51) remains unchanged during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Dairy foods (such as milk, cheese and yoghurt) and calcium-fortified soy milk are excellent dietary sources of calcium.
Multivitamins in Pregnancy
Including vitamins & mineral salts
Good Food Hygiene
Not only the quantity of food matters but so does the quality of food. And thus maintaining good food hygiene is important.It is the best way to reduce the risk of salmonella and listeria infections. Suggestions include:
- Always wash your hands before and after preparing food.
- Keep your kitchen surfaces clean.
- Do not let uncooked food contaminate cooked food.
- Wash fruit, vegetables and salad before eating.
- Cook food thoroughly.
- Keep pets away from kitchen surfaces.
- Wear rubber gloves when handling cat litter trays or gardening.
- Store food at correct temperatures.
Foods to be Avoided in Pregnancy
- Raw seafood, such as oysters or uncooked sushi. Also fish rich in mercury should be avoided.
- Cheeses with a white, ‘mouldy’ rind, such as Brie and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses like Stilton, uncooked ricotta and fetta cheese
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs
- Alcohol should be avoided
- Smoking: If you smoke, it is best for you and your baby to give up, the sooner the better.
- One might want to cut down on caffeine, too. You can safely have 200mg of caffeine a day, which is about two mugs of instant coffee, one regular-sized espresso, latte or cappuccino, three cups of tea or six cans of cola. You may want to switch to decaf hot drinks and drink more water.