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Pregnancy Plate

Making sure your pregnancy diet is healthy is just as important for both you and baby.

The ‘Pregnancy Plate’ is a good example of how your meal plate should be made up to get the optimum nutrients for a healthy Pregnancy both for mum and baby.

A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein than a non-pregnant woman.  Why are these nutrients specifically important and how to get them?

Protein

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Taking in enough protein is important for building the babys organs.  It is recommended to eat at least 60g protein per day.

Good food sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, peas and tofu

Calcium

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This mineral is important to help build a baby’s bones and teeth.  If you do not take enough calcium then your bones can become depleted themselves as the baby will draw calcium from your bones stores.  This can lead to pregnancy related osteopenia (reduced bone density).  Vitamin D is recommended specifically D3 along with the calcium supplement as this vitamin is known to increase calcium absorption.  WHO guidelines also state that those who took calcium supplements halved their risk of developing pre-eclampsia when giving birth.

1000mg of calcium is recommended per day and if pregnant with twins to increase this to 2000mg per day – it is NOT recommended to exceed 2500mg per day.  The best way to take it is dividing the recommended dose into 3 does preferably taking at meal times.

As with all supplements we advise you speak to your Doctor on the dose they recommend for you.

Food sources of Calcium include Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese, Calcium Fortified juices or foods, Oily fish such as sardines, salmon and some leafy greens.

Folic Acid (vitamin B6)

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This vitamin is crucial in preventing the baby having defects in their brain and spinal cord.  It is recommended that if you are trying for a baby to increase your folic acid to 400mg a day and then when become pregnant to increase this to 600mg a day.  It is difficult to achieve this amount through diet therefore a supplement is recommended to be taken daily (they can be bought inexpensively over the pharmacy counter).

To boost your folic acid through diet foods such as leafy green vegetables, fortified and enriched foods and beans and citrus fruits.

Iron

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27mg of iron is recommended per day for pregnant women.  This is to help increase the amounts of iron needed to make more blood which will supply the baby with oxygen.  If taking in too little iron it can risk you developing anaemia which will often result in fatigue and increase your risk of infection.  Vitamin C is needed to help the iron absorption

Food sources of iron include lean meat, poultry, fish, dried legumes and peas, fortified products.

Fruit & Vegetables

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As shown by our ‘ideal pregnancy meal plate’ an optimal diet in pregnancy should contain plenty of fruits and vegetables especially in 2nd and 3rd trimesters.  The fruit and veg help provide fiber which helps constipation which can become a common issue as well as be low in calories preventing excess weight gain and full of vitamins and minerals needed to help you and your baby be healthy.

Fiber Containing Foods

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There are different types of fiber – Soluble and Insoluble.   It is important to have a good balance of both but an increase in Soluble fiber is recommended in Pregnancy to help prevent issues such as constipation which is more common in pregnancy and can lead to unwanted symptoms such as Piles or Haemorrhoids.  The way that soluble fiber works is that it absorbs water through the digestion process therefore makes stools easier to pass. Fibers are more common in foods, such as Legumes, Fruits, Vegetables, Wholegrain Foods, Seeds & Nuts.  See our section on How to Increase Fiber Intake for a full table of foods with their Fiber Content

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