Making sure your pregnancy diet is healthy is just as important for both you 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?
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.
Folic Acid (B6 Vitamin)
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 then choose foods such as leafy green vegetables, fortified and enriched foods and beans and citrus fruits.
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.
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.
Fruits and Vegetables
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.
It is a lot better if your carbohydrates come from wholegrains rather than refined foods. This means trying to eat more oatmeal, wholewheat and wholegrain versions of carbs rather than the white refined versions. The more grain involved better the fiber content and also are more fulfilling.
Foods To Limit
The jury is still out on the relationship between caffeine and miscarriage in the early stages and decreased growth and preterm birth in the later stages. With the lack of certainty it is recommended to limit caffeine intake to 200mg per day which is one 12 oz coffee or one ‘tall starbucks’ or swap to decaffeinated options and herbal teas. An average cup of tea contains about 47mg so if you drink many cups of tea in a day try to swap some for decaffeinated teabags.