Pregnancy Nutrition - Why every woman should think about it!
Every woman who intends to become pregnant or finds out that she is already pregnant should give nutrition some thought. Even if you think you eat a healthy diet there might be more you can do to give your baby the best start in life.
So why is it so important?
What you eat during pregnancy has life-long effects on your child’s health. Through something called foetal programming the nutrients that your baby receives in the womb effect how it’s genes are expressed, thereby effecting how the baby will grow and develop over its lifetime. Essentially, food can affect whether genes get switched on or off. Nutrition in the womb can affect your child’s risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease in later life. I find that quite amazing!
It’s also interesting to remember that your baby is first exposed to solid foods in the womb. The foods you eat during pregnancy will shape their food preferences when it comes to weaning at 6 months of age.
But don’t panic!
This doesn’t mean you need to feel stressed about everything you eat, but it’s good to be aware of a few key things to consider…
Top 10 for good nutrition in pregnancy:
Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – this one is an obvious one, but these foods will provide you with lots of micronutrients including folate, iodine and antioxidants that all play key roles in gene expression.
Eat oily fish once a week, chia seeds, linseeds and nuts such as walnuts to ensure an adequate intake of Omega 3 fatty acids which help with brain development.
Eat regular meals and sensible portions – providing your baby with a steady release of energy throughout the day will help it learn that food is not scarce and that it does not to lay down excessive fat or conserve energy. This will help the baby establish a healthy metabolism.
Choose low GI foods such as wholegrain carbohydrates, beans and lentils. These release sugar more slowly into the blood and will help regulate yours and your babies blood sugar levels.
Take your folic acid supplements for at least a month prior to conception and 3 months after conception to prevent neural tube defects.
Take 10mcg vitamin D supplements to boost yours and your babies stores of vitamin D. Vitamin D has a role in regulating insulin, the immune system and lung development, as well as helping develop healthy bones and muscles.
Maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy – this includes not being underweight, which can have adverse effects on the baby too.
Prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy. You do not need to eat for 2. In fact energy requirements only increase by a small amount during the final trimester and you will naturally eat a little more at this time.
Avoid sugary drinks and snacks as these will only contribute to excess calories and high blood sugars.
Eat adequate protein. Protein is the building blocks of cells, so eating adequate amounts will help your baby grow. Whether it is plant or animal sources ensure you eat a variety e.g. meat, fish, tofu, Quorn, beans, lentils, eggs and diary. Include a portion at every meal (1/4 of a plate is adequate).
What about Dad?
Yes, Dad needs to give the baby the best genes possible too, so encourage Dad to eat well and maintain a healthy body weight prior to conception and afterwards, so that he can be in the best shape to look after baby!
Giving your diet consideration now is the best time, as once the baby arrives you’ll have other things on your mind. Start today and you’ll have the best habits to pass onto your child in the future.
For personalised advise during pregnancy you can get in touch and arrange an appointment with me either face-to-face or online and help get you and your baby off to the best start.