Consideration for nutrition starts before pregnancy, from the time when you first decide to start trying to fall pregnant. This is the time to start thinking differently about your amazing female body, think of it as a vehicle that will provide the best environment for a growing baby.
Pre-pregnancy nutrition advice can be broken down into a few steps.
- Achieve or maintain a healthy weight. If you are over or underweight now would be a good time to seek advice from a Dietitian.
- Take a pre-pregnancy vitamin supplement to insure sufficient intake of folic acid. Folate is needed for healthy growth and development, reducing the chance of neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida) in your baby.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in foods that contains important pre-pregnancy nutrients including: folate, B group vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, iodine and iron.
Nutrition during pregnancy
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet by following the guidelines for pregnancy developed by the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia. eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines
Reasons to include foods from all five food groups:
- Wholegrains provide the additional energy you require during pregnancy to support growth and development. Commercial breads sold in Australia are fortified with iodine and folate. Wholegrains are a good source of carbohydrate and protein, they also naturally contain B vitamins, iron, dietary fibre, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E.
- Vegetables contain antioxidants (vitamin A and C) to support your immune system and dietary fibre to support a healthy digestive system (avoid constipation). Green, leafy vegetables naturally contain iron and folate. During pregnancy it is important to eat plenty of vegetables (include vegetables in each meal, all colours and varieties).
- A couple of pieces of fruit daily will also provide antioxidant, immune defence vitamins and dietary fibre. Limit fruit juice because it is high in sugar and low in fibre.
- Eat foods that are high in iron and are a good source of protein (eggs, lean red meat, chicken, tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds). These foods will help you meet your increased requirements for iron and sustain energy levels throughout the day.
- Fish is a great source of omega 3’s oils, which are important for growth of your baby’s brain and eye development. Some fish may accumulate mercury, which may be harmful to your baby, choose fish with low levels of mercury
- Include calcium rich food, dairy or calcium enriched dairy alternatives at least twice a day. Dairy foods are a good source of calcium and iodine, plus protein, calcium, magnesium, folate, B1, B2, B6, B12, and vitamins A, D, and E .
- Avoid alcohol altogether.
- Food safety. High risk foods to avoid include soft cheese, certain fish, meats and pre-prepared salads, for further information and pre-pregnancy checklist follow this link https://www.foodsafety.gov/risk/pregnant/chklist_pregnancy.html
During pregnancy you will need more of certain nutrients, but only a small amount of extra kilojoules. A normal weight gain over the course of the pregnancy is around 10–13kg for women who are a healthy pre-conception weight.
This means being selective in what you choose to eat.
* There is no need to avoid nuts, milk etc during pregnancy as this will not affect the chances of the baby developing allergies.
* Women with diabetes will need to seek tailored advice from a Dietitian and Diabetes Educator. Gestational Diabetes, currently affects 8-10% of pregnant women in Australia. https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/managing-gestational-diabetes