We're constantly told about eating well, especially during pregnancy, but just how important is good nutrition for you, your pregnancy and your baby's development?
Essentially, what you eat and drink is what your baby eats and drinks. You are passing everything you consume through to them - both the good stuff and the bad. Good nutrition can have positive benefits on your growing baby such; mental alertness, immune function, birth size, organ development, pregnancy duration and to halt any chance of (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) NAS or (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) FAS. Therefore we need to be very mindful, educated, open minded and selfless when it comes to nourishing our little growing human.
This can mean making sacrifices - like quitting (or in some specialised cases simply decreasing) smoking, alcohol, drugs, some medications and caffeine. And without sounding too blunt - this really is the start of a lifetime of selfless, sacrificial, healthy choices that you are going to have make all the way through motherhood (not just pregnancy), because once that little bundle enters the world - it is not all about you anymore.
We've spoken about the importance of Folate/Folic Acid during pregnancy, but what about all the other food groups and nutrients our growing, changing body (and baby) needs?
- The best way to stay healthy during pregnancy is to eat as fresh and as a natural as possible. This way you are not over-consuming salty, sugary, processed meals; which can create havoc on your digestive system, overall wellbeing and your baby's development. To achieve this, simply ensure you are consuming a good dose of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Swap the packaged or greasy takeaway lunch for a homemade salad with some nuts/seeds and a boiled egg or some tinned tuna. When a sugar craving hits - go for a piece of fruit or a small square of dark cocoa chocolate. A squirt of honey and cut up fruit on some good quality yoghurt is another way to fill up, beat sweet cravings and snag some nutrients.
- Ensure you're getting a decent dose of iron during your pregnancy. Iron deficiency is commonly diagnosed in pregnant women. Good iron levels allow your red blood cells to efficiently carry oxygen around your body; resulting in a healthy and strong placenta. Keep up your iron levels through red meat consumption, leafy green vegetables (such as; kale, spinach, broccoli, beans, avocado), wholegrains, legumes and tofu.
- Increasing your protein is also recommended during pregnancy as it supplies the strength and building blocks for your unborn baby. Protein is found in meats, nuts, soya, eggs, dairy, beans and lentils. Simply add some nuts, beans and lentils as a side to your nightly meal to ensure your protein levels are up. (2 eggs with baby spinach and avocado on wholegrain bread with a handful of nuts (cashews and walnuts) was my staple breakfast during my 2nd pregnancy...easiest way to start the day with a dose of filling and nourishing protein.)
- A daily supplementary prenatal vitamin is also recommended (remember it's required to supplement, not replace a balanced diet)
We're also told to avoid several foods due to the risks they bring to you and your baby. The main reason is due to their high possibility of Listeria Poisoning (a common bacterium) found in uncooked, raw or rare foods. This poisoning can make you (and your baby) very ill with flu-like symptoms, urinary tract infections and sometimes a lot worse - increasing the chance of miscarriage, premature birth and immune breakdown.
Some of these foods to avoid are:
- uncooked fish & seafood (including sushi)
- cold deli meats (ham, cold chicken etc)
- soft serve ice-cream
- raw pate
- soft cheeses (brie, camembert, blue cheese)
- raw eggs
Smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol should also be avoided during pregnancy. And even caffeine should be decreased to around 200mg/day (which is approximately 2 mugs of instant coffee) and be mindful that lots of foods and other processed options can contain doses of caffeine (such as Coke, energy drinks, chocolate bars and flavoured milks).
Avoid crash diets and guilt-ridden-withdrawals during pregnancy, and simply focus on eating balanced, variety-packed , nutritious options that your growing baby will benefit from.
Hey, what do they say? Happy baby = Happy Mummy! So true.
Eat up Mummas.
You may also like:
- Dealing with Aches & Pains During Pregnancy
- Green Smoothies to Drink During Pregnancy
- Sleeping Well During Pregnancy
- Avoiding and Treating Stretch Marks