In this blog, I hope to make nutrition and pregnancy as simple as possible to guide you through your pregnancy and ensuring you are getting all the nutrients you need.
What’s the nutrition 101 when it comes to pregnancy?
For all healthy people, pregnant or not, a balanced diet consists of a few different things.
Fruits and veggies are needed for vitamins, minerals and because they are a great source of fibre also. We should aim for around 6-9 portions of fruit and veggies daily. A portion of fruit or veggies is about 70g-80g or a handful. Try to use fruit and veggies as your snacks throughout the day and/or bulk up your meals with lots of veggies to fill you up and get those nutrients in.
Protein is needed for growth and repair. Some sources of protein include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, peas, beans, lentils, etc. It is important to have different sources of protein in the body. About one third of your plate should be made up of protein sources. Aim for 2 portions of fish a week (1 portion of oily fish). Ensure fish is cooked thoroughly. Also, avoiding liver as it contains too much vitamin A which can be quite harming in pregnancy.
*** If morning sickness seems to be getting the better of you, sometimes a glass of milk can be the best thing as it provides a source of protein, calcium and keeps you hydrated also.
Wholegrains such as oats, wholemeal rice, pasta and bread, sweet potato etc. can provide us with B vitamins, slow-release energy and fibre also. This should also take up one third of your plate to keep you full of energy for the whole day.
Drinking plenty of water is always extremely important in and out of pregnancy.
Folic acid: In Ireland, the policy implemented recommends women of childbearing age to consume 400mcg per day of folic acid, even if not planning on becoming pregnant. Statistics show that there is a lack of consumption of folic acid from child-bearing women in Ireland.
Vitamin D: Women are also advised to take 10mcg of vitamin D per day to reduce rickets in offspring.
A diet high in folate is also recommended. You can obtain folate from foods such as spinach and kale, as well as fortified breads and cereals.
What foods and drink should I try to avoid during pregnancy?
Alcohol: This should be avoided completely as it can have long-term detrimental effects on the growing foetus. Use of alcohol may result in behavioural problems and learning difficulties. There are many risks to consuming alcohol when pregnant, so cutting it out completely is recommended during pregnancy.
Caffeine: It is recommended that women who are pregnant do not consume more than 200mg of caffeine per day. This can be difficult as all shop bought coffee is different and some can contain 100mg of caffeine, and others, 400mg. This is where we need to be slightly more mindful.
Cheese: Most cheeses are fine to have whilst pregnant. Although, some need to be avoided completely due to containing a bacteria called ‘listeria’ which can be harmful to babies. These cheeses include mould ripened soft cheeses, like brie, camembert, and chevre. Also blue cheeses like gorgonzola, Danish blue, and Roquefort. All unpasteurised dairy products should also be avoided.
Eggs: Boiled or scrambled eggs are recommended as these are well cooked. Cook your eggs as well as possible to avoid salmonella poisoning.
Meat and Fish: Cook your meat and fish well. There are some fish you will need to avoid. When it comes to fish, it is a great source of protein, minerals and vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. However, shark, swordfish, or marlin as they have a higher mercury content than other fish. Tuna is safe, although should be limited to around 4 cans per week. Oily fish such as tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring should be limited to 2 portions a week due to pollutants. White fish such as cod and haddock do not need to be limited.
Hopefully this blog on nutrition during pregnancy can help mummy and baby be their happiest and healthiest.