Nutrition in Pregnancy: What to Eat.

Diet in pregnancy is key. What you eat in that time will influence the growth and development of baby not only whilst it is in your womb but for the rest of it’s life. It is therefore a pretty big responsibilty to eat well isn’t it. Research shows us the risk of chronic diseases can be influenced this early on by the mum’s diet – we are talking type 2 diabetes, obesity and some inflammatory diseases, so it’s pretty important stuff. Your baby’s tastes can also be influenced by what you are eating, which makes sense seeing as they are getting their nutrition from you. Here are some top tips on how to ensure your diet is well balanced and keeps both mum and baby in tip top condition.

Nutrition in Pregnancy -What to Eat.

Eating for 2?
A myth, sadly! You actually don’t need to eat as much extra as you may think when pregnanct. Many people I meet use pregnancy as a chance to over indulge. It’s almost a green light for chocolate and biscuits. However the body actually adapts in pregnancy by either absorbing more from food or by decreasing the amount of nutrients lost. It’s a very clever system, which means you don’t need to be eating much more at all when pregnant. For example non-haem iron (from plant sources) is absorbed better and less iron is lost as menstruation does not occur in pregnancy. For some nutrients such as calcium the increased amount needed for the baby is met extra calcium being released from the mum’s bones.

You will need the equivalent of an extra slice of toast and a banana in the last trimester of pregnancy, but that is about all. The best thing is to eat according to appetite, sticking to healthy, nutritious foods. It is also good to not deprive yourself, so the odd treat is still allowed! I used to have a soft spot for Crunchie’s when pregnant 😉

Key nutrients to focus on are:
Folate – extra 400µg per day for first 12 weeks of pregnancy and during conception.
Vitamin D – 10µg per day throughout pregnancy
Vitamin C – extra 10µg/day in last trimester
Vitamin A – caution, 100µg/day only, some vitamin supplements will be unsuitable in pregnancy as they contain too much Vitamin A.

Iron – eat plenty of iron rich foods. Good sources are red meat, green leafy veggies, dried fruit, beans and pulses, nuts, seeds and fortified breakfast cereals. Try a lentil bolognaise with plenty of green veggies or make some hummus with chickpeas and tahini.

Calcium – include good sources of this 3-4 times a day (yoghurt, milk, ovaltine, ready brek, dried fruit, rice pudding, custard, sesame seeds, gree leafy vegetables, fish with small bones). Why not make a smoothie with fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Omega 3’s – eat 1 x 140g portion of oily fish per week – salmon, fresh tuna, haddock, trout, mackerel, pilchards, kippers and sardines. You could make a fish pate or try sardines in tomato sauce on a baked potato.

Plan to Eat:
At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day
Starchy carbohydrates at each meal – focus on wholegrains
Iron rich foods each day
3-4 calcium foods a day (yoghurt, milk, cheese, rice pudding, custard, sesame seeds, green leafy veggies, ready brek)
Oily fish once a week
Lean protein daily

The Stout truth about Iron in Pregnancy

Iron-deficiency anaemia. It’s not much fun, especially when you are pregnant. Unfortunately it’s also not unsual, and many have it in the third trimester. I was anaemia with in y first pregnancy, the sheer horridness of the iron tablets has sent me scuttling for the green leafy vegetables this pregnancy. What I’ve discovered working with pregnant ladies is how little sensible advice is given on this topic, so here is some from me 😉

Top Foods to eat for Iron content:

  • Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Egg yolks
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – spinach, swiss chard, watercress, curly kale.
  • Dried fruit – prunes, raisins, figs, apricots.
  • Breakfast cereals that are enriched with Iron.
  • Beans, lentils, chickpeas and other pulses.
  • Sardines
  • Tofu

Top Tips:

  1. If you eat iron-rich foods along with foods that provide plenty of vitamin C, your body can better absorb the iron.
  2. Phytates : Oxalates in spinach and phytates found in wholegrains, brans and legumes (soy beans, split peas, lentils and dried beans) inhibit the absorption of iron
  3. Tannin: Avoid drinking tea, coffee & cola drinks withmeals as they decrease the amount of iron absorbed.

The Myth: In 1759 Arthur Guinness first began to brew his famous Irish stout, over the years a lot of clever marketing went on and a few myths were created. As much as I’d like to encourage pregnant ladies to have a little stout now and again I’m afraid the iron content really isn’t worth writing home about. A pint of Guinness contains 0.3mg of iron, less than three per cent of daily adult needs. That means, you’d need to drink 15 pints of Guinness to get the same amount of iron as two Weetabix. So ladies, stay away from the Guiness, it will not help with anaemia. Sorry.   guinness is good for you Supplements: If you feel your iron levels are low (common symptoms include tiredness, looking pale and feeling washed out) then ask your midwife or GP to check your iron levels via a blood test. There are iron tablets that can be prescribed or you can increase your intake of iron containing foods, or look for a natural supplement like Spatone. I hope that helps! Pregnancy is a tiring time anyway, so it can be hard to tell if you have low iron levels, but it’s always worth keeping your iron topped up through plenty of iron rich foods just in case.