nutritional wellbeing in pregnancy
By Melanie Koeman, Director, Sydney Health & Fertility. Nutritionist & Herbalist Specialising in Reproductive Health. Developed to support the clients of Limitless Health & Fitness.
We know that some simple dietary changes can greatly improve the chances of having a healthy baby. Poor nutrition before and during pregnancy has lifelong effects on the growth and development of your baby. Its more important to eat wisely during this time than practically any other time in your life.
Quality versus Quantity
Whilst your calorie needs have increased somewhat (by about 20%), your nutrient needs have in some cases doubled or tripled! Therefore the old saying‚ eating for two, is not quite correct. From conception to the end of the first trimester your embryo increases 2 million times in mass and completely forms ALL its vital organs. So it makes sense to put excellent nutrition in place BEFORE conception for this critical period.
A healthy diet throughout pregnancy can often be difficult. Morning sickness, low energy levels and food cravings can make meal choice difficult. But the Nutritional Wellbeing mindset gives you a simple and healthy approach to making decisions about food. Trust your intuition. What goes into your mouth should be consciously chosen for the health of you and baby.
You may well have individual health needs that require professional assessment and prescription. Some of these include
- If youre significantly overweight you will need fewer calories and need to restrict your weight gain to 5-7kg. Your nutrient demands will also be quite different.
- If youre significantly underweight, youll need to eat more and gain more weight (12-20kg) over the pregnancy.
- If youre a teenager whos still growing, youll need more nutrition (such as calcium) for the two of you.
- If youre expecting multiples, youll have additional nutrition needs of course!
- If you develop gestational diabetes or have pre-existing diabetes, your diet will most likely be planned with the help of a registered dietitian with an emphasis on whole foods and a consistent amount of carbohydrates at each meal. Youll closely monitor your blood sugar levels and communicate regularly with your healthcare team.
- If you are an athlete you may have entered pregnancy with specific nutritional deficiencies or demands.
- If you have a short space between pregnancies (less than 1 year between birth of one and conception of the next), you may not have repleted your nutritional reserves, especially if you breastfed.
- If you experienced a previous pregnancy with complications such as premature labour, pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure, a low birth weight baby, a baby with a birth defect or postnatal depression/anxiety you will benefit from extra nutritional supplementation.
More Than Food Alone
Fact: We cannot expect to get all the nutrients we (and our baby) need through diet alone. It is very clear now that supplementation with micronutrients is an essential part of pregnancy (and pre-pregnancy) care. This is NOT just folate. Research shows that a multivitamin & mineral approach provides better outcomes for mums and bubs.
* Zerfu TA, Avele HT. Nutrition Journal; 2013,12:20.
This is because no one nutrient acts in isolation in the body, nutrients support each other in all physiological processes (eg. folate needs B6 & B12 to work more effectively). Also, if one nutrient deficiency is identified then there are likely others yet to be detected. Common nutritional deficiencies in pregnancy include: Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Zinc, Iodine and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Oat porridge or oat muesli or bircher muesli.Quinoa or brown rice porridge.Natural yoghurt + puffed amaranth or oat flakes + seeds + LSA + chia seeds + fruit.Burgen bread/ spelt / kamut / buckwheat / rye toast with avocado / eggs / tahini and banana / almond butter / cottage cheese and tomato / sardines.Eggs (scrambled, omelettes, poached) with lots of veggies and wholegrain toast.Breakfast smoothies Milk (try almond, oat, soy) with psyllium + oat bran + fruit + natural yoghurt + LSA+ chia seeds.
Fruit and yoghurt (Vaalia, Jalna, Barimbah).Veggie sticks with mashed avocado / cottage cheese / hommus.Smoothies see breakfast.Carmens muesli bars.Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds.Wholegrain crackers with avocado / almond butter / cottage cheese and tomato / tahini and honey.Plain rice crackers, plain corn chips with guacamole or hommus.Toast x1 with cottage cheese / avocado / nut butters.Freshly pressed veggie/fruit juice with a handful of nuts.
lunch and dinner
Open sandwiches Burgen bread / spelt / kamut bread or wraps with salmon / chicken / boiled eggs / hommus / cottage cheese (protein) and LOTS of salads.BIG salads (greens, alfalfa, avocado, tomato, cucumber, carrots, capsicum, beetroot, sweet potato) + protein (chicken, turkey, boiled eggs, seeds, tofu, beans, chickpeas, lentils) + brown rice or quinoa.Crackers Ryvita, vitawheats, corn thins, corn cruskits, rice thins or buckwheat crackers with toppings protein and salads.Brown rice, fried rice with chicken and veggies.Grilled, stir-fry, casserole, stew, roasts and marinated proteins (chicken, fish, prawns, turkey, red meat) with loads of veggies / salads .Soups with lentils or chick peas.Burgers Lamb or lentil with minted yoghurt and salad on a wrap.Pizza on wholegrain Lebanese wraps- easy on the cheese, lots veggies.Wholegrain/spelt/kamut Pasta with LOTS of veggies and chicken.Roast veggies (pumpkin, sweet potato, potato, beetroot) with chick peas and goats cheese.Fritatta with side salad.