Pregnancy and Nutrition
‘Pregnancy and nutrition’ is vitally important for you and your child’s health. You need to learn how you should eat, what to avoid, what not to do during pregnancy to avoid complications down the track.
You may feel sick and nauseous within the first weeks of pregnancy and you may not fancy eating anything at all. Later on your appetite may increase slowly.
Pregnancy and Nutrition Guidelines:
• Increase intake of folic acid and iron. Take a folic acid supplement of 400mg per day the first three months of pregnancy and before you conceive. You may need to take an iron supplement later on in pregnancy, you will be advised by your doctor or midwife about how much you need.
• It may make sense to have small frequent meals as your baby will be hungry even if you are not.
• Take an antenatal mineral-vitamin supplement to be able to meet your nutritional needs, but please check with your doctor.
• Increase calorie intake slightly as the pregnancy progresses.
• Make the transition to eating nutritious and well-balanced meals. Limit junk food as it offers nothing more than extra unhealthy calories: Have a banana instead of an ice cream, but you can still have an occasional treat, no need to feel guilty.
• Do not go on a diet when you are pregnant.
• Eat when you are hungry and frequent small meals throughout the day. Your doctor will monitor your weight and advise what you will need to eat so no need to worry about changing your appetite.
What Not to Eat During Pregnancy:
• You should not eat shark, swordfish and marlin during pregnancy and breast feeding as they contain high levels of mercury, which can affect the nervous system development of your child.
• Tuna is also likely to contain some level of mercury so only two portions of fresh tuna or no more than four medium size cans of tuna as there is less mercury in canned tuna.
• However, do not take fish off your diet completely as fish contains proteins, minerals, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
• Avoid cheeses like brie, camembert, stilton that may contain listeria that could harm your baby.
• Raw seafood, pate, liver, liver sausage, undercooked meat, eggs and poultry should all be avoided as they may contain harmful bacteria that could possibly harm the baby.
• Cut down on caffeine as it may increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. It makes sense to switch to decaf drinks.
Pregnancy and Nutrition : Low GI Diet
It is OK to eat lower glycemic index foods during pregnancy as long as you get enough calcium, iron, folic acid and other vitamins and minerals. GI Diet recommends eating foods that are nutritious and that will not cause sudden spikes in your blood stream.
It is about eating healthier foods, it is not a fad diet and is not in favor of cutting back on foods. You can eat a great variety of foods on a low GI Diet.
A study from Australia suggests you may have healthier babies on a low glycemic diet. Given that maternal glucose is the main sourde of nutrition for fetal growth, the GI of a pregnant woman’s diet can be expected to play a role in fetal health.
62 pregnant women were instructed to either eat plenty of low GI foods or high fibre with moderate to high glycemic index. Babies born to women on high GI diet were heavier and higher ponderal index- a measure of weight in relation to length. Women said they had easier time following the low GI diet.
“Because birth weight and ponderal index predict long-term risk of obesity and chronic disease, a low-glycemic index diet in pregnancy may favourably influence long-term outcomes,” the researchers write.
Low GI diet in pregnancy may help babies: http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/ Low-GI-diet-in-pregnancy-may-help-babies/ 2006/11/01/ 1162339905567.html American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2006: Pregnancy and Nutrition.
COT. 2003. Updated COT statement on a survey of mercury in fish and shellfish. Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment. www.food.gov.uk.
DH. 2004. Thinking of having a baby: Folic acid – an essential ingredient in making babies. London: Department of health. www.dh.gov.uk.
http://www.babycentre.co.uk/ pregnancy and nutrition/diethealthypregnancy/.