Your Pregnancy & Nutrition


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Providing your body with the many different nutrients it needs is doubly important during a pregnancy, when you are effectively eating for two. A developing foetus needs certain materials to grow as it should, and as such there is plenty of information on the internet and from other sources (your midwife for example) about what you should eat while pregnant to ensure your own health and that of your foetus.

What should I be eating when pregnant?

The same principles of healthy nutrition that apply to day-to-day life apply to pregnancies, albeit with some slight modifications. You should make sure that you are eating a variety of foods that encompass the essential food groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, and (healthy!) fats. Water is sometimes ignored in discussions about nutrition, but maintaining adequate hydration is absolutely vital to both general and pregnant health.

Carbohydrates

Healthy carbohydrates are usually classed as wholegrain foods like bread, rice, and pasta. Vegetables and fruits are also healthy sources of some carbohydrates. Some foods are rich in less healthy carbohydrates, and these are sugar rich foods like chocolates, while these are not harmful in small amounts, they should be eaten sparingly.

Protein

Protein is an important component of any diet, despite the misconception that eating lots of protein is only for body builders and athletes. Proteins are made up of basic components called amino acids which are used by your body for all kinds of different processes, and as such are a critical part of healthy nutrition. Proteins are found in a number of animal and vegetable sources, under the former, poultry, fish, and red meat are all great sources of a rich variety of amino acids. A number of plant products are also rich in proteins, including, for example, lentils, quinoa, nuts like peanuts and almonds, soy, and tofu.

Fats

Fats are actually widely misconceived as a ‘bad’ element of food, while in fact certain fats are actually absolutely critical to your health. While it is true that saturated fats and the like which are found in abundance in a number of fast foods and desserts, there are fats rich in what are called essential fatty acids which are an important part of a healthy diet. Great examples are the Omega fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 found in fish, which are part of a group of healthier fats called poly-unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in abundance in nuts, plant oils, and oily fish.

Generally speaking animal sources of fat are not healthy, which is why many health sources suggest poultry as the major source of animal protein in your diet. Poultry is considerably leaner than red meat and pork, although lean cuts of these meats can be procured and are recommended for health reasons.

Supplements during pregnancy

Asides from all the basics of a healthy diet discussed above, there are a number of particular vitamins and minerals which would be good to supplement for the purposes of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It is often recommended that you supplement vitamin D and folic acid if you aren’t getting enough of these substances in your diet. Both are important components when it comes to foetal development, particularly folic acid which is known to be an essential part of a foetus’ neurological development. It is recommended that you take about 400 micrograms of folic acid during the early part of your pregnancy (preferably from before you actually become pregnant to about 12 weeks in).

Iron is also a recommended supplement, although it is abundant in a range of foods including meats and green vegetables. Because of the stresses your body can undergo as part of a pregnancy, iron intake is very important to preventing anaemia. Anaemia occurs as a consequence of iron deficiency as iron is vital to maintaining healthy blood cell function, and hence your health and well being. Vitamin C is important in the context of iron, as a healthy amount of vitamin C in your diet allows you to better absorb iron during your diet.


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