Nutrition in Pregnancy

Posted on October 1, 2010 - 4:46pm
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In modern society – with so many processed foods readily available, women working through their pregnancies, and having babies later on in life- times have changed- and so have our diets. It can be harder now than ever before to get a balanced diet: with time restraints influencing our eating habits- generally in the wrong direction. Adequate nutrition is vital for you, and for your baby’s development. There are many benefits to a nutritious diet for your baby, including increased immune functioning, mental alertness, and correct birth size.

With so much information available on what to eat during your pregnancy- sometimes it can get a little overwhelming, confusing and even guilt inducing when trying manage diets during pregnancy. However, if you follow a nutritious diet, avoid a few simple things, and load up on others- you will be on the way to a happy and healthy baby (and Mum!)

Some things to avoid…
Whilst there is a lot of debate on what is especially good for you during pregnancy, there is agreement by obstetricians, dietitians and government health organizations alike, about the foods that are best avoided while pregnant. Raw, rare and uncooked meats and soft cheeses can be harmful to your baby during pregnancy. They can often contain the bacterias salmonella and listeria, and the taxoplamosis parasite.

Listeria is a particularly common bacterium. Whilst not usually life threatening to an adult, it poses threat to a developing baby. High-risk foods for listeria are:

  • Raw fish and seafood, such as sushi and ready-to-peel prawns
  • Undercooked meat
  • Cold cooked meats- chicken, ham
  • Soft cheeses- brie, camembert, blue cheese, feta, ricotta
  • Pressed meats- salami, pate, uncooked smoked fish
  • Soft serve ice-cream

Some things to minimise…

The National Health and Medical research council recommends that if you are pregnant (or planning on becoming pregnant) then it is best advised that no alcohol is consumed. Alcohol passes through the placenta, and can cause developmental risks to your baby.

During Pregnancy, caffeine consumption should be kept to below 200mg/day. This equates to 2 mugs of instant coffee or tea, or one cup of filtered coffee per day.

Healthy Eating

The Food Standards Agency advises a diet similar to that of a regular healthy diet, with a few changes in place for pregnancy.

Your protein needs will increase during pregnancy, as you are supplying the building blocks for your growing baby, as well as yourself. It is vital for growth and repair, as well as production of hormones and antibodies. It is recommended that you increase your protein by about 13% when pregnant – approximately 51g per day. Good sources of protein include meat, soya, beans, lentils, nuts, eggs and dairy.

Vitamins and minerals
Folic acid belongs to the b-group vitamins, which means they are water soluble, and important to have each day. Folate can be found in its natural form in green vegetables, chickpeas and brown rice, or alternatively in a vitamin supplement.  When pregnant, the Food Standards Agency recommends you increase normal limits up to 400 micrograms per day.
Benefits of folic acid include: formation of healthy red blood cells and reduced risk of neural tube defects in unborn babies.

Iron deficiency is common in pregnancy, as you may well know. Eating a balanced diet including high iron items such as red meat, leafy greens, pulses and wholegrain bread will help boost this, or iron supplements can be taken. Liver is high in iron- however, should be avoided due to its high vitamin A content-which in large doses can be harmful to your baby.
Dr Morris will test your iron throughout your pregnancy, and you will be informed of a course of action if it is below normal levels.

Another helpful resource for nutrition in pregnancy is the NSW Food Authority website. Please find the link here.

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