There’s a bun in your oven - how exciting!
We know you’ll want to be doing everything you can to help that little one grow in the healthiest environment possible. So what fuel do you need to keep your baby thriving?
The first myth to get out of the way is that mums-to-be should eat for two.
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, during pregnancy, energy requirements do increase compared to when you’re not pregnant - but they don’t double.
The most important thing to remember is to choose healthy and nutritious foods and see a Dietitian if you’re unsure or think you’re gaining more weight than recommended.
The Department of Health says when it comes to the ideal weight gain in pregnancy, this differs for every woman and depends on her pre-pregnancy weight.
A very slight or underweight woman could ideally put on 12.5 - 18kgs during her pregnancy.
A woman of normal weight or a BMI of 18 to 25 would ideally want to keep her weight gain to between 11.5 and 16 kilos.
A woman with a very high BMI should try to gain only 7-11 kilos and obese women should look to keep their weight gain restricted to between 5-9 kilograms.
If you are carrying twins or triplets it is normal to put on more weight, so speak to your doctor.
The hormonal changes in pregnancy are responsible for vomiting and nausea particularly in early pregnancy.
Also, the increase in the size of the uterus as the pregnancy progresses means less room for the stomach. Gut motility slows down during pregnancy and the stomach emptying time is increased.
Try not to use morning sickness as an excuse for unhealthy or processed foods, instead aim for small meals rather than two or three large meals.
Best pregnancy food
Australian Dietary Guidelines state a sensible, healthy diet including lots of fruit and vegetables is recommended.
Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five food groups every day:
- Plenty of vegetables of different types and colours, and legumes/beans
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat
- Plenty of water is another very important part of a pregnancy diet and up to 1.5 litres per day is recommended.
What to avoid
Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest pregnant women limit their intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.
- Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks.
- Replace high fat foods which contain predominately saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominately polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado
- Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added salt
- Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods
- Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table
- Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks.
The Australian Department of Health says for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, the safest option is to not drink alcohol at all. Even a small amount of alcohol can harm an unborn baby’s development and have lifelong effects.
If you’re worried about your alcohol intake while pregnant, talk to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician.
A pregnancy supplement that includes the recommended levels of folate, iodine and iron is also important to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Chat to your local Ramsay Pharmacist to learn more about which supplement is right for you.
You can also boost your nutrient intake through your diet.
Folate rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables.
Iron rich foods include lean meat, fish tofu, legumes/beans/lentils, nuts and seeds, and green leafy vegetables. Eating iron rich foods with vitamin C helps increase absorption.
Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, capsicum & strawberries.
Omega 3s can be boosted by consuming oily fish and seaweed, while flaxseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts are some good plant-based sources.
If a mother does not eat seafood, or follows a vegan or vegetarian diet, they should consult a dietitian about getting enough nutrients.
When it comes to healthy fats, it’s best to choose plant based fats over animal fats. For example, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.