Pregnancy and Nutrition
If you are pregnant, you are no doubt already aware of the vital importance that you ensure you receive good nutrition for yourself and your baby throughout the term.
Pregnancy is a fantastic time to stop and consider your lifestyle factors, to give you and your unborn baby the very best chance to remain healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Good nutrition is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your baby develops well. It’s also a key factor as to how well your body copes during your pregnancy.
It is a great idea to visit a qualified nutritionist and dietitian in the early stages of your pregnancy, to help educate you about you and your baby’s needs during this time, and to tailor a plan that will suit you and your tastes and lifestyle – especially if this is your first pregnancy.
If you follow a restricted diet such as a vegan diet, if you have food allergies, are overweight or underweight, or if you are a teenager or are a little older, then it’s all the more important that you educate yourself on how to stay healthy during your pregnancy.
Likewise, in relation to weight gain during your pregnancy, it’s wise to know what to expect, and how to keep your weight gain within a healthy range.
Weight gain during pregnancy is natural and healthy, but there is a fairly wide variation as to what’s considered ‘normal’. If you are a normal healthy weight at the beginning of your pregnancy, you should expect to gain approx. 11.5 -15 kg over the term. If you are underweight, you would want to try and put on extra weight, whereas if you are overweight, it’s generally advisable to gain a little less weight.
Foods containing high fat or sugar content are never really healthy, but this is especially true during pregnancy, so it’s important that you eat a balanced diet of good foods that don’t contain too many ’empty’ calories.
Food safety and hygiene is also a very important thing to watch out for when you are pregnant. Listeria Monocytgenes is a bacteria that can harbour in foods, which, if eaten, can seriously threaten your baby.
Uncooked, smoked or pre-cooked fish or seafood products are the main culprits to avoid, as are pate, chicken, ham, meat products, and other foods such as some dairy products and cheeses. In fact, even salads or other foods stored in the fridge can have Listeria growing in them, making them dangerous for pregnant women to eat.
Calcium, iron and folate are some of the most important nutrients you need when pregnant. An accredited dietitian and nutritionist can give you the proper information on which foods are safe to eat for pregnant women, and which ones are best avoided – as well as alternatives for non-dairy eaters.
A balanced diet is of paramount importance when pregnant. Eating at regular intervals, with a good mix of foods throughout the day, is usually the best answer. Foods in your diet while pregnant should be a variety, taken from the main food groups in a balanced ratio, but you also need to make sure you are getting all the right vitamins and minerals.
Nutritional supplements in the form of tablets can be tricky, as some are essential, but can be toxic when taken in the wrong doses. More is not always better when it comes to vitamins and minerals in supplement form – and when you are pregnant, it is especially important to get the quantities right.
You may find that you get fairly hungry during the different stages of your pregnancy, and that you may need to eat in between main meals. You may even have cravings.
At other times during your pregnancy, you might experience the exact opposite – a loss of appetite or the inability to eat, due to heartburn, or the growth of your baby.
In this case, it’s important to have some options up your sleeve, in the form of well-planned snacks that you can have on hand to eat throughout the day, which will still give you the energy and nutrition you need – without being too high in fat or sugar.
Fluids, of course, are also important – and you need to drink more than usual when pregnant. A dietitian can help you monitor if you are drinking enough water by educating you on some signs you can look out for, such as the colour of your urine.
Growing babies don’t thrive on alcohol or coffee. Caffeine in any form should be strictly limited or even eliminated from the diet. As for alcohol, even small amounts of alcohol consumed during pregnancy is linked with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause intellectual impairment in the baby. The general rule of thumb, because of this, is to consume no alcohol while pregnant.
At around week 28 of your pregnancy, you may be diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes Mellitis. This is where a food plan from a dietitian is really important, in order to get the balance right.
Visiting a dietitian can be an excellent way to inform yourself of the vitamins and minerals that you need, how to deal with cravings and what they can indicate, and how to obtain the right nutrition through food – basically, to educate yourself on how to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Why not book an appointment to visit us at Sydney Nutrition today?