Nutrition during pregnancy

Nutrition during pregnancy
Pregnancy is one of the most nutritionally demanding times in a woman’s life.
During pregnancy a woman’s body changes dramatically and she needs to
support the growth and development of her baby. It is important that during
pregnancy, you get all nutrients you need to support the growth of your baby
and the maintenance of your own body. By continuing to eat a balanced diet,
with foods from all of the main food groups, you will be helping to ensure the
optimal growth and development of your baby.
However, while you may be ‘eating
for two’, this does not mean you get
to literally eat enough for two people;
so hold the chips and chocolate! In
reality a pregnant woman will require
an additional 1400kJ during her
second trimester. In the 3rd trimester,
energy requirements increase by a
further 500kJ. A woman of a healthy
weight pre-pregnancy is expected to
put on about 11.5kg – 16kg during
the pregnancy, to support the optimal
growth of her baby.
During pregnancy your needs for certain nutrients are increased to ensure
that you meet the nutrients required for the development of your baby and to
meet your own requirements. If you do not get enough of a nutrient to support
the development of your baby, you will begin to draw upon your body’s stores.
What you need more of:
• Folate: Low folate levels are linked to birth defects, such as spina
bifida. Folate is a B-group vitamin that plays an important role in cell
division – so it is a vital nutrient during pregnancy to help your baby to
develop properly. Folate is of key importance during the 1st trimester of
pregnancy, when some women may not realise they are pregnant.
Therefore, if you are planning to become pregnant it is recommended
that you should take 600µg of folate every day. Good sources of folate
include green vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes and folate fortified
• Iron: Your requirements for iron increase greatly during pregnancy.
This is because your blood volume increases and it is needed to
support the growth of your baby. Iron is important for building red blood
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cells and for carrying oxygen around your body and your baby’s. It is
also important for the development of your baby’s brain. Iron deficiency
anaemia can occur during pregnancy so it is important that you have a
good iron intake to help prevent this from occurring. Iron from meat
(haem iron) is absorbed better than iron from plant sources (non-haem
iron). However, eating foods rich in vitamin C, can improve absorption
of non-haem iron. Good sources of iron include lean red meat, chicken
seafood, fish, green leafy vegetables, legumes and dried fruit.
Iodine: Iodine is another nutrient, which is needed for your babies brain
development. Unfortunately since our NZ soils are low in iodine, our
fruit and vegetables aren’t particularly good sources of this nutrient.
Good sources of iodine include iodised salt, fish, seafood, dairy
products and eggs.
Fibre: Fibre, a form of carbohydrate, provides bulk, which helps to keep
the digestive tract functioning effectively and relieves constipation.
Constipation can be a problem during pregnancy, because the
digestive system slows down. Good sources of fibre include wholegrain
breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables.
Other important nutrients:
Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium. It occurs in two
forms. One is made in the body by the action of sunlight on skin and
the other is found naturally in a limited range of foods.
Calcium: Calcium is essential for the
development of healthy bones and
teeth of your baby. Your baby gets
the calcium it needs from your diet or
from your body, where it is stored in
your bones and teeth. While your
calcium requirements do not change
from before you were pregnant, it is
now crucial to ensure that you are
getting enough. Pregnant women
should take in 1000mg of calcium
every day. This equates to about 3
serves of dairy (i.e. 1 pottle or
yoghurt, 1 200ml glass of milk or 2
slices (40g) cheese).
DHA: Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is an
omega-3 fatty acid. It is needed to
support the overall mental and visual
development of baby. Good sources of
DHA include oily fish such as salmon,
tuna, herring or sardines. However, do
not eat raw varieties of these fish and
limit consumption of fresh fish to no more
than 3 times per week.
142 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1021
PO Box 78171, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1245
(09) 376 8384 or (021) 891 073
[email protected]
What to avoid:
During pregnancy it is important to avoid eating certain foods to reduce your
risk of listeria. Listeria is a food borne bacteria, which can cause miscarriage
or stillbirth. Foods to avoid include:
Ham or chilled meats,
Raw, smoked fish or seafood
Stored salads or coleslaws
Sushi that contains raw fish or
is not made fresh
Unpasteurized milk
Surface ripened cheese
Marinated mussel
Raw eggs
It is also important to limit/avoid the consumption of:
• Alcohol: It is not recommended you drink alcohol while you are
pregnant; when you drink, the baby does too. The full effects on your
baby are unknown but alcohol could affect brain development.
• School shark, swordfish, marlin and trout in geothermal regions: These
types of fish are best avoided during pregnancy due to their high
mercury content. High mercury intakes are unsafe for your baby.
• Liver: While liver is an excellent source of iron; it is recommended that
it not be eaten any more than once per week, to avoid vitamin A
Tips to help combat morning sickness:
Avoid strong-flavored foods
Keep a package of dry crackers at your bedside and have some before
you get out of bed
Space your meals throughout the day and drink plenty of water
between meals
Limit high-fat foods
Have a small snack before bed that’s high in protein, such as peanut
butter and crackers
Have a ginger herbal tea. Ginger helps alleviate nausea.
142 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1021
PO Box 78171, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1245
(09) 376 8384 or (021) 891 073
[email protected]