As soon as you find out you’re pregnant naturally you will start to consider more what foods and nutrients are going into your body to prepare you well for pregnancy and birth and to support your rapidly growing and developing baby.
First, let’s start with the food best avoided during pregnancy and why.
During pregnancy, your requirements for vitamins and minerals increases. The developing foetus draws these nutrients iron from you to last it through the first five or six months after birth.
You need to ensure you increase the following dietary requirements
You need to eat iron-rich foods every day, such as meat, chicken, seafood, dried beans and lentils, and green leafy vegetables.Animal sources of iron are readily absorbed by the body. Iron from plant sources is not absorbed as easily, but absorption is helped when these foods are eaten together with foods that contain vitamin C (such as oranges). This is important for women who follow a vegetarian diet.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg a day (9 mg a day more than for non-pregnant women). Iron deficiency during pregnancy is common in Australia, and iron supplements may be needed by some women. It is important to discuss your need for supplements with your Doctor, as iron can be toxic (poisonous) in large amounts.
(known as folic acid when added to foods) is a B-group vitamin found in a variety of foods. Folic acid helps protect against neural tube defects in the developing foetus, so it is important for you to make sure that they are receiving enough of this important vitamin.
Excellent food sources of folate include asparagus, bran flakes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chick peas, dried beans, lentils and spinach.
For women who are planning a pregnancy, and during the first three months of pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid is recommended, as well as eating foods that are naturally rich in folate or are fortified with folic acid.
Iodine is an important mineral needed for the production of thyroid hormone, which is important for growth and development. Inadequate iodine intake during pregnancy increases the risk of mental impairment and cretinism in the newborn baby.
Foods that are good sources of iodine include seafood and seaweed (including nori and kelp), eggs, meat and dairy products. Iodised salt also includes iodine. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have increased iodine requirements. Iodine supplementation of 150 micrograms per day is recommended for women planning a pregnancy, throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
– Although vitamin A requirements do increase during pregnancy, vitamin A supplements are rarely recommended for pregnant women. This is because an excessive intake of vitamin A may cause birth deformities.
– The best way to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin A is through food sources like milk, fish, eggs and margarine.
Multivitamin supplements may be recommended for some groups of pregnant women, such as vegans and vegetarians, substance misusers (of drugs, tobacco and alcohol), pregnant women who are already very overweight and who are trying to prevent excessive weight gains. Always be advised by your doctor before taking vitamin or mineral supplements.
There is no safe level of recreational drugs in pregnancy and you need to check any medications with your General Practitioner, Obstetrician or Pharmacist to ensure they are safe during pregnancy.