Congratulations, you are pregnant - what an exciting time! Good nutrition is essential for wellbeing through the whole of your life, but during pregnancy it is of vital importance as what you eat has a direct impact on your baby.
Foetal growth is divided in to three stages (all stages have slightly different nutritional needs):
Two-week blastogenesis stage: Where the fertilised ovum divides and implants itself in the uterus.
Critical embroyonic stage: Where all the rudiments for the principal organs and membranes develop. This is the most critical window in which drugs, alcohol, nutrient excess and deficiency can cause problems in development.
The foetal stage (from the 3rd month until term) is the most rapid period of growth.
During Pregnancy, and depending on the stage of pregnancy you are at, recommendations may include some of the following (although as always, it depends on the individual and your unique self):
As always, eat the rainbow, replace refined carbs with complex carbs (over 30g of fibre), sufficient protein and healthy fats (especially omega 3s DHA during this time).
Protein (good quality protein) is important during this stage as the amino acids that are the building blocks of protein are also the building blocks of which the baby is made. An additional 12g of protein (equivalent of 2 eggs) is required during pregnancy.
Oily Fish consumption should be a maximum of 2-portions a week, due to the concerns about mercury content and adverse effects mercury could have on the baby (Taylor,2016). That said, fish contains omega 3 (particularly DHA), iodine, vitamin D that are all vital during pregnancy – therefore, I usually recommend a high quality omega 3 supplement during pregnancy (as fish oil supplements have to be checked for mercury).
Folate supplements should be administered 3 months prior to conception and throughout the first trimester.
Other B-vitamins requirements (B vitamins support energy production) are increased by 10-50% during pregnancy, due to the maternal and foetal growth (New et al, 2011).
Choline although it is not strictly a vitamin or mineral it works with folate to ensure the chemical substance Acetylcholine is made which is important for brain and nervous system development – this is required from day 56 of pregnancy and can be found in grass-fed chicken, egg yolks and dairy (Norton, 2015).
The hormonal changes during pregnancy can weaken the immune system – therefore, do not eat foods that contain the listeria bacteria i.e. soft blue cheese, other soft cheese (brie, camembert), pate. Do not eat foods containing raw or partially cooked eggs as they can contain salmonella. Do not eat raw or uncooked meat and be careful when handling cat poo as it can contain the parasite Toxoplasma, a parasite that the body would usually be fit enough to ward-off but during pregnancy you can be more vulnerable. Raw meat can also be a source of E.coli and Salmonella bacteria.
Avoid liver as it has high levels of vitamin A – which can have adverse effects on the baby’s development.
Pregnancy is a time for growth and development, therefore it is important that you do not detox or go on ‘a diet’ during this time, ensuring that you and the baby are optimally nourished.
If you would like to discuss, how I could help support you and your baby to optimum health – please contact me below. Everyone is welcome to a complimentary 20-minute call to discuss whether Nutritional Therapy would benefit them.
Holford, P (2009) Optimum Nutrition: Before, During and After Pregnancy
Norton, H (2015) Your Pregnancy Nutrition Guide