Nutrition throughout pregnancy is so important – but we are learning more and more about how the healthier you (and your partner) are going into pregnancy, the more it will benefit you and the baby’s health during pregnancy and in the future.
So, if becoming pregnant is something that may happen, here are some top tips to get your body ready.
Vitamins & Minerals
Folic acid is a B vitamin that is important for your baby’s healthy spine and brain. If you are thinking about trying for a baby, you should start taking a folic acid supplement about three months before conception and continue taking it until you’ve reached the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. To add to this, it’s important to include rich food sources of folic acid like dark green leafy vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, citrus fruit, fortified milk and cereals. 400 mcgs daily is recommended, but do consult with your GP.
Iron is another key nutrient both before and during pregnancy. Lean red meat, eggs, dark green vegetables, peas, beans and lentils are good dietary sources of iron so ensure to have one or more of these daily. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from plant sources so include some vitamin C rich foods every day, particularly with your meals.
Calcium is vital too. In order to keep bones strong and healthy, make sure to keep supplying your body with calcium rich foods! You need 800mg of calcium which is the equivalent to three servings. Milk, cheese, yoghurt, tinned fish, fortified soya products and tofu are all considered rich sources of calcium.
Vitamin D and calcium come hand in hand, as it is required for the absorption of calcium from food. Sadly in Ireland, for six months of the year the sun isn’t strong enough for us to be able to make vitamin D ourselves and few foods contain enough vitamin D so The Food Safety Authority of Ireland now recommends that we should all take a daily supplement to ensure we don’t run short, speak to your GP, dietitian or pharmacist about how much to take.
To make sure you are fuelling your body with the right vitamins & minerals before you become pregnant, it’s a good idea to take a daily supplement. Pregnacare Conception is specially formulated to help support women who are trying for a baby. It provides a carefully balanced blend of Zinc, Vitamin B6, B12, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Folic acid at 400mcg, the exact recommended level by the Department of Health. It’s all round nutritional support to boost and compliment a healthy diet.
Achieving a healthy weight
Achieving a healthy weight before pregnancy helps increase your chances of conceiving and reduces the risk of complications during pregnancy. Being overweight in pregnancy increases the risk of complications like high blood pressure, back pain and gestational diabetes as well as caesarean section and pre-term labour. Whereas being underweight can reduce your chances of conceiving, and if you do become pregnant, can increase the risk of having a low birth weight baby. If you need help losing or gaining weight, seek guidance from your GP or a registered dietitian.
Once you start thinking about pregnancy it can be a good time to cut out or dramatically reduce your alcohol. When a woman is trying to conceive she may not know that she is pregnant until the 5th week so it is best to cut down or cut out alcohol when considering pregnancy. For support, encourage your partner to reduce his alcohol intake too as alcohol can impact on male fertility.
Caffeine in large quantities can affect your chances of conception and too much during pregnancy is not good for your baby. Caffeine is found in tea and coffee but also found in some energy boosting drinks, cola drinks and chocolate. It is recommended by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that a woman should not consume more than 200mg of caffeine (or one cup of strong coffee) per day during pregnancy. Planning your pregnancy may be a good time to get your caffeine intake down to safer limits for when you are pregnant.
How much is 200mg of caffeine?
So, to ensure that you’re eating right for both of you, start focusing on achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle while there is still one of you!
This article is sponsored by Pregnacare. Pregnacare trusted by mums. To learn more about how Pregnacare is supporting moms in Ireland, join them on Facebook