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Why Omega 3 Is So Important During Pregnancy

For many women pregnancy is a time that is associated with feeling quite sick. It can often be the case that women will only eat limited  foods during those particularly trying weeks where morning (or all day) sickness may be ever present.

Crackers, toast and generally plain foods appear to be a popular choice for a lot of women during this time. But ​Tracey Quinn looks the importance of including fish most notably Omega 3 during your pregnancy and also when nursing.

Tiredness is another massive symptom during early pregnancy. In fact it is said to be one of the reasons why a lot of women consider that they may be pregnant. It has been described as a tiredness like no other. I recall it myself, going to bed the minute I arrived home from work. No more energy to do anything but lie in bed.

It makes sense when you think about it. There is a lot of work happening behind the scenes as your body works really hard to help your baby grow and thrive during early pregnancy. There are also a lot of hormonal changes which can result in energy levels dwindling.

By the time the second trimester comes around many women claim to feel a lot better. The sickness tends to subside and energy levels begin to rise. It is often the time where women begin to enjoy different foods again and enjoy some semblance of a social life with their friends and family. This is a time where introducing Omega-3 fatty acids would be an excellent idea. Fish is a valuable source of protein and vitamin D which are both necessary for bone development.

READ MORE: How Much Do You Know About Omega 3?

Fish Oils

Fish is a food group that is enjoyed by many people. It is a popular choice in restaurants and home-cooking, however there are a vast number of women who claim to really dislike the flavour. Pregnancy certainly would not feel like the best time to force oneself to eat something that they do not enjoy though.

For this reason your doctor, midwife or a medical professional may recommend taking some form of a supplement. For example, there are a plethora of fish oils available on the market. They can be taken daily to ensure that your intake of Omega 3 is adequate for a healthy balanced diet.

Pregnancy is a time where it really is more important than ever to fill your body with all the good things in life. Your body is working harder than ever as it helps your baby grow and thrive while at the same time continuing to look after you also.

There are many benefits to eating fish or including fish oils in your diet when you are pregnant. Fish is rich in minerals such as Zinc, selenium and iodine which are required for a healthy immune system. Naturally pregnancy is a time where your immune system is more important than ever. Avoiding viruses and any form of illness is ideal at this time when you want to feel your very best.

READ MORE: Nutrition For Your Pregnancy, Plus Foods To Avoid

Eat Well

Your diet is also very important when you are breastfeeding your baby. Good nutrition is important all round for the entire family but when you are a nursing mother it is particularly important to fill your body with nutritious and healthy foods. This will benefit both mother and child.

There are a number of ways that a woman can ensure that she is eating enough Omega-3 fatty acids during this time. Oil-rich fish such as salmon and mackerel are foods rich in it. These can often be foods that the whole family can enjoy. A fish pie with lots of tasty salmon or fish cakes might go down a treat with the kids.

If you struggle to encourage your family to eat these foods, or if you do not enjoy them yourself, there are a number of different fish oils that can be taken to ensure your intake of these foods are enough.

READ MORE: A Balanced Pregnancy Diet

Beat Baby Brain

Have you heard about “baby brain”? It is a term so often mentioned among mothers and fathers. It relates to the fact that parents experience a certain level of change in their behaviour when they have a baby. Forgetfulness is one of these changes that we hear about time and time again. It is a time where your entire universe is focused on caring for your baby so it really is no big surprise.

There are studies which have shown a link between Omega-3 fatty acids and improved concentration, less anxiety and a sharper memory. These are all traits that a new mother could definitely reap the benefits from.

Omega 3 is a food group that contains so many benefits for a pregnant woman. The same can be said for a woman who is breastfeeding her baby. For this reason it is recommended to eat these Omega-3 rich foods as often as possible. Oil-rich fish is one of the best sources but you can also choose rapeseed oil and walnuts as another good source.

As part of their healthy eating guidelines the HSE advocates that we should “choose fish more often”. They encourage families to “try eating oil-rich fish – rich in vitamin D – twice a week”. This is due to the fact that our bodies cannot produce Omega-3 fatty acids independently. We must take it in via food or by supplementation with fish oils.

READ MORE: Breastfeeding: Nutrition For You And Your Baby

Tips For A Well-Balanced Diet During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

  • Avoid excess sugar and caffeine. These foods can be associated with limited and sudden bursts of energy which can then result in a “crash” of sorts.
  • Choose wholegrain and wholemeal foods where possible. These will be rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Bread, Pasta and Rice are all foods which can be consumed in this healthier way.
  • Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water is of paramount importance. Many breastfeeding mothers experience an overwhelming thirst during those first couple of weeks.
  • Eat little and often. It is important to ensure that you are having enough food and calories throughout the day. It is a time where you will need it most.
  • Including oats in your diet has a positive affect on a woman's milk supply. It is also a slow release food which in turn keeps you fuller for longer periods of time. This is ideal for a busy mum.
  • Consult your pharmacist or doctor about the supplementation options available to you such as fish oils and pregnancy and breastfeeding vitamins.
  • Please note that tuna should be limited to one tuna steak or two tins of tuna a week during pregnancy due to the high mercury content. Shark, swordfish and marlin should be be avoided due to mercury.  

How do you make sure you get enough Omega 3 in your pregnancy diet? Tell us in the comments below.


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