For many couples falling pregnant comes as a surprise. It’s something they thought would just happen one day or they were waiting for the right time. Sometimes though, Mother Nature has her own plans and time schedule for you and the new soul you are about to bring into the world.
You may not have had the best diet or lifestyle before conceiving, however there are still a great many things you can do to ensure your pregnancy progresses as smoothly as possible.
During your pregnancy most nutritional needs will increase because of the huge growth and development demands of the foetus. Doing things like reducing stress, stopping smoking and improving diet are key factors to a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby.
General Pregnancy Diet Advice
Firstly, it is imperative that you take a folate supplement to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Check with your doctor, naturopath or pharmacist for a supplement with the correct level of folate for pregnancy.
Choose from organic or biodynamic foods. These are foods that have not been genetically or chemically tainted in any way. Remember that if you are eating pesticide laden fruit the chemical poisons will be passed on to your developing baby.
Eat regularly from a selection of nutritious wholefoods with as little processing as possible. Ensure you are as relaxed as possible when eating as stress will affect the way you absorb your nutrients. Never diet when pregnant, unless advised to do so by your doctor or obstetrician.
In general, make sure foods are sourced, stored and prepared from clean fresh ingredients.
If you are eating out, avoid pre-prepared foods, especially salads, sandwiches, meat and rice dishes in food court environments.
Instead, opt for freshly cooked foods from a menu and don’t be embarrassed to ask staff to wash your salad greens again or to cook your meat or eggs a little longer!
Foods to Increase
- Deep sea fish
- Lean red meat
- Herbal teas (with caution)
Foods to Avoid
- Saturated fats
- Refined carbohydrates (eg. white flour products, sweets, breads, pastries)
- ‘Junk foods’ – highly processed foods high in salt, fat and/or sugar
- Fried foods
- Margarine containing trans-fatty acids
- Food additives
Foods that are DANGEROUS in pregnancy
Some foods may contain bacteria that would not normally bother a healthy person, but which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature labour if ingested by a pregnant woman.
Foods that present a high risk include:
- Pre-prepared cold foods that will not be reheated such as pate, deli meats, ham, salami, pre-mixed salads.
- Soft serve ice-cream
- Soft cheeses such as brie, ricotta, blue vein and stilton
- Smoked seafood
- Any leftovers kept in the fridge for more than 12 hours
- Undercooked eggs
- Undercooked meats
- Raw meets and seafood including sushi, sashimi and carpacccio, hot dogs
DID YOU KNOW SOME PREGNANT WOMEN CRAVE NON EDIBLE THINGS?
Pica Syndrome is an unusual condition that occurs mostly in children but also in some pregnant women.
You could have Pica syndrome if you are craving:
- dirt or gravel
- chalk or plaster
- cornstarch, laundry starch or baking soda
- cigarette ashes, burnt match heads
- paste, clag or glue
- snails, spiders, bugs
Pica is often harmless, but can be due to a nutritional deficiency. In fact, iron supplements have been found to decrease the incidence of Pica, but other minerals such as calcium, sulphur or bicarbonates may also be implicated.
Pica can be dangerous if the substances being eaten are toxic or block the intestines. Sometimes this may also result in other nutrients not being absorbed properly.