If you are planning to have a baby, it is time to take extra care of your body. Pregnancy increases your nutritional
needs, to ensure optimal growth and development of your body and to keep your body healthy.
During pregnancy, the placenta - the organ, which acts as a lifeline between mother and child - passes nourishment
from the mother's bloodstream to the developing baby. Eating a healthy, nutritionallly balanced diet before and during
pregnancy will help give your baby a healthy start as well as increasing the likehood of a trouble-free pregnancy.
Getting ready for pregnancy
Make sure you are getting a good supply of this B vitamin, before you become pregnant. Folic acid helps the develop-
ment of your of your baby's organs and tissues, and an increased intake reduces the risk of spinal defects ( known
as neural tube defects) such as spina bifida. It is recommended that women who are planning to become pregnant
should take a daily 400 microgram folic acid supplement, and continue until the 12th week of pregnancy. Folic acid
can be taken as an individual supplement or from a multivitamin formulated for pregnancy. Ask your pharmacist for
advice on suitable supplements.
Good source of folic acid from your diet include green, leafy vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and spinach,
as well as potatoes, nuts, whole wheat cereals, pulses, yeast extract, milk and yoghurt.
Take plenty of exercise
Choose an activity you enjoy, such as brisk walking, cycling, gardenening or swimming, and build up to half an hour of
exercise a day.
Watch your weight
Being over or underweight can affect your fertility, so find out what a suitable weight is for your height and try to lose
weight steadily and slowly, aiming to achieve an ideal body weight 3-4 months before you conceive.
Like alcohol, smoking reduces fertility and can harm your baby. If you can't quite, try to cut down.
Healthy eating in pregnancy
Dispelling the myth of eating for two
Many women may think that "eating for two" means they have to eat twice as much. In fact, it is not until the last
few months of pregnancy that there is a need to increase the consumption of food.
Putting up your feet and enjoying a healthy snack may be the ideal way not only to take a rest but also to obtain
that extra energy needed. Try these suggestions for a wholesome snack:
*A home-made soup served with wholewheat bread.
*Yoghurt on it's own or with honey or fresh fruit makes a delicious low fat treat.
*A banana milkshake, made with pureed bananas, frozen yoghurt and lowfat milk, is packed with goodness.
*Try a slice of seed loaf with a thin spread of peanut butter or honey.
Supplementation during pregnancy
Pregnancy increases your requirements for a variety of nutrients such as calcium, iron and folic acid.
Taking a multivitamin supplement will help to optimise your nutrient intake, so speak to your doctor or dietitian
for advice on the supplements recommended for your pregnancy.
You may find some of these suggestions helpful:
*A plain biscuit and a glass of warm beverage before you get out of bed can help overcome morning sickness.
*Have four or five smaller meals rather than 2 or 3 heavier meals during the day.
*Remember to drink plenty of fluids. If tea and coffee have lost their appeal, try still mineral water, fruit and herbal
teas, energy drinks, fruit juices or milkshakes.
*Avoid smells that trigger you to feel nauseous.
Avoid foods rich in Vitamin A
Very high intakes of vitamin A during the first few weeks of pregnancy may damage the developing baby. Avoid
eating foods that are particular rich in vitamin A such as liver, liver sausage and cod liver oil, and seek advice from
a health professional, before taking any medicines or vitamin supplements. There are vitamin supplements that have
low levels of vitamin A, especially for supplementation during pregnancy, and some supplements contain beta-carotene,
which is the precursor and biologically safe form of vitamin A.
Limit your alcohol intake
Women who are pregnant should keep their alcohol intake to an absolute minimum. No more than 1 or 2 units once
or twice a week is recommmended.
1 unit of alcohol = 1/2 pint (250ml) of ordinary beer or cider/ 1 standard glass of wine/ 1 tot measure of spirit or sherry.
Food infection and other infections can occur in pregnancy and on rare occasions can damage your growing baby.
By taking a few simple precautions, you can protect yourself and your developing baby from these foodborne infections.
A few of the basics to ensure optimal food safety are:
*When preparing foods always wash your hands before and after, especially when handling raw meat and poultry.
*Use one board for preparing raw meat and poultry and a separate one for other foods.
*When cooking or reheating foods make sure they are piping hot throughout.
*Take care to avoid mould ripened soft cheeeses, all types of pates and cooked, chilled readymade meals.
Many women suffer from constipation during pregnancy. Ensure that you plan all meals with plenty of fibre-rich foods
such as whole wheat cereals and bread, oats, fruits, vegetables and pulses, and make sure that you drink at least
8 glasses of fluid every day