Your diet is now more crucial than ever because the food you eat will also be helping your baby grow and develop. The baby needs certain nutrients to grow, such as calcium and iron. If these nutrients are missing from your diet bub will take what it needs from your stores instead, leaving you depleted.
Poor diet can worsen nausea and also lead to anaemia, tiredness and cramps. By eating the right foods, you may skip these ailments and you’ll know you’re nourishing your baby.
Suffering from morning sickness? Bananas are the perfect food as they’re easy to digest and will give you instant energy. They contain fibre and potassium, which both help with proper functioning of cells and digestion and the regulation of blood pressure.
There are two kinds of iron: haem iron and non-haem iron. Meat, fish and poultry have haem iron, which is absorbed much better than the non-haem variety found in vegetables, nuts and grains. The easiest way to boost your iron – if you’re not a vegetarian – is with lean meat, poultry and fish. If you are a vegetarian try pulses (peas, beans and lentils) and soya bean products (such as soya milk and tofu), beetroot and dark green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, bok choy and spinach and asparagus), wholegrain foods, dried fruits and nuts (such as raisins, dates and figs, almonds and cashews) and plain dark chocolate!
There’s conflicting information about whether it’s okay for pregnant women to eat eggs. It’s important to avoid them if they’re raw or undercooked but scrambled and hard-boiled eggs are fine and are a great source of protein. Opt for free range as opposed to caged hen eggs, it will benefit both you and bub, not to mention the chook!
Try the folate-fortified variety, so you get that extra boost of folic acid. Cereal is often also fortified with essential vitamins and iron. Make sure you check the sugar, salt and fat levels before you buy, as they can be very high in most cereals!
These yummy morsels are great sources of beta-carotene, an immune system booster, as well as fibre and iron. To stave off morning sickness it’s better to eat regular, small meals rather than three large meals a day, and a handful of apricots makes a great snack.
Do you want your bub to excel in the brains department? Eat oily fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel two to three times a week. They are a good source of vitamins A and D and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Note: Certain fish should be restricted during pregnancy due to their potentially high mercury levels: if you have orange roughy (sea perch), only have one serve a week; if you have swordfish, marlin, broadbill or shark (flake), have no other fish for a fortnight.
This leafy green vegie is a great source of folate, iron and calcium. Folate is really important during pregnancy as it reduces the risk of your baby developing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. To retain the nutrients, try to steam the spinach rather than boiling it, and eat it with a food or juice that’s rich in vitamin C to get the most benefit from it.
Choose the low fat, low sugar variety if possible. It will give your body calcium to help your baby’s bone formation, and protein, which is essential for growing tissues. Your body absorbs calcium very well during pregnancy but you still need two to three serves a day; other sources include milk, cheese, leafy green
vegetables (such as broccoli, collards, bok choy and Chinese cabbage) and some soy and tofu products.
Source: Adapted from an article in the September-October 2009 issue of Pregnancy & Birth.