Pregnancy nutrition: Do’s and Don’ts

EATING HEALTHY: Pamela Smith, a nutritionist and trainer at Mommy Fit shares her tips on what pregnant women can and cannot eat.
EATING HEALTHY: Pamela Smith, a nutritionist and trainer at Mommy Fit shares her tips on what pregnant women can and cannot eat.

Finding out that you’re pregnant can be a very exciting and scary time for many women.

So where do you start? With your eating habits of course.

“For me, the most important nutritional advice I can give a pregnant woman is that although you are pregnant and have a growing life inside you this does not mean that you should be eating for two,” explained Smith.

She said this could put mom and baby at risk, such as birthing difficulties and health-related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Smith added that in each trimester, there were a certain number of calories mom should concentrate on consuming.

First trimester

Mom does not need to eat extra calories and should rather focus on what she is eating.

Second trimester

Mom only needs to consume an extra 300 calories daily.

Third trimester

Mom only needs to consume an extra 450 calories.

“Keep in mind that the amount of calories consumed during each trimester is dependent on… [whether] mom is pregnant with twins or triplets and whether or not she was over- or underweight before she fell pregnant.”

Smith advises her clients and mums-to-be to follow these five points during their pregnancy.

Never overlook food safety: Certain food contain bacteria which may be harmful to the development of the foetus and the pregnancy, resulting in premature delivery, miscarriage or even stillbirth. Be aware of e.coli, salmonella and listeria, which are found in raw or uncooked meat, poultry, seafood or eggs and can also form on food that has been left out in an unsealed container. Pregnant women should stay away from sushi and soft cheeses.

Stay Hydrated: This can be a challenge when women are pregnant as more fluid leaks from blood vessels into tissue and thus they need to drink more fluids and water to help prevent dehydration from setting in. Staying hydrated can help prevent headaches, kidney stones, dizziness, as well as other common pregnancy problems such as constipation and haemorrhoids. The best way to know how hydrated you are is by the colour of your urine, it should be pale yellow to clear.

Nutrient-Dense Foods: These foods are rich in protein, calcium, iron and fibre which are important for the growth and development of the baby, as well as ensuring that mom stays healthy and strong throughout her pregnancy.

Pre-natal Vitamins and Minerals: The use of pre-natal vitamins and minerals is extremely importance as the body is unable to absorb all the required vitamins and minerals from our foods. Supplements act as a safeguard and allow your body access to additional vitamins and minerals.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid: This is extremely important in a pregnant women’s diet as a diet rich in omega-3 boosts the development of the baby’s brain and neurological function. This has been proven to improve the vision, memory, language and comprehension skills in early childhood. Omega-3 is also beneficial to mom as it has been proven to aid in decreasing post-partum depression. If mom is not fond of the taste of fish or is worried about which type of fish or seafood is safe she can take a fish oil supplement instead.

Smith stated that being pregnant did not mean that mom needs to go on a diet but more that she should be aware of what she is eating, and how it affects her health and the health and development of her growing baby. Maintaining healthy, regular eating patterns helps regulate a steady flow of nutrients into the body and prevents drastic drops and spikes in mom’s blood sugar levels.

“Cravings are a natural part of being pregnant, and mom should not try control or stop her craving but to rather choose healthier alternatives and, if not possible, to have smaller portion sizes of these cravings,” said Smith. She added that moms should not feel intimidated about what is correct and what is wrong – if she trusts her instincts and listens to her body, she and her baby should be able to stay healthy and strong.

Victoria Taylor

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