It has been estimated that it takes approximately 75,000 calories to make a baby, or about 350-450 extra calories a day. It is so important that these extra calories come from nutrient dense foods in order to ensure the optimum health of your baby and yourself.
During pregnancy women need to be eating good-quality protein with a balanced diet. Protein supports the tissue growth of both the fetus and the new tissues made by the mum. Protein doesn’t need to just come from meat; eggs, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes are also good sources.
Sufficient calcium intake is important in pregnancy as if the mother isn’t consuming enough calcium her body will pull it from her bones to nourish the growing fetus. Calcium helps from the baby’s bones and teeth and aids muscle and heart function, blood clotting and nerve transmission. Great foods to eat to up your calcium intake are fish, milk, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, sea vegetables and whole grains.
Iron is needed to help build blood cells in the mum and fetus. A mother’s blood volume has to increase by about 50% during her pregnancy which can be quite tricky to obtain solely from diet. If a woman doesn’t consume enough iron during pregnancy then her iron stores will become depleted, her bodies demands to make more blood cells will not be met and anaemia can occur which has the knock on effect of low energy.
Great sources of iron are steamed chard, pumpkin seeds, seaweed, prunes, nuts, red meats, beef liver, chicken, eggs and salmon. It would also be wise to speak to your nutritionist about taking an iron supplement and which one is best suited for you.
Next week we will look at the importance of Zinc, Folic Acid and other minerals during pregnancy and how best to tailor your diet to tick all these nutrient boxes!
It is important to tailor supplementation to each individual particularly during pregnancy. Please speak to your GP or nutritionist to get advice on what supplementation you could benefit from.
Words by regular contributor, Hannah Fletcher