Preparing for pregnancy with a healthy diet
Whether you’re planning your first baby or you’re thinking about having another, a healthy diet makes good sense for both you and your partner. Your eating, weight and lifestyle habits have a significant influence on your health, your fertility and once you’ve become pregnant on the growth and development of your unborn baby.
Now is a great time to reassess your diet and to check that you are eating a wide variety of healthy foods. You need to have a good balance between starchy carbohydrate foods; moderate amounts of protein foods; low fat dairy products and plenty of fruits and vegetables. A healthy balanced diet should supply you with all the nutrients you need, but one vitamin that is particularly important pre-conceptually and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is folic acid and so you should take extra folic acid (400mcg/day) in the form of a supplement during this time.
There are also a couple of other nutrients that need special attention at this time. You should make sure you’re eating enough iron-rich foods to build up your body stores in preparation for your pregnancy, so include red meat, fish, poultry, beans, dark green leafy vegetables and wholegrain cereals regularly. Omega 3 fatty acids play a critical role in the development of the brain and nervous system of a baby so it is a good idea to top up your stores of these too by eating two portions of fish per week (at least one of these portions as oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel).
Both you and your partner should reduce your alcohol intakes in line with official recommendations and aim for a healthy weight. Being a healthy body weight can help you to conceive – being very underweight or obese can reduce your chances of conceiving, and being obese while pregnant can increase the risk of complications. And for your partner, it is worth checking the diet contains enough zinc and selenium containing foods as these have been shown to be linked with sperm quality. Lean red meat, wholegrain cereals, seafood and eggs are good sources of these nutrients.
If you want to read more, here are two good links which you may find useful:
Until next time....
Tags: carbohydrates, dairy, healthy, iron, minerals, obesity, pregnant, prepare, preparing for baby to arrive, supplements, vitamins, zinc