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
Does my baby or toddler need vitamin or mineral supplements?
Of course, none of us want our kids to be missing out on anything important in their diets and if there is a risk that they might not be getting enough of any particular vitamin or mineral we will probably want to give them a supplement of some sort, so when are supplements necessary?
In fact, the Government recommends that all children between 6 months and 5 years are given vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D. Even if your child is eating a wide variety of different foods, giving this vitamin supplement can safeguard them against vitamin deficiencies and so makes good sense.
A couple of important considerations –
- If you are breastfeeding your baby and you didn’t take a vitamin D supplement during pregnancy, you may be advised to give your baby a vitamin D supplement from 1 month of age, not 6 months
- If your baby is formula fed and is drinking more than 500ml formula per day, they will be getting the vitamins they need from this formula and so you won’t actually need to give them any extra vitamin supplements until they’re drinking less formula.
- It’s important to remember that too much of some vitamins is as harmful as not enough, so don’t give your baby two vitamin supplements at the same time.
Ask you health visitor for advice on which vitamin drops to use and if you’re eligible for free vitamin supplements for your baby.
Unlike vitamins, most babies won’t need mineral supplements.
One mineral parents often worry about is ‘iron’, but if your baby is eating some meat or fish every day, and eating other foods that are a good source of iron, such as fortified breakfast cereals, dark green vegetables, bread, beans and lentils, eggs, dried fruits (eg. apricots, figs and prunes), then they are likely to be getting enough iron to meet their needs. But if you are still concerned about your baby's iron intake, talk to your doctor and if they think a supplement is necessary then they can advise you on which one to give.
For most babies, milk and other dairy products will provide all the calcium a baby needs, but if your baby has a milk intolerance then it’s worth checking with your doctor if they are likely to be getting enough calcium and if a supplement is necessary.
I hope this helps. Until next time…