Nutrition for Pregnancy: Top 10 Tips Part 1
In this two-part series, nutritional therapist Jodie Abrahams gives 10 tips for what to eat and drink to help you feel your best during pregnancy.
1. Stay Hydrated
During pregnancy, the placenta, amniotic fluid and increased maternal blood volume all require plenty of water. Keeping well hydrated also helps to maintain your energy levels, can reduce nausea and ease water retention. So drinking your 2 litres a day will help your body meet its increased demands and may even stave off the dreaded swollen ankles.
Make sure you are sipping water regularly throughout the day - carry a bottle with you and keep a glass of water within reach at work and at home.
Keeping well-watered can also help to prevent constipation… which leads us neatly into Tip 2.
2. Fill up on fibre
Pregnancy is a miraculous time - your body is growing another human being from scratch! Unfortunately, it can also be a time of less awe-inspiring constipation.
The surge in the hormone progesterone during pregnancy can slow down the movement of food through the colon, leaving you feeling blocked up, heavy and sluggish.
Staying well hydrated and eating a diet rich in fibre can help to alleviate constipation. So include plenty of fluids, plus a range of fresh fruit and veg, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Oats are a gentle source of soluble fibre that can help get things moving, making them ideal for breakfast.
3. Don't fear fat
Fat is essential for supporting your baby's brain, eye and nervous system development. Focus on good quality plant-based fats from olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
If you eat dairy, avoid fat free products, and opt for pasteurised, organic milk, yoghurt and cheese (check which cheeses are safe to eat in pregnancy on NHS Choices).
Eating oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines up to twice a week also provides essential omega 3 fats. More information on eating fish during pregnancy and what to limit and avoid on NHS Choices.
4. Protein for body building
Protein is the building block for cells, tissues, muscles and organs, so it makes sense that you'll need enough in your diet when you're building a baby.
Meat, fish and eggs are great sources of complete protein, but there are lots of plant-based protein-rich foods you can include in your daily diet too. These add variety and have the benefits of the other vitamins and minerals they contain.
Try legumes like chickpeas, lentils and peas, plus nuts and seeds. Quinoa and buckwheat are great as sides or in salads as they contain all essential amino acids our bodies need to build proteins.
5. More blood = more iron
Iron deficiency anaemia is common in pregnancy. A woman's blood volume increases by up to 50% by week 36 of pregnancy, so eating enough iron-rich foods is important to meet these increased demands.
Including red meat, poultry and seafood in your diet is an easy way to boost your iron intake. Plant-based sources include dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, kale and beet greens. Lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans also contain iron, as do dried apricots, pumpkin seeds. sesame seeds and cashews.
The tips in this article are generic, and do not take into account individual nutritional needs or replace medical advice. For personalised nutrition and lifestyle support, see Jodie's consultation plans at www.jodieabrahams.com. For any health concerns, always consult a medical professional.