What women eat during their pregnancy not only has a direct effect on their health, but also on the development and wellbeing of their baby. The nine months before the big arrival is a unique time and it’s vital mums use this period to give their unborn child the best possible start in life. However, a new survey conducted by Total Greek Yoghurt shows that over a quarter of women don’t change their diet during pregnancy, despite all the Government guidelines and warnings. With the start of National Pregnancy Month this September, the UK’s mothers-to-be are being urged to become food savvy and include more calcium in their diet.
Although pregnant women are becoming increasingly aware about the benefits of maintaining a healthy diet there is still room for improvement. Nearly three quarters of the women surveyed began taking folic acid during pregnancy. Over half gave up alcohol completely and 49% cut down on caffeine but worryingly, only 4% are trying to eat more omega 3 rich foods whilst 5% of pregnant women were not including any calcium rich foods in their diets at all.
As food and health writer Christine Bailey explains, “A low calcium diet can cause women to experience insomnia, irritability and leg cramps and may also be linked to high blood pressure. Pregnancy induced high blood pressure is a serious complication that can put both mother and baby at risk.” Yoghurt, a food high in calcium, is also useful when trying to combat morning sickness and nausea as it is easily digestible and full of vitamins and minerals.
To help mums to be stay healthy and provide babies with all the nutrients they need, here are Christine’s top pregnancy eating tips.
- BONE UP One of the best sources of calcium is dairy foods – so plenty of Greek yogurts, low fat cheese, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. If you cannot tolerate dairy foods you can get plenty of calcium by eating nuts and seeds, dried fruits, oily fish with bones, beans and pulses.
- FOCUS ON QUALITY NOT QUANTITY Firstly you certainly don’t need to eat for two – in fact you only need to consume around 200 calories a day and that is really only in the last trimester. Make these extra calories count – so whizz up a smoothie rather than gorging on chocolate cakes
- GRAZE NOT GORGE If you’re suffering from morning sickness, indigestion or are in your third trimester and finding it hard to eat big meals, get snack happy. Eat five or six small meals a day rather than three larger meals to keep your energy up and help stop you feeling faint.
- PUMP UP THE IRON It’s a good idea to build up your iron stores leading up to a pregnancy because iron helps your cells to make haemoglobin which transports oxygen to and from cells. It is vital for energy production and a lack of iron can lead to fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and anaemia. It can also affect the growth and development of your baby
- EAT THE RIGHT FATS The brain of the baby is 60% fat and it is during pregnancy that the brain cells are forming and connecting. These brain cells need essential omega 3 fats found in oily fish, walnuts, flax and hemp seeds. Eat oily fish such as salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel ideally 2-3 times a week.