It is important for pregnant women to eat well and to focus on a high quality diet. It is important to meet the needs of the growing fetus and it is important to maintain appropriate weight gain through pregnancy. Poor eating, excessive weight gain and high blood sugars can by means of “pregenetic" determination” affect the health of the baby later in life.
- The old lay principle of eating for two is inappropriate.
- Eat well and take pregnancy multivitamins to ensure that the fetus is not deprived of essential vitamins necessary for proper development.
- Pregnant women in Australia have generous intake of protein and calories. Pregnant women also absorb calcium well and rarely require calcium supplements. Special attention however often needs to be directed to ensuring adequate intake of Folate, Iron, Vitamin D and Iodine.
Folate is essential in pregnancy from conception. It can prevent birth defects such as spina bifida but it is necessary for cell multiplication through out pregnancy.
It is often difficult to get adequate amounts of folate from some diets.
Folate is largely destroyed through cooking. It is found in salad, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, bread and fortified cereals. It is strongly recommended that all pregnant women take supplements. Appropriate doses of folate can be found in all pregnancy multivitamins.
Iron is required for both the mother and the baby. Pregnant women regularly become iron deficient and they develop worsening tiredness as their haemoglobin falls. Iron and haemoglobin is checked on a few occasions during pregnancy and supplements are added when levels fall. Although some vegetables contain iron it is more difficult to absorb iron from these sources.
Liver is rich in iron but liver or pate should not be consumed because of its high levels of vitamin A and increased risk of listeria.
Iron is rich in red meat, chicken or fish. Despite dietary efforts most women will need an extra iron supplement in pregnancy.
Iron causes constipation and most women will require aperients such as lactulose syrup.