When you embark upon bringing a new life into this world you need to take good care of yourself – not only for your own sake but for the life about to start growing inside of you.
There are certain precautions and diet lifestyle changes you need to think about. Everything you pass through your lips, breathe in or surround yourself with can have an affect upon your unborn baby.
To prepare for the baby, you need to give them the very best start you can give them – from the moment you decide to conceive to after they are born and beyond.
This is an essential source of vitamin B, vital for the healthy growth of babies’ neural tubes, eventually becoming the brain and spinal cord. Taking just one capsule (0.4mg) a day can prevent neural tube defects in newly born babies.
Continue taking the tablet throughout early pregnancy and stop at the 3rd month. Intake of folic acid while trying to conceive and throughout the early stages of pregnancy is the best start for a babies’ life.
Folic acid is present in a normal rounded diet, but taking an extra supplement can only help your unborn child. You’ll find folic acid in foods such as spinach/leafy green vegetables, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, yeast extract, wholemeal bread, and peas.
If you already have a child or baby with spina bifida it is essential to consult your doctor before taking the supplements.
Other essential Vitamins and Minerals
Another essential before conceiving, it is needed for the general health of the growing baby. Supplements of iron are available at all chemists and most supermarkets.
If you are concerned you aren’t receiving enough Iron, these foods have high levels of Iron: baked beans, fortified white, brown and wholemeal bread, breakfast cereals, kidney beans, lentils and read meat (do not have liver).
Not just good for strong nails, Calcium is excellent for strong bones, for the both of you. Milk is very rich in Calcium.
Available as a supplement and in foods, Vitamin D can help the development of skin, bones, and cartilage.
Giving your baby the best possible start means looking after yourself. Scientific research has proven that a mother’s nutritional habits can directly affect the health of her baby. Getting the proper nutrients and minerals in your diet during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of spina bifida or a low birth weight. Even your status at the time of conception plays an important role in your baby’s health. If at all possible, it is always advised to plan your lifestyle and diet changes ahead of trying to conceive.
If you are a teenage mother, expecting triplets, experiencing a second pregnancy soon after the last, or your diet is restricted in any way, it is vital that your diet is as good as it can be.
Eating healthily after your baby is born is just as important to help replenish the nutrients for breastfeeding.
Healthy Eating during pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you need to think about your diet, make sure you are getting;
Bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals – rich in vitamin B. One portion every meal.
Lean meat such as chicken, fish beans and lentils – rich in protein and iron. 2 portions every day.
Milk and cheese – high in protein.
Cut down on sugary foods such as carbonated drinks and chocolate.
Oily fish such as Mackerel, Herring. Salmon and Sardines.
Should I eat for two?
No. You do not need to eat twice the quantity of foods because you are pregnant. This is just an old wives tale, told to expectant mothers to lessen the guilt of the sweet-toothed cravings you may experience during the later months of your pregnancy!
There is no need to double the quantity of your food. Your body is intelligent, it will use the nutrients from your food intake and direct these to the needy areas – to growing baby.
During the last month or two of pregnancy you will need to intake an extra 200 calories to keep your energy levels up. Having that extra slice of cake needn’t make you feel guilty when you get to this stage!
Vegetarianism during pregnancy
Continuing with vegetarianism during pregnancy is fine, as long as you ensure you receive adequate doses of essential nutrients and vitamins.
Calcium – can be found in soya milk and tofu
Iron – supplements
Vitamin B12 – supplements
Vitamin C – take a glass of orange juice with meals, it helps iron to be absorbed from non-meat foods.
Foods to avoid
The following foods are best avoid while pregnant and trying to conceive:
Raw eggs, undercooked meat and poultry, pate, liver products (danger of salmonella and toxoplasmosis poisoning)
Oysters, uncooked shellfish such as prawns, crab
Excess Vitamin A (has been know to harm baby with birth defects)
All food you are known to be allergic to: colourings, peanuts etc.
General Tips for Healthy cooking
Always was your hands and food surfaces before preparing or handling any food.
Obey the use-by dates of all foods. Do not risk using anything over the specified date. Throw them away.
Your fridge temperature is very important for the safe-storing for foods. It should be below 5°C and your freezer below -18°C.
Cover foods properly, even when storing in the fridge or freezer for just a few hours.
Raw foods should be stored at the bottom of the fridge, cooked foods at the top. Do not mix the groups.
Ensure reheated foods are piping hot when served. Do not reheat foods more than once.
Wash vegetables and fruits to remove all bugs, soil and dirt.
Gaining/losing weight during pregnancy
If possible, ensure that you are at your ideal weight before you conceive – this will make the process of getting back to your normal weight easy.
Most pregnancies gain approximately 10 kg (22Ibs). The majority of this is of the baby’s weight as it grows, enlarged breasts, placenta and the size of the womb.
Try not to gain too much weight during your pregnancy, it will be hard to lose it after the baby is born. Also, having excess fat increases the risk for the baby – just as gaining too little weight. Make sure you keep your regular checkups with your doctor and hospital.
Do I have to keep all the hospital appointments?
This is essential. Making sure you attend scans, checks, and general doctor appointments is vital for monitoring you and your baby’s health. Keeping regular appointments, professionals can forsee potential problems and help and advise you with any queries or worries you may have. Take along your partner, a friend or your mother if you need someone with you – the doctors won’t mind at all – they’d rather you felt comfortable.
Not only will you be checking upon the baby’s health, but this is an excellent chance to talk to your doctor or nurse about your choices of where and how to conduct the birth.
Ante natal classes can be fun as well as informative. Take your partner to ensure he/she doesn’t feel left out with the pregnancy. The instructors will be on hand to answer any of your questions with regards to all aspects of the birth, pregnancy and beyond.
Do I have to be careful with exercise?
Yes. Gentle exercise is recommended. Walking is excellent, from the early stages to the late stages. Try to avoid strenuous exercise, if you are a regular at your local gym, you should slow the pace down from the moment you are aware you are pregnant. Talk to your instructor and let them know immediately that you are expecting, they can help with what you can still do and what to avoid.
This doesn’t not mean you can’t do anything. You are the best person to know what your body can handle, just be aware that there are two of you too think about now.
What about alcohol?
Moderation is the key word. No more than 1-2 units of alcohol a week is recommended. Ideally while the baby’s liver is developing (3 months before conception and the early weeks of pregnancy) you should be alcohol free.
Being pregnant may cause you to slow your pace down a little and it may seem a chore having rules and regulations to try to stick to, but doing the best for your baby’s health is the most important thing at this stage.