Pregnancy is a journey that starts well before you get a positive test result. For many, pregnancy begins with the decision to have a baby. From then on, your diet and lifestyle are key considerations to give you the best chance to conceive and to help make sure you have a beautiful pregnancy journey. After your bundle of joy arrives, your body needs support while it readjusts after the miracle of making a baby.
We’ve designed our Pregnancy Plus to help you throughout this journey, providing your body with the important nutrients it needs at this special time. We take a look at each stage to help guide you through your nutritional considerations.
Creating a tiny human is an amazing biological feat and extra consideration with diet and lifestyle choices can help optimise fertility of both partners.
Egg and sperm cells are particularly sensitive to oxidative damage, so focusing on reducing this is key during this period as this improves the chances of conception. Supporting the body’s antioxidant defence systems with minerals like zinc and selenium, along with vitamin E is therefore vital as they help protect cells from oxidative stress.
Zinc and selenium are also necessary for fertility of both partners. Selenium is needed for sperm formation and essential for thyroid function. Suboptimal thyroid function can lead to difficulties conceiving and can be investigated by your GP if relevant.
Brazil nuts are one of the best food sources of selenium, along with seafood which also provides good levels of zinc and some omega 3s. These fatty acids are incorporated into the eggs cell membrane which aids fluidity and therefore fertilisation. Topping up levels with supplements is a great way to provide peace of mind.
The three month window
Sperm takes 3 months to develop, so for men it’s an ideal timeframe to really focus efforts towards healthy living and boosting nutrient intake.
Women are advised to take 400 mcg folic acid for at least three months prior to conception, until at least 12 weeks into pregnancy, but it’s also a good time to prioritise nourishing dietary and lifestyle choices.
Things to reduce and avoid are heavily processed foods high in refined sugars and trans-fats, alcohol, smoking, environmental toxins and limiting caffeine. Getting enough quality sleep and managing stress is also important.
Focussing on whole-foods, incorporating a wide variety of colourful plant foods alongside quality sources of protein and fats helps optimise nutrient intake for you both.
When morning sickness is thrown into the mix, we know that lots of foods can be unappealing making it challenging to obtain all the required nutrients. Evidence supports the use of a multivitamin and mineral supplement during this time as your nutrient deficiencies can be passed on to the baby.
Omega 3s are considered essential in the diet, and evidence supports the recommendation that women get 200-300mg DHA daily during pregnancy and breastfeeding as they’re essential for the baby’s vision and brain development. Best sources are oily fish, but supplementing can be important if you aren’t eating 2-3 portions a week.
Iodine is another key nutrient as requirements increase throughout pregnancy and if breastfeeding. This mineral is needed for the healthy development of your baby’s brain as well as to support the extra thyroid hormones required for the baby.
The period following birth can be incredibly challenging. Pregnancy is nutritionally demanding, often leaving several important nutrients low. There are a few considerations to ensure optimal nutrition for mum and baby.
Low iron is common and is associated with fatigue and increased risk of post-natal depression. Animal sources are best. Cooking and combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C containing foods helps increase the bioavailability of iron.
The sleep deprivation and associated stress and exhaustion which comes with new parenthood can increase your need of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and vitamin C so a good multi can be a convenient choice to provide broad coverage of essential vitamins and minerals.
An extra 300-500 calories per day is recommended to provide enough energy, alongside increased hydration to help milk supply. A few balanced, nutrient dense snacks or a small meal can provide this. Some good ideas; apple or bananas with nut butters, oat crackers with cheese and berries, smoothies or a handful of nuts and berries.