How can you look after your own health during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is an incredible journey and it is really important to look after yourself and appreciate the amazing work your body is doing.
It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet when you are pregnant. Healthy eating during pregnancy will give your body the nutrients it needs. It will also help your baby to develop and grow. Eating regular meals with a variety of foods will help keep you healthy and strong.
You should take a folic acid supplement with 400mg of folic acid per day for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. If you have certain medical conditions, you may need to take more. You should also eat foods high in folic acid. These include green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals and milk.
You should eat foods rich in iron at least twice a day while pregnant eating foods like red meats like beef, lamb, mutton and pork.
Vitamin C and iron
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Try to eat foods rich in Vitamin C at the same time as your iron sources. Vitamin C is in oranges, kiwis, strawberries and red peppers. If your blood tests show that you have low iron levels, your GP may prescribe a supplement for you to take.
Try to eat 3 servings of milk, cheese or yoghurt a day. These are rich in calcium and this is important for healthy bones.
Vitamin D is known as 'the sunshine vitamin' because your body makes it when exposed to the sun. People living in Ireland often have low Vitamin D levels – due to Ireland’s latitude, sun exposure between March and October is the only time when enough Vitamin D is produced in the body. You can also get Vitamin D from oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Eggs contain small amounts of Vitamin D and some foods such as milk are fortified with Vitamin D. If you're not getting enough Vitamin D, you should take a supplement. If taking a Vitamin D supplement, it is important not to take too much, 400IU (10 micrograms) is the recommended dose for pregnant women.
Diet & Supplementation during Pregnancy
It is important to have a healthy balanced diet throughout your pregnancy. You may hear advice about 'eating for 2' when you are pregnant. This is not true, and you should not eat twice as much during pregnancy. Eat a normal amount and a balanced range of nutrients. Here are some top tips:
Don’t skip breakfast, if you are suffering from morning sickness try a slice of wholemeal toast and eat a little later on.
Stick to healthy snacks like fruit or low fat yoghurt
Take a suitable pregnancy supplement for your folic acid, iron, and vitamin D.
Avoid alcohol and reduce your caffeine intake. Switching to a decaffeinated ginger tea can also help with morning sickness.
Get enough calcium through milk, yoghurt and cheese every day
Take an oily fish like salmon or mackerel once or twice a week to get Omega3.
Increase your fibre by switching to wholemeal pasta, rice and bread.
It’s also important to relax and feel connected with your growing baby during this time. Don’t forget to take time out just for you. It could be as simple as sitting at home reading a book. Or, if you are finding it difficult to find ways to relax, joining an online pregnancy yoga class could help you find a way to relax that suits you.