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EARLY LIFE NUTRITION

Nutrition While Pregnant

Folic acid in pregnancy

Folic acid (also known as folate) is a B-group vitamin that’s important for the healthy development of the foetus in early pregnancy. For women that are of child-bearing age, are pregnant, or planning on getting pregnant, it’s recommended to take extra folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The best way to get enough folate is to take a daily supplement for at least one month before conceiving, and three months after. 

Iodine in pregnancy

A woman's thyroid uses iodine to produce hormones that are important for the normal development of her baby’s brain and nervous system. So it’s very important that mothers consume enough iodine when pregnant. Seafood, eggs and dairy products can all be good sources of iodine. 

Calcium in pregnancy

Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. When pregnant, a mother's calcium needs don’t actually increase: Dairy foods (such as milk, cheese and yoghurt) and calcium-fortified soy milk are excellent dietary sources of calcium.

Long Chain Omega 3 fatty acids in pregnancy

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosaxhexanoic acid (DHA), are very important for a baby’s neurological development. When pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s recommended that a mother consumes 200mg of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA daily. Eating 2 to 3 servings of fish a week can help achieve this goal.

Iron requirements in pregnancy

For a pregnant mum, increasing their intake of iron - either through diet or by taking a supplement - can help them build their baby’s iron stores. Iron helps support the baby's blood formation, which helps transport oxygen around their body. 

Vitamin D in pregnancy

It is vital for a pregnant mother to consume vitamin D for their baby’s bone structure. 

Oily fish, eggs and red meat are all good food sources

The myth of 'eating for two'

There’s no need for a pregnant woman to eat more food during the first trimester of pregnancy. For the first trimester, her energy intake should stay about the same as it was before she fell pregnant. During the second and third trimesters, her energy requirements will probably increase. Increasing the diet with small snacks such as an additional piece of fruit, a sandwich and a portion of yoghurt will give the extra energy required.