Pregnancy Nutrition

Before we dive into pregnancy nutrition, let’s look at the general nutrition status for Aussies – according to research only 4% of Aussies eat the recommended 5 serves of veggies a day, and it’s estimated that up to 80% of Aussies have a nutritional deficiency, such as iron and Vitamin D deficiencies


You can see why during periods when your body requires additional macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including preconception planning, pregnancy, and postpartum, it adds another layer of complexity to your health goals.

Now, it’s said it takes two years to nutritionally recover from a pregnancy! Just take that in for a second.  Doesn’t it make sense that we should focus on preconception planning and pregnancy so you don’t just survive the pregnancy and first year with your new baby, but that you THRIVE?!

Art and Image by Olga Murasev

Many common pregnancy-related conditions are caused or worsened by nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, some of these include fatigue, headaches, iron deficiency anemia, gestational diabetes, and also birth complications, including underweight babies.

Getting the right nutrition during the preconception stage and pregnancy is one of the best ways to give your baby a head start in life – and it can make pregnancy safer and more comfortable for you too.

So let’s discuss the do’s and don’ts of nutrition in your pregnancy


Do:

  • Focus on eating a wholefood diet; that is, eating food that’s natural, seasonal and undergone minimal food processing. Enjoy quick and easy, nutritious foods, including vegetables, fruits, eggs, olive oil, nuts, seeds, legumes, oily fish, seafood, organic meat & whole grains.
  • Eat protein with every meal, and snack, to keep you fuller for longer, stabilise blood sugar levels and manage morning sickness.
  • Eat small, regular meals.  Try to eat every few hours. Your pregnant body is a bit like a newborn; it thrives on routine & consistency. Small, frequent meals are the most effective way to stabilise blood glucose levels, reduce nausea & heartburn, regulate energy levels & reduce sugar cravings.
  • Include a good quality pregnancy multivitamin that contains bioavailable vitamins, especially B vitamins such as activate folate, which supports healthy cell division, development of the foetus & prevents neural tube defects.
    • Up to 30% of women have an MTHFR gene mutation, which means the body has an issue absorbing Vitamin B9 (folate) even when you eat all the ‘right’ B-vitamin rich foods, like veggies, and take folate supplements.  For this reason you want a highly absorbable, active form of folate, called  5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
  • Do a full blood test at each trimester to identify any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.  Include full iron studies, folate, B12, zinc, Vitamin D, full thyroid studies, zinc and insulin levels in your regular blood test.
  • Include an iron supplement, if necessary. From the second trimester there’s a 50% increase in blood volume, which is why women start to experience declining iron levels and may experience iron deficiency at this stage in pregnancy. Please note: only 25% of iron supplements are actually absorbed, so you want to work with a practitioner to select the right supplement to suit your needs, and avoid ones that can clog you up and cause bloating and constipation.
  • Include fibre in your diet to reduce constipation, a common side effect of pregnancy.Fibre also supports bowel health, detoxification pathways and promotes healthy hormones. Include oats, quinoa, cacao, corn, green leafy vegetables, berries, beans and chia seeds.
  • Increase your intake of foods naturally high in probiotics, which supports good gut bacteria and support the natural digestive juices & enzymes that keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy. Since over 70% of your immune cells reside in your gut and your gut health is the seat of your immunity, it’s a simple way to support healthy immune function. These foods include sauerkraut, olives, miso soup, tempeh, kefir, kombucha & full-fat natural Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt.
  • Eat walnuts, flaxseed oil and oily fish such as sardines & wild salmon, for their omega 3 fatty acids, which support healthy immune function, reduce inflammation, promote cardiovascular health and support the growth & development of the baby’s brain.  Alternatively, opt for a good-quality fish oil supplement, with 3 grams per day of EPA and DHA.

Don’t:

  • Drink alcohol, as it interferes with the digestion, metabolism and excretion of nutrients and has toxic effects on foetal development.
  • Eat undercooked or raw meat, including runny egg yolk, raw meat, raw fish, raw milk, soft cheeses, etc.
  • Consume foods with chemicals, additives & preservatives, as they can deplete your body of key nutrients needed in pregnancy and contribute to headaches, skin issues and allergies.
  • Eat refined sugar & sweeteners. Amongst other things, refined sugar directly depletes white blood cells, which can lower your immunity & contribute to digestive dysfunction.

If you’d like to organise a full blood test as part of your preconception planning or during pregnancy to see if you have pregnancy-related deficiencies/imbalances and you’d like a personalised naturopathic approach you can book a consultation with Olivia at the clinic.