It comes as no surprise, but a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry(1) has found that maternal consumption of ‘junk food’ results in increased mental health issues. More reason than ever to take care of yourself and your child by eating the best pregnancy foods you can. During pregnancy, there are some slightly different nutritional requirements, although a healthy diet can easily deliver everything you and the baby will need. Some extra vitamins and minerals are required to ensure the best outcome for both of you while energy requirements are not greatly increased – YOU ARE NOT EATING FOR TWO ADULTS! In fact, most stages of pregnancy require only slightly more energy, which can equate to just a tub of yoghurt per day. This varies depending on your pre-pregnancy weight with heavier women requiring less.
- You’ll need slightly more: folate (esp pre and early pregnancy), B group vitamins, zinc, iron (especially latter half), Vit D, calcium (esp latter trimester) and magnesium
- Remember iron vs zinc competitive uptake so try to take any supplements at different times
- You should supplement folate prior to conception if possible as it’s most crucial in the early stages of pregnancy
- Depending on your particular diet, Ca2+ (calcium) supplementation may be advisable. VitD sup may also compliment this and is worth considering if your exposure to sun is limited
- Vegans will require B12 supplementation – see your doctor
- Increased carbohydrate intake for regular exercisers
- More of everything for women carrying twins or triplets
- Avoid soft cheese, soft dairy, uncooked fish, too much fish, alcohol, high levels of caffeine, high levels of high-GI (glycemic index) carbohydrate, processed sugars, raw egg, pre-packaged salads and undercooked foods
- Small, more frequent meals are easier and more comfortable to digest – and allow more variety which helps give you the nutrients you need
For more facts, please refer to the DAA’s pregnancy guidelines.
1: ‘Junk food’ consumption by pregnant women and infants associated with increased mental health issues in offspring. – Jacka. FN. Et al. (2013). Maternal and early postnatal nutrition and mental health of offspring by age 5 years: a prospective cohort study. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2013.07.002. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.