It can be hard to shift through all the advice available on pregnancy. So we’ve narrowed down the top health tips you should be aware of when caring for yourself and your growing bub:
Love healthy eating
A pregnant woman needs to increase her nutrient intake, rather than her kilojoule intake. During the first trimester your energy needs remain the same, and then increase in the second and third trimesters. For women who are a healthy weight, it is recommended that you gain between 11.5 and 16kg.
Eat a balanced diet that includes the right amount of healthy foods from the five food groups. Make sure you get 5 serves of vegetables/legumes and 2 serves of fruit a day. Wholegrains and cereal foods are also very important – choose high fibre options at 8 serves a day.
You should have 3.5 serves of iron-rich foods such as lean red meat or tofu, and 2.5 serves of milk, hard cheese and yoghurt or calcium-enriched alternatives. While 2 to 3 serves of fish are recommended per week, some types of fish (like billfish) are high in mercury and should be avoided. It is crucial to eliminate all alcohol during pregnancy and to cut down on caffeine.
Know your vitamin needs
Folate (folic acid) is a B-group vitamin which helps protect against neural tube defects in developing infants. If you are planning a pregnancy and during the first three months of your pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement that contains at least 400 mcg of folic acid is recommended, as well as eating foods that are naturally rich in folate. Chemistworks stocks a variety of folic acid products for your needs, including Nature’s Own Folic Acid 500 mcg.
During pregnancy the foetus draws iron from its mother to sustain it for the first six months after birth. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg a day (9 mg a day more than for non-pregnant women). You should discuss the need for iron supplements with your doctor as iron is also toxic in large doses.
Iodine is crucial for the production of the thyroid hormone which controls growth and development. Taking a supplement of 150 mcg per day is recommended if you are planning a pregnancy, throughout your pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Elevit Multivitamin is available at Chemistworks and contains 220 mcg of iodine.
Manage the common conditions
Morning sickness – Try a supplement designed to help this nausea and vomiting, such as Elevit Morning Sickness Relief found at Chemistworks. Trying different foods (like ginger), eating snacks and taking your pregnancy supplement at night may also help.
Heartburn – avoid eating late at night, lying down after eating, excessive caffeine and fried or spicy foods.
Constipation – Eat plenty of high fibre foods (30g per day), drink lots of water and exercise regularly.
Reduce the risk of Listeria infection
Listeria infection occurs when you eat foods contaminated with bacteria known as Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria can increase the risk of miscarriage, still birth or premature labour. It is important to avoid certain foods that are prone to contamination and to properly cook foods. Foods to avoid include: soft cheeses, precooked cold foods, undercooked meat, raw seafood, unpasteurised foods, pre-packaged cut fruit and vegetables and soft-serve ice cream. Follow correct food hygiene procedures to avoid contaminating food.
Regularly exercise and rest
Regular exercise such as swimming, walking, yoga or pilates will help you stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy and for the birth. Pelvic floor exercises will strengthen these muscles for the birth and reduce the risk of stress continence. Lastly, take time to rest and have regular naps, particularly if you’re not sleeping well. The fatigue you feel is the result of pregnancy hormones and your body’s way of telling you to slow down.