You’re pregnant and you’re over the moon, but knowing what you should be eating to nurture and grow a little human, as well as looking after yourself can be overwhelming.
There’s no need to panic. Whilst there are certain nutrients you need to dial up, the main thing is to follow a balanced diet, making sure you get lots of vitamins, minerals and a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Keep in mind that eating for two doesn’t mean doubling up on everything you eat, it’s more a case of adjusting the balance of certain things to get the best of Mother Nature’s pre-natal nourishment.
Here are 6 SUPER NUTRIENTS that are needed for a healthy pregnancy along with some simple and delicious ways of making sure you get enough:
Quantity: 600 micrograms (Normal Adult Requirement 400 mcg)
Note: This is essential for the fetal development that occurs in the first month of pregnancy, so it’s key to increase your intake whilst trying to get pregnant.
For Baby: Helps prevent neural tube defects and serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
For Mummy: Folic acid prevents anemia. It is essential for the production, repair and functioning of DNA and is important for the rapid cell growth of the placenta and your developing baby.
Sources: Spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, Romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans.
- 1½ cups spinach (95% DV)
- ½ orange (5% DV)
- 1 cup strawberries (6.5% DV)
- 1 cup water / coconut water
Dhal is another great choice with 1 cup of dhal delivering 90% DV of folic acid.
Quantity: 1000mg per day (Normal Adult Requirement: 1000 mg and 1200mg for ages 50+)
For Baby: For the growth of healthy bones, teeth, a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles. Also key for the development of a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting abilities.
For Mummy: If provision of calcium is not sufficient, a growing baby will take it from the mother’s bones and this can lead to bone loss at a later stage.
Sources: White beans, yoghurt, canned salmon, mozzarella cheese, sardines, bok choy, kale, almonds, firm tofu made with calcium sulfate, oranges, dried figs, cereals fortified with calcium.
- ½ can salmon (23% DV)
- ½ cup plain yoghurt (23% DV)
- 1 -2 spring onions, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 oz mozzarella cheese (20% DV)
- In a bowl mix the salmon, yoghurt, spring onion, salt and pepper.
- Line a whole-wheat wrap with spinach. Spread the salmon mix and sprinkle the cheese.
- Place in the oven or sandwich toaster. Heat up until the cheese melts.
Dessert Choice: ½ cup of yoghurt (23% DV) and 8 dried figs (10% DV).
Quantity: 450 mcg per day (Normal Adult Requirement:425mcg, *550mcg for nursing mums)
For Baby: Essential for overall growth and brain health, whilst helping to prevent neural tube defects.
For Mummy: Sustains bone health and may help prevent high blood pressure.
Sources: Eggs, shrimp, scallops, broccoli, spinach, chicken, bok choy, sardines.
2 eggs (70% DV)
2 cups broccoli (30% DV)
PROTEIN (& DHA*)
Quantity: Protein 60-70g (Normal Adult Requirement: 50g)
For Baby: Protein is made up of the amino acids that are the building blocks of your body’s cells. It is crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimester.
For Mummy: Protein is needed to support the body’s cells and a little extra protein is recommended during breastfeeding.
*When choosing protein, include food sources that are extra high in omega -3 fatty acids, especially DHA. This is important for optimal infant brain and eye development and may also lower the risk of postpartum depression.
Sources: Lean meat (beef, chicken), fish (anchovies, salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, halibut), eggs, cheese, milk, tofu, beans, peanut butter, quinoa, seaweed
Salmon and Cottage Cheese Open Sandwich
- 3oz salmon (35% DV)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup cottage cheese (20% DV)
- 1 tsp chives, chopped
- 1 tsp dill
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- Salt and pepper
- Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
- In a pan, add the olive oil and fry the fish on both sides until cooked.
- In a bowl, add the cottage cheese, chives, dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
- Toast the bread, spread the cottage cheese mixture and crumble the salmon on top. Sprinkle with extra herbs.
Quantity: 220-250mcg per day (Normal Adult Requirement:150mcg, *290mcg for nursing mums)
For Baby: Iodine is needed for brain and nervous system development. It also helps to prevent stunted growth, mental disability and deafness as well as miscarriage and stillbirth.
For Mummy: Important for a healthy thyroid.
SOURCES: Cod, yoghurt, cottage cheese, potato (skin on), milk, navy beans, turkey.
- Baked Potato with Cod (serves 1)
- 1 potato, sliced (25% DV), unpeeled and sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup passata
- 1 tsp fresh oregano
- 100g cod (35% DV) cut in chunks
- Preheat oven to 200°C/390°
- Stir passata, garlic and oregano into the potato mixture. Layer the cod on top. Cover with aluminium foil and bake until fish is cooked.
Quantity: 27mg per day (Normal Adult Requirement: 8-18mg)
For Baby: Helps prevent premature delivery.
For Mummy: Helps prevent anemia.
Sources: Meat, liver, chickpeas, fortified cereals, pumpkin seeds, beans, lentils, spinach, sesame seeds, dried apricots, raisins, spirulina, chia seeds.
- 1-1½ cup fortified cereal (can meet your 100% DV of iron)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp raisins
Note: The Percent Daily Value (% DV) refers to the percentage of nutrients you’re getting in one serving of food. E.g. 10% DV means that you’re getting 10% of your daily requirement.
OTHER KEY VITAMINS & MINERALS:
Sources: White beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils, sweet potato, yogurt, broccoli, raisins, cantaloupe.
Sources: Yogurt, mushrooms, milk, cottage cheese, fortified cereals.
Sources: Fortified cereals, garbanzo beans, potato with skin on, beef, chicken, pork, halibut.
Sources: Salmon, trout, tuna, beef, cereals.
Sources: Red pepper, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, cataloupe, brussel sprouts, mango, collard greens.
Sources: Milk, fortified orange juice, fortified cereals, egg.
Sources: Beef, crab, pork, white beans, yoghurt, fortified cereals.