Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be a struggle day-to-day, never mind when you’re pregnant and dealing with everything that goes along with that too. But taking the time to look after your body as best as you can is a great way to ensure that your pregnancy is a happy and healthy one.
CABA’s expert nutritionists at The Natural Alternative, share their expert advice below, with tips on how to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.
They explain that the key to having a healthy pregnancy is quite simple, eating a varied and balanced diet.
Morning sickness is something that plagues a lot of women during the first stage of pregnancy. Up to 85% of women will experience nausea and vomiting and the effect of this can leave you feeling more hungry than usual. Whilst you need to satisfy your hunger, the notion of eating for two couldn’t be further than the truth.
Nausea can often be worse when your blood sugar is particularly low, so keeping healthy snacks to hand is always a good idea.
Snacks you could try include:
Bircher muesli – make it in bulk and keep it in the fridge, ready to be eaten when you feel your blood sugar dip.
Ginger – Ginger is often used to help ward off sickness, you could try a variety of ways to eat it, including ginger biscuits, ginger tea or ginger ale.
Houmous – Houmous is really filling thanks to the chickpeas and you could up your vegetable intake by eating it with peppers, cucumber, carrots or celery.
Yoghurt – Try natural or Greek yoghurt, plain varieties, with berries on top when you need something to cure the sweet cravings.
Boost your energy
Usually, it’s the first and third trimesters where women feel extremely tired, so it’s important that you rest when you can. Being a little more organised and planning ahead can be a real help when you’re feeling tired, especially when it comes to meal times.
Meal prepping and batch cooking are your biggest friends for those evenings when ordering a pizza seems like the only option. Try cooking bigger portions of foods like chilli, curry, bolognese, shepherd’s pie, which can be stored in the freezer for a few weeks and make a great weeknight meal that’s filling and nutritious.
To improve your energy levels these can help:
Iron – It’s common that in the last stages of pregnancy, women become iron deficient and anaemic. To counteract this, you should consider upping the amounts of foods that you eat that contain iron. Red meat is a good source, it’s recommended that you eat it twice a week, other sources are green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as nuts and dried apricots.
There are certain types of foods that will also hinder how much iron is absorbed into the body, so when you’re eating iron-rich foods you’ll want to avoid thinks like black tea and grains that are found in bread, rice and pasta.
Choosing an iron supplement might be a good option for some, and vitamin C will help with the absorption of iron.
Vitamin B12 – This supplement is recommended particularly if you’re a vegetarian. B12 helps with the formation of red blood cells, and if they’re reduced you’re likely to feel more fatigued. Foods that are good sources of B12 include eggs, milk, cheese, meat and fish.
Ensuring your baby is healthy
Having a healthy diet isn’t always enough when you’re pregnant and prenatal supplements can help ensure your baby has everything it needs to grow and flourish. These are the supplements that you might want to consider taking.
Folic acid - Folic acid is often the first vitamin that is recommended to pregnant women, as it can help reduce the chance of neural tube defects including spina bifida. The NHS recommends that women take 400mcg of folic acid every day, at least until the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Vitamin D – Whilst we do get the majority of our vitamin D intake from the sun, in the colder months, this often isn’t possible. Taking a supplement could be the answer to ensure that you’re getting enough of this vital vitamin. Ensuring you get enough vitamin D is crucial for absorbing calcium into the bones. It’s recommended that we take 10mcg of vitamin D a day.
Calcium – Calcium is another essential mineral for pregnant women, which is helpful in helping to grow strong bones and teeth. Ensuring you eat enough of the following is important, including milk, yoghurt and certain cheeses. It’s ok to eat cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer and ricotta when you’re pregnant too.
If you’re dairy-free you can also find calcium in green leafy vegetables, tahini, tofu, fortified calcium drinks and certain fish like tinned salmon and sardines.
Omega 3 – This is not currently something that the government recommends that pregnant women need to take, however, there have been studies that suggest omega 3 can have an impact on a baby’s brain development. Ensuring you eat oily fish at least twice a week is important, and including foods like nuts and seeds. You might also want to consider a high-quality supplement, cheaper fish oils can result in the heavy metals not being properly filtered out.