We have got you covered. Lindsey Whistler, registered Nutritional Therapist, has rounded up all of the must-have nutrition knowledge for your pregnancy. Read on to find out the dos and don’ts.
Essentially the recommendations for avoiding certain foods comes down to food safety. Some foods are more prone to developing harmful bacteria and as your immune system is lower than usual during pregnancy, you are more likely to become ill from eating these bacteria, which could impact your baby.
First things first, give your fridge a really good clean, throw away anything that has developed mould and remember to always wash your hands before eating. It’s important to be aware of the risks of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite found in cat faeces - this can be easily avoided by washing all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Any pasteurised cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, gruyere, edam, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, halloumi and feta are safe to eat. Unpasteurised cheeses like goat’s cheese, Brie, camembert and blue cheeses should be avoided unless they have been cooked through. Avoid any unpasteurised milks and yoghurts - mostly found in farmers markets. Pasteurised ice creams, creams and milks are all fine to enjoy.
Avoid runny eggs - be sure to cook through to avoid salmonella risk.
Fish is a wonderful source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. However be aware not to eat more than 4 tins of tuna weekly due to the mercury content. It’s also advised to eat no more than 2 portions of oily fish weekly, due to pollutants. Fish that fall into the oily category are: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, trout and herring. Shellfish is generally safe as long as it is cooked thoroughly.
Be sure that any meat is well-cooked - be especially careful at barbecues where meat may be charred but raw inside. Cold meats like ham are fine, but cured meats (chorizo, prosciutto, salami etc.) are not cooked and so do be careful with these - using them in a recipe where they will be cooked is safe. Avoid liver and liver pate - the Vitamin A content is too high and may be toxic to your baby.
There is no need to give up your morning coffee - you can safely have up to 200mg of caffeine daily. Bearing in mind that a cup of filter coffee contains 140 mg and a cup of tea contains around 75 mg - it may be worth switching to decaffeinated versions or herbal teas if you love your hot drinks. Energy drinks tend to be full of additives and can contain up to 240 mg of caffeine per can, so these are best to steer clear of during pregnancy.
The current NHS advice is to avoid alcohol completely in pregnancy. Luckily now there are so many wonderful non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy, gone are the days of enduring a glass of warm orange juice while everyone else enjoys the bubbles! See this as a lovely opportunity to discover new drinks you enjoy, and can continue to enjoy through breast-feeding and beyond. Take a look at these previous Avery Row blog posts for inspiration:
The Best Mocktail Drinks
Festive Party Drinks
✨HOW TO STAY HEALTHY IN PREGNANCY✨
The information above may seem overwhelming - there are quite a few things to remember and keep an eye on. What if you don’t feel like eating fruit and vegetables or have little energy to prepare healthy meals? Firstly, don’t worry if you are feeling sick and not much nutrition is going in. Your baby will still receive the nutrition it needs even if you only feel like eating biscuits! You will be able to catch up on good nutrition further into your pregnancy. Here are some tips and hacks for overcoming common pregnancy-related complaints...
Usually referred to as morning sickness, let’s just call it sickness as it can strike any time of day! The good news is that typical mild sickness is unlikely to affect foetal development. Having said that, please don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if you are vomiting more than 4 times a day, become dizzy, dehydrated and lose weight. Try...
- Frequent, small meals and snacks - this can help prevent blood sugar drops which can worsen nausea.
- Avoiding smelly food.
- Ginger or peppermint tea (this has antiemetic properties).
- Getting adequate rest.
- Eating an oat cake before getting out of bed.
- Supplementing B6, 25 mg x 3 daily has been shown to help. You could try Biocare Nutrisorb B6 - taken under the tongue rather than as a tablet, it’s better for those feeling sick. If you are taking other supplements, ask the advice of a health professional first.
Usually due to hormonal influences, the baby pushing up, and there being less available space for food, heartburn or acid reflux can be painful. This should resolve after the birth, until then you can try these tips to ease it. Try...
- Eat smaller meals rather than large ones.
- Avoid foods that increase acidity such as spice, excess sugar and coffee.
- Chew properly and try to eat mindfully and slowly.
- Leave a gap between meals where you drink only water if possible - at least 3 hours is ideal.
- Later in pregnancy using an extra pillow in bed may help reduce symptoms.
A very common complaint in pregnancy, this can be really uncomfortable and it’s worth having a strategy in place early on in order to deal with it. As your uterus grows larger it squashes the large intestine, and hormonal changes occur to slow motility, in order for your body to extract as many nutrients as possible. Try...
- A fibre-packed breakfast; overnight oats or a smoothie are great choices (see recipes below).
- Increasing water intake to at least 2 litres daily.
- Adding prunes, figs, berries, nuts, flaxseed and chia seeds to your breakfast - ideal with yoghurt.
- Take a magnesium supplement before bed - this acts as a natural laxative.
- Gentle movement and exercise can get bowels moving.
- Stick to a morning routine if possible, to keep regular.
- Max out eating as many fruits and vegetables as you can - see if you can fill your plate with the colours of the rainbow.
- Drink prune juice daily.
This is the onset of poor blood sugar control which can increase the risk of large birth weight babies. You may be at increased risk for gestational diabetes if;
- You have a BMI of 30 or over.
- You have had a previous baby who weighed 4.5kg (10lbs) or more at birth.
- You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
- You have a family history of diabetes.
✨NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS & SUPPLEMENTS✨
During pregnancy our nutrient requirements change slightly - an additional 100-300 calories are required daily, as well as an additional 6-10g of protein to account for maternal and foetal tissue.
So what does that look like? Here are some ideas for easy snacks that will give you the additional calories and protein you need:
- 1 small pot of unsweetened yoghurt topped with pumpkin seeds and berries. You can also substitute the pumpkin seeds with nut butter.
- 2 hard-boiled eggs on ryvita, topped with sesame seeds and chilli flakes.
- Roasted chickpeas - try Odd Pods or Brave for handbag-friendly snack bags.
- A slice of rye toast topped with nut butter and fruit, hummus and tomatoes, cheddar and cucumber, cream cheese, tomatoes and dill or avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Porridge - the Moma pots are great for a quick snack - top with berries and nuts for extra fibre.
- Chopped vegetables with 3 tbsp hummus and olives.
In pregnancy you have an increased need for nutrients such as omega 3 essential fatty acids (in particular EPA & DHA), iodine, iron, folic acid and choline. Foods that are real pregnancy superstars include dark leafy greens, berries, eggs and oily fish (2 portions weekly).
- Folic Acid (or folate) , should ideally be taken 3 months before conception and during the first trimester. This helps to prevent foetal neural tube defects in the baby as well as a type of anaemia in the mother called Megaloblastic Anaemia. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 400mcg. Choose a product called folate rather than folic acid like this Terranova Folate.
- EPA & DHA are essential for brain and eye development. A specific pregnancy supplement such as Bare Biology Mums & Bumps should be taken throughout.
- A really good quality multivitamin will cover you for the rest of the nutrients. Try Viridian Pregnancy Complex, Biocare Methyl Pregnancy Multi or Nutri Advanced Pregnancy Multi Essential. All of these can be taken from pre-conception through to lactation.
- If you are vegan, please continue to take your B12 supplement as usual.
✨TOP TIPS FOR OPTIMISING YOUR NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY✨
- Get to know which foods contain the most fibre and make them your friends! You need around 30g a day. Most fruit and vegetables contain 1-3g per serving, and the heavy hitters are mangoes, berries, beans, lentils, linseed (flaxseed), chia, oats, barley, figs and prunes.
- Buy pre-cooked packets of lentils/pre-steamed fish/chopped veg/salad/cherry tomatoes if you don’t feel up to cooking. Just throw things in a bowl and go!
- Have a go-to breakfast so that you don’t need to think in the morning: overnight oats/pimped up toast/yoghurt, nuts and berries.
- Wash and chop up fruit and vegetables as soon as you buy them, so there is always something healthy to hand.
- Make a soup if you don’t feel like eating vegetables. Served with rye bread and cheese this is a great meal for the whole family and can last days.
- Choose superior bread to get your fibre up - chewier blends like spelt, rye and 5-seed are great.
- Consider a meal delivery such as All Plants - delicious and healthy meals that are much better for you (and quicker) than a Deliveroo.
- Carry fruit/low sugar biscuits or homemade trail mix with you in case you have a low blood sugar moment.
- Invest in a lovely water bottle that will make you want to drink more water.
- When the oven is on, consider roasting a few potatoes/sweet potatoes at the same time, to eat throughout the week.
- Where possible (and a good one to delegate to a partner), double up recipes and eat them twice or three times. Portion out into the fridge or freezer and simply heat through.
Overnight oats 2 different ways
Raspberry Oats -
- 40 g oats
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp raspberries
- Optional vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 120ml milk of your choice
- 60ml orange or apple juice
- 40 g oats
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 2 tsp cacao
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 180ml cup milk of your choice
- 1 cup milk of your choice
- 2 tsp nut butter
- ½ banana
- 1 cup frozen fruit
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 serving protein powder
Blend, loosen with a bit of water if necessary and enjoy!
If you would like a helping hand with your nutrition journey, Lindsey is a Registered Nutritional Therapist offering online and face to face appointments (in London and Bath). Book in a free 20-minute discovery call by contacting her on 07794 819 255 or Lindsoloves@gmail.com. Also, get 20% off when you quote 'Avery Row' in your free discovery call.
✨ Click here to book your free discovery call and kick start your nutrition journey ✨