Pictured: Miss 9, when she was 22 weeks in the womb
Being a pregnant mama is a tough job. Pregnant mama’s can get bombarded with contradictory advice. So here’s some info from a mama and a nearly dietitian (finished my studies, awaiting registration).
Despite the old saying “eat for two”, pregnant mama’s don’t actually need to eat much more energy: only an extra 300 calories in the second and third trimester. And what does 300 calories look like? It’s really a small meal or slightly larger snack.
A bowl of porridge, a baked potato, a bowl of soup, chicken and salad or 70 grams of chocolate.
But pregnant mama’s DO need more of almost all nutrients, particularly folic acid and iodine. So food quality becomes super important. That means it’s best to choose whole foods that have lots of extra nutrients…
…Whole foods? Think foods that grow, or come from something that grows. Fresh plant based foods that don’t come in packets, fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, meat, nuts, seeds etc….
These foods will help make sure baby and mum have everything they need. Generally, baby takes what it needs, so if you’re not getting enough in, you will get depleted in nutrition, making it harder for you to do the things you need to do (like keeping old Winston in line). And you may get deficiencies.
So here’s some practical advice for you (and other pregnant mama’s) to help you on your baby growing journey
1. When you are busy, planning is KEYStrategies for planning:
- Prepare meals in advance, slow cookers are an excellent way to have food ready for when you get home.
- Have a few super quick meal ideas on hand, either in the freezer or something you can whip up quickly.
- Keep your pantry stocked with staples.
- Prep food in advance, for the week. You can prep vegetables and have them in the fridge, so they are on hand when you need them
- Have leftovers for lunches to save time making two meals (keeping in mind food safety)
- Food safety is a concern when pregnant, and it can make eating out difficult. When eating out make sure the food is freshly prepared and cooked, avoid all foods that have been sitting around in cabinets, including salads and sushi and baked goods with cream or custard (more about this later)
2. Snacks – because getting in enough nutrients is important, make sure your snacks are mostly healthyHave snacks in your handbag, in the glove box in your car and your desk, so they are on hand.
- raw nuts,
- dark chocolate,
- bliss balls,
- a hard boiled egg still in its shell,
- cheese and crackers,
- half an avocado
3. Eat regularly and don’t skip meals! Which is easy to do when you’re juggling meetings and general work stuff.
Your meals are important, try and maximise nutrition as much as possible. In each meal aim for:
- Protein foods: eggs, tofu, beans, legumes, chickpeas, meat, chicken fish, some grains like quinoa and dairy like yoghurt and cheese. Most people already eat plenty of protein and pregnant mamas don’t need too much more. Aim for 2 to 3 serves each day and try and spread your serves out through out the day (ie. not all at dinner time). This will help you feel full at each meal and give you sustained energy and important for baby’s growth
- Include vegetables and fruit (half your plate at each meal) . Lots of fibre, lots of vitamins and minerals, for bone development, energy metabolism,
- Include healthy fats (raw nuts and seeds and their oils, avocado, avocado oils, olive oil, fatty fish eg salmon and tuna and full fat dairy (great for baby’s brain development)
- And carbohydrates: about ¼ of the plate and try and go for whole food grains and starchy carbs as much as possible, such as oats, corn, potato, kumara, parsnip, quinoa, rice, etc.
- Consider supplements for iodine, folic acid and Vitamin D
Moral of the story?
- Make sure you are having three main meals a day. Focus your food choices around whole foods (think foods that grow or come from something that grows) as much as possible, make sure you include adequate protein, fats and carbs to keep you going and to nourish baby.
- Use your snacks to top you up, if you need extra energy. The more energy you need, the more snacks you add in. Smoothies are great!
4. Food Safety
From a pregnancy point of view, you need foods that won’t have bugs in them. These bugs don’t affect most people, but can affect baby. The main culprit bug is Listeria, which makes most people mildly unwell, but can travel through the placenta and seriously affect baby. This is why there are food safety rules for pregnancy.
Avoid any food that has been lying around, at room temperatures (baked items with cream in them etc, sushi, sandwiches in display cabinets with egg or meat or salad or rice, or buffets etc) and food that has been sitting in the fridge too long. Fish and Seafood are fine as long as they are cooked and served hot. Some deep sea fish, like tuna can contain mercury. These fish are best to have no more than once a week. Most white fish and farmed salmon is fine to have, in terms of mercury.
If you want the more detailed list…..Foods to avoid:
- All unpasteurised (raw) dairy products
- Soft cheeses like Camembert and Brie unless they are pasteurised AND cooked AND served hot! Most soft cheeses in NZ are pasteurised, but because they are soft they are more likely to have other bugs in them, so if you want them, they need to be served hot.
- Sushi – avoid unless you’ve made it yourself and it doesn’t contain raw fish. Eat straight away!
- Avoid all raw fish products and smoked fish, unless served hot
- Avoid deli meats unless served hot. Same with cold meats. Steak cooked medium rare or similar is fine, because it’s the outside of the cut of meat that contains the bugs and when that is seared off, it kills the bugs. Not true for minced patty’s, avoid these if served rare. (the bugs are on the surface of the meat, which means all through a mince patty)
- Avoid bags of salad and coleslaw
- Avoid tahini and hummus that contains tahini. You can make hummus very easily, just don’t put tahini in it and then you can eat it!
- Avoid alcohol, it is not known how much alcohol is ‘safe’ for baby. So abstaining is best.
- Eat eggs well cooked and hot. Avoid may because it contains raw egg, unless it’s the store bought stuff and the egg is pasteurised.
- Red meat is absolutely fine to have, just make sure it is cooked properly and not left sitting around. And with left overs make sure they are heated very well and stored appropriately (eg. in a fridge). And don’t eat after 2 days
- Fermented products like kombucha and sauerkraut are fine during pregnancy, especially if you are already having them
- Coffee and caffeine is fine, just don’t go overboard! Especially if it’s just a cup (or two) of coffee or tea. I would avoid energy drinks with other herbs in them, like guarana and ginseng etc.
5. What to eat when you’re out and about
I recommend having food from home, prepared and taken with you. That way you know exactly how it’s been handled. But it’s not always possible. So when you are out make sure your food is prepared and cooked or heated just for you. And is served piping hot.Most foods are actually fine to have, baked goods, muffins, scones etc are fine, just be mindful of any cream in them, especially if it’s not chilled or sandwiches with meat fillings/aioli etc (as above)
6. Get plenty of rest and do gentle exercise regularly
Moral of the story?
Pregnancy can be an amazing time. There is nothing that equals feeling baby kicking and moving inside your belly. Nutrition is super important for mum and bubs and getting regular healthy meals will ensure that baby grows well and mum can continue ruling our country!
Planning on getting “up the duff”? Already pregnant? Want advice and guidance on what to eat and how to feed your unborn or new born baby?
Get in touch and book a consult! I can help!