NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY

Pregnancy is the one time in your life where your eating habits directly impact another person. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet whilst pregnant plays such an important role in ensuring mothers and developing bubs are getting the adequate nutrients that they need whilst their body is going through a demanding and dramatically changing time. 

As is always the case with diet and exercise, everyone's nutritional and energy requirements vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. Some of these include your activity level, current diet, age, whether you have underlying injuries or illnesses, any food allergies or preferences, the list goes on.

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Nutritional and energy requirements during this time could also be discussed for days and in great detail, it will not be ALL covered here. Feel free to reach out if you have any specific nutrition queries. So I've wrapped up some key take-aways for you just as I did in part one, feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more or book a consult to discuss requirements specific to your needs.

I’M PREGNANT, THAT MEANS I CAN EAT FOR TWO RIGHT?

You definitely do not need to ‘eat for two’, as the old saying commonly suggests. It is more important as to WHAT you actually eat to ensure that you are setting your bub up for the best start to life and that you are fuelling your body with what it needs to grow a happy, healthy baby.

If the thought of eating for two excites you and has you going back for seconds for dinner or saying yes more often to the lunchroom cakes, think again. The initial stages of pregnancy actually requires very little change in your daily energy intake, so it’s time to put down the ice cream (sorry to be the bearer of bad news).

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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE KEY NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS DURING PREGNANCY?

The nutrient requirements for pregnancy cannot be based on the same criteria that is applied to those in a non-pregnant state, recommend dietary intakes (RDI’s) for almost all nutrients are increased to some extent during pregnancy. There is an increase for most micronutrients during pregnancy such as your B vitamins and folate and iron. The RDI’s for sodium, calcium, potassium and vitamin D however, are however not increased for pregnancy.

When it comes to your key macronutrients (carbs, fats & proteins), again in the first trimester energy requirements do not increase greatly.

PROTEIN: What is particularly important is to ensure you are consuming a minimum of 1.0g/kg/day of protein in the second and third trimesters. Protein positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy and it plays a role in your increasing blood supply.

Think: lean meats: (chicken, turkey, beef, pork), greek and natural yoghurt, nuts, tofu and seafood. I choose to supplement with True Protein Vegan Protein powder in Vanilla to help add a daily protein boost to my smoothies.

FATS: Be sure to limit foods highly processed and high in saturated fat (chips, biscuits, frozen or fried foods). Some healthier sources of saturated fats include beef, eggs and cheese. Look to consume and increase your intake of unsaturated and polyunsatured fats such as omega 3’s. These are vital to your growing baby to help fuel proper brain growth and eye development, particularly during the third trimester. Some good sources or saturated

Think: avocados, almonds, mixed nuts, salmon, flaxseeds, olive oil, butter, egg yolks.

B VITAMINS & FOTATE: B Vitamin intake is increased during pregnancy with many of the pre-natal vitamins containing these micronutrients. The increased requirements for B vitamins can easily be met as long as your diet consists of some animal products, so if you are a vegan it may be necessary to supplement your diet with vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 may also help to reduce nausea of vomiting in pregnant women. RDI 1.9mg/day

Think: animal products (such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, or dairy); it is also found in fortified breakfast cereals and enriched soy or rice milk.

FOLATE: Folic acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, including spin bifida. This is particularly important leading up to falling pregnant and within the first three months of pregnancy prior to the neural tube closing. It is advised to begin supplementing with folate or increasing this through your diet if you are thinking about starting a family or adding to your brood and continue especially throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. Recommendation of 400micrograms daily leading up to falling pregnant and within the first three months of pregnancy with the help of a folate supplement. 

Think: foods high in folate include asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, chick peas, dried beans, lentils & spinach.

IRON: In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps increase your blood volume and prevents anemia. During pregnancy iron requirements are increased because your developing bub draws iron from you to last it through the first five or six months after birth. Iron is often something that women can become deficient in during pregnancy, so it is so important to try to get enough of this through a varied diet. Your doctor will test your iron levels regularly and you may require a supplement to boost your levels if required.

Think: green leafy vegetables, whole grains, oats, fortified cereals, lean red meat or poultry. RDI of 27mg per day for pregnant women.

CALCIUM: No need to stress about drinking more milk which is commonly thought of during pregnancy. The RDI for women and calcium whether pregnant of not is 1000mg per day for those aged 19-50yrs, 1300mg/day for those 51yrs +). From 2007 the Australian dietary recommendations for increased calcium intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding have been revised. Although the baby has a high requirement for calcium during the third trimester of pregnancy, (as it starts to develop and strengthen its bones), the mother’s increased capacity to absorb dietary calcium means that there is no need for extra intake.  Just make sure you’re still meeting your 1000mg/day.

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HOW MUCH MORE FOOD DO I ACTUALLY NEED?

As you progress through your pregnancy, your physical activity levels may change - the intensity, duration and frequency may reduce depending on your energy levels or if you are experiencing any contraindications to exercise such as pre-eclampsia, uncontrolled hypertension or pubic symphysis dysfunction. This will in turn affect your energy requirements.

Generally your basal metabolic rate (BMR) increases by the fourth month of pregnancy and can reach a 15-20% increase from its baseline towards the end of your pregnancy. These increases are mainly due to the increase in oxygen demands by your growing little bubba and the increased cardiac output; I don’t know about you – but I definitely noticed the shortness of breath when walking up a flight of stairs or performing activity that would normally not trigger a bit of huffing and puffing.

So if your body is working harder due to the growing demands of bub and your metabolic rate is increasing – what exactly does this mean in terms of how much extra food you can eat? As mentioned above, in the first trimester energy needs does not change dramatically. As you reach the second trimester your energy needs increase to an addition approximate 300 calories per day extra, and approximately 450 calories per day by the third trimester. So no need to go over board ladies – this could be achieved by adding in a piece of fruit with a serve of greek yoghurt and oats or a small sandwich (okay - or the occasional brownie).

I’VE BEEN EATING WELL BUT CONCERNED ABOUT WEIGHT GAIN – WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Firstly – you are pregnant so those scales are going to continue to increase and you may find yourself upgrading your wardrobe. Try not to stress over weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Look at these 9 months as a chance to fuel your body to grow a healthy mini-me and enjoy the break from high intensity and impact exercise (something I initially struggled to come to terms with, now I am loving the change and trying activities that I would previously not prioritise).  

When looking at the percentage of total weight gain during pregnancy in a normal, healthy pregnancy only about 26 – 30% is from body fat. The remainder comes down to the fetus (27%), extracellular/vascular fluid (15%) and blood (10%), with the uterus, placenta, amniotic fluid, and mammary glands accounting for the rest.

Are you feeling puffy and like you are retaining fluid? Don’t stress, overall water accounts for over half of the maternal weight gained during pregnancy and will disappear soon after you give birth to you little miracle. Pregnancy is most certainly not the time to be dieting or restricting your food intake (unless you have been advised to by your doctor). You don’t have to make friends with the scales, but make sure you do make friends with salad both during and after your pregnancy.

TOP TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATING DURING PREGNANCY

  • Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables – choose plenty of different types and colours
  • Limit foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar – especially the refined stuff. Life is about balance, so enjoy these in moderation.
  • Ensure you are getting adequate iron from both plant and non plant sources
  • Be prepared: food prep each week some healthy snacks – veggie sticks, energy balls, some healthy whole grains to add to your lunch etc. Fail to plan = plan to fail.
  • Keep your intake of ‘good fats’ up – fuel that babies brain development
  • Don’t forget to drink plenty of water - almost all of my clients where pregnant or not are not drinking enough water on a daily basis. If you are pregnancy your hydration requirements are greater than those non-pregnant peers, so fill up that water bottle and get drinking!
  • Incorporate some healthy whole grains into your day, this also assists with adequate fibre intake.
  • Look at food as fuel for your baby – is what you are putting in your mouth going to benefit and nourish both yourself and bub? If not put it down & opt for something healthier.
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A WORD ON SUPPLEMENTATION

Supplements should never replace a balanced, healthy diet and whole foods. However there are times when it can be useful or advised to supplement. As mentioned earlier I choose to use True Protein Vegan protein powder both in my pregnant and non-pregnancy state. Yes, it is safe to use protein powders during pregnancy (given you don't have a 'high' consumption of protein already). The Nutrient Reference Values for Aus & NZ for protein during pregnancy is 1g/kg of body weight per day. I recommend active individuals to aim for a minimum of 1-1.5g/kg/day. For me that equates to about 85g-127g of protein/day. To help shed some light on how you may reach this see below:

  • 1 serve (100g) of chicken is approximately 30g protein
  • 3 boiled eggs is approximately 21g protein
  • Serve almonds (15-20g) is 6-10g protein
  • Serve/scoop (30g) of True Protein Vegan 85 powder is 25g protein

From the above you can see how adding a scoop of protein powder can help you reach you daily requirements.

It is important to note that not all powders are created equal and trusting the brand you use, as well as reading and interpreting the nutrition label is essential in understanding the ingredients within the product and how much you should use to supplement your diet.

I choose to use True Protein as they have strict controls during processing to minimise the risk of contaminants and ensure a safe product. Their Vegan blends use all natural flavours with no artificial additives, artificial sweeteners or fillers, and the vegan variety is also easier to digest. If you are unsure about the use of protein during pregnancy or if the brand you are using is safe feel free to reach out to me.

FINAL WORD

Make sure you are choosing plenty of fresh, whole, healthy foods to give your baby the best head start possible and keep up the regular activity; the benefits of this to your physical and mental health and baby are countless.

No matter if you are trying for a baby or only have a few weeks to go before you meet your little one – it is never too late to start. Eating a balanced, varied and nutritious diet can help with fertility, keep you energized and healthy during pregnancy and assist in your recovery.

If you are looking for the right way to fuel your body during pregnancy to optimise the health of both yourself and bub feel free get in touch to discuss your specific nutritional requirements and arrange a consult.

To get 10% off the True Protein range use the code BROOKE10 at checkout.

Brooke x

THREE PART PREGNANCY SERIES #3: A MOTHER'S DIET AND THE AFFECT ON LACTATION

There are many pressures and opinions that come with being a mother, one of those being breast or bottle?

This blog isn’t designed to tell you that you should either breast or bottle feed your child, but instead aim to provide an overview of what you should be fuelling your body with if you are breast-feeding to nourish your body during this important time. If you are interested in information on infant formula vs breast-feeding you can check out a previous blog of mine: Breast Milk, Infant Formula & What Works for You.

The ideal and preferred food in providing optimal nutrition for healthy term infants is through human milk due to its complex fat structure that is critical for infant growth. The energy from breast milk is mainly provided from the fats and carbs in your diet, however the amount of protein (mainly casein and whey) in breast milk is not heavily influenced by the mothers diet. Under normal circumstances substances don’t pass directly from Mum’s blood system to the milk, however if you experience mastitis milk tends to be higher in sodium and chloride and lower in lactose and potassium.

The major long chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) in human milk are; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). These are recognised as a nutrient fundamental to the development of an infant’s central nervous system, brain and vision. The amount of fat in your diet will not affect the amount of fat in your breast milk, however you can vary the type of fat found in your breast milk and it is possible to increase or decrease the polyunsaturated fat content in your breast milk by altering your diet. If you are maintaining your energy intake and body weight, the fatty acid content of your diet will be reflected in your breast milk. However if you are losing weight or restricting kilojoules, your fatty-acid pattern of milk can decrease.

There is no evidence that your maternal energy stores (BMI) have a detectable relationship with the volume of milk produced so those carrying a little more body fat won’t necessarily produce a great volume of milk and vice versa, however stress, alcohol and smoking can reduce the volume of milk produced – so be sure to avoid/limit these where possible while you are breast feeding.

BREAST FEEDING – ONE BIG ENERGY BURNER

I’ve definitely heard it before (and sure most of you have also) when you see Mums ‘bouncing back’ from child birth and losing maternal weight gain relatively quickly after their body has just undergone 10 months of huge transformation. Many say ‘it’s the breast feeding, it just makes the weight fall off’, however this is not the case for everyone. Breastfeeding can make you a calorie-burning machine; your hormones are in overdrive making sure your body is producing as much as it needs to keep your little one satisfied. Some women will drop pregnancy weight gain relatively quickly whilst breast-feeding due to this increase in energy expenditure, however many Mums will retain this until the actually stop breastfeeding (isn’t it amazing how are bodies are all SO different!).

It is hard to define set energy requirements for women that are breast feeding as there are so many individual factors; how often are you feeding your baby, what are your activity levels, any pre-existing medical conditions, height, age, diet and so on, therefore the following are estimates only for those that are breastfeeding. Whilst breast feeding there is an increased need of approximately 2000-3000kj/ day (about 500 – 700 calories per day), with most women storing 2-5kg of body fat that can be utilized to provide energy for breastfeeding for the first three months, so this isn’t always needed from additional food initially. The increased energy requirements are also dependent on the volume of milk you are producing, which again can vary greatly from one Mum to the next, which is why it so it is important to recognize that everyone will have differing energy requirements and the need to fuel your body appropriately.

Because the fatty acid content of your breast milk can be influenced by your diet and the fact that breastfeeding is already causing a potential energy deficit, the post-partum time is not the time to be rushing about trying to get your ‘pre-baby body’ back - it is a time for you to put both you and your little one first. You need to be fuelling your body with a variety of whole, nutritious foods, resting and incorporating gentle movement if you have been given the all clear to do so all to assist in setting you up for breastfeeding success and a good recovery. Make sure to be kind to yourself, starting with kind thoughts within your mind.

ARE THERE ANY INCREASES IN RDI’s WHILST BREASTFEEDING?

Just as there are during pregnancy, breastfeeding is also a taxing time on the body and there are some increases to the daily intakes of some vitamins and minerals.

B vitamins: Thiamin, B6, Niacin and Riboflavin, B12 & folate (folic acid). You can continue to take a pregnancy multivitamin of breast feeding supplement to assist in meeting these slightly increased RDI’s, but also be sure to try your best to get these through your diet. Try incorporating asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chick peas, dried beans, lentils, spinach & animal products (such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, or dairy). You can also try fortified breakfast cereals and enriched soy or rice milk.

Vitamin A and C RDI’s are also slightly elevated as this is secreted in breast milk and passed to your new bub. If you are eating a varied, healthy diet then there should be no reason that you have difficulty meeting these requirements.

When it comes to minerals (iron, calcium, zinc, iodine), RDI’s have factored in a safety margin for the allowance of these being secreted daily in milk. Iron and zinc levels are increased slightly in those that are breastfeeding, so again it is important to eat a varied diet rich in

STAPLE ITEMS FOR YOUR SHOPPING LIST:

If you are breastfeeding, add these items to your weekly shopping list and incorporating into your meal planning to assist with breastfeeding, milk production and post partum recovery:

  • Oats
  • Brewers yeast
  • Flaxseeds / Flaxmeal
  • Dried fruit & nuts – almonds, cashews
  • Fennel
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Salmon
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Chick peas/lentils
  • Brown rice
  • Water

IDEAS FOR INCORPORATING THE ABOVE FOODS

So you've just gone and purchased some of the above - here is some ways to add them to your daily diet:

  • Oats/porridge mixed with chia seeds, flaxmeal, brewers yeast, berries & almond milk - a great breakfast idea
  • Smoothie - Banana, berries, almond milk, spinach, brewers yeast
  • Veggie sticks with hommus - the perfect, easy snack
  • Fruit & nut mix - another easy snack idea
  • Salmon with brown rice & green leafy veggies, meats with salad & lentils - nutritious dinner or lunch time meals.
  • Water – don’t forget to drink plenty of this! More than you would when you were pregnant. It helps prevent you from dehydration and replaces fluid lost during lactation.

FINAL WORD

Overall breastfeeding can utilize approximately 500 calories per day in lactating women. It is important to note that this varies greatly from woman to woman; those with low activity levels can actually gain weight if energy levels are not maintained, whereas those that are physically active may require larger energy intakes.

Whilst breastfeeding it is important to make sure you are consuming adequate calories from beneficial food sources (as above) to help boost or maintain your milk supply. This should be your priority over weight loss or getting back to your pre-baby weight. Your body has undergone drastic changes over the past 10 months and the hard work is far from over. You now need to help grow a healthy infant so fuelling your body right will be your priority - remove any pressure and pre-conceived ideas of rushing back to exercise or starting a diet (now is definitely not the time to be dieting).

Look at food as fuel for you and bub and plan ahead as best you can to make sure you incorporate some of the foods that can help with post-partum recovery and milk supply - put those visitors to good use and get them prepping some healthy, nourishing meals!

Brooke x