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

I'M PREGNANT...CAN I STILL HAVE MY DAILY DOSE OF CAFFEINE?

When you are pregnant there is so much advice that people are willing to give you, some of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Whether it be about parenting methods, birthing interventions, sleeping arrangements or what food and drinks you should or shouldn’t be consuming, everyone has (and is entitled to) their opinion.

When it comes to food and drinks there are some recommendations from well-recognized bodies in terms of foods and beverages that should be avoided for a number of reasons to protect the health of both you and your baby. No doubt you will each know someone that went through their pregnancy who avoided everything from any form of deli meat, soft cheese and seafood to those that just couldn’t quite give up their Sunday morning runny eggs or weren’t bothered about washing every single salad item before it went into their mouth.

When it comes to beverages we all know that alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy as there is no safe limit. However, what about caffeine; how will it affect your morning cuppa when you are carrying a little one and what effect does caffeine have on the development of your baby?  When looking at caffeine and pregnancy there is a little more research within this area. Studies have reported that caffeine intake has been reported to be associated with a reduction in birth weight, however the exact level is still unknown. One study with more the 2500 women in the UK confirmed that a maternal intake of more than 300mg per day was associated with low birth weight or foetal growth restriction (300mg per day is about 3-4 cups of coffee using the instant variety).  It also found that an average caffeine intake of greater than 100mg per day was associated with a reduction in birth weight in the third trimester. Although the threshold for which the risk of foetal growth restriction and lower birth weights increases, it concluded that the risk was reduced in those women consuming less than 100mg per day (approximately one coffee per day). The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia pledged to determine a recommended intake of caffeine for pregnant women within Australia following the publication of these findings.

So what’s the recommendation?

Australian guidelines recommend you limit your intake to less than 200 mg per day, so that's about one to two instant coffees a day and two to three cups of tea. Be mindful that your favorite barista coffee will contain more caffeine than your home instants.

It is advised that to be particularly mindful of your caffeine intake during your first trimester due to that time period being the greatest risk for miscarriage. However if you love your daily dose of coffee and have multiple cups per day, reducing your intake when pregnant may be something that you struggle with. You may also be more likely to experience the nasty withdrawal symptoms such as persistent headaches and further feelings of fatigue, which is just what you need when you are already feeling that way through growing a human within you.

It is important to consider other sources on top of your standard coffee also as caffeine isn't just found in your tea and coffee. If you’ve been indulging in some chocolate with your coffee or enjoy a soft drink with lunch these count towards your daily intake also. You need to be aware that the amount of caffeine is not adding up from other sources, for example one serve of the following equates to the listed amount of caffeine:

  • Serve of instant coffee: 80-100mg
  • Serve of filter coffee: 140mg
  • Black tea: 20 - 70mg
  • Green tea: ~20 - 40mg
  • Coke 355ml: 20-35mg
  • Diet Coke 355ml: 20-50mg
  • Pepsi 350ml: 40mg
  • Red Bull 260ml: 77mg
  • 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: ~ 50mg
  • 50g bar of milk chocolate: ~ 25mg.

If the thought of giving up your daily dose of caffeine or missing out on that warm cuppa, especially with winter coming, why not try having a cup of warm lemon water (great for your digestive system and immunity) or caffeine free teas whether loose leaf or in bags. There are so many different flavours to select from chamomile, peppermint, apple & ginger. Alternatively if you prefer to stick to your barista brewed coffee you could opt for decaf or a single shot only.

Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to give up your morning latte or regular shot of espresso (if you can – great!). Ensure you stick below the Australian guidelines of 200mg/day or speak to your doctor if you are concerned.

Brooke x

BFN LACTATION SMOOTHIE (+ NON-BREASTFEEDING OPTION)

I am loving my smoothies at the moment; they are quick and easy, which is what I'm after in a meal these days. They also help me get a great nutrient and energy hit in for the day. 

I am breastfeeding our three week old little man, so the ingredients I have chosen for this smoothie are beneficial in maintaining and boosting milk supply. I really crave my greens and good raw food, however admit that lately it is proving pretty hard to find time to eat well and often. Not to mention that bad food choices can really set in when you are sleep deprived - the chocolate or pre packaged snacks seem so much easier to reach for than making a yummy salad or healthy snack. So this week was the first time I have gone back to doing some kind of food prep - just very basic, including things like veggie sticks and hummus, all of my fresh fruit chopped up & ready to go and some BFN immunity balls to help with the hunger that comes with the late night/early morning feeds.

WHAT IF I'M NOT BREASTFEEDING BUT WANT TO TRY THIS DELICIOUS SMOOTHIE?

With this BFN Lactation Smoothie, don't feel like you have to miss out if you aren't breast feeding. You can easily alter some of the ingredients to make it a great post workout or daily snack. Simply take out the brewers yeast and add a scoop of your favourite Maxine's Burn protein.

BFN LACTATION SMOOTHIE

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 cup Spinach leaves
  • Mango pieces 
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1 tsp Brewers yeast
  • 1 tbsp Chia seeds
  • 1 cup Unsweetened almond milk 
  • 1 tbsp Coconut yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Flaxmeal 

Then simply combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz until well mixed. If you prefer a thinner consistency simply add more almond milk or water.

They are super easy to prepare in advance and freeze or just have all of the ingredients chopped up in the fridge ready to go. Enjoy! x

THREE PART PREGNANCY SERIES #1: EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY

Exercise during pregnancy can be a controversial and confusing topic. Often women fall pregnant and then immediately worry if the exercise they have been doing is safe for their baby and what they can now continue doing, some women give up their exercise routine altogether. It can be confusing when trying to look for information on safe and effective workouts for all stages of pregnancy. Even with social media you see those that encourage very low impact and intensity exercise to those continue kickboxing or powerlifting up until delivery date - what is actually right for you?

Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to give up resistance training or any form of activity that you enjoy for that matter. There are many benefits to continue incorporating regular physical activity into your weekly routine given that you have consistently undertaken this form of exercise prior to falling pregnant and have no contraindications. Regular activity during pregnancy is beneficial to both you and your baby, not just physically but for your mind and spirit also. 

EVERYONE'S PREGNANCY JOURNEY IS DIFFERENT:

  • You may find that you have morning sickness (that lasts all day) up until 16-20 weeks, or you may have none at all.
  • You may get pubic symphysis dysfunction or pelvic girdle pain, you might not
  • Your energy levels may be rock bottom, or they may be similar to before you fell pregnant.

The list is endless, but it is important to recognize that everyone is different and what one woman is able to continue doing may be completely different to another.

HOW DO I KNOW WHAT IS AND ISN'T SAFE FOR ME?

Early on in pregnancy you may be experiencing morning sickness, have a desire to keep your pregnancy a secret and be dressing and exercising as though you are not pregnant. In the early trimester you need to be mindful of your baby’s organ development and your body’s core temperature as early miscarriage is more prevalent in these early weeks.

Once you reach about 16 weeks (some practitioners recommend at 12 weeks), it is advised you avoid any exercises that involve you lying flat on your back to avoid supine hypertension. Exercising on an inclined bench however is a great option to still perform a wide range of exercises or attend your favourite weekly Pump class.

As you enter your second trimester you may start to notice your baby bump, altered posture and possible back pain. The hormone relaxin is also increasing within your body which increases joint vulnerability, so whilst you may feel a little more bendy at your yoga class, its important not to over stretch. There is also added pressure and weight on your pelvic floor and altered mechanics of your core so it Is important to avoid performing any kind of abdominal crunch or trunk flexion from here on in.

As you reach 28+ weeks and enter your third trimester this is a major time of growth for your baby. You may experience feelings of fatigue(again), interrupted sleep, fluid retention and weight gain which adds to the additional load on your legs, back and pelvis and can often be when you begin to experience pelvic joint pain.

CONTRAINDICATIONS TO EXERCISE WHILST PREGNANT:

If you have any of the following you should discuss with your doctor or medical practitioner prior to undertaking exercise to understand your condition and ensure you do not do anything that could aggravate or worsen it. Then seek advice from an adequately trained fitness professional in the pre/post natal field such as a suitably qualified personal trainer or women’s health Physio:

  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Ruptured membranes (water have broken)
  • Maternal heart disease
  • Preterm labour
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Uncontrolled hypertension

RESISTANCE TRAINING:

If you have been a regular weight trainer prior to falling pregnant it is great to continue lifting weights throughout your pregnancy. Keep the following in mind though and be sure to adjust the intensity, duration and rest throughout your workouts:

  • Decrease the intensity
  • Volume can remain high, given that the load remains low
  • Monitor your heart rate and use the Rate of Perceived Exertion to keep your workouts in a comfortable and safe zone (you will notice that you feel less fit than you used to with all that extra blood volume pumping around your body)
  • Increase your rest periods
  • Body weight, fit ball and resistance tubing workouts are great to keep load on the muscles but decrease the intensity
  • Decrease the load
  • Monitor the duration – don’t try to be a hero and do you normal 60 minute workouts. 20-30 minute circuits are great to target your anearboic energy systems and give your body that ‘after-burn’ effect, whilst not flogging yourself.

CARDIO:

Again, monitor your heart rate and use the Rate of Perceived Exertion to keep your workouts in a comfortable and safe zone. Your heart rate zone will be dependent on your pre-pregnancy fitness levels, but generally keeping it below 150bpm is advised. Otherwise the RPE scale means that you want be exercising at an intensity that you would be able to hold a conversation or sing whilst you are exercising, on a scale of 6-20 you want to be about a 12-14.

  • Avoid high impact or contact activities. You can still do your favorite aerobics class but be sure to take the lower options.
  • Swimming, cycling and walking are great low impact cardio forms. Listen to your body
  • Keep sessions short but regular. Maybe you used to do 60 minutes of cardio regularly, to be mindful of your heart rate and core body temperature anywhere from 20-40 minutes is plenty.

I also recommend adding in regular yoga or pilates to your workout routine whilst pregnant. Yoga is a fantastic form of exercise to help you connect with your breath, baby and body and a great stress relief. It can help you prepare for the fears of labour and birth and nourish your mind, body and soul. Pilates is also a great form of exercise to connect with your pelvic floor muscles, posture and abdominals in a safe and effective manner to keep the core unit and pelvic muscles strong as they become stretched and loaded over the 9 months.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Avoid overheating – keep exercise to the cooler parts of the day, in air conditioned environment and always have water with you
  • Keep well hydrated before, during and after exercise – drink all the water ladies
  • Be mindful of your centre of gravity – as your belly grows your COG beings to shift and you may find you are off balance more easily
  • Listen to your body – if something doesn’t feel right – STOP. If you heart rate is feeling a little high or you a re out of breath – REST. Now is not the time to be running marathons. You may feel great while you are exercising, you may find you are shattered later that afternoon or pull up quite sore the following day.
  • You don’t want to finish your workout feeling completely smashed. Your body is already working overtime to grow and nourish that little human inside of you.
  • Seek professional advice – if you are unsure, speak to a suitably qualified professional, womens health physio or your doctor
  • Everyone is different – just because the lady next to you is still jogging, doesn’t mean that is right for you and your body.
  • Fuel your body with a wide variety of healthy, whole and nourishing foods. Give your bub the best possible head start – everything you eat goes towards your baby. Try your best to eat well.
  • Enjoy the journey! Remember physical activity is to keep your mind and body healthy as you progress through pregnancy. The added benefits of regular exercise are just a bonus.

This topic could be discussed in great detail… and for days! There is no way that I can cover it all in this blog, and I am not attempting to. What I do encourage is for Mumma's to keep moving in a safe and effective manner that is suitable for them. The above are general guidelines and we are each completely different on our pregnancy journey's, there is no right or wrong way to go about it.

Regular physical activity during pregnancy is beneficial to both mum and bub, with some key considerations to be taken into account. Remember to monitor your intensity levels, watch the impact and listen to your body. I encourage you to keep physically active throughout your pregnancy and make time for you. Movement does great things for our mental and physical health, so keep moving, keep positive and always listen to your body.

If you are unsure remember to seek advice from a trusted professional. You should always consult with your doctor prior to undertaking a new or continuing with a current fitness regime to ensure you do not have any of the contraindications listed above. I also recommend seeing a women's health physio to assist in making an assessment of your pelvic floor so that you can do you best to safely keep moving Mumma’s!

If you'd like a safe and effective exercise program whether pre or post natal in the comfort of your home or the gym get in touch with me  x

To make sure you don't miss out on the next blog in this three part series be sure to subscribe below! Part two coming soon: Nutrition during pregnancy.

Photography thanks to Matthew Jewkes