Increased Energy and Nutrient Requirement in Pregnancy

When you are pregnant you need more nutrients for you and your baby to be healthy. The body will make many changes during this time and it's important for you eat a nutritious well balanced diet. If your diet is inadequate the baby will draw on your nutrient stores sometimes leaving you short of nutrients in your body. You can expect to gain 10 to 13 kg. over the pregnancy although if you are over weight or underweight before you become pregnant the amount that you should gain will be different. Please discuss this with your doctor or dietitian.

This is a time to address good nutrition and develop eating habits that will assist you in raising your children. Eating habits of the parents tend to be passed on to the children.

During pregnancy the body becomes more efficient at using the energy you eat and only needs a small additional intake. In the early part of the pregnancy there is very little increased requirement but from the 12th week on you will need more energy for the growth of your baby and the increase in size of uterus and blood volume. Try to choose foods that will give valuable protein, calcium or iron at the same time rather than high fat/ high sugar snack foods.

Sources: high nutrient foods such as meat, milk, fruit and vegetables

Extra protein is needed for new tissue growth for your self and baby. Again the increased requirement is not great but try and have a reasonable serve (150 to 200 grams)of meat fish chicken or legumes each day.

Sources: milk, cheese, meat, fish, chicken, legumes and nuts

Extra calcium is needed during pregnancy for the formation of your baby's bones and teeth and to protect your own body from calcium depletion. You will need 3 to 4 serves of calcium rich foods a day.

Sources: milk, cheese, yogurt

Extra iron is needed for the increase in red blood cells and baby's iron stores. Low iron intake will lead to anaemia and tiredness. Have iron rich foods and take an iron supplement if suggested by your doctor. A well balanced diet with a wide range of food with particularly emphasis on red meat and rich sources of vitamin C will be beneficial. Liver is high in iron and vitamin A but is not recommended as vitamin A can accumulate in the liver and be toxic.

Sources: red meat, nuts, dried fruit, enriched cereals

A lack of Folic acid may cause a type of anaemia and increase the risk of neural tube defects. You should have a diet high in folate rich foods but also take a supplement of 0.5 mg of folate prior to pregnancy and for the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Sources: red meat, dark leafy vegetables, enriched cereals

We require 30 grams or more of fibre a day. This is even more important when you are pregnant as taking an iron supplement and the growth of the uterus can contribute to a constipation problem. Eat high fibre foods and drink at least 8 cups of fluid per day. Regular gentle exercise is also helpful.

Sources: high intake of wholegrain breads and cereals and fruit and vegetables