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Things to include in your diet:
Part of the B group of vitamins, folate is important for your baby’s general development and a preconception deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of neural tube defects in the baby. Foods that are naturally high in folate are green leafy vegetables, chickpeas and other legumes and nuts. It is a common recommendation that women should take folate supplements for three months prior to conception and throughout the first trimester. Women with a family history of neural tube defects, like spina bifida (a birth abnormality in which the spinal cord is malformed and lacks its usual protective skeletal and soft tissue coverings), should check with their doctor before pregnancy, as they may need higher dose of folate supplements for three to six months prior to conceiving.
Ideally a mother’s eating regime should start months ahead of conception. A healthy diet is the first step to getting all the vitamins you need. However, with the increased load that pregnancy and breastfeeding can create, multivitamins may be advisable for some mums-to-be. Women with a pre-existing medical condition should consult their doctor first.
This nutrient is particularly important during the third trimester when your baby starts to strengthen its bones. If you don’t consume enough calcium, your body will source it from your bones, which increases your chance of suffering from osteoporosis later in life. To get adequate calcium, it’s recommended that you consume about 1000mg daily, ot two to three servings of dairy per day. One serving maybe 250ml of milk, 40g of cheese or 200g of yogurt.
The development of baby’s brain and nervous system is assisted by iodine. It is recommended that all women who are either considering pregnancy, pregnant or lactating, should supplement their diet with 150mcg of iodine per day.
Vital for transporting oxygen around the blood stream and sustaining energy. It takes months to increase iron stores and with a woman losing a lot of iron each menstrual cycle and then more during the growth and development of a baby. Pregnant women should be consuming about three to four servings of red meat per week, or 27mg of ferrous iron per day, including other sources such as green leafy veggies and nuts, with vitamin C to aid absorption.
Omega-3 fatty acids
These essential fatty acids are important for a baby’s brain development and have been linked to a reduced risk of deep vein thrombosis and postnatal depression. Seafood, green veggies and walnuts are good sources of omega-3s.