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Nutrition during pregnancy

Nutrition during pregnancy

What you should and shouldn't be eating, and why...

Pregnancy is an extremely important time in a woman’s life, where nourishment and the need for TLC is paramount. Ladies – get those blokes of yours into gear, around the house, with the other kids if you have them, and helping anywhere they can. If life wasn’t already all about you, now is the time for you to REALLY milk it! 

People often mistake pregnancy as a chance to boost caloric intake, but in actual fact, it’s quite the opposite, it’s the time to boost nutrient intake. So we must ask ourselves when we are eating, is this healthy or is this nutritious? Nutritious food is functional food, it breaks down into organic compounds that, on a cellular level, are required for optimal cell functioning.  Keeping up with the demands of particular nutrients in pregnancy can be difficult if you are not aware of what these nutrients are, and where to get them. 

Nutrients of particular importance & Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs):

Iron (27mg RDI)

  • Iron is particularly important in pregnancy for many elements of your babies development (blood volume). The baby also draws from the mother’s iron stores to sustain the first 6 months of life, when their diets are exclusively breast milk (BM), traces of iron are minimal in breast milk and formulas. 
  • Animal (Haem) sources of iron and the most readily available for absorption, however plant sources (non-haem) can be more difficult to absorb but combining with vitamin C rich foods can assist in the process of absorption.  

Folate (400mcg RDI)

  • Folate is involved in the methylation cycle which is responsible for DNA repair and production, protein synthesis, and is particularly important in the first trimester due to the formation of the neural tube – hence deficiency is responsible for neural tube defects. NHMRC (2014) recommends 400mcg in addition to all amounts consumed in the diet. Concentration measurements of folate in foods is particularly hard to measure so here is a list, of good sources of folate. 

Iodine (150mcg RDI)

  • Iodine is an extremely important mineral required for its involvement in the baby’s physical growth and brain development. Deficiency of this mineral can have detrimental effects and lead to severe conditions such as cretinism

Vitamin A (800mcg RDI) 

  • Vitamin A should still be apart of a healthy diet, although it should be kept a close eye on as excessive levels can have potential harmful effects. Beta-carotene (found in orange pigment foods) converts to vitamin A in the liver so should also be taken into consideration when thinking about vitamin A consumpotion. Dietary sources include oily fish, milk and eggs. 

Good Food Hygiene  

  • Listeria monocutogenes is the bacteria responsible for the listeriosis (listeria infection). Listeriosis can have detrimental effects to a pregnant woman, although the infection may have no ill-effects for the mother, the risk is to the unborn baby. Potential outcomes could include miscarriage, premature labour or stillbirth (Better Health Gov). Potential contaminated foods include, cured meats, soft cheese (Brie, camembert, ricotta), raw seafood (sashimi, oysters, smoked fish), unpasteurized foods, soft serve ice cream pre packaged cut fruit and vegetables. This particular bacteria is killed by heat therefore can be consumed when cooked although best avoided.

Energy Intakes

  • Although we like to think we are eating for two, in actual fact we are not. The additional energy requirements throughout pregnancy differs depending on your trimester and may shock some as to actually how little they are. 
  • 1st Trimester = no addiditonal requirements 
  • 2nd trimester = 1400kj/day (334.92 cal)
  • 3rd trimester = 1900kj/day (454.54 cal) (NHMRC 2016). 

A well balanced diet is paramount for this particularly demanding time in a woman’s life. Sticking to simple principles, such as eating a rainbow, will ensure you are getting a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and phytochemical, and getting your 2 fruit and 5 veg per day!

- Bridget x


National Health and Mecdical Research Council 2014, Nutrient Reference Values, viewed 17th July 2017, <>.

Nutritona Australia 2009, Iodine, viewed 26th july 2017, < >

National Health and Medical Research Council, Nutrient reference values – folate,  viewed 26th July 2017, < >.

National Health and Medical Research Council, Nutrient reference values – vitamin A, viewed 26th July 2017, <>.  

Better Health Gov 2017, Pregnancy & Diet,  viewed 26th July 2017, <>.

National Health and Medical Research Council 2016, Nutrient reference values – Dietary intakes, viewed 26th July 2017, <>. 

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