Pregnancy should be an exciting time, but it also places a strain on your body. By eating a healthy diet, watching your weight and staying active, your pregnancy can be far more pleasant.
As HARTMANN Direct highlight, making small changes to your diet can have a positive impact on your body. Before you make any changes, perhaps have a chat with your GP first if you have any existing medical conditions or are unsure about what needs to change.
#1 Folic Acid
If you plan on getting pregnant in the next 12 months, you want to make sure that your diet is rich in folic acid and this means being proactive about increasing your intake of it.
You can take supplements and there is a growing range of pre-natal vitamins but if you prefer the natural approach, eating folic acid-rich foods in your diet is relatively simple. Folic acid is found on whole grains, cereals, vegetables and citrus fruits.
Pre-pregnancy you should be aiming for a folic acid intake of 400 to 600mg, increasing it to 800mg during pregnancy to minimise the risk of birth defects.
#2 High-Quality Proteins
Research has found that a high-quality protein diet is important for fertility. In a study conducted with IVF patients, it was found that those patients eating a diet of 25% more protein and 40% less carbohydrates had improved egg quality and double the pregnancy rate too.
Protein contains essential amino acids with whole eggs, white meat such as chicken, fish and omega-3 rich fish such as salmon being ideal foods for upping high-quality proteins. For vegetarians, experts suggest sticking with beans and legumes, such as beans and peas.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish, salmon being a firm favourite. It is ‘brain-food’ and although you may think this is an old wives’ tale, according the science, there is some truth in it.
Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet whilst pregnant is essential for the baby’s brain development. And not only that, your surging pregnancy hormones need a dose of healthy fat to keep working properly.
As well as plenty of fish on your weekly menu, include omega-3 rich foods like chia seeds and flax seeds in your diet too.
Aim for 1,000 to 2,000mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily – that’s about two to three ounces of oily fish or 2 tablespoons of walnuts. You can use chia seeds and flax seeds in smoothies or sprinkled over yogurt, or on salads. Create your own mix to add to whole grain cereals and don’t forget you can cook with flaxseed oil or chia seed oil too.
#4 Dairy Produce
When it comes to choices of dairy products, we are all taught that the lower fat, the better.
This is true when it comes to pregnancy but, there are studies that find women who increased their intake of full-fat dairy products decreased their chances of a certain kind of infertility.
So, which is it – full fat or low fat? Both, say experts. Dairy products are essential for preparing your body for pregnancy as they contain calcium and protein. To increase your chances of getting pregnant, you may want to swap one skimmed milk serving for a full fat one.
But, there is a note of caution in this piece of advice. Whilst it is a good idea to swap a few servings of low or fat-free dairy servings for the full-fat dairy equivalent, going all out and swapping back to full-fat dairy across a range of products is not thought to make any significant difference.
#5 Fruit and Vegetables
For many women, preparing their body for pregnancy is about ditching bad habits and finding some good ones. If you prefer to snack on a biscuit or two and chocolate or crisps, you need to wave them goodbye and turn your attention to fruit and veg.
As you know, fruit and vegetables have a veritable host of essential nutrients and vitamins, all of which are essential for your health and your growing baby. Start snacking on fruit and veg pre-pregnancy because, say nutrition experts, you will need to be doing this a lot more when you are pregnancy.
Your Diet as a Whole
Midwives, doctors and nutritionists say that pre-pregnancy is a chance for both men and women to look to at their diet as a whole – and making positive changes. Keeping an eye on your weight and losing a few pounds can have a dramatic effect on your fertility. But the answer does not lay in cutting calories or exercising too much.
What changes will you make pre-pregnancy? As always I love to hear your thoughts.
(HARTMANN Direct stock a range of incontinence pads and pants ideal for use during pregnancy and after the birth too.)
*This is a collaborative post