We all know a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water is good for us but can sometimes be hard to do, however during pregnancy the extra strain on our bodies makes it even more important.
Growing a human is a complex thing and it’s incredible to think our bodies are capable of doing this without any thought from us.
One thing we do need to do to help our bodies is top up our vitamins through both supplements and eating the right food. Folic Acid Topping up our folic acid is crucial during pregnancy as our bodies use it to develop our baby’s nervous system and neural tube during early pregnancy.
The NHS recommend taking a supplement of 400 micrograms even before you conceive, but don’t worry mum if you haven’t yet started, just make sure you start now.
It is also recommended that you up your leafy green intake as they naturally contain folate (the natural form of folic acid), so dust off that juicer and get creative or add some spinach to soups or stews just before you finish cooking.
You can also find cereals and fat spreads have added folic acid so opt for these as well as taking a supplement – it all helps! Vitamin D As we are not blessed with year-round sunshine here in the UK, we can often suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the winter months.
Now I would love to be telling you all to jump on a plane and head for warmer climes – wouldn’t that be amazing if that came free as part of the NHS!!! sorry, I digress.
So unfortunately for us we have to take Vitamin D in tablet form rather than absorb it from the sun.
It is recommended that you take 10 micrograms between September and March, if you have darker skin, you cover up outside or spend most of your time indoors then it may be best to take a supplement all year round.
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body which is needed to keep teeth, bones and muscle healthy. You can also increase your Vitamin D intake through food like oily fish, eggs and red meat but it is unlikely you will get enough from these foods alone and do make sure you cook them correctly (take a look at food to avoid while pregnant). Other vitamins and minerals to consider Making slight changes to your diet during pregnancy can help increase the vitamins your body needs to have a healthy pregnancy.
As we may know, one of the early pregnancy symptoms is tiredness as our body is busy making our beautiful baby, but it can also be a sign we are not getting enough iron. Try introducing more lean meat, of course tasty green leafy vegetables, nuts and dried fruit to see if this helps with your energy levels.
Your iron levels will be checked when you have your routine blood tests at your booking in appointment and again at 28 and 34 weeks. Vitamin C is also important as it protects our cells and keeps them healthy, so dose up on the following to ensure you are getting enough in your diet: oranges and orange juice red and orange peppers strawberries blackcurrants broccoli brussels sprouts potatoes Calcium is also important as it helps our baby grow strong teeth and bones, top up on the following to keep your levels up: dairy more green leafy veg like rocket, watercress and curly kale tofu milk alternatives with added calcium bread or food made with fortified flour fish where you eat the bones, so sardines or pilchards Vegetarian / vegan / restricted diets If you are vegetarian and eat a balanced and varied diet then you should be eating enough vitamins and minerals for your baby, however you may find it more difficult to get enough iron and vitamin B12, if you have any concerns then do speak to your midwife. If you are vegan or have restricted diet like gluten free, then it would be worth having a chat with your midwife or doctor as they may recommend some additional supplements. Pregnancy specific vitamins / supplements You can buy specific supplements / vitamins for when you are trying to conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding which contain a variety of vitamins and minerals which are likely to include the recommended folic acid and Vitamin D as well as others.
Only use one as you don’t want to be taking too many vitamins, unless prescribed and it is also worth checking they don’t contain vitamin A as this isn’t recommended when pregnant. Healthy Start Scheme You may be eligible for free vitamins as well as vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables through the Healthy Start Scheme – to see if you qualify click here. This list may seem extensive but as long as you eat a rainbow of fruit and veg, take folic acid and Vitamin D during colder months and eat plenty of green veg then you will be giving your baby a great start in life, you’ve got this mum.