Don’t just eat your greens; eat your reds and yellows too! Brightly coloured fruit and veg is bursting with antioxidants and vitamins. Whizz up a smoothie or prepare chopped up fruit to snack on, it’s easy to top up on all the good stuff.
While some fish is best consumed moderately because of concerns over high mercury levels (tuna and swordfish for example), the majority of fish is fab. Omega-3 fatty acids have plenty of pregnancy benefits including lowering your risk of pre-term birth and preeclampsia, while still providing you with the regular non-pregnancy benefits such as easing depression. Tuck in to salmon, sardines or herring a couple of times a week.
Menstruation depletes women’s iron stores on a monthly basis but pregnancy comes with its own iron-store challenges as your blood volume increases and your baby helps itself to your supplies! Stock up now to stave off postpartum anemia. Red meat is one of the best sources; poultry and fish are good too, as are dark green leafy vegetables like spinach. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet you might like to speak with your health practitioner or doctor about an iron supplement. Opting for fortified foods can help too.
The usual carbohydrate culprits like white bread, white rice and pasta short-change your body because the process of refining strips them of key nutrients. A pregnancy diet should be packed full of nutrients so switching for whole-grains is a great place to start.
Strictly speaking teetotal should probably be your goal so opt for a mocktail or sparkling soft drink if you can. The occasional glass of wine is unlikely to scupper your chances but they aren’t going to optimise your womb windows either. The critical time for conception is between ovulation and menstruation so if you want the occasional tipple then the safe day (when you probably want it most) is the first day of your period.
Experts advise caffeine caution when trying to conceive (that includes tea, fizzy drinks and chocolate), although evidence is inconclusive as to how detrimental caffeine can be it makes sense to be prudent if you are trying to get pregnant. Going cold turkey could lead to headaches so wean yourself off by gradually switching to decaf.
This harmful bacterium found in unpasteurized dairy products, soft cheeses and ready-to-eat meats is the reason you are advised to forgo gooey cheese and sushi and other pre pregnancy favourites. While pregnant you are much more likely to succumb to listeria related sickness and the risk isn’t worth it.
Remember that non-meat sources of protein are important too. Mix up your meat with vegetable or dairy proteins like tofu, soybeans or peas and nuts.
Folic acid is crucial, this B vitamin protects against neural tube birth defects like spina bifida. Your baby’s neural tube forms three to four weeks after conception, before many women realise they are pregnant, so play it safe by taking a 400 microgram supplement.
Vitamin B12 safe! A deficiency in this has also been linked to birth defects and as it is found primarily in animal based foods. Vegan and vegetarian women are most at risk and might like to consider a pregnancy multivitamin to ensure they get the recommended 2.4micrograms a day.