Preconception care and pregnancyNutrition plays a very important role during both of these periods. Women (and men) who live a conscious, healthy lifestyle tend to have larger, healthier babies with fewer complications. On the contrary, a diet lacking in nutrients can lead to lower birth weight, learning disabilities and a higher risk of certain diseases. Preconception care ideally lasts between 4-6 months before pregnancy; this allows time for development of healthy eggs and sperm. Preconception care involves both partners living a healthy lifestyle and minimising or avoiding:
- Alcohol, drugs and caffeine (it’s okay to party sober!)
- Processed and refined foods (ditch junk food and anything packaged)
- Artificial sweeteners (yes, this includes your diet Coke and ‘sugar-free’ yogurt… always read labels!)
- Household and environmental toxins (cleaning chemicals, room sprays, pollutants)
Requirements for foetal growth - 9 important nutrientsDuring pregnancy your body experiences many changes. Check these 9 important nutrients that are needed in greater amounts as your metabolic rate increases:
- Calcium and magnesium - are especially important in the second trimester, for the formation of your baby’s skeleton and tooth enamel.
- Both Calcium and magnesium are important throughout pregnancy for you too, affecting your muscles (preventing cramps), nerves, hormones, blood, energy, immune function and more!
- Vitamin D – is required for calcium absorption and your muscle and bone strength. Vitamin D also helps develop your baby’s bones. Many studies now show that deficiency is alarmingly common (even in Australia).
- Essential fatty acids- essential for a reason! They are crucial for your baby’s brain and nervous system development. Odourless fish oil is the easiest way to get a therapeutic amount; perfect for the hypersensitivity that often accompanies pregnancy.
- Iodine - deficiency is the most common correctable cause of brain damage in the world! Particularly important in the first trimester during the formation of your baby’s brain, spinal cord and nerves.
- Folic acid - deficiency is associated with spine and neural tube defects, known as Spina bifida. Adequate levels are important in preconception.
- B vitamins - aside from Folic Acid (B9), all of the B vitamins play an important role in energy and neurotransmitter production (the special chemicals your body produces that govern your mood, sleep, hormones).
- Iron - your requirements double during pregnancy because of increased blood volume and the needs of your baby.
- Zinc - another important mineral for normal growth and development of your baby; zinc helps provide you with antioxidant support, strong cells, and basic metabolic processes.