There are many different elements to our diet which help to support optimal health when pregnant.
A well-balanced diet, which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, healthy fats, fibre, carbohydrates (as well as protein from eggs, lean meat and fish) should provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals to support a mother and her growing baby.
There are, however, some nutrients which are particularly useful to the pregnant lady and growing baby.
The World Health Organization recommends all women of reproductive age who could become pregnant should take a folic acid supplement.
This should be continued into the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Folic acid can also be found in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals and milk. Optimal iron levels are essential throughout a pregnancy as a healthy haemoglobin not only aids in the development of the growing baby but also helps in keeping up one’s strength. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron from the diet. Serving some vitamin C-rich foods alongside iron-laden ones, such as a glass of orange juice with a beef stir-fry, will help to enhance the absorption of this important mineral.
Fibre-rich foods are another important component of our diet. Wholegrain foods and most fruits and vegetables are packed with fibre. Along with a good water intake, these should help to keep our gut in check and prevent bouts of constipation.
Protein and calcium are particularly important for pregnant ladies. Protein is important for aiding the growth of both mother and baby, while calcium is needed to support a healthy skeletal system and, when pregnant, it aids in the building of the baby’s bones. If the mother’s diet is lacking in calcium, the body will take what calcium the baby needs from the mother’s bones - this is to ensure the baby’s calcium needs are met and they can grow healthy and strong.
This, in turn, can affect the mother’s own bones in later life, so it’s best to aim for the optimal intake of calcium while pregnant. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, so combining calcium and vitamin D-rich foods together, such as cheese (calcium) and eggs (vitamin D), always makes for a good pairing. If you are concerned about your calcium intake, or worried about your diet in general, make sure to discuss this with your midwife or doctor on your next visit.
This dish is a twist on the traditional eggs florentine, substituting the hollandaise sauce for a cheese sauce. This is a delicious calcium and vitamin D-rich dish. The addition of iron-rich spinach enhances the nutrients even more. As a breakfast it is rather rich, so not for every day, but can be enjoyed as an indulgent, nutritional treat now and then.
25g plain flour
250ml milk, warm
Salt and pepper
1tsp Dijon mustard
50g cheddar cheese, grated
150g spinach, washed & large stalks removed
Knob of butter
2 very fresh, free-range eggs
1tsp white wine vinegar
2 English muffins, cut in half & toasted
Fresh chives, optional
Iron Boosting Smoothie
Packed with iron from the spinach and vitamin C from the mango and orange juice, this delicious smoothie would make for the perfect snack at any stage of pregnancy.
50g baby spinach leaves
1 banana, frozen
½ fresh mango, diced
125g vanilla live bio yogurt
150ml orange juice
Handful of ice