A common theme I hear when a woman finds out she’s pregnant is that now she has no idea what to do with herself… What does she eat? What medications, natural supplements and ‘superfoods’ are safe to eat? And is there anything else she should or shouldn’t be doing?
Firstly, let’s chat nutrition and the first trimester… and please, pour yourself a nice glass of water (add a squeeze of lemon for those feeling nauseous!) and put your feet up while you read this mummys to be.
In the first few weeks you probably won’t feel much different, but as the weeks pass, you may start to get the dreaded symptoms of morning sickness. (As awful as they are, they are a sign that pregnancy hormones are doing the right thing!) These symptoms can include, but are by no means limited to; being very sensitive to smells, nausea, excess salivation, having a sensitive palate and, (hopefully not!) vomiting at some point during the day or for some poor souls- constantly! Get prepared for fatigue – which can be overwhelming – and some strange emotions. And, be prepared for a changing body shape.
It’s a lot to take on in a few weeks isn’t it?! No wonder we get so weepy!!
As a naturopath, my area of interest lies in nutrition and the safe use of natural supplements for mum-to-be and bub. But don’t forget there are a whole range of natural therapies that can help you manage the roller coaster of pregnancy. Acupuncture and gentle pregnancy massage are my favourites. As is sleep – yes, sleep is therapy during (and after!) pregnancy – and I can’t rave enough about the benefits of yoga during this time of such dramatic change.
So, some nuts and bolts info for you – here’s my
Top Tips for Nutritional and Additional Energy Requirements During Pregnancy
(yes, I will give you some guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy too)
- Small meals frequently will support blood sugar management, energy levels and fluctuating hormones – especially if you are struggling with nausea and vomiting. 6 small meals spaced out (or 3 normal meals eaten in half!) is a great way to prevent energy crashes, cravings and get you through those morning sickness times.
- You have an increased requirement of protein during pregnancy. You need to add +14mg protein per day (the average adult woman needs roughly 50g daily)– the added protein will help with managing cravings and weight gain too. However, I do know that when you’re feeling nauseous protein foods are really hard to get down. Keeping it mind will help though. Check out my recipe for protein balls here as a sneaky way to pack in abit more protein to your day.
- remember to drink plenty of water, do regular gentle exercise and get plenty of rest. (so much easier said than done! Be kind to yourself and on the days when you are just too exhausted it’s ok to skip the exercise if it’s not possible. Remember – any exercise you can manage is a bonus.
- Going on to a diet that restricts food groups is not recommended during pregnancy. Pregnancy is about abundance- so enjoy an abundant variety of foods, colours of fresh veg, herbs, spices, fruits, grains, legumes and protein sources. The theory behind restricting foods that cause allergy, during pregnancy, in order to reduce the risk of your child having allergies is not supported by any evidence. The best recommendation is a diet full of variety, and, as possible, breastfeeding your bub to prevent allergies and support healthy immune function.
- Food hygiene is really important for the safety of bub, as is the quality of the food your eating – see here for my post on Food safety during pregnancy
- I’m going to repeat this one later, but I’m also ‘planting the seed by saying it now: about 4-6 months Post labour, see your GP and (along with whatever else they may recommend) check your iron, Vitamin D3, Urinary Iodine and thyroid function. Do a repeat check again at about 12-14 months after birth too. Your body is undertaking so much work at the moment, and it copes during the time of need, and can often ‘crash’ afterwards. Get a plan in place now to prevent this. Time and again us mums forget to check on our won health too.
The stats for Normal Weight Gain: - every woman and every womans' body is different!
- An average weight gain is; 1-2kg 1st trimester, 0.4kg per week in 2nd and 3rd trimester – but don’t sweat it if you gain nothing in the first trimester or you gain 6kg – I can help you manage this.
- Fat deposition begins early in pregnancy and acts as a form of fuel for the mother to spare glucose for the foetus; your body will naturally change during pregnancy and curves will increase! Try not to freak out too much when this happens in your first trimester.
- Actual energy intake needs during pregnancy only increase by the equivalent of 1 small snack a day, however, in weeks 16-18 and from week 30 onwards total energy expenditure increases and an extra snack or slight increase in meal size will support these needs. My first adice however, is to listen to your hunger – when you do this, the ‘stopping’ signals kick in also and you won’t overeat.
- The total weight gain recommended during pregnancy is 10-15kg for normal BMI
- For a lower bodyweight or BMI of less than 20, total gain recommended is between 12.5 – 18kg,
- For higher bodyweight or BMI between 26 – 29, total gain recommended is 7 – 11.5kg
*I can help you work out your BMI in clinic too if you need that. As well as manage weight gain during pregnancy for you. Cravings can have a life of their own at this time and I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help manage them!
Tune in next time for my posts about;
I’m Pregnant – now what?! (Part 2) the safety of natural supplements in pregnancy
I’m Pregnant – now what?! (Part 3) third trimester – preparing for chaos!!
And I’m Pregnant – now what?! (Part 4) the fourth trimester – recovering from birth and adjusting to your new life
this advice is meant as general information, individual needs may be different to the information in this post and seeing a qualified health professional for consultation is recommended.