How to look after your body before and during pregnancy

On 14 May I’m heading to the NEC in Birmingham to join the panel of experts for the #BodyAfterBaby talk as part of this year’s Baby Show.

Having a baby is a wonderful experience, but whether it’s their first or third child, lots of women struggle with body confidence after they give birth. Nutrition is key to maintaining a healthy weight before during and after pregnancy.

Here are some of my tips for how to tailor your diet at each stage of the pregnancy.

A healthy pregnancy starts well before conception. A woman’s diet during the few months before she conceives can significantly increase her ability to get pregnant and be as important for her baby’s well-being as what she eats during her pregnancy.

Folic Acid
A daily intake of at least 400 micrograms of folic acid when trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of giving birth to a baby with a congenital neural tube defect such as Spina Bifida.

Remember to take your folic acid supplement every day.
Eat plenty of folate-rich (the natural form of folic acid) foods as well. Try to include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and watercress, nuts, pulses, wholegrains and fruit juices.

Abstain from alcohol while you are trying to get pregnant.

Healthy fats
Some fats are good for helping to conceive so try to include more of these into your diet.
Include the monounsaturates found in olive oil rapeseed oil, nuts and seeds and their oils. Use these oils, or spreads made from these oils, in cooking and baking.
Add nuts and seeds to stir-frys, salads and breakfast cereals or have a small handful as a tasty snack between meals.
Eat more oily fish. Oily fish contains a type of fat good for your heart called long chain omega 3 fats. Choose from mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, pilchards and fresh tuna (canned tuna doesn’t count).
Eat too much; limit your intake to no more than two portions a week.


Healthy balance
A well balanced diet will supply all the energy and nutrients for health needed by the mother and growing baby.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least 5 portions a day.
Eat smart carbs such as wholegrains – brown rice and quinoa and sweet potatoes, new potatoes and butternut squash.
Consume good amounts of low fat milk and dairy products to ensure a good intake of calcium. Make sure you go outside for at least half an hour a day, exposing your skin to daylight. This will ensure your body makes an adequate amount of vitamin D, needed to absorb calcium from the diet.
Eat protein foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, soya, pulses and nuts. Have a good variety to ensure adequate protein as well as important nutrients like iron, zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids including omega 3 fats.

Eat for two. You don’t need many extra calories during pregnancy. Be guided by your appetite and when you feel hungry between meals, choose a healthy snack such as a fruit scone, a yoghurt, a slice of cheese on toast or a handful of dried fruits.
Try to slim during pregnancy. You may end up with a nutrient deficiency.

Morning sickness and heartburn
Morning sickness is most common during the first three months and can happen at any time during the day. Heartburn and indigestion often occur during the later stages of pregnancy.

Eat little and often.
Avoid fatty and spicy foods.
Drink plenty of water.

Skip meals.

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