Healthy Eating · Pregnancy

Healthy Eating in Pregnancy

I recently had the opportunity to speak to midwives at the Northern Maternity and Midwifery Festival about nutrition in pregnancy. If you are a health professional who works with pregnant women, or those trying to become pregnant, here is a little CPD.

If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you may find the information helpful too, albeit in a different format.

Improving dietary intake through knowledge and behaviour change – Aliya Porter from Policy Review on Vimeo.

Healthy Eating · Parenting · Pregnancy

Eating healthily whilst pregnant and nauseous

Congratulations you are pregnant! Exciting times ahead and what a responsibility; you are the sole provider of nutrition for your unborn baby. And as if that wasn’t enough, you also have to deal with nausea, tiredness, aches… Who would be pregnant!?

As someone who couldn’t open my mouth without being sick for a period of pregnancy I would rather not repeat, I am very sympathetic of the reader who requested this post.

Here are some tips for eating well whilst being nauseous.

Tip 1: Keep Hydrated

The most important thing to make sure you do when you are pregnant and nauseous is to stay well hydrated. This is often the reason women end up in hospital in pregnancy with their ‘morning sickness’. Small sips of water totalling about 2 litres a day is the aim. If you can’t stomach plain water, add unsweetened squash or have some decaffeinated tea (although don’t drink 2 litres of tea or it may affect your iron absorption!). Avoid sweetened drinks, for the sake of your teeth but also your mood. Avoid having more than 2 cups of caffeinated tea or coffee a day.

Tip 2: Snack well

You may find it helpful to have small meals or snacks throughout the day, rather than big meals. Strong flavours and smells can often make you feel more nauseous so dry foods such as wholemeal crackers or breadsticks can help. Better still, vegetable sticks such as carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, and raw baby sweetcorn or raw sugar snap peas are a great snack. If you feel you need more calories, dip them in homous or have them with a handful of nuts or seeds. Plain yoghurt is also a good snack with a handful of berries.

Tip 3: Limit sugary and high fat snacks

If you don’t have sugary or high fat snacks in the house, it makes it a lot harder to eat them! Yes, you can send your partner out to get some but at least they are not right under your nose. If you can, limit sugary or high fat snacks to one a day. This includes highly processed snacks. Remember cravings last about 20 minutes usually. If you feel like you want a snack, have a drink of water, go away and do something else and if you still want something to eat, try and have something savoury and within the balance of the Eatwell Guide. If you can have snacks which are high in fibre, this can help reduce the risk of constipation too.

Tip 4: It’s all about balance

As always, try and stick to the Eatwell Guide. If you have already had lots of starchy carbohydrates today, it might be time for some protein (eg pulses, meat, fish, eggs, nuts), some fruit and veg, or some dairy (or alternatives like almond or soya milk).

Tip 5: Don’t kid yourself, you are not eating for two.

Yes, you are eating for 2 in a sense but not in the way we often think of it. You need nutrients for your baby but you only need extra calories in the last trimester. Even then you only need 200kcal extra a day (which you get from 50g cheese, a chicken leg or a bagel). If you eat lots of extra calories in pregnancy, you only have to get rid of them later, so if you can avoid unnecessary weight gain in pregnancy, it helps later down the line.

Good luck!

For further tips on eating well during pregnancy, check out First Steps Nutrition

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Breastfeeding · Healthy Eating · Parenting · Pregnancy · weight loss

Post pregnancy weight loss

I had my second baby 7 weeks ago and have been thinking a lot recently about post pregnancy weight loss. Last time I put on a lot of weight other than the baby weighing in at 73kg at the 6 week check (having been about 55kg before I got pregnant). It took me quite a lot of exercise and watching what I ate to lose the excess. This time I managed to avoid eating to stem the nausea by drinking water instead. This time at the 6 week check I was just 66kg. I have a way to go to loss the excess this time although some of that won’t happen until I stop breastfeeding.

Why am I writing about this?

I think we women can be incredibly hard on ourselves. We can also help ourselves by not eating for 2 when we are pregnant but just eating normally and having healthy snacks if we need something extra. The less weight we put on in pregnancy (and we do need to put on some – dieting is not recommended in pregnancy), the less we have to lose later. That said, we need to make sure we get enough to keep us and our baby healthy and then once it is born enough to produce high quality milk without depleting our bodies.

For more information about diet during pregnancy and when breastfeeding check out http://www.nhs.uk or send me an email aliya.porter@gmail.com

Parenting · Pregnancy

What are we telling people!?

I was recently informed by my midwife that I had slightly low iron levels. They were not low enough warrant my taking supplements but I was advised to eat more green vegetables. I was horrified, although not totally surprised by this advice. I would have to eat a lot of green veg to improve my iron levels but health professionals continue to promote green veg as good sources of iron.

We need to get the right messages to pregnant women but with antenatal programmes being cut we rely on good advice from midwives about healthy eating.

Any thoughts?