Pregnancy advice: eating for two?

PREGNANCY ADVICE: eating for two?

Please note that all opinions in this article are that of the author and are not representative of the views or opinions of the UTS Faculty of Health.

By Rosie Gundelach

The old saying, ‘eating for two’ has led us all astray when it comes to pregnancy and nutrition.

There’s a common misconception that once you’re pregnant, you have to eat twice the amount and yes, there will be days where you may want to inhale the fridge! But to consistently eat more than you regularly would is not necessary.

Research has shown that your body requires different amounts of calories throughout pregnancy (first trimester, no extra calories required; second trimester 340kcal/day; third trimester, 450kcal/day).

Small frequent meals rich in nutrients allow your body, and your baby, to receive a wholesome diet.

For women pregnant with twins, due to an increased basal metabolic rate (and the fact you’re growing two bubs!), it is recommended to add an extra 40% of your calorie intake compared to a singleton pregnancy.

So why is it important to not overeat during pregnancy? It’s about quality, not quantity. It’s important to try not think of pregnancy as ‘eating for two’ but rather eating a nutritious and varied diet for the two of you.

This is crucial with nutrient deficiencies and dietary conditions having the potential to impact the outcome of your pregnancy.

Here’s why:

ANAEMIA

Current Evidence:
This month there was a study published in the Journal of Nutrition that conducted research which looked at the effects of anaemia at different stages of gestation, and the impact on infant outcomes (Menon et al.)

Babies of mothers that had been anaemic throughout pregnancy were comparatively assessed three weeks postpartum against babies of mothers that had not had anaemia throughout pregnancy.

The study found that babies of pregnant women that were not anaemic in the second trimester were ‘heavier, taller and had a larger head circumference compared with infants of anaemic women’.

Similarly, babies of pregnant women that weren’t anaemic in the third trimester were more alert and socially interactive than the infants of women that were anaemic.

This study concluded that maternal anaemia throughout the second trimester influences postnatal infant growth, therefore reinforcing the importance and necessity of minimising anaemia in women.

What should pregnant women eat to combat anaemia?

Incorporating iron rich foods into your diet will help in minimising your chances of anaemia. Iron rich foods include; red meat, pork, poultry, beans, dark leafy vegetables, cereals and lentils.

*Hot Tip: Combining vitamin C rich foods with your meat helps your body to absorb dietary iron. Try squeezing lemon or lime on your meat or vegetables to help your body absorb the iron.

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Supplements:
Dependent on your iron levels, additional supplements may be required. Many of the prenatal vitamins have added iron; however speak to your healthcare provider antenatally regarding more information.

BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

Why are they important?
Approximately 5-8% of women will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes in pregnancy, which is when the body produces more glucose than needed and isn’t able to use it up effectively.

This is a result of the body not making enough insulin, a hormone to help move the glucose from the blood into the cells to be used as energy.

Predispositions to GDM:

  • Women under 30 years of age are at an increased risk
  • Women with a family history of Type 2 diabetes
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  • Women of Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern and Polynesian descent

Diagnosis and lifestyle decisions:
Screening for gestational diabetes will be performed during and throughout the antenatal period. Don’t stress yourself out about this!

It’s just important to:

  • Keep sugary foods to a minimum
  • Eat small amounts often
  • Consume low glycaemic index foods
  • Include some carbohydrates with every meal
  • Exercise regularly

CALCIUM CONCIOUS

A daily intake of 1000-1200 micrograms of calcium is recommended in pregnancy as it is for non-pregnant women. To achieve this recommended daily intake, eating two serves of dairy per day will help the mother meet these recommendations.

Calcium plays an important role in a body’s ability to function by:

  • Aiding muscle contraction and relaxation
  • Facilitating our bodies to produce and secrete hormones
  • Bone density
  • Transmit nervous system messages
  • Helping to develop and strengthen the baby’s bones

Calcium rich foods include: milk, yoghurt, cheese, tofu, broccoli, spinach, pink salmon, almonds and multigrain bread.

If you have any queries regarding nutrition in pregnancy, speak to your midwife or obstetrician antenatally.

Rosie Gundelach is a UTS Bachelor of Midwifery graduate and avid blogger. Check out more of her work at www.winniewagtail.com.

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Links to articles and websites used for this article:

  1. http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.lib.uts.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0899900715003263
  2. http://www.aihw.gov.au/media-release-detail/?id=6442464796
  3. http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/potato-consumption-linked-to-greater-risk-of-gestational-diabetes-study-finds-20160115-gm75lg.html#_=_
  4. http://essentialeatingfortwo.com/links/
  5. http://essentialeatingfortwo.com/calcium/

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