It is the small things that count! This is especially true when it comes to motherhood. Now that I have my children, I have come to realise how important it is to take notice of the little things – A half smile instead of the normal hug greeting that could mean that my daughter had a fight with her friend at school. Or, when my son holds my hand for a second longer than normal, that might be his way of letting me know that he is scared.
While I was contemplating all of the little things that have become important to me over the past few years, I realised that the importance of little things is not new. When I discovered that I was pregnant, I immediately started to focus on my diet and the little things I could do to improve it. Why? As a dietitian I knew that this was key, not just for me but also for my baby. I wanted to give my baby the best start in life and optimal nutrition is key.
The idea that my baby was totally dependent on my body for those first nine very important months of his growth and development, was a major realisation for me. This little “peanut” needed to get all of his basic building blocks from me. He was going to grow from a few small grams to over 2.5 kg in the coming months. So the better my nutritional intake, the better my baby would be able to lay down the foundations of his brain, spinal cord, eyes and bones and, I’d better ensure his ability to grow to a healthy size and reach full term.
So what do pregnant women need to consider when thinking about diet?
The answer is simple. A healthy, balanced diet with the addition of pregnancy focused supplements The healthy, balanced part of the diet includes 6 critical elements:
- Eating a wide variety of foods
- A healthy weight gain
- Avoiding alcohol
- Decreasing the intake of caffeine
- Drinking sufficient clean, safe water
- Practicing good food hygiene.
Focused pregnancy supplementation, is the part where you get to focus on the small things. Although vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) are only required is small amounts, they play a big role in ensuring the health of both you and your baby. Over the years, the important role played by specific micronutrients in preventing miscarriage, neural tube defects (including spina bifida) and, low birth weight has increasingly being recognised.
There are two specific micronutrients that pregnant women seldom get enough of through their diet – iron and folate/folic acid. As a result, globally it is recommended that all pregnant women take a supplement. New research is now showing the importance of other micronutrients in the health of both the mother and baby. These include omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iodine, choline and calcium. As a result, taking a supplement that includes more than just iron and folic acid might be a good insurance policy for a healthy pregnancy. Ask your health care professional or dietitian about which supplements would be best for you during your pregnancy.
Once you have paid attention to the small things, you can then go on to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.
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