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For Parents Health & Nutrition Pregnant Pregnant

5 tips for post-delivery mums to maintain a balanced diet

Congratulations on your bundle of joy! You may have gained a few kilos from the pregnancy, and the post pregnancy body may not look pretty. Unless you have your doctor’s recommendation to do so, don’t be in a hurry to shed the weight gain just yet!

Fat gained in pregnancy on various parts of your body are actually stores of energy to help you through childbirth and the energy-sapping months that follow.

Although you were not exactly “eating for two” during pregnancy, you and your baby thrived on nutrients from your body and you need to maintain a healthy diet to restore important nutrients, so that you can be healthy and well to care for your newborn. Furthermore, if you choose to breastfeed, your body needs additional calories and nutrients everyday in order to produce quality milk.

Tips on eating healthy after having a baby

Don’t be surprised, good eating habits and a balanced diet can actually help you lose some of the weight you gained. Here’s a list of our tips for eating well to help you maintain a balanced diet after childbirth:

#1: Drink enough quality fluids

Soups are one of the most nutritious fluids that post-delivery mums can enjoy.

Your body needs a lot of fluids daily, particularly if you are breastfeeding your baby. We all have a preference in the type of fluids we enjoy having, but if you choose quality fluids like water or nutritious soups over bubble tea or sugary drinks, you would already be winning on fueling your body with the necessary nutrients.

#2: Nutrition over quantity

New mothers have high nutritional needs but are often exhausted – you may even find yourself opting to sleep instead of eat. It is good strategy to choose quality food that covers good carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, vitamins and trace minerals each time you eat, regardless of the frequency or quantity you eat. (Read: Essential nutrients for pregnant mums are also good for postpartum mothers)

This strategy ensures that you are packing in your needs at every meal. (Read: This recipe for Wholesome Baked Eggs in Avocado packs wholesome good and healthy fats that are good for mothers too.)

#3: Choose natural instead of processed

When you consciously make the decision to pick natural foods over processed food, half the battle is won. For example, rice is a carbohydrate and so is bread, but rice is a much better source of carbohydrate as compared to bread, because it is a natural, whole food that contributes to nutrition instead of empty calories. (Read: Vegetarian mothers can eat natural whole foods too!)

#4: Limit instead of omitting

Post-delivery mums, setting boundaries allows you to truly enjoy your snacks and cravings!

Snacking can be stress relieving for new mothers and it’s entirely normal for us to have cravings from time to time. Emotional or irrational eating is not encouraged, but it is okay to indulge once in a while as a little treat. In fact, telling yourself that “I can’t snack” could backfire and trigger episodes of binge eating. To overcome this, you can decide that “I don’t” eat beyond a certain quantity rather than “I can’t” eat this junk food. Making and honoring your personal decisions on snacking sets helpful boundaries, which empowers you to relax and truly enjoy your treat without guilt or affecting your commitment to a nourishing diet.

#5: Choose quality snacks

A snack of nuts and chocolates makes a satisfying treat of energy boost for new mummies too.

Choose nutritious snacks like nuts, fruits or even good quality dark chocolates when you are not particularly craving for something. These are good opportunities to pack in beneficial nutrients while enjoying a nibble. Breastfeeding mums need an additional 500 calories so making smart food choices help fuel the body too.

We hope you enjoyed these practical tips and that they truly help you in working towards a sustainable, balanced diet. Don’t be surprised; you may also lose some of the pregnancy weight by adopting these tips. Do you have any personal tips that worked for you? We’d love to hear, please share them with us in the comments!

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For Parents Health & Nutrition Pregnant Pregnant

Breastfeeding Mums, Remember to Care for Your Breasts too

Besides providing nutrition and comfort to your babies, your breasts are bosom buddies that are often neglected too, right breastfeeding mums?

During breastfeeding, you may find that the shape, size and lift of your breasts may change. Caring for your breasts not only makes you feel better but prevents painful problems like mastitis and nipple soreness.

Did you know that our breasts can have stretch marks too? Stretch marks are linked to genetics but can be lightened with moisturising cream.

#1: Moisturise your breasts to lighten stretch marks

 Stretch marks are genetically caused but the appearance of stretch marks can be lightened with over-the-counter creams, stretch mark oils and some mums, say, breastmilk too.

#2: Apply breastmilk to heal cracked nipples

 The best nipple cream is stored in your breasts – that’s right, breastmilk! Breastmilk has been shown to relieve and heal cracked nipples in a shorter time than commercially sold nipple creams containing lanolin. Besides using breastmilk, mums can easily buy nipple creams or balms from shops in Singapore or through online stores. To keep your breastmilk supply up, be sure to avoid these milk killers!

Breastmilk is an amazing liquid that not only helps to moisturise dry skin but can also be frozen to help with your baby’s sore gums when teething.

 #3: You do not need to clean your nipples before latching or pumping

It is a misconception that nipples have to be cleaned before nursing. There is no need to wash with soap and water before each feed, as soaps and shower gels strip off the natural oil produced by the Montgomery glands (those little bumps on your areola) that will cause dry skin and irritation and in worse cases, cracked, painful and bleeding nipples.

In fact, not cleaning your nipples before each feed helps your baby build up his natural gut flora, strengthening his immune system.

#4: Support your bosom buddies

Treat your ladies with care by choosing a nursing bra that supports them well without being too tight. Choose bras that are made from cotton for breathability and comfort. Your breasts should be encased in the bra cups without spilling over or having gaps in between. Ensuring the shoulder straps are at the right length keeps your breasts supported. Some nursing mums prefer to avoid underwire bras due to comfort reasons.

Breastfeeding mums, taking care of your breast is part of self-care too.

#5: Make sure your baby is latching correctly

Improper and infrequent latching can cause painful problems such as sore nipples, engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis. A proper latch and frequent 2 to 3 hourly feeding can help to prevent engorgement.

#6: Change breast pads frequently

 At the beginning before your supply stabilises, you may encounter leakages that can be embarrassing if you are outside or at work. Changing breast pads frequently once they get wet can help to prevent cracked nipples. Reusable breast pads are friendlier to the environment but remember to use a fragrance-free detergent when washing to prevent skin irritation.

#7: Seek help from a lactation consultant

 Consulting a certified lactation consultant is a part of breast care as well. Lactation consultants can identify latching issues and the underlying causes such as tongue or lip ties, improper latching method, infrequent nursing and others.

What are some breast care tips you find most helpful for breastfeeding mums? Do share in your comments below!

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Babies Babies For Parents Pregnant Pregnant

Breastfeeding Mums share: 5 Foods that Boost Milk Supply

During the first six months of a baby’s life, breast milk is the perfect food as it is tailored towards the baby’s requirements for healthy development. In addition, breast milk also strengthens the baby’s gut and provides lifelong benefitsfor both mother and baby.

Breastfeeding mums require an extra 300 to 500 calories on top of their daily nutritional requirements. There are certain types of foods which are known to boost breast milk supply. These are known as “milk boosters” and some of which are listed below. However, not all mums have the same reaction, and a milk booster for one mum may be a milk killer for another.

Keeping yourself sufficiently hydrated is essential when it comes to breast milk production. 88% of breast milk is water, so be sure to drink at least six to eight glasses of non-caffeinated water.

  1. Dark Leafy Green vegetables

Dark leafy green vegetables are a good source of calcium, iron, folate, Vitamin K and Vitamin A. Incorporate them into your diet by simply blanching these vegetables to retain the maximum amount of nutrients. Examples of dark leafy green vegetables include kale, spinach, broccoli and kale, among others. Chock full of fibre to aid digestion, dark leafy green vegetables also contain phytoestrogens that positively affects breast milk production.


2. Avocado

Over 75% of the fatin avocados are good, unsaturated fats. These good fats help the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Creamy and mild, avocados can be used to make guacamole, milkshakes and can even be shared with your baby if he or she has started weaning!

Avocados are heart-healthy and help you to keep satiated. Some breastfeeding mums have reported that regular consumption of avocados have resulted in their breast milk becoming creamier!

3. Salmon

Salmon is regarded as a galactagogue as it contains a rich amount of Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 fatty acids. It is one of the few foods that contain natural Vitamin D. Both Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 may help in fending off postpartum depression.

More importantly, salmon contains a large amount of DHA which is important for the development of your baby’s nervous system. DHA is often added to formula milkfor the same reason, in addition to supporting healthy eye and brain development. If you’ve held off eating salmon sashimi during your pregnancy, now’s the time to pamper yourself and boost your breastmilk supply at the same time!

4. Oatmeal

Low iron levels may result in a decreased breast milk supply. Oatmeal is the main ingredient in lactation cookies. Full of nutrition, oats contain proteins, vitamins, minerals, zinc, manganese and calcium.

An excellent source of soluble fibre, oats contain vitamin B that increases energy, regulates your mood and reduces your stress levels! Oatmeal can be eaten as porridge or left in a mug with fresh milk overnight to make overnight oats – a healthy breakfast for breastfeeding mum!


5. Sweet Potatoes

In just one sweet potato, you get all the Vitamin A you need for the day. Vitamin A is necessary for healthy vision, bone growth, immunity and cell growth. Breastfed babies rely on your diet to absorb the Vitamin A that they require.

High in fibre and potassium, sweet potatoes contain more grams of natural sugars but with more nutrients and fewer calories than a normal potato, making it the healthier choice for breastfeeding mums.

Naturally sweet, sweet potatoes can be served in a multitude of ways in various types of cuisine. Mashed, baked, as chips, the possibilities are endless!

Breastfeeding mums, which foods are your milk boosters? Have you consumed a milk booster that turned out to be a milk killer for you? Let us know in the comments!

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Babies Babies For Parents Health & Nutrition Pregnant Pregnant

Pregnancy Weeks 6-9: Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Congratulations! You may have just found out that you’re expecting and the news may be a little shocking. Pregnancy symptoms are starting to become more obvious and you may experience morning sickness. Some women have a severe type of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum, characterised by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and possibly depression. Thankfully, this condition only affects about 0.3% to 3.6% of pregnant women.

Between week 6 to 9 of your pregnancy, your baby will grow from the size of a sweet pea into the size of a peanut.

Week 6: Sweet Pea
At six weeks pregnant, your gynaecologist may be able to pick up your baby’s heartbeat using an ultrasound probe. Foetuses are measured crown-to-rump, and at six weeks old, 4.5mm. Your baby’s face is starting to take shape.

 You may be starting to experience full blown pregnancy symptoms including nausea, fatigue, breast tenderness, bloating and gas. You may have heard that pregnant women need to “eat for two”. However, that doesn’t mean you need to consume two adult servings each meal. Rather, it means that you should be consuming more nutritious food to support your pregnancy.

Week 7: Blueberry
A mucus plug is a protective barrier that forms at the opening of your cervix, sealing and protecting your womb from bacteria. This makes its appearance at Week 7 and will stay until it falls off during labour. Your baby’s brain has developed and the arm and leg buds are present. Arm and leg buds are webbed feet and hands which will separate as baby develops further into fingers and toes.

 The amazing thing is that even at the size of a blueberry, your baby is already 10,000 times larger than at conception! You may find yourself frequenting the toilet more often than usual due to hormonal changes, but this doesn’t mean you should cut back on water! Instead, aim for at least 10 cups of fluids daily to stay hydrated especially with the hot weather in Singapore.

Yoga can be relaxing and calming for pregnant women. Consider attending a prenatal yoga class to learn yoga poses safe for pregnant women.

Week 8: Raspberry

Week 8 sees the development of all your baby’s essential organs. Pigment is forming in your baby’s eyes, giving them colour. Your baby is growing quickly, about 1mm per day. This measurement includes the growth of your baby’s hands, legs and other body parts. Your womb is expanding to accommodate the gradual changes in your womb.

Eating right in pregnancy is key. For a start, “eat a rainbow” to maximise the essential vitamins and nutrients that your body requires. Eating a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables also aid in smooth bowel movements and combats against constipation, a condition that many pregnant women suffer from.

You’ll notice that what you used to like now makes you want to retch, and even start to crave food that you never used to enjoy!Your taste buds might also turn bland making you lose interest in eating.If they are not foods to avoid during pregnancy, it’s okay to indulge a little to satisfy those cravings. Do watch out for high sodium or high sugar foods and go easy on them especially if there is a family history of health risks.

Sushi and sashimi are best avoided during pregnancy as they contain raw ingredients which may increase the risk of food poisoning.

Week 9: Peanut
This week, your baby looks less like a blob and more like the shape of a baby. It somewhat resembles a peanut and is also the size of one. Your baby’s muscles are forming and gaining strength, but you won’t be able to feel your baby kick for at least another month or two.

The good news is that for most pregnant mums,morning sickness starts fade over the next few weeks until the placenta is completed. If standard meal portions make you lose appetite, try splitting your meals into several nutritious bite-sized snacks throughout the day. Keep your arsenal of healthy snacks such as nuts, grapes and berries, small cubes of pasteurised cheese and low salt crackers close by. Eating well to obtain balanced nutrients help support healthy development of your foetus and promote a healthy pregnancy too.

Your gynaecologist may also have prescribed prenatal supplements to support your diet and baby’s growth. Folic acid, DHA, and calcium pills are some common supplements pregnant mums take from the early weeks of pregnancy.

You’re nearing the end of your first trimester! What is your preferred method to combat pregnancy symptoms? Let us know in the comments!

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For Parents Health & Nutrition Pregnant Pregnant

Tips on Managing Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy

Singapore has one of the highest rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in the world, affecting one in five births.

 

The condition is characterised by abnormal or elevated glucose readings which occur during pregnancy and is usually discovered through an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) taken between Week 24 and Week 28 of the pregnancy.

 

Mothers with the condition have an increased risk of high blood pressure, pre-term labour and stillbirth. They are also at risk of developing diabetes after delivery. Furthermore, children born from GDM pregnancies are likelier to be obese as children and develop Type 2 Diabetes subsequently in life.

 

Therefore, early detection and proper management of the condition is imperative to keep it under control and minimise the risks to mother and child.

 

Gestational diabetes is a possible pregnancy complication, usually detected between 26 to 28 weeks of gestation via an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT).

 

#1 – Ensuring a healthy diet
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a healthy diet is necessary. Instead of three main meals, have smaller but more frequent meals. As essential nutrients for pregnant mums are vital for the healthy growth and development of your baby, you can consult a nutritionist to customise a meal plan according to your health condition and needs.

 

Pregnant mums will likely need to monitor the amount of carbohydrates consumed per day, as over-consumption may cause a spike in blood sugar. Consuming more foods with a low glycemic load helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. If you do not take meat, there are vegetarian meal ideas as well. Also, do keep in mind the foods to avoid during pregnancy.

 

#2 – Keep a food log
As you will need to track your blood sugar levels daily, keeping a food log documents the types of food which correlate to blood sugar levels. You’ll be able to find out what type of food causes spikes in blood sugar and avoid consuming them.

 

#3 – Cut down on sweet drinks
Sweet drinks are a fast way to spike your sugar level, which is why you should cut them off until you’re cleared of gestational diabetes. Sweet drinks extend to sweetened tea, fruit juices and any drinks with added sugar. It is safest to stick to water, which helps pregnant mums to stay hydrated. On average, you need about 2.3 litres of fluid per day.

 

#4 – Exercise!
Exercising plays a part in regulating the body’s insulin output and in turn, blood sugar levels. There are many simple exercises that can be done in the comfort of your home, or simply sign up for prenatal exercise classes to keep active with fellow pregnant mums.

 

#5 – Find a support group
Gestational diabetes can be tricky. Finding a support group with other pregnant women suffering from the same condition can help – you can share meal plans, meet up for lunch and you’ll know that you are not the only one suffering from the condition. Most pregnant women have safe pregnancies and deliver healthy, term babies.

 

#6 – Ensure that your condition is monitored closely
Having gestational diabetes means that your baby may be at an increased risk of excessive birth weight, which may result in complicated labour or C-section. This happens when excess glucose in your bloodstream crosses the placenta and triggers your baby’s pancreas to create more insulin. This results in a largerbaby, and may pose potential pregnancy risks and complications during delivery.

 

Thus, it is important that you attend all scheduled gynaecological appointments to keep a close track on your baby’s predicted birth weight and make appropriate adjustments.

 

Gestational diabetes typically disappears after childbirth but may persist in some mothers, who may need to follow up with regular check-ups.

Gestational diabetes can be successfully managed with proper guidance from healthcare professionals and a supportive network.

 

Mummies who were diagnosed with withgestational diabetes, do share some tips on how you coped with the condition in the comments below!

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Health & Nutrition Pregnant Uncategorized

Meal Ideas for Vegetarian Pregnant Mums

Pregnant women need to ensure their diets include essential nutrients and avoid taking potentially harmful foods during pregnancy.

 

Vegetarians do not consume meat for a variety of reasons, and pregnant mums who are vegetarians may be concerned about obtaining sufficient nutrients in their diet.

Can pregnant women maintain their vegetarian diets while supporting a healthy pregnancy? The answer is yes, as rich sources of essential nutrients can be found in non-meat products.
Consuming a healthy variety of vegetables, legumes, nuts and fruit is beneficial to both mother and baby. With proper meal planning, plant-based diets can be continued throughout pregnancy.

 

The key nutrients to focus on are protein, iron, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and folate.

Vegetarian meals can be nutritious and a delight to the palate. We have curated some palatable meal ideas that brim with healthy wholesome nourishment for vegetarian pregnant mums!

 

Start your day with hummus on toast and a side of mixed fruit.

 

Breakfast

  • Chickpea Hummus on toast
    Hummus can be easily made by blending boiled chickpeas with tahini and lemon juice. An excellent source of iron, Vitamin B6, magnesium, protein and fibre, chickpeas also contain folate, Vitamin K, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, choline and selenium.

 

  • Banana Pancakes
    Pregnancy may cause fatigue to creep any time during the day, so this easy two-ingredient recipe is not only easy to whip up but also contains protein and carbohydrates to power you up.

 

Light Snacks

 

  • Fruit Platter
    When it comes to fruits, aim for a colourful variety. Eat a rainbow of fruits to increase the number of nutrients consumed to support a healthy pregnancy. Passion fruit, blackberries, green grapes and starfruit are some of the fruit you can add to your vegetarian diet.

 

  • Nut butter on crackers
    Nut butters are incredibly easy to make and you can choose from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts… the choices are endless! Nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids for a healthy heart and are packed with protein.

 

Dairy-free cheeses can be used as a topping for pizza.

 

Lunch/Dinner

 

  • Simple Vegan Pizza
    Surprise, you can have guilt-free pizza that is as satisfying as its traditional counterpart. Vegan cheese is made from blended cashew nuts and does not contain dairy. If you do not have an allergy to nuts, the copper in cashew nuts helps the body to make use of iron efficiently. It is a good source of monounsaturated fats. Top it with roasted vegetables and add spinach for your daily iron requirements. Iron is a necessary nutrient as it supports additional red blood cells, placenta and the growing baby.

 

  • King Oyster “Scallops”
    When prepared a certain way, king oyster mushrooms can pass off for scallops. Mushrooms have long been used as a vegetarian substitute for meat. King oyster mushrooms are low in fat and calories, yet high in fibre and protein. A cup of sliced mushrooms provides 6% of daily protein requirements and 8% of dietary fibre for women.

 

  • Vegetarian Sushi
    This vegetarian maki roll is light and satisfying as it has carrots, omelette and cucumber enveloped in fluffy, vinegared sushi rice. Some vegetarians consume eggs and dairy products, so it depends on how strict you are. Eggs are a source of iron and egg yolk contains Vitamin D.

 

The colourful appearance of vegetarian sushi can help improve appetite and makes for a delish meal for pregnant mums.

 

Dessert

 

  • Vegan No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream
    Indulge in smooth, creamy, chocolate ice cream made from only 5 ingredients! This recipe contains dates, which are high in fibre and antioxidants. It is known to relieve constipation, a common bugbear of pregnant women in their second and third trimesters. Dates lower blood cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and keep you satiated and feeling fuller for longer.

 

As you can see, there are plenty of non-meat substitutes and meals that vegetarian mums can enjoy and maintain a healthy pregnancy at the same time. Enjoy guiltless and delicious meals without compromising on nutrition and taste!

 

Are you a vegetarian pregnant mum? Do share some of your favourite vegetarian recipes too!

 

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Pregnant

8 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is hard work for a woman. It is especially important for pregnant women to eat well and eat right during this period as her body accommodates a growing baby. A balanced and healthy diet can help to ensure both mother and baby attain the essential nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy and foetal development.

Generally, most foods are safe for pregnant women to consume, but here are some foods that you should try to avoid during pregnancy due to the possible side effects that may occur.

 

  1. Alcohol

“Surely it’s safe to have a glass of wine?”, you may think. Alcohol impacts brain cells and this may affect the developing foetus. Researchers have yet to determine the exact effect of alcohol consumption on a growing foetus but offer zilch nourishment to both pregnant mum and baby. It is recommended to steer clear of alcohol as it foils judgement, which may affect the pregnant mum’s decision-making too.

 

  1. Fish containing high levels of mercury

Mercury is a neurotoxin that is linked to brain damage and developmental delays in babies. Avoid fish known to contain high mercury levels such as shark, king mackerel and swordfish and opt for those with lower levels of mercury such as salmon, cod and canned light tuna.

 

  1. Vitamin A supplements

Vitamin A is a nutrient required for the embryonic growth of foetuses and aids in tissue repair after birth. However, certain types of Vitamin A in excessive amounts may lead to birth defects. The recommended amount of Vitamin A supplements to take, if necessary, is not more than 1,500mcg (5,000 IU) per day. Vitamin A converted from beta-carotene is not linked to developmental issues, so it is alright to continue consuming carrots and pumpkin.

 

Consult your gynaecologist before starting on supplements during pregnancy.

 

  1. Raw shellfish

Say bye to raw oysters and mussels at the buffet counter as raw shellfish can sometimes contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and other viruses that cause food poisoning. While most cases of food poisoning are unlikely to be harmful to the foetus, a small percentage of food poisoning cases result in miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth.

 

  1. Store-bought salads

While it is necessary to load up on essential vitamins from fruit and vegetables, it is wise to avoid purchasing store-bought salads and opt to prepare your own, where you can take extra care to ensure the fruit and vegetables are thoroughly washed before consumption.

If you must, choose salads with ingredients that are fully cooked and avoid raw sprouts and cold cuts.

 

  1. Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses including those that are mould-ripened like mozzarella, brie and camembert and blue-veined like gorgonzola and Danish blue, can contain a bacterium called Listeria which potentially causes listeriosis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of listeria infection.

 

As soft cheeses are less acidic than hard cheeses and contain more moisture, harmful bacteria are likelier to breed. Choose hard cheeses such as cheddar, gouda, edam or emmental.

 

Soft cheeses are best avoided during pregnancy. Select hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda.

 

  1. Excessive caffeine

Caffeine crosses the placenta into the amniotic fluid and baby’s bloodstream. As your foetus is still developing, it takes much longer for caffeine to be processed and eliminated. This means that the effects of caffeine are much stronger on your foetus.

Thus, it is recommended to keep to a daily caffeine limit of 200mg, equivalent to a 300g cup of coffee. Excessive consumption of caffeine may lead to smaller babies which may lead to developmental problems later in life. Remember that caffeine is also present in other foods like chocolate, tea, soft drinks and ice cream.

 

  1. Liver products

The liver is considered as a nutrient-rich food that is packed with vitamins and minerals. However, the liver also contains a high amount of preformed Vitamin A which is detrimental to the development of your foetus. This is especially so in the first trimester.

Foie gras is made of goose liver, which contains excessive amounts of Vitamin A.

 

Keeping a balanced diet throughout pregnancy is beneficial to the healthy development of your foetus and aids in a smooth delivery. Mummies, what is one “forbidden” food that you have been craving this pregnancy? Let us know in the comments!

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Health & Nutrition Pregnant

Essential Nutrients for Pregnant Mums

Pregnant mums require extra nutrients to support the growth and healthy development of the foetus. Read on to find out the essential nutrients that pregnant mums should be consuming!

 

  • Folic acid/Folate – to prevent birth defects

Folic acid or folate is a B vitamin that is crucial because it prevents babies from being born with neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. In fact, folic acid is so important, it is recommended to consume 400 to 800mcg per day starting from three months before conception and throughout pregnancy.

Sources rich in folic acid include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, lentils and avocado. There is no risk of consuming excess folate from foods that naturally contain folate as it can be easily passed out in urine.

Avocado is rich in folate and contains healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.

 

  • Calcium – to strengthen bones

Calcium is required for strong bones and teeth, as well as to ensure that your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run the way they should. Calcium helps your baby develop a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles and a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting abilities. Apart from dairy products, salmon, spinach, tofu, edamame and almonds are foods rich in calcium. You should consume 1,000mcg daily.

 

  • Vitamin D – for calcium absorption

Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption and also helps to build your baby’s bones and teeth. Ideally, you should consume 600 IU per day. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel contain Vitamin D. Soy milk and egg yolks also contain Vitamin D. Otherwise, 5-10 minutes in the sun lets your body make Vitamin D naturally too.

 

  • Iron – to prevent iron deficiency anemia

Pregnant women require twice the amount of iron to create blood that supplies oxygen to their foetuses. Insufficient iron levels may lead to a condition known as iron deficiency anaemia, resulting in fatigue.

In severe cases, there is a risk of premature birth and postnatal depression. Get your iron requirements met from lean red meat, beans and vegetables. Pregnant women require 27mg of iron daily.

Beef steak is a good source of iron.

 

  • Zinc – to help baby’s cells grow and replicate

Zinc is a necessary nutrient throughout all stages of pregnancy. Pregnant women should consume 12mg to 15mg of zinc daily. Zinc deficiency may cause pre-eclampsia, a condition characterised by abrupt hypertension, swelling and high protein levels in urine.

Fortunately, it is uncommon to suffer from a zinc deficiency as zinc is present in most foods in our diet such as beef, crab meat, poultry, nuts and beans.

 

  • Protein – encourages foetal growth

Protein encourages foetal cell growth and provides amino acids that boosts brain, bone and muscle development. Protein helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow and increases blood supply during pregnancy. Conversely, a lack of protein may cause poor bone, muscle and joint development and birth defects.

A mother should ideally consume 70g of protein daily from foods like peanut butter, eggs, meat and tofu.

 

  • Iodine – to develop your baby’s brain and nervous system

220mcg of iodine per day is recommended to develop your baby’s brain and nervous system and regulate its metabolism. Iodine is also responsible for thyroid gland regulation and a lack of iodine has been found to cause an increased risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and preterm delivery.

While it may sound stressful having to meet the daily nutritional requirements, most of the nutrients are already present in foods that we consume daily. Choose to eat more green leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts to keep a healthy diet throughout pregnancy. Some pregnant mums throw up whatever they eat, and their gynaecologist would usually prescribe multivitamin supplements to help them obtain the essential nutrients a pregnant mum needs.

Pregnant mums, do you take plenty of fresh foods to obtain a healthy mix of nutrition too?