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It’s okay, I’m eating for two now…

body of pregnant woman in tight fitting top holding a bowl of museli

YES! Finally, you have an excuse to put a hold on your diet, stop calorie counting and indulge yourself in all of the treats you fantasized about when you were sweating profusely in your fitness class pre-pregnancy days. You now have the perfect way to reason with your mind and make exceptions to your normal rule because you’re eating for two! Have people commented during your pregnancy about ensuring that you eat enough for both you and baby? The answer is probably yes! But here’s the question; is ‘eating for two’ just another old wives tale that needs to be modernised?

Absolutely.

Why is it, that as soon as women fall pregnant we forget all of the knowledge and wisdom we have safely filed away on healthy eating, and are suddenly gravitating towards any building that might have even a whiff of cake! Let’s blame baby brain shall we?

Because really, we shouldn’t become naive to the fact that over 20% of women are already ‘obese’ when they conceive, and with these women having a BMI of over 30, and ‘overweight’ women with a BMI of 25 not following far behind, the healthy weight gain of 10-12kg is actually not even relevant to most pregnancy women. It is vital to remember that you are not eating for two, you are ensuring that your body is filled with the correct nutrients to grow a healthy, happy baby. It’s all about the healthy fats, cutting back on bad sugar by keeping your intake low and consuming less simple carbs like pasta, bread and rice. Your body is growing a human being during pregnancy, and as such, you need a lot of quality sources of all the things needed to support the human body. This mainly includes proteins, fats, vegetables and fruits, and certain supplements you can’t adequately get from food such as probiotics, vitamin D and folate. Eating right during pregnancy benefits not only the baby, but you as well. From balancing hormones to reducing the incidence of stretch marks, it plays a part in your pregnancy journey.

Obesity is a risk factor for any woman, but there are specific health risks involved for Mothers when carrying their baby. They can suffer from high blood pressure, have an increased chance of needing a Caesarean delivery and get gestational diabetes – a form of diabetes that begins during pregnancy. Not only does this increase the Mothers chances of a higher lifetime risk of Type 2 diabetes, but it can have a huge impact on the newborn. They could suffer from low blood sugar, large body size causing potential problems during the birth and later on struggle with obesity and diabetes. Your body is working SO hard to safely carry this beautiful baby, so you need to nurture it and not punish it. There are ways in which you can satisfy your bodies needs for the right nutrition, safely and effectively that you can carry with you through pre-conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding . . Here are some tips;

Protein:

Most women need 80+ grams of protein every day for healthy pregnancy. Some research shows lower risk of preclampsia and other complications with adequate protein, and some women report less morning sickness when they consume this level of protein.

Fats:

This is often the biggest hurdle for many women, but consuming adequate fats is absolutely vital to baby’s organ and brain development. Women should focus on healthy sources like meat, avocados, salmon, eggs, olive/oil, coconut/oil, nuts and seeds

Vegetables and Fruits:

Vegetables and fruits have a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre that are helpful during pregnancy. Eating a varied diet including a lot of green leafy vegetables can also help raise Vitamin K levels.

Water:

A woman’s blood volume actually increases during pregnancy and your body has to supply fluid to replenish the amniotic fluid the baby is in. Drinking enough water can help fight off morning sickness and also helps prevent constipation and make sure you and baby are properly hydrated. It’s not only important to focus on your diet through pregnancy, but be mindful of the impact that stress can have on your weight gain. Throughout pregnancy, women should practice relaxation and hypnobirthing to prevent the production of excess cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, which when high, increases fat accumulation. You will find that there are more receptors for cortisol around our middle, which means that we gain abdominal fat faster. Not only does this mean your are putting pressure on your internal organs, and fat around the baby, but this area is one of the hardest to shift fat from. If you focus on keeping stress levels low, by promoting relaxation and calm in your life, your body will reward you by contributing towards keeping your overall weight gain down. And the less fat you start with, the less pressure you put on yourself to bounce back once your baby is born!

You see? It’s really not rocket science. It is all about maintaining your overall physical and mental wellbeing. Pregnancy is not an excuse to start eating whatever you want, it is actually more of a reason to look after your body and support it through this huge change. Whatever you put into your body, is fed to your baby too. Would you feed your child sweets, cakes, and unhealthy fatty foods when they are growing? No, you wouldn’t. Hold onto that thought, and remember that this development process during pregnancy is so important to their long term health, and yours.

Having a baby isn’t justification for your eating habits to slip; maintain a balanced lifestyle, and you can then allow yourself the odd treat. 

If you have a sweet tooth, visit our social media pages and follow some of our recommended healthy recipes! Just search @suffolkwomanswellnesscentre on Instagram and Facebook, follow our page and keep informed. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and will keep you on the right path pre, during and post pregnancy. Also, take a browse on our website and learn more about the hypnobirthing course that we have on offer for you, and your partner, to take part in on the lead up to the birth. As a technique, hypnobirthing is extremely beneficial in helping to keep you relaxed and calm throughout your pregnancy when preparing for your birth.  

Good nutrition, staying active, and gaining the right amount of weight are important ways to promote a healthy pregnancy. Tommys provides tips on maintaining a healthy pregnancy. https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/weight-management/overweight-and-pregnant

References

Institute of Medicine. (2011). Weight gain during pregnancy: Reexamining the guidelines.NICHD. (2012). NIH obesity research featured in HBO’s The Weight of the Nation. Committee on Obstetric Practice. (2013). Obesity in pregnancy. Committee Opinion No. 549. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 121, 213–217.

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