Pregnancy & Diet – My Little Tummy Q&A!

Pregnancy & Diet – My Little Tummy Q&A!

Earlier this week I was interviewed by Nadine, the founder of Little Tummy who has recently found out that she is expecting Twins! Nadine and I had spoken previously about eating a healthy diet during pregnancy (and specifically how to increase iron levels as hers were found to be low) and decided it would be nice to share some tips on an Instagram Live!

Below is how our conversation went .. I really hope you find it useful and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram (I’m @mummynutrition) for more!

What are the most important nutrients and supplements to consider during pregnancy?

Vitamin D – Take a 10 mcg supplement
Everybody needs Vitamin D, as it helps us to absorb calcium. It is especially important in pregnancy as it helps your baby’s bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system to develop. Our body makes Vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight, and therefore all adults (in the UK at least), should take 10 mcg of vitamin D in the winter months from around October – April due to reduced exposure. Pregnant (and breastfeeding) ladies however should take it all year round – failure to do this could result in your newborn baby being deficient too (particularly if you have dark skin or spend a lot of time indoors).

Top Tip: Get outside in summer! There’s no need to sunbathe though, try take this opportunity to give your body some Vitamin D and go for a walk in the outdoors!

Food sources include: Oily fish, egg yolks, milk and dairy foods, mushrooms and fortified cereals/milk alternatives (check the label!).

Folic Acid – Take a 400 mcg supplement (or 5 mg which is prescribed by your doctor if you have diabetes, your BMI is over 30, you take anti-epileptic medication or you have a history of neural tube defects in your family)
Folic acid is an essential vitamin during pregnancy (and breastfeeding), and when trying to conceive too. Not only is it important for the formulation of healthy red blood cells, but it’s important to prioritise when pregnant as low levels can increase the risk of complications, such as neural tube defects.

Food sources include: Dark green leafy veg, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, Beans and legumes (e.g. peas, black eyed beans), yeast and beef extracts, oranges (and orange juice), wheat bran and other whole grain foods, poultry, pork, shellfish and fortified foods (e.g. some brands of breakfast cereals – check the label)

Iodine – 200 mcg a day from dietary sources
Another essential vitamin, not only in every-day life but in pregnancy too. Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to produce vital hormones for growth and health. It’s very important for healthy development and growth of the baby’s brain during pregnancy.

Good food sources include: Fish, milk, and dairy products. In general, white fish contains more iodine than oily fish. Milk and dairy products are the main sources of iodine for most people. It is important to be aware that most milk-alternative drinks (e.g. soya/almond/oat) are not fortified with iodine and have a low iodine content. Some milk-alternative drinks are fortified with iodine so it is important to check the product label.

Good to know: Seaweed is a very concentrated source of iodine, but it can provide excessive amounts (particularly so in the case of brown seaweed such as kelp) and therefore eating seaweed more than once a week is not recommended, especially during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Multi-Vitamin –You may wish to take a pregnancy multi-vitamin, which will combine the folic acid, vitamin D and iodine and exclude vitamin A – which in the retinol form can be toxic in large doses. If you feel you are consuming a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of sources of different nutrients, this is not a requirement, however it may be useful if you feel you need it, or if you’re struggling with nausea for example.

How important is iron during pregnancy? How much do we need, and do we need more if expecting twins?

Having sufficient iron levels is very important during pregnancy. Low levels of iron within the diet or through blood loss can result in fatigue, lack of energy or in more severe cases, iron deficiency anaemia, which may increase the risk of infections, illnesses (due to reduced immune support) and other symptoms such as hair thinning and brittle nails. In pregnancy, it may also increase the risk of a low birth weight and possible iron deficiency for your baby. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please consult your GP.⁣⁣

Although there are no specific recommendations for pregnant women (compared to the recommended intake of 14.8mg per day for females) it’s important that it’s not neglected. The good news is, you can obtain sufficient levels by consuming a varied and balanced diet!⁣⁣

Twins – The body’s need for iron is indeed greater if pregnant with twins, and therefore you are more at risk of deficiency. However, there are still no guidelines which recommend supplementation as a first option – however it can be explored with your GP if you are showing symptoms of deficiency and there will be some iron contained within a pregnancy multivitamin.

Food sources include: Haem iron and non-haem iron. ⁣⁣

Haem iron is found most in animal-based sources of iron such as red meat, liver (not recommended in pregnancy due to the high vitamin A content) and eggs. Haem iron is more readily absorbed within the body. ⁣⁣

Although less easily absorbed, plant-based sources of iron (known as non-haem) include dark leafy greens, beans, chickpeas, seeds, nuts and tofu. Some breakfast cereals and breads are also fortified with iron (check the label). These foods provide us with plenty of other nutrients too.

Top Tip: To increase absorption, combine your iron sources and pair with some Vitamin C! An iron-rich meal idea could be a beef (haem-iron), kidney bean (non-haem iron) and mixed vegetable stew (Vitamin C).⁣⁣

Iron and Caffeine: It’s best to avoid drinking tea & coffee for 30-60 minutes when consuming your sources of Iron and Vitamin C as this may affect absorption.

How can we reduce digestion problems, especially during the first weeks and at the end of the pregnancy?

Pregnancy symptoms are caused by hormonal changes and of course your growing baby. And whilst they may not completely vanish, what we can do is try to manage them!

Constipation: Think FIBRE, FLUID & MOVEMENT!

FIBRE – Vital for a healthy digestive system! The UK recommended intake is 30g a day. Try opt for wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates where possible.⁣⁣ Including oats and linseeds in the diet may also help (they provide soluble fibre) but it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough fluid and movement, too.

FLUID – Make sure to be drinking an adequate amount of FLUID too (your urine should be a pale straw colour for the majority of the day!). Water is ideal as it’s sugar and caffeine free.

MOVEMENT – Get the bowels moving! Going for a brisk walk can help or you could even try some gentle yoga⁣⁣.

Indigestion 

This is also a common symptom in pregnancy – to help avoid indigestion, take time to eat your food slowly and mindfully and take smaller sips instead of large gulps of water when keeping hydrated. If you’re struggling with this, you may also find it useful to have slightly less rich and spicy foods.

Besides cutting out raw and unpasteurised foods, what is your take on caffeine during pregnancy – wrong or right?

For the majority of healthy adults, caffeine in moderation i.e. 400mg a day; which is around 4-5 cups of tea or coffee or 2 energy drinks, isn’t harmful, although pregnant women should keep their consumption to below 200mg a day; which is around 2 cups of instant coffee or tea.

Exceeding 200mg of caffeine a day during pregnancy could result in your baby having a low birthweight, increasing the risk of health problems later in life. If you occasionally exceed the recommended limit, don’t worry though as the risks are quite small.

Here are some some useful stats showing how much caffeine (on average) is in these commonly consumed food and drinks. However, you should always check the label for exact amounts:

  • Coffee shop coffee = ~100-400mg*
  • Energy drink = ~80-150mg
  • Instant coffee = ~100mg
  • Black tea = ~75mg
  • 50g dark chocolate = ~25mg
  • Can of cola (including diet) = ~40mg
  • Green tea = ~50mg
  • 50g milk chocolate = ~10mg

*If you’re buying coffee from a coffee shop, ask for decaf or just 1 shot, as large cups can have up to 4 shots of coffee in them which is the equivalent of double a day’s worth of caffeine for a pregnant lady.

How much more should I really eat?

You may have heard that, on average, women only need to eat an extra 200 calories in the last trimester of pregnancy (the equivalent to a small bowl of porridge). But did you know that this figure may not be accurate for women who are relatively active, or who may have been on the ‘lighter’ end of the BMI chart pre-pregnancy? More recent research shows that (on average) a women’s body may require up to 340 more calories a day in the second trimester and up to 450 more calories in the third; which is the equivalent of one extra meal a day! Interestingly, the American Pregnancy Association also advises that your energy needs increase by an extra 300 calories a day during pregnancy.

Having said this, I do not recommend calorie counting during pregnancy; there is simply no need. The calorie requirements mentioned above are simply to show that you do need to eat more in order for you and your baby to thrive (although, this is not the same as eating for two grown adults) – honour your hunger and try if possible to eat nutritious, wholefoods for the majority of the time.

What should we be cautious of, if we are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, when pregnant?

If you are following a more plant-based diet when pregnant or breastfeeding it is essential that you have sufficient levels of essential nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, iodine, folic acid, iron as well as vitamin B12, which is why a pregnancy multivitamin may be beneficial and is often recommended in this group. A omega 3 (algae) supplement may also be essential if you’re following a plant based diet as most people get their omega 3 (in DHA form) from oily fish.

Nutritious plant-based foods include:

Soya products such as tofu and edamame beans are a great source of plant-based protein, and an excellent source of calcium and other vitamins such as magnesium.

Beans, lentils and pulses are a great source of plant-based protein and vitamins and minerals. Try out as many different ones as you can – chickpeas, red lentils, black beans – even your classic tinned baked beans (try opt for reduced or no added sugar!)

Vegan alternatives of milk, yogurt and cheese can be great sources of essential micronutrients that your body requires – if they are fortified, so it’s important to check the label for calcium at the minimum! Some brands will even fortify with iodine as well. You may also find products like cereals and bread are fortified with some essential micronutrients such as iron and can contribute towards your daily requirements, too.

Are there any foods that can help with morning sickness?

Try opt for snacks/meals that are not highly spiced or flavoured. If you’re sensitive to smells, you could try more cold meals such as salads or cooked protein with potatoes and salads.

Go easy when you’re drinking any fluids, take sips little and often instead of swallowing large quantities.⁣⁣

I personally felt sick every time my stomach was empty so I had to eat every 2 hours from waking. I found foods such as crackers, ginger biscuits and oat cakes good for keeping next to my bed too.

Ultimately – it’s whatever works for you as maintaining energy levels is important and (hopefully) your morning sickness won’t last forever!

Have you got any more tips?

Thank you so much to Little Tummy for having me on your channel!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

My Newborn Essentials

Next to Me Cot from Shnuggle
Next to Me Cot from Shnuggle
I would get this for baby 2!
Changing Mat – Ideal for Travel!
Changing Mat – Ideal for Travel!
Use the promo code NIPPER for 10% off!
Sanitising Water
Sanitising Water
Travel Size
Quinny Pram
Quinny Pram
Love this brand!
Nappy Caddy
Nappy Caddy
Perfect for around the house!
Socks On
Socks On
Because baby socks ALWAYS fall off!
Sleepsuits
Sleepsuits
An essential for day & night!
Baby on Board Sign
Baby on Board Sign
For your car!
Baby D Drops
Baby D Drops
Just 1 tiny drop daily is all you need. Needed from 0-6 months old if breastfed.
Baby Nail File
Baby Nail File
You pop them on your thumb!
Love to Dream Swaddle Up
Love to Dream Swaddle Up
For when my baby is too big for his Gro Snug!
Hana Baby Wrap
Hana Baby Wrap
For baby wearing!
Baby Car Mirror
Baby Car Mirror
Essential when driving alone.
Lamaze Firefly
Lamaze Firefly
Great for development!
Baby Bibs
Baby Bibs
Love the design!
Baby Thermometer
Baby Thermometer
From Braun
Teether
Teether
This one is so popular!
Personalised Bunny Comforter
Personalised Bunny Comforter
Such a gorgeous gift!
Soft Book
Soft Book
For the pram!
Lots of Links
Lots of Links
To attach to the toys!
Lumie Bedbug Night Light
Lumie Bedbug Night Light
We have this in our nursery.
Hair Brush
Hair Brush
The bristles are so soft!
Baby Coconut Oil
Baby Coconut Oil
I was bought this as a gift!
Black and White Book
Black and White Book
For your newborn!
Your Baby Week by Week
Your Baby Week by Week
For once your home!
Nipple Balm
Nipple Balm
Essential if you're breast feeding.
Manual Breast Pump
Manual Breast Pump
To have on hand to catch excess milk
Slow Flow Bottle
Slow Flow Bottle
To mimic breast feeding
Reusable Nursing Pads
Reusable Nursing Pads
More environmentally Friendly
Breast Pads
Breast Pads
For leaky nipples!
Pretty Muslins
Pretty Muslins
Love these from Storksak
Mother’s Cocoon
Mother’s Cocoon
For nursing your baby.
Nursing Pillow
Nursing Pillow
For you and baby.
Changing Bag
Changing Bag
Suitable for mum and dad!
Pramsuit
Pramsuit
Essential in colder weather!
Baby Carrier
Baby Carrier
I love this mini from Baby Bjorn
Car Seat
Car Seat
We have this fixed car seat - it's 0-12 years! You can get it cheaper else where though FYI.
Pram or Car Seat Blanket
Pram or Car Seat Blanket
Love this one!
Water Wipes
Water Wipes
For nappy changes!
Aqua Wipes
Aqua Wipes
For nappy changes!
Hooded Towel
Hooded Towel
So cute for after a bath!
White Muslins
White Muslins
I love multipacks of these!
Swaddle Blankets
Swaddle Blankets
Love the panda print!
Baby Sponge
Baby Sponge
For bath time!
Soft Fleecy Blanket
Soft Fleecy Blanket
For tummy time!
Baby Bouncer
Baby Bouncer
This one vibrates too!
Angel Care Nappy Bin
Angel Care Nappy Bin
I have this in our nursery.
Nappy Sacks
Nappy Sacks
These are Eco Disposal
Nappy Cream
Nappy Cream
We use this to protect H's bum!
Whale Scoop
Whale Scoop
To help wash your baby.
Bath Thermometer
Bath Thermometer
Aim for 37 degrees C.
Shnuggle Baby Bath
Shnuggle Baby Bath
Perfect for bath time!
Top & Tail Bowl
Top & Tail Bowl
For cotton wool & water washes.
Shnuggles Changing Mat
Shnuggles Changing Mat
Perfect for nappy changes!
GroEgg 2
GroEgg 2
This is bigger than the original!
0-4m Newborn GroBag/Swaddle
0-4m Newborn GroBag/Swaddle
Perfect for those early months to sleep in (available in summer & winter versions)
Shnuggles Moses Basket
Shnuggles Moses Basket
For 0-6 months
Flat Sheets
Flat Sheets
To go over your baby at night.
Cellular Blankets
Cellular Blankets
To go over a flat sheet at night or to be used alone in the pram.
GroEgg Original
GroEgg Original
To track room temperature (aim for 18-20 degrees!)
Shop Now
To stay up to date with Mummy Nutrition you can join the newsletter below!