In a previous blog I talked a bit about healthy eating during pregnancy. This is important in so many ways but being pregnant tends to throw up (sometimes literally!) all sorts of barriers to achieving this. Here are a few common issues people tend to raise, and some top tips for dealing with them:
How can I prevent Constipation?
Constipation can make life very uncomfortable and affect your appetite. It is often a problem during pregnancy and may not be wholly avoidable. However, drinking plenty of fluids and including high fibre foods such as wholegrain breakfast cereals, fruit and vegetables, beans, lentils and pulses, brown rice and pasta and wholemeal bread in your diet may help.
How can I stop feeling Sick?
This is a miserable side effect of pregnancy for many, and at its most extreme form of hyperemesis gravidarium there is little relief to manage the vomiting other than medication. However, useful strategies to manage nausea include ginger-rich foods and drinks (e.g. ginger tea, ginger biscuits or ginger preserve on toast) and wrist acupressure travel bands. Choosing bland, cold, non-greasy foods e.g. toast or crackers, and eating little and often is often helpful. Sometimes dried fruits are better tolerated than fresh varieties and make good snacks. If your nausea is severely limiting your diet for a prolonged period of time then it might be worth considering a pregnancy-specific multivitamin supplement. See my previous blog on supplements for which are best to choose/avoid.
How can I manage Heartburn?
Avoid very large meals and those high in fat. You may be more comfortable eating 6 small meals spread over the day rather than 3 large ones. Highly spiced and fried foods often cause more problems so stick to blander alternatives.
I am concerned about gaining too much weight
Both high and low pregnancy weight gains can negatively affect pregnancy outcomes for you and your baby. However we are all very different, and there is no ‘perfect’ amount to gain. Our babies go through different growth spurts along the way, and so weight gain is rarely going to be the same week in week out. A very rough guide to expected (healthy) weight gains would be to aim for around one stone weight gain (6kg) if you were overweight pre-pregnancy, two stone (12kg) if you were a health weight pre-pregnancy, and three stone (19kg) if you were underweight pre-pregnancy.
You certainly don’t need to eat for two. Eating a balanced and varied diet, keeping active, and responding to your body’s hunger cues should allow you to provide everything your baby needs without excessive weight gain.
You should not try to lose weight during pregnancy. Restricting your diet can have a detrimental impact on yourself and your developing baby. If you are struggling with your changing body shape and size then seek support. Pregnancy is not the time for strict diets and food exclusions.
Carly Atkinson is a Registered Dietitian with 14 years post-graduate experience working in the NHS and an MSc in Advanced Dietetic Practice. She currently runs workshops in Cheltenham for parents and carers on Weaning and Fussy Eating and delivers training and menu guidance to Early Years Settings. Her aim is to provide evidence-based, accessible and practical information on infant nutrition to parents and carers to provide the best start for the children they care for. You can find out more at facebook.com/babybrightstart or babybrightstart.com