Friday, March 27, 2009

Planning and Preparing for Pregnancy (Part 3)

As we should know the most important diet in pregnancy planning is having a nutritious, well-balanced diet includes:
  • plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions per day), which provide vitamins and fibre
  • starchy foods such as potatoes and whole grain cereals, bread and pasta
  • protein such as lean meat, fish and pulses
  • dairy foods such as milk and yoghurt, which supply calcium

However my guess is that not much people know that folic acid (one of the B vitamins) is the only pre-pregnancy vitamin supplement recommended for women who are eating a balanced diet.

You need folic acid for the development of healthy red blood cells. Adequate intake of folic acid also reduces the risk of your baby being born with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. The neural tube develops very early in pregnancy, during the first few weeks after fertilisation. At this point you may not have even realised you are pregnant.

Ideally, start taking folate three months prior to conception, but if you hope to conceive earlier than this, the sooner you start taking it, the better. A dose of 400 micrograms (0.4mg) daily until the 12th week of pregnancy is ideal – it’s most crucial in the first trimester as the brain and spinal cord are developing.

Most pregnancy / pre-natal multi-vitamins should contain folate so you can even start taking those instead of folate on it’s own – just make sure you read the label so you know how much folate you’re actually getting (ideally not too small amount).

You’ll also find folate in the following foods:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Avocado
  • Beef / Yeast Extracts (e.g. Vegemite)
  • Eggs
  • Bran Flakes
  • Chick Peas
  • Soy Beans
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit

It is critical to point out, however, that some vitamins and minerals can be toxic if taken in too large of an amount. Vitamins A and D can cause birth defects if taken in megadoses. Therefore, be safe by choosing a supplement that does not exceed the 100 to 150 percent RDI plus the 400 micrograms of folic acid. (or According to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration website, “the recommended adult daily allowance of vitamin A from all sources is 2500 IU per week).

During pregnancy, pregnant women can become anaemic. Developing infants need a high level of red blood cells in order to receive enough oxygen. And, anemia in the mother can be passed on to her baby. So make sure you eat plenty of iron-rich foods to build up your iron stores. These include red meat, pulses, fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit, bread and green vegetables. Foods that help iron absorption consist of fruits (oranges, orange juice, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapefruit) and vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomato, tomato juice, potatoes, and green and red peppers), and are effective when eaten with iron-rich foods like meat, fish, and poultry. If you are taking iron supplement, make sure you are taking in 18 milligrams of iron each day.

However, there are certain foods that you shouldn't eat pre-pregnancy because they may make you ill or may harm the baby if you do become pregnant. The Department of Health advises that you don't eat:
  • liver and large quantities of vitamin A in supplements such as fish liver oils
  • unpasteurised dairy products
  • raw or soft-cooked eggs
  • pâtés, including vegetable pâté
  • soft cheeses such as brie or camembert
  • blue cheeses such as stilton or roquefort
  • swordfish, marlin and shark
  • any more than two tuna steaks (170g raw) or four tins of tuna (140g drained) per week
Part of the information source come from Belly Belly.


  1. Thanks for sharing the info..

  2. Horlic > Hope to share what I am learning along the way and any advise / comments / additional info are welcome!


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