PREGNANCY

Pregnancy is a truly wondrous journey. Your health, nutrition and wellbeing are critical to supporting your baby’s healthy growth and development during pregnancy and beyond. As your body creates life, many of the foundations that will impact your child’s health throughout their life are laid.

Your pregnancy comprises of three stages called trimesters, each lasting for about three months. Understanding how you growing baby will affect your body will help you to better prepare for and manage these significant changes as they happen.

While eating a balanced diet and staying active throughout your pregnancy will help to keep you and your baby healthy, it’s often challenging to meet the expanded nutritional needs of pregnancy with diet alone. As you body adjusts to growing a baby, your recommended dietary nutrient intake increases dramatically – particularly in the second and third trimesters.

Ovitae contains essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that supports the optimal nutritional environment to support healthy pregnancy.

PREGNANCY AND YOUR BODY

First trimester – weeks 1-12

Because it’s generally difficult to pinpoint the exact date of conception, your pregnancy is considered to start from the first day of your last period. Although you may not look particularly pregnant during the first trimester, your body is undergoing enormous changes as it accommodates your growing baby. By the end of this stage, your baby’s major organs will have formed, and their arms, legs, fingers, toes and facial features have appeared. In the first few weeks after conception, your hormone levels will change significantly, and your blood supply and heart rate will increase. These changes are often accompanied by early pregnancy symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue: Higher levels of the hormone progesterone and the major work your body is doing to grow a baby can make you feel unusually tired. Listen to your body and rest if you can.
  • Morning sickness: Around 80% of women experience morning sickness – nausea, dizziness and vomiting caused by increased pregnancy hormones. Despite the name, morning sickness can strike at any time of the day or night. If you’re suffering from morning sickness, avoid any foods that make you feel nauseous, eat small meals often and drink plenty of water. Speak with your GP if your symptoms are especially severe.
  • Breast changes: One of the first physical changes you’ll notice is that your breasts will start to get bigger, and your nipples will become larger and darker.

Second trimester – weeks 13-28

As your first trimester symptoms begin to ease, you’ll experience more obvious changes to your body. Many women don’t start to show until the second trimester, particularly if it’s their first pregnancy.

  • Heartburn and constipation: Your digestive system slows down during pregnancy to allow more time for your body to absorb food. This can cause both heartburn and constipation. Try to eat smaller meals and avoid anything spicy or fried. You can also ask your GP about antacids that are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Shortness of breath: You may feel short of breath, particularly when exerting yourself, as your uterus gets larger and your lungs process more oxygen to carry to your baby.
  • A need to urinate more frequently:
    Increased levels of body fluids and your uterus pressing against your bladder as your baby grows will make you want to go to the toilet more often.

Third trimester – weeks 27-birth

You’re likely to feel more uncomfortable in this final stage of pregnancy as your baby is growing rapidly. You may also feel more tired and experience abdominal and back pain, as well as some swelling.

  • Swollen face, hands, feet and ankles: Extra fluid retention, hormonal changes and weight gain can cause swelling and puffiness. Elevate your feet when you can.
  • Leaking nipples: Your nipples may start to leak a yellowish fluid called colostrum, which is the liquid nutrients your baby receives before your breast milk arrives. You may need to wear breast pads to protect your bras and clothes.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions:These are weak, “practice contractions” that help your body to prepare for labour. They feel like cramping or tightening in your abdomen and are generally irregular, often disappearing if you change positions. If your contractions are strong and regular, you may be in labour and should contact your doctor.

 

Pregnancy and your nutrition

Pregnancy is a demanding time for the body, however, you will only need a little more energy (kilojoules) each day, compared with before pregnancy. It’s normal and healthy to gain weight during pregnancy; the amount that’s healthy for you will depend on your weight before falling pregnant.

The following nutrient needs increase during pregnancy:

  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Folate
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin K2
  • Other vitamins and minerals

 

 

Good nutrition during pregnancy is more about the quality of food eaten than the quantity. Choosing a wide variety of foods from each food group will help to meet extra nutritional demands, however you may need to eat more:

  • Lean meat, chicken, fish and non-meat alternatives (such as dried beans, lentils, tofu and eggs (ensure cooked)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Reduced-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt
  • Folate
  • Green leafy vegetables.

It is also recommended that a folate supplement be taken before conception and for the first three months of pregnancy to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Avoid Risky Foods

Getting the nutrients your body and baby needs is important, but there are also some foods you’re best to avoid while pregnant. Cut out all foods with an increased likelihood of containing listeria bacteria, such as soft cheeses, cold and processed meats, raw eggs and pre-prepared salads, particularly those with bean sprouts.

 

 

Stick with low-mercury fish

It’s important to be aware of the type of fish you’re eating while pregnant. Seafood that’s high in mercury – such as shark, swordfish and mackerel – is best avoided; if you do eat it, try to do so sparingly.

PREGNANCY and your LIFESTYLE

Listen to your body

While regular life doesn’t stop while you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to slow down a little and be gentle to yourself throughout your pregnancy. It’s important to stay active and exercise regularly, but you should listen to your body and indulge in more rest and sleep than usual if that’s what you need.

 

 

Strengthen your pelvic floor

Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are under increased strain during pregnancy and childbirth. Doing regular pelvic floor exercises will help your body better cope with the growing weight of your baby, and help you avoid stress incontinence after birth.

Take extra care of teeth and gums

Hormonal changes can make your gums more easily irritated and inflamed during pregnancy, which means good dental hygiene is even more important at this time.

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