Preparing Your Body For Pregnancy

Preconception care prepares your body for a successful, healthy pregnancy and is one of the most responsible choices you can make for you and your baby’s health. It helps eliminate harmful substances from your diet known to affect reproductive and general health and foetal development and should be considered by everyone looking to start a family.

“You need a healthy body to make a healthy baby,” explained naturopath and author, Lisa Guy. “It takes three months for female eggs to mature and four months for sperm to mature which is why it is so important to consider preconception care as early as possible, at least four months in advance, to increase your chances of a successful, healthy pregnancy.”

“Being healthy while trying to conceive is vital for both you and your baby. The preconception period is the time to make life changes for you and your partner that can help boost fertility, reduce problems during pregnancy and assist in recovery from birth,” added Lisa.

Here, Lisa outlines her essential tips for preconception care;

1. Examine your diet

At no other time in your life is your diet more important than before, during and straight after pregnancy. Eating a wholesome, well-balanced diet is vital and will increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. Try to include at least five portions of fruit or vegetables, protein, fish and some iron-rich food in your diet and make fast food and sweets an occasional treat.

2. Take essential supplements

Although nothing takes away from the significance of a healthy, well-balanced pre-pregnancy diet, nutritional supplementation is extremely important and is known to help prevent congenital defects and malformations often caused by nutritional deficiencies. Taking a supplement every day is a small change that will pay big rewards. When planning pregnancy, there are three essential vitamins and minerals your body needs:

  • Folic Acid: Essential for healthy foetal development and reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, folic acid is crucial in pre-pregnancy. You should consider taking folic acid three months prior to conception. Each FABFOL tablet contains 500mcg of folic acid which is the recommended daily intake for the Australian diet.
  • Zinc: Zinc works to support and strengthen the immune system and is important for hormone balance and to boost fertility.
  • Omega 3: Increasing the intake of omega 3 fats helps support reproductive health.pregnancy

3. Kick unhealthy habits

Making some important lifestyle changes is a great way to prepare for pregnancy and will help ensure a healthy conception. Avoid anything that poses a health risk to you and your baby such as alcohol, cigarettes and some prescription medication.

4. Visit your GP

A trip to your GP for a preconception consult is also important when you begin thinking about starting a family. Your GP will provide you with expert advice on planning your pregnancy, discuss any health problems or concerns, lifestyle issues, diet and organise any essential pre-pregnancy immunisations.

FABFOL has all your nutritional needs covered pre, during and post pregnancy, so all you need to focus on is your growing baby and is available from pharmacies nationally. FABFOL 56 tablets RRP $24.95.

Pregnancy Cravings: What Do They Mean?

I craved guava when I was pregnant. I was lucky it was in season and I could actually get it, but it’s not a cheap fruit to buy by the box. I ended up spending a small fortune trying to satisfy my pregnancy craving. At least it was a healthy one. Other pregnant ladies may not be so lucky, wanting ice-cream, chocolate and even non-food substances and having to control themselves. So where do pregnancy cravings come from and what do they mean?

Researchers have come up with a variety of answers to this question and have presented convincing evidence for their theories, so pregnancy cravings most likely occur as a result of several different factors.

RELATED: Nutrients And Vitamins Important During Pregnancy

Nutrient deficiency

It’s logical to expect that our body will use cravings to point us towards foods containing nutrients we lack. If you crave fruit, you probably need more vitamin C. Cravings for salty foods (pickles, anyone?) can be a result of increased blood volume and therefore, increased need for sodium. Craving sweets may be due to increased energy needs.

the not-so-normal behaviour pica (eating of non-food substances) can be an indication that you’re lacking important nutrients. Research has found a link between pica and iron deficiency

Emotional needs

During pregnancy many of us experienced a roller-coaster of emotions. Heightened stress and anxiety may contribute to cravings of comfort foods like sweets and snacks. A study K. Hurley (2005) also reported a link between stress and meat aversion. I found this to be in line with my own experience. I was very stressed out during my third pregnancy. Muffins were in and meat was totally off the menu.


Your hormone balance changes during pregnancy and there’s evidence to suggest that hormones are responsible for changes in our appetites. They are also thought to affect our taste buds, but researchers haven’t been able to link particular hormones to any specific food cravings.

Should you give in to your pregnancy cravings? It depends on what you’re craving. Not much harm can come from eating too many guavas, but it’s not a great idea to snack on sweets all day. Try figuring out what it is about the food you’re craving that you really want and satisfy your body’s needs in the healthiest possible way.

Image by EvolvingScenes via pixabay.com

11 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Good nutrition is crucial during pregnancy, particularly in your first trimester, and because learning the foods to avoid during pregnancy can be quite overwhelming, we’ve put together some tips that will help to keep you and your baby on a healthy path.

1. Avoid all types of pâté. This is one of the main foods to avoid during pregnancy, since it can contain the bacteria Listeria. It’s unlikely for listeriosis to seriously affect your health, but the infection can have grave consequences for your developing baby.

2. Steer clear of some cheeses. Mould-ripened soft cheeses, including brie and camembert, should be avoided as they too can contain the bacteria Listeria. Likewise, steer clear of soft blue-veined cheeses like gorgonzola and roquefort.

3. Avoid unpasteurised milk. Raw milk and any by-product from this milk should not be consumed when pregnant, as it can contain bacteria.

4. Avoid raw or undercooked eggs as they can carry harmful organisms, such as E. Coli and Salmonella, which can lead to gastrointestinal infection in pregnant women. Infection can be passed through the placenta to the baby. This can be life threatening for your baby, so as a precaution it’s best to avoid eggs in their raw form, including in sauces, batter and egg nog. Cooked egg, however, is healthy for both you and your baby, providing several key nutrients in the form of protein, fats, minerals (such as zinc and selenium) and vitamins A, D and some B.

5. Consumption of certain types of fish should be monitored or avoided. It’s best to avoid shark and swordfish completely as they contain high levels of mercury, which can affect your baby’s neural development. Fresh tuna also contains relatively high levels of mercury, so it’s best to limit your intake. Some fish can contain low levels of pollutants that accumulate in their bodies over time, so pregnant women should have no more than two portions of them per week. These include oily fish, such as salmon; fresh tuna; mackerel; sardines; trout; some white fish, such as sea bass, sea bream, turbot, halibut and rock salmon; and brown crab meat. Do not avoid fish completely, as the vitamin D found in some fish, including salmon and mackerel, is important for the development of your baby’s bones.

6. Steer clear of undercooked meat. All meat should be cooked thoroughly, as raw meat can cause taxoplasmosis.

7. Wash your food thoroughly. Unwashed fruits, vegetables and salad can also contain the parasite toxoplasma, which can cause a range of complications with your baby.

8. Limit your consumption of liver. An excessive build-up of vitamin A can be harmful to your baby. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin A include liver and fish liver oils.

9. Avoid alcohol. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption in pregnancy could cause damage to the unborn child.

10. Limit your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can cause a low birth rate or miscarriage – 200mg per day is widely considered as safe.

11. Limit your intake of food with added sugar. If you have gestational diabetes, it is particularly important to avoid foods and drinks that are high in added sugars, as these can upset your blood glucose control. It’s not healthy for people without diabetes, either. The best place to get these simple carbohydrates is from fruits and milk, while complex carbohydrates that are good for you include bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.

Pregnancy Diet Meal Planner

When you’re pregnant, it can be difficult to follow a healthy eating plan. The cravings can be quite intense and you can easily find yourself giving in to temptation. Plus, it’s hard to keep track of which foods you need to avoid.

Most medical experts recommend that pregnant women add about 300 to 400 calories to their normal daily intake. These pregnancy diet meal plans take the guesswork out of eating healthy while pregnant, and can help you plan delicious breakfasts, lunch, dinners and snacks while consuming the right amount of calories and essential nutrients for your baby.

Pregnancy meal plan #1
This meal plan will provide you with about 2200 calories per day. It also allows you the freedom of choosing from a variety of snacks and meals during the week. This level of variety will prevent you from feeling bored or deprived. It is recommended that women who are underweight should eat about 2400 calories per day, while overweight women should stick to around 2000 calories and cut down to only one snack per day. Here is a sample day on this meal plan:

Breakfast: Porridge with walnuts, cinnamon and an apple. This meal is great because it gives you plenty of complex carbohydrates, protein, fibre and calcium. You also get about 1.5 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for fetal brain development.

Lunch: Pita pocket with eggs, vegetables and hummus. This meal is packed with fibre, protein, calcium and folate. It also contains healthy fats that will satisfy your appetite. You can also include a cup of grapes with this meal as an added treat.

Dinner: Stuffed butternut pumpkin with wild rice, beans and mushrooms. This meal will provide you with a plethora of nutrients that you and your growing baby need. It also provides more than 16 grams of fibre and plenty of iron, vitamin C and folate.

Snacks: On this diet, you can treat yourself to snacks like whole-grain crackers topped with light cheese and dried fruit like cranberries or apricots. You could also choose to snack on air-popped popcorn or a fruit smoothie.

Pregnancy Meal Plan #2
This pregnancy diet meal plan takes into account which trimester you are in. The meals are designed to provide your baby with the nutrients he or she needs the most for optimal development in each trimester. For example, meals for the first trimester will include foods that are high in folate and vitamin B6. Second trimester meals will focus more on increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake, as well as omega-3 fatty acids for fetal brain development. Third trimester meals are designed to give you extra energy and prepare you for childbirth and breastfeeding.

Here is an example of a first trimester meal plan:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs served on top of a toasted bagel, plus a serving of yogurt. It contains lots of B-vitamins and protein that will help you to avoid nausea.

Lunch: Roasted chicken with broccoli, potatoes and carrots. Along with a pear and apple crumble, this nutritious meal is quite filling.

Dinner: Beef and black bean casserole. The beans in this dish provide you with lots of folate, fibre and iron. The beef contains plenty of protein and fat to make you feel full.

Snacks: You can choose to snack on dried apricots, nuts and seeds on this meal plan.

What were your favourite things to eat when you were pregnant? Tell us in the comments!

Don’t Eat That! 3 Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

Being pregnant is an exciting time, but also a period of your life when you have to consider things you may not have before, like whether you should modify your diet for the health of your baby. Whether you’re normally a health food nut or a junk food junkie, there are some foods that you shouldn’t eat as long as you’re expecting.

Junk food
They call processed fast foods “junk” for a reason. Those burgers, fries and snack foods are full of fat, sodium, sugar and preservatives, none of which are good for your growing baby. Plus, this type of bad food lacks important nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber, meaning it rates high among the foods to avoid when pregnant.

While it won’t hurt to treat yourself to a bag of chips or dish of ice cream occasionally, you’ll be doing much better for your little one if you make healthy, nutritious foods the major part of your diet. In addition, you’ll have less excess baby weight to lose after delivery!

Soft cheeses and luncheon meats
One thing you really want to avoid during pregnancy is being exposed to listeria bacteria, since these nasty microbes can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery. The bacteria can be found in uncooked meats and unprocessed cheeses as well as soil or water. For this reason, pregnant women should forgo soft cheeses like brie, camembert or feta as well as raw milk.

Meats and fish to avoid for the duration include patés, smoked seafood and sushi. Hot dogs and luncheon meats should be thoroughly heated before eating. Since listeria can also grow in raw vegetables, these should be washed thoroughly before preparation.

Fish with high levels of mercury
While fish is generally a healthy food for you and the baby, not all of our finny friends are created equal. Some can harbour dangerously high levels of mercury ad should be avoided. These include ahi tuna, king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish.

Instead, substitute one of the fish least likely to have high mercury levels, like anchovies, crab, flounder, haddock, salmon, sole or tilapia. Eat a “safe” fish a couple of times a week to get your quota of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for you and the baby. Canned tuna can be consumed in moderation, up to three times per month.

Lose these, too
Caffeine is not healthy for the baby so you should restrict yourself to one small cup of coffee or tea per day. Alcohol should also be avoided during pregnancy, even in the third trimester.

Don’t dwell on the food to avoid during pregnancy—enjoy all the tasty, nutritious meals that will be good for both of you!