Pregnancy is a period of increased metabolic demand, therefore, proper nutrition prior and during pregnancy is important to optimise the health of both mother and baby.¹¹ During each of the 3 trimesters, there are different nutritional needs for both mother and baby.

Important nutrients before pregnancy

The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends that two months prior to conception, woman should supplement with 400 µg of Folic Acid daily.¹² Folic Acid may help prevent neural tube defects.¹² Spina bifida (Neural tube defect) is when the fetal spinal column doesn’t close completely.¹³

Important nutrients during pregnancy

  • Vitamin B6 – assists with morning sickness associated with pregnancy¹⁴
  • Iron – increases iron levels and reduces the risk of maternal iron deficiency anaemia¹²
  • Calcium – one of the major building blocks of the fetal skeleton and essential for bone health.¹⁵ May assist with indigestion (dyspepsia).¹⁶
  • Omega 3 – important for timing of gestation as well as birth weight. All fetal omega 3 fatty acids must be derived from the mother.¹⁷

Important nutrients after pregnancy

  • Omega 3 – Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is critical for fetal brain and retina development during the 3rd trimester and up to 18 months of life.¹⁷ Omega 3 fatty acids protect against allergy through an effect on the immune system.¹⁵

  • Calcium – it is essential for mothers to invest in their bone bank so that their bones become stronger and less vulnerable to osteoporosis later in life.¹⁵