14 November 2017
When preparing to have a baby there is a lot to think about. Amongst planning and everyday responsibilities, it’s easy to forget about what you are eating.
Research consistently shows that what men and women eat before and during pregnancy can impact on baby’s growth and development and the mother’s body weight during pregnancy and after birth. Being in a healthy weight range also contributes to both male and female fertility.
What to eat when trying for a baby
Ensuring you eat enough of certain nutrients before pregnancy is the best way to make sure your body is nourished at conception.
1. Iron is important for growth of the foetus. If a woman is not eating enough iron rich food before and during pregnancy her own iron levels can decline which can lead to anaemia, a deficiency in the number of red blood cells in the body. Iron-containing foods include lean red meats, salmon and tuna (animal sources are easiest to absorb). Plant sources include green vegetables, tofu, chickpeas, almonds and fortified breakfast cereals.
2. Calcium is important for women’s bones and for foetus growth and development. Aim for three serves of dairy foods per day or try alternatives like fortified soy and nut milks, canned salmon or sardines, tahini (sesame seed spread) and almonds.
3. Eat more vegetables –Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables. Nutrients in vegies play many roles in normal body functioning. The more colours you eat the more nutrients you get. Vegetables also contain water and fibre, protective against constipation and weight gain. They can be eaten for a healthy snack and part of each meal.
4. Cut back on ‘junk food’ – Eating too many unhealthy foods increases weight gain risk. ‘Junk foods’ provide excess sugar, saturated fat and salt and reduce opportunities to eat healthier options like fruit and vegetables. Keeping a diary of what you eat or using a tracking app can help you identify the less healthy foods you eat and help you cut back.
5. Eat more grains – Include more foods like brown rice, grainy bread, quinoa, barley and oats. They are high in fibre, low in calories and provide many nutrients. Need some inspiration on how to cook them? There are plenty of delicious recipes on the LiveLighter website
6. Cut back on sugary drinks – Regularly consuming sugary drinks increases your risk of weight-gain and type 2 diabetes. One 600mL bottle of soft-drink contains 16 teaspoons of sugar – more than your entire recommended amount of sugar for the day – read more here
7. Drink less alcohol – Alcohol has been shown to affect male and female fertility, but the level of consumption associated with risk is unclear. To increase their chances of becoming pregnant, men and women can cut back on alcohol when trying to conceive. For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option. The National Health & Medical Research Council recommends that men abide by the safe drinking guidelines – limit drinking to no more than two standard drinks a day (remember a glass of wine or a pint of beer may be close to two ‘standard drinks).