A new must-read for expecting moms is Bridget Swimney’s recent fourth edition of “Eating Expectantly.” Although the primary focus of the book is pregnancy nutrition, it also offers healthy lifestyle advice for the whole season of pregnancy, including pre-conception, pregnancy, postpartum and breastfeeding. Lifestyle emphasis goes beyond diet to living in a cleaner, greener and safer environment for you and your baby. This includes discussion on exposure to cosmetic and household chemicals during pregnancy.
As to the subject of pre-natal vitamins and supplement, much new research has been published lately on the importance of Vitamin D during pregnancy. In the past stress was given primarily to Folic Acid, which is still an important supplement. However, Vitamin D is an underestimated important supplement that many pregnant and breastfeeding women to not get enough of. Inadequate Vitamin D has been linked to gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and decreased bone mass in newborns. New research now suggests that most women start their pregnancies with deficient Vitamin D levels, so the recommended levels of 600 IUs in insufficient. Now researchers are recommending pregnant women supplementing at a minimum of 1000 IU. Now vitamin levels can be tested to find out what dose is best for a person’s specific needs.
Another important diet component during pregnancy is iodine which controls metabolism and is important in brain development. It’s important for pregnant women to get an adequate supply of iodine in their diet to protect from birth defects and impaired cognitive function. Most people get most of their sodium from sodium based preservatives and adding salt to their food. However, not all salt contains iodine, including sea salt. A good way to get iodine in your diet is to buy iodized salt and eat foods already rich in iodine such as milk, potatoes and cod.
Choline is another nutrient that has not been stressed much in the past for pregnancy but is important for the developing brain. Recent studies have shown mothers who did not get enough choline in their diet had higher occurrences of neural tube defects in early pregnancy. Good food sources for choline include eggs, cod, lean beef and Brussels sprouts.
Swimney also cautions against substituting artificial sweeteners for women with gestational diabetes or just trying to watch their sugar intake. Research from Denmark showed an increase in pre-term deliveries for pregnant women who consumed more than one beverage daily with aspartame sweetener. While the study is not conclusive, it does give pause to consuming too much of these sweeteners during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
As far as healthy pleasure foods, Swimney gives a thumbs up to dark chocolate and natural cocoa. New research shows that these chocolates improve blood vessel function which is linked to improved cardiovascular health. Regular chocolate consumption is also shown to reduce pre-eclampsia and hypertension. That’s a good reason to indulge in chocolate milk, hot cocoa or a few chocolate chip cookies!
Swimney gives more details on these health recommendations and many more in her fourth edition, “Eating Expectantly.” It is definitely worth checking out to assure you are doing everything you can to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
New Rules for Pregnancy Nutrition
By Amy Jarman
Amy Jarman is owner of a maternity and nursing clothes store with a wide selection of maternity swimwear, for your pregnancy by designers such as Prego Maternity, Maternal America & Belabumbum. TummyStyle has sells over 60 style of maternity swimsuits and can provide expert advice in fitting, comfort and style.