For the first non-stop nausea-filled trimester when I was pregnant last year, i mainly ate toasted cheese to ease the nausea, cheese rolls (the kind you buy from Woolies), salt and vinegar rice crackers, toasted cheese, and, you guessed it, more toasted cheese.
I had been at a dietitian (Abby Courtenay from Nutritional Solutions) for a while before I became pregnant, and she wasn't too stressed during the first trimester about my carb-laden diet that lacked much colour (unless you consider white cheese a colour?) at the time as she understood that I simply couldn't get any fruit, veggies or good stuff like fatty fish down.
Knowing that the first trimester is so key in fetal development, she recommended prenatal vitamins, and Similac Mom, a low-fat milk-based maternal nutritional supplement with key nutrients, making it ideal for expectant and lactating mothers for when all you're eating is toasted cheese or chips, or when you've just had a baby and don't have much time to eat properly. It's not a meal replacement per se, but rather suitable as a nutrient-full snack.
I drank mine until the end of my pregnancy as my diet wasn't brilliant – I couldn't face eating fatty fish, and my fruit and veggie intake was slighltly lower than recommended. I fortunately had a great pregnancy and I am grateful to have a healthy baby who I'm still breastfeeding. I can't say that it was the Similac Mom that led to my and my baby's health, but I'm pretty sure it contributed.
Abby also guided me along through most of my pregnancy with tips on what I should be eating, and here she shares the five vital nutrients a mom needs, especially in the last trimester when baby is growing the most.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C supports the fast growth of your baby’s cells, ensures that your immune system is functioning optimally and helps your body absorb iron from plant sources. Women with low blood levels of vitamin C have been found to be more likely to suffer with pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in the urine.
Tip: Try-for-five. Eat a variety of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables focusing on those rich in vitamin C such as red and green peppers, oranges, kiwifruit, broccoli, brussel sprouts and grapefruit.
Calcium ensures that your bone mineral density is optimal and promotes the normal growth and development of your baby’s bones, teeth, muscles and nerves. It is also important for muscle contractions, blood clotting and the regulation of blood pressure. If your intake is not sufficient, your body may leach calcium from your bones to ensure your baby has enough. Most pregnancy multivitamins don’t contain enough calcium, so an additional supplement should be consumed.
Tip: Aim to include good sources of calcium like low fat dairy products (low fat yoghurt, milk and cheese) on a daily basis as well as other sources such as tahini paste, beans and chickpeas, tofu (made with calcium sulphate) and sardines or canned salmon (with bones).
Magnesium is also an important bone health mineral. In addition to this it helps your body utilise protein and energy, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels and assists with muscle and nerve function. Supplementation during pregnancy has been linked to a reduced incidence of pre-eclampsia and intra uterine growth retardation, and might be beneficial for women suffering from leg cramps.
Tip: Choose magnesium rich foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, high fibre wholegrain cereals, and dark green leafy vegetables on a daily basis.
4. Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are known as essential nutrients (because the body is not capable of making them and so their intake must come through your diet). Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish are very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding as they appear to be involved in the development of your baby’s brain, central nervous system and eyes. Supplementation of omega 3 oils during pregnancy may be beneficial (especially if the mother’s dietary intake is low).
Tip: Aim to eat at least two portions of oily fish per week in the form of salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and pilchards.
Choline is also an essential nutrient that plays an important role in your developing baby’s cell membranes, nerve impulses and brain development. General multivitamins often lack choline and for this reason, you should aim to include foods rich in choline in your diet.
Tip: Choline rich foods include eggs, salmon, kidney beans, low fat milk, pork, chicken, turkey, beef liver and wheatgerm.
Similac Mom is available at all major pharmacy groups and selected retail outlets as well as online stores.