Having a baby: Are you getting enough vitamins and nutrients?

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Words of wisdom for parents-to-be 

During pregnancy your body needs extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help your baby develop. The best way of getting most of these vitamins is through your diet. It is important to talk to your doctor, or an accredited practising dietician before taking any supplements.

Iodine 

Iodine is important for everyone, but particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women. In Australia, most breads, except organic varieties, are fortified with iodine, which will help to address the iodine needs of most of the population. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women have higher requirements for iodine so some women may need to take a supplement. Talk to a doctor, midwife or accredited, practising dietitian for advice.

Where you can get it: Seawater fish, sea vegetables (seaweed), iodised salt and fortified bread.

Folic acid 

Folate is a B vitamin and is added to food or supplements as folic acid. Folate is important for your baby’s development during early pregnancy because it helps prevent birth abnormalities like spina-bifida. 

According to the NSW Food Authority, the best way to make sure you get enough folate is to take a daily folic acid supplement of 400 to 600 micrograms one month before becoming pregnant and during the first 3 months of pregnancy. It is also important to eat foods that have added folic acid or are naturally rich in folate.

Where you can get it: green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and salad greens, chick peas, nuts, orange juice, some fruits and dried beans and peas.

Iron 

Pregnancy increases your need for iron. Your baby draws enough iron from you to last it through the first 5 or 6 months after birth so it’s vital that you consume more iron while pregnant. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron during pregnancy is 27mg per day.

Where you can get it: lean beef and lamb, poultry, seafood, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, eggs, legumes and green vegetables.

Calcium

Calcium is essential to keep bones healthy and strong. During the third trimester of pregnancy, your baby needs a large amount of calcium as they start to develop and strengthen their bones. 

Where you can get it: Two serves of dairy foods, such as milk, hard cheese, yoghurt and calcium–fortified soy milk.

HEALTHY: The best way to meet you and your baby’s nutritional needs is to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.

HEALTHY: The best way to meet you and your baby’s nutritional needs is to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.

Speak to your doctor if you think you are not getting enough vitamins or nutrients. Visit the NSW Health Authority website for more:

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