Viva Eve Registered Dietitian Tamsin Jordan smiling in kitchen with chopping board in frame and veggies being cut. Vertical indoors shot.

There is something truly miraculous about pregnancy.

The idea that the female body can create a human being from scratch has always amazed me. It’s one of the reasons I decided to specialize in women’s health, specifically pregnancy nutrition.  

Every day during pregnancy, complex biological processes are taking place. Our body knows exactly what to do without any conscious input.

That line of thinking – that our body is pre-programmed to know exactly what to do, and when – can lead us to believe that we don’t have much control over the outcome.

While it is true that our body has evolved to support a growing baby even in dire nutritional circumstances, there is still a lot we can do to optimize our health, and directly, the health of a growing baby. 

5 Reasons To Eat Healthy Foods During Pregnancy

#1 Your Baby Needs Extra Nutrients

Nutritional needs markedly increase over the course of a pregnancy and breastfeeding. In the first trimester, calorie demands of the baby are low but micronutrient needs are high. 

Folate, choline, vitamin D, iron and iodine are all in demand to support nervous system and brain development, red blood cell production, bone growth and maintain mom’s thyroid function.  

#2 Support Future Generations  

Good pregnancy nutrition doesn’t just affect the baby’s health at birth. Research now suggests that the benefits of healthy eating during pregnancy can extend through multiple generations of offspring. 

Known as fetal programming, certain genes can be turned on and off in response to poor prenatal nutrition, influencing the risk of certain diseases later in life. 

This trans-generational inheritance underscores the importance of a balanced diet during pregnancy.   

#3 Reduce Pregnancy Complications  

Research shows that a healthy, nutrient- rich diet during pregnancy, lowers the risk of premature birth, high and low birth weight and long-term health conditions in the baby including type two diabetes and obesity. 

For mom, there is a reduced risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, a condition of elevated blood pressure that can lead to premature birth.    

#4 Maintain A Healthy Weight   

Women with a normal BMI before pregnancy are recommended to consume an additional 350kcals and 500kcals in the second and third trimester respectively.

While calories do matter, the quality of the food is more important than the quantity. Eating meals with a mix of protein-rich foods, both plant and animal based, soluble and insoluble forms of fiber and anti inflammatory omega 3 fats will promote satiety and balanced blood sugar, both of which are linked to maintaining a healthy weight.

Soluble forms of fiber include oatmeal, peeled apples, avocados and squash. Insoluble fiber includes, beans and lentils, cabbage, berries, kale, nuts and seeds. Not sure how to balance your meals?

Follow the healthy plate principle. Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies, a quarter with a carb, ideally wholegrain and high in fiber, and the remaining section of your plate with protein. Drizzle on some olive oil or other dressing with seasonings.

Try to drink large quantities of water between meals to keep you feeling hydrated.  

#5 Lower The Risk Of Postpartum Depression 

The benefits of healthy eating during pregnancy includes improved maternal mental health. Approximately 80% of new moms report what is known as the baby blues.

In contrast, around 20% experience a more severe condition known as postpartum depression (PD).

While genetics are thought to play a role, ensuring you don’t develop nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can reduce your risk.  B vitamins, iron, iodine, choline, selenium and magnesium are all key nutrients needed to support a healthy nervous system and brain.  

Some studies also suggest that maintaining a high omega 3, specifically DHA, and Vitamin D intake during pregnancy can lower the risk.

I recommend 2000mg DHA + EPA, with at least 300mg coming from DHA. Rich food sources include fatty fish such as wild caught Atlantic wild caught salmon, herring, mackerel, oysters, or algae supplements for vegetarians.

Bonus –omega 3’s transfer into breastmilk support the baby’s brain development during this critical stage after birth. 

The key thing to remember is you don’t need to make big changes.  Even small adjustments, done consistently, can impact the trajectory of your pregnancy and lay the foundation for your baby’s long-term health.  

Sign up for emails

Receive the latest women’s health content from Viva Eve.

You have Successfully Subscribed!