Nutrition in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of anticipation and excitement, especially for healthy mothers with no known health concerns for their fetus. It is increasingly evident that the lifestyle and health practices of mothers can impact markedly on their own health and that of their fetus. Historically, pregnancy has been associated with ‘blooming maternal health’ and is probably the only period across the life course when positive encouragement for weight gain is given by many.

For the majority of women living in Sub-Saharan Africa, nutrition needs during pregnancy are not met. Many of them suffer from chronic energy deficiency, inadequate weight gain, and poor micronutrient status during pregnancy.

Maternal physiology undergoes many changes during pregnancy that calls for extra nutrients and energy to meet demands of expanding blood supply, the growth of maternal tissues, a developing fetus, loss of maternal tissues at birth and preparation for lactation.

When a woman realizes that she is pregnant, she has to be extra careful with her diet as maternal nutrition affects not only the bearing of a child but also the rearing of the child.

Poor maternal nutrition can lead to:

  1. Less productive capacity (heavy work-load)
  2. Increased vulnerability to diseases
  3. Loss of weight and an unsuccessful pregnancy

An undernourished infant will result in:

  1. Poor nutrition status
  2. Frequent illness

Join us in our nutrition series as we guide you on nutrient intake from conception to birth, the dos the don’ts, emerging and reemerging issues and the various misconceptions surrounding diet and pregnancy.

Is my baby getting enough Breastmilk?

Infants grow more rapidly during their first year after birth than at any other time in their lives, doubling their weight at six months, and tripling their weight by age one. Many babies may lose up to 7 to 10 per cent of their birth weight during their first days of life but usually, regain the weight by two weeks of age.
Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.

How long should you breastfeed per breast?

At the beginning of a breastfeeding session, the mother first produces foremilk, which is low in fat. As the infant continues to nurse, the fat content of the milk gradually increases, this is called the hindmilk. The higher fat content of the hindmilk is the one responsible for making the baby feel satisfied and, as a result, discontinue feeding. Mothers should, therefore, make sure the baby drains one breast before moving to the second, about 10 to 15 minutes for each. Babies who do not nurse long enough to receive the hindmilk may become hungry soon afterwards.

How do you tell the infant is getting enough breast milk?

Weight gain is the most important indicator of whether an infant is receiving sufficient milk and breastfeeding effectively. Other indicators include:

  • Can be heard swallowing consistently while breastfeeding.
  • Has a lot of wet and soiled diapers, with pale yellow urine. During the first three to five days of life, the infant should have at least four to eight wet and three soiled diapers per day. After that, the baby should have six or more wet and three to four soiled diapers per day by five to seven days of age. After six weeks, the number of bowel movements can vary from less than once a day to several
  • Your baby is calm and relaxed after eating.
  • Your breasts feel softer after feeding

Bloating During Pregnancy

Got Gas?

Gas is a common (and potentially embarrassing) symptom of pregnancy. People normally pass gas a dozen or so times a day. But when you’re pregnant, you may belch or pass gas much more often. Or in some instance, you might find yourself to unbuttoning your pants to relieve bloating even weeks before you begin to show. The main reason your body makes more gas during pregnancy is that your body produces more progesterone to support your pregnancy. Progesterone relaxes muscles throughout your body, including your digestive tract. These relaxed muscles slow down digestion which can lead to gas, bloating, burping, flatulence, and generally create uncomfortable sensations in your gut, especially after a big meal.

Once you move further along into your pregnancy, your growing uterus crowds your abdominal cavity, which slows down digestion and pushes on your stomach, making you feel even more bloated after eating. Some foods can also contribute to gas, and your prenatal vitamins (especially the iron component) can cause constipation, leading, you guessed it, to even more gas.

Can I relieve gas by changing my diet?

Yes. Cutting back on the foods that are most likely to cause gas is usually the most effective way to reduce it. But eliminating everything that might cause gas would make it hard to eat a balanced diet. Start by cutting out foods that are most likely to cause gas and bloating. If that gives you relief, begin adding those foods back into your diet one by one to try to pinpoint what’s causing the problem.

Some of the foods most often linked to intestinal gas include Beans, whole grains, and certain vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus. These all contain the sugar raffinose, which makes a lot of people gassy. Carbonated drinks, high fat and fried foods and certain starches such as wheat, but not rice, also cause gas.


  • Don’t eat big meals. Instead, eat several small meals throughout the day.
  • Take your time and chew thoroughly
  • Drink from a cup or glass not from a bottle or through a straw and don’t gulp.
  • Don’t drink carbonated beverages.
  • Don’t drink anything sweetened with the artificial sweetener sorbitol.
  • Don’t chew gum or suck on hard candies.
  • Sit up while you’re eating or drinking, even if you’re just having a small snack.
  • Get moving. Even a brisk walk can help a sluggish digestive tract.
  • Prevent or treat constipation because it can add to flatulence and a feeling of abdominal bloating.

If these tips don’t help, consult your healthcare provider. (Don’t take activated charcoal tablets without first checking with your healthcare provider because they may not be safe during pregnancy.)


Chia seeds are dibble black and white seeds from the plant salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family.

“Chia” means strength and folklore has it that ancient cultures used this seed as an energy booster.

2 tablespoons contain:

  • 8 times more omega 3 than Salmon
  • 3-5 times more calcium than milk
  • 3 times more oxidants than blue berries
  • 41%of your daily fiber
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • 64%more potassium than banana
  • 15 times more magnesium than broccoli
  • More Niacin than maize, rice and soya


  • Balances blood sugar
  • Improves digestive health
  • Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar
  • Controls sugar cravings,
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Improves the health of skin, nails, hair.
  • Mineral powerhouse and great detoxifier
  • Improves memory, mood and overall energy
  • Super source of energy and vitality for intense physical workout
  • Increases and prolongs satiety (feeling of fullness) hence reducing food portions, translating to weight loss.
  • Affordable and NATURAL!


  • Can be added as a whole or ground up in smoothies and juices, mixed into yoghurts, oatmeal or sprinkled on top of salads.
  • Add a tablespoon of chia seeds in a glass of water, let it sit for 20-30 mins.
  • To give your drink some flavor, add chopped fruit or squeeze in some lemon, lime or orange and honey.


1.5 tablespoons twice a day is recommended.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary infection is an infection of any part of the urinary system-Urethra, urinary bladder, ureters and kidneys. It occurs when bacteria enters any part of the urinary tract.

Risk factors:

  • Female anatomy-women have shorter urethras than men, reducing the distance the bacteria must travel to reach the tract.
  • Certain types of family planning methods- using diaphragms, spermicides vaginal ring and vaginal caps increases the chances of having UTI.
  • Menopause – reduced estrogen causes a change in PH of the genitalia, making it more vulnerable to infections.
  • Sexual intercourse – the urethra is exposed to bacteria from the genitalia and anus, allowing them to enter the urethra.
  • Suppressed immune system – diabetes, pregnancy and other immunosuppressive diseases reduce the body’s defense against microbes hence increasing chances of UTI.


  • A strong persistent urge to pass urine
  • Burning sensation during urinating
  • Lower abdominal pains (pelvic pain)
  • Lower back pains
  • Passing frequent small amounts of urine
  • Urine that appears red, brick red or dark brown (a sign of blood in urine)
  • Smelly urine

What can I do to avoid a urinary tract infection?

  • Drink plenty of water: 8 glasses of water a day is recommended to keep your urine clear, pale yellow in colour- a sign of proper hydration.
  • Drink cranberry Juice – studies show that cranberry can reduce levels of bacteria and prevent new bacteria from thriving in the urinary tract. (it does not cure an already existing infection so you still need to see a doctor)
  • Avoid feminine hygienic products e.g. sprays, powders and strong soaps that interfere with the PH levels of the urinary tract.
  • Clean your genital area before and after coitus.
  • Pass urine after coitus
  • After a bowel movement, clean your genitals from front to back to prevent introducing bacteria from faecal matter to the urethra.

For more information email


Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth and can affect both sexes.




1 week to 1 month after childbirth


  • Extreme sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, worthlessness or overpowering guilt
  • Crying all the time
  • Loss of interest or lack of enjoyment in your usual activities and hobbies
  • Trouble falling sleep at night, or trouble staying awake during the day
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much, or unintentional weight loss or weight gain
  • Restlessness or sluggishness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling that life isn’t worth living
  • Being irritable or angry
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Worrying excessively about your baby
  • Being uninterested in your baby, or unable to care for her
  • Feeling so exhausted that you’re unable to get out of bed for hours
  • In rare cases, some women with PPD experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations and may harm their baby.


  1. Share Your Feelings: talk openly about your feelings to your partner, call a caring friend or join a mother’s group.
  2. Ask for Support- call relatives and friends and ask for help with taking care of the baby, house chores or just for company.
  3. Slow down- on housework. Do one thing at a time. Get take out
  4. Take a walk- around the block and take your baby with you. Fresh air and sunshine, being outdoors or meeting up with a friend for coffee nearby help a lot.
  5. Pamper yourself- go to a spa, get a massage, pedicure, manicure, facial. Go and shop for a post baby outfit, wear makeup or wear your favourite dress to boost your mood especially on difficult days.
  6. See a doctor- if the symptoms persist or get worse. The doctor may recommend antidepressants for you which are safe while breastfeeding.

For more information email


Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which the tissue that lines inside the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. It mostly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis. Endometriosis can cause severe pains especially during menstrual periods.

What causes Endometriosis?

No certain cause of this condition has been established. However, the presence of displaced endometrial cells in the pelvic cavity or development of the same cells from hormonal influence or immune system disorder may cause this condition.

What are the risk factors?

  • Never giving birth.
  • Starting periods at an early age.
  • Short menstrual cycles.
  • Heavy menstrual periods that last longer than seven days.
  • Reproductive tract abnormalities.

Signs and symptoms include;

  • Painful periods
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Pain during or after sex.
  • Difficulty getting pregnant. (Infertility)

Is there treatment for Endometriosis?

This condition has no cure but its symptoms can be managed. There are surgical options to help manage the symptoms and manage potential complications.

Source: Mayo Clinic.

For additional information email or call 0709 949 000



Risk Factors for Anaemia During Pregnancy

Anaemia is a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues in the body.

You’re at a high risk of developing anaemia during pregnancy if you;

  • Have two pregnancies close together.
  • Have a heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual flow.
  • Do not consume enough foods that are rich in iron.
  • Are vomiting frequently during morning sickness.
  • Are pregnant with more than one child.
  • Had anaemia before you got pregnant
  • Are a pregnant teenager

Symptoms of anaemia during pregnancy

  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling excessively tired or weak
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Having cravings for non –food items like clay, dirt or corn-starch.
  • Feeling light-headedness.
  • Becoming pale.

Sources: American Society of Haematology and WebMD

For additional information email or call 0709 949 000


Folic Acid

What is Folic Acid?

Folate and Folic acid form part of the water soluble vitamin B complex. Folate being the natural variant found in foods with folic acid being the synthetic form which is used to fortify flour made from wheat and as a supplement to prevent and treat folate deficiency.

Folic Acid use in pregnancy

It is recommended the folic acid should before you plan to conceive and during pregnancy. The daily recommended dose is 400 micrograms (mcg).

Folic acid has an important role to play in blood cell production and in formation of the neural tube in babies during pregnancy. Therefore is it important in prevention of birth defects and anaemia.

Neural tube Defects

Birth defects occur early in pregnancy around the 3-6th week gestational age, Neural tube defects are amongst these birth defects.

Neural tube defects are defects that occur in the brain, spine and spinal cord. The most common types are anencephaly and spina bifida. Anencephaly is the partial or complete absence of the brain and skull, babies with this condition are usually still born or die shortly after birth. Spina bifida the foetal spinal column doesn’t close completely. There is usually nerve damage that causes at least some paralysis of the legs.


For additional information email or call 0709 949 000