Just like most pregnant women, I intuitively felt that I should be eating certain foods to nourish my growing baby. I emphasise that I craved foods, not multivitamin tablets or iron supplements!
Traditional cultures from around the globe each had unique foods that were especially valued for fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding. But in our modern culture, we’ve lost the connection with these traditions and focus instead on individual nutrients. Here's the nutrition information I most commonly hear dished out to pregnant women:
"Make sure you get enough folate or your baby will develop neural tube disorders."
"You must supplement with iron to avoid anaemia in pregnancy!"
"Take a good omega-3 supplement to support baby's brain growth."
I have no qualms with taking a decent natal multivitamin before, during and after pregnancy, and some extra nutraceuticals when and if they are required. But focusing on one little vitamin or mineral rather than the whole food from which it is sourced ignores many other nutrients, a phenomenon known as nutritionism.
Additionally, obtaining nutrients from food is far safer than getting them from supplements as this carries a lower risk of overdose and potential side effects. And there's no better time to practice kickarse nutrition than during pregnancy!
So in this article, I will focus primarily on food. The foods I discuss here and felt intuitively drawn to during my pregnancy have hundreds if not thousands of years of use in our diets. Modern science is just beginning to reveal why these foods serve such an important role in our health. I will point out which nutrients are abundant in these nutrient-dense foods and how they support foetal development and mum's health.