Pregnancy Health

Pregnancy Health

Pregnancy is a precious time, when mothers-to-be should be particularly careful about looking after themselves, and thoughtful about the foods and medicines they put into their bodies. Good nutrition is vital to your own health and that of your baby, and can also help to overcome some of the minor health problems you may encounter along the way.


  • Morning sickness: Nausea affects 70-85% of pregnant women, and despite its name, may occur at any time of the day. It is most common in the early stages of pregnancy and generally resolves by 12-14 weeks, but some women experience it for longer. In its most severe form, hyperemesis gravidarum, it can result in dehydration and the need for hospitalisation
  • Fatigue, especially during the first trimester
  • Back pain and Muscle Cramps
  • Constipation and haemorrhoids
  • Fluid retention (swollen, puffy hands or feet)


  • Morning sickness occurs due to hormonal factors. blood sugar imbalance may also play a role, especially when Nausea is present first thing in the morning
  • Fatigue: Hormonal factors contribute to your energy levels, but iron deficiency is also a common cause of Fatigue
  • Back pain and Muscle Cramps: As your baby grows, the impact on your muscles, joints and ligaments become more significant. You are more likely to be affected if you are overweight, or had poor posture before becoming pregnant. Inadequate levels of calcium and/or magnesium may contribute
  • Constipation and haemorrhoids: The combination of hormonal changes and pressure from the baby on the pelvis and gastrointestinal tract means that many women experience Constipation during pregnancy. In some cases, the pressure causes haemorrhoids to form
  • Fluid retention: Rising oestrogen levels increase the body's tendency to retain fluids, resulting in swelling of the hands and feet. This is a normal part of pregnancy, but must be regularly monitored since excessive Fluid Retention may be a sign of a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia (oedema accompanied by High blood pressure and/or protein in the urine)

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • Women who are pregnant or planning to conceive are advised to take a folic acid supplement throughout the first trimester of pregnancy, and preferably for 12 weeks prior to conception as well. High levels of folic acid are required in the very early stages of pregnancy, when it supports the development of the baby's spinal cord. Supplementation during these early stages of development may help reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida
  • Iodine is also important for the health and early development of your baby, and many women in Australia and New Zealand may not obtain enough from their diets. Kelp is a natural source of iodine
  • Calcium requirements increase during pregnancy, and if a mother's intake is inadequate to cover her growing baby's needs, it is withdrawn from her skeleton, increasing her risk of developing Osteoporosis in later life. Choose a formula that provides around 900 mg of calcium per day (preferably in three doses of 300 mg), along with co-factors such as vitamin D3, magnesium, manganese and boron to support the absorption of calcium and its uptake into the skeleton
  • Iron deficiency and anaemia are common in pregnancy, particularly in women who are vegetarian or don't eat much meat. For optimal absorption, choose an iron supplement that also contains nutrients that work with iron in the body and enhance its absorption, most importantly vitamin C, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Iron supplements from organic sources like ferrous fumarate are less likely than those from inorganic sources (like ferrous sulfate) to cause digestive upset and other side effects
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important for your baby's brain and eyesight development. Salmon oil capsules are an appropriate source during pregnancy, but be sure to choose a formula that is tested for purity so that you're not consuming excessive quantities of PCBs, mercury or lead. A reflux-free formula with no fishy after-taste is a good idea if you're experiencing a sensitive digestive system
  • Vitamin B6 may be effective at reducing Nausea during pregnancy. An appropriate dose is 50 mg, once a day

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Regular check-ups with your doctor or midwife throughout your pregnancy can help set your mind at ease. Follow your healthcare professional's recommendations with regards to diet, exercise and supplement use while you are pregnant and breastfeeding
  • A healthy diet is vital to ensure that you feel your best during this important time, and that your baby has all the nutrients necessary for growth and development. Don't skip meals, and avoid junk foods and refined sugars and carbohydrates. Instead, eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and high quality proteins
  • Some foods are best avoided during pregnancy. These include: meat or poultry that is raw, undercooked or pre-cooked; liver products (e.g. pate); raw or undercooked eggs; unpasteurised or unsterilised milk or dairy products (e.g. soft ripened cheeses); unwashed or pre-prepared fruit, vegetables or salad; raw or undercooked fish and shellfish; smoked fish; fish known to be high in mercury
  • Unless you are intolerant or allergic to dairy products, they are likely to be the richest source of calcium in your diet. Aim to include two to three serves of low-fat dairy products in your diet every day. If you're not able to consistently consume this much dairy, a calcium supplement is highly recommended
  • If you suffer from morning sickness, eat small meals, several times per day. Bland, dry foods such as toast, crackers, rice and pasta may be better tolerated than tastier foods, especially first thing in the morning. Eating a small protein-based snack before bed may also help (e.g. egg, nuts, turkey, chicken, cheese, milk)
  • To relieve Nausea, drink ginger tea, made by chopping or grating a knob of fresh ginger root, and pouring boiling water over it. Ginger tea is specifically indicated for the relief of morning sickness and motion sickness and is safe to use during pregnancy
  • Cut back on caffeine, or avoid it altogether until you finish breast-feeding. Suitable alternatives include peppermint and chamomile tea, which can also help relieve Indigestion
  • Exercise continues to be important during pregnancy, but you may need to make adjustments to your routine. Many women find special pre-natal yoga or Pilates classes beneficial, but talk to your healthcare professional about an appropriate exercise program for your individual circumstances
  • Don't smoke, take recreational drugs, or drink alcohol - all of which can harm your baby's health

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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