If you're here, that means you're keen to understand the best foods to support both you and your bub during this transformative journey.
We have partnered with Registered Nutritionist, Dr. Courtney Thompson, to give you a science-based overview of what to eat when pregnant so you give your body everything it needs to thrive.
Rather than focus on what NOT to eat, Courtney has shared 4 key food categories to focus on to cover all the vital nutrients for your pre-natal journey. Let’s dive right in!
Leafy greens and grains
Leafy greens like spinach, kale and breads, cereals, quinoa and rice (preferably wholegrains!) are a primary source of folate. Folate is a B-vitamin that is particularly important for growth and formation of your baby’s neural tube (cells that go on to form the brain and spinal cord). This happens early on in your pregnancy, so making sure you’re having enough folate at this early stage is important – folate is a pretty essential nutrient!
*Did you know that in Australia, millers are required to add folic acid (which is a form of folate) to wheat flour, and only use iodised salt? That means breads, rolls, buns, bagels, focaccia’s, English muffins, flat breads and even flour mixes have folic acid and iodine, which is good for your baby’s brain development - I know I don’t need another reason to eat more of these delicious foods!*
Meat, chicken, legumes and beans
These foods are packed with protein and iron. It's not just about building muscle - during pregnancy, protein forms essential new tissues for your little one. Meanwhile, iron ensures a healthy red blood cell formation for both you and your baby.
A quick tip for my plant-based mums: If you're deriving your iron from plant sources, make sure you pair it with Vitamin C-rich foods (think red and orange fruits and vegetables like oranges, tomatoes and capsicum). Why? It boosts iron absorption!
Dairy (or its fortified, plant-based alternatives!)
You're building a tiny human with tiny bones - and for that, you need calcium! Calcium helps to lay the foundation for your baby's healthy skeletal structure.
If you’re a dairy lover, load up your folate-fortified breakfast cereal with milk (hitting two key points here!) or you can opt for yoghurt or hard cheese as a snack.
If you’re a plant-based enthusiast: Ensure you're getting at least 100mg of calcium per 100mL in your soy, almond or oat alternatives.
Fish is full of essential nutrients. It contains Vitamin D, Omega-3 fats, and iodine which are crucial for your baby's brain, nerve, cognitive and visual development. In addition, it has been associated with preventing pre-term labour, lowering the risk pre-eclampsia and preventing perinatal depression.
Oily fish such as tuna, salmon or trout are great sources of these nutrients. Don’t forget, you can opt for tinned or frozen varieties too if you prefer!
The right pre-natal nutrition is important – but don’t be too hard on yourself mum! Your body is working round-the-clock to nurture another human being, and combined with morning sickness, cravings and changes in hormones, you’ve got a lot going on!
Remember to look after yourself and eat foods that nourish your soul too.
Want to tick off some key nutrients?
Try Dr. Courtney Thompson’s One Pan Easy Chicken Curry recipe:
Ingredients -1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil -1/2 onion, finely chopped -500g chicken thighs, sliced into 2 3cm cubes -2 tbsp red curry paste -1 x 400g can lite coconut milk -1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained -1 small bag spinach (around 60g) -Squeeze of lime juice
To serve -Steamed white rice -Red chilli, finely sliced -Lime wedges -Coriander leaves
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 3 minutes or until soft.
Add chicken and brown. Stir through curry paste until chicken is well coated, then add coconut milk and simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
Stir through chickpeas and spinach and heat until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and stir through lime juice.
Serve with steamed rice, lime wedges, chilli and coriander.
BONUS – Want to tick off a few more nutrition points here? Swap the steamed white rice for brown rice and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt!
If you’re interested in more nutritious recipes like this, then you can join the waitlist for Dr. Courtney Thompson’s Recipe Revolution, the healthy, dietitian and nutritionist-approved recipe subscription.
Prefer your new-mum kitchen adventures hands-free?