Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is your belly fit for a lodger?

We think about pregnancy as a time when we particularly watch what we eat - making sure our diets are rich in high quality protein and a variety of fruit and vegetables to build a strong healthy baby. We take folic acid to protect against spina bifida, iron to build the blood cells needed for a second blood supply and alcohol (and for some hardy sorts - tea and coffee) go out the window. But pregnancy affects your diet in more long term and sometimes bizarre ways.

After having two babies I still can't eat anything worthwhile in the morning. I'll make a slice of toast, stare at it for a while and then give it to the dog. Other foods like celery send me into a seasick whirl, despite having an iron stomach that survived months in India without a single gastric disaster.

I'm not alone in being left with a food hangover after pregnancy, but what's more common is for new mums to get hung up on every detail of what goes into their mouths and beat themselves up about not doing the right thing.

"Should I eat bagged salad?
"Is Brie going to kill the baby?"
"Am I eating too much?"

"Am I eating too little?"

Super thin celebrities walking around with wheatgerm shots and tiny bumps is not helping the diet-anxiety scenario. The funny thing is, most pregnancies will progress well on an "ordinary" diet and eating more is normal - 77,000 extra calories are needed to bring a baby to full term. Most women's non-celebrity diets will take them through a pregnancy fairly well - remember - getting pregnant in the first place is a pretty good indicator that your body is fit to carry a baby.

What we often don't realise, is that much "unexplained infertility" which accounts for about 30% of couples who have difficult conceiving, is in fact to do with diet and lifestyle. In a recent landmark study by Surrey University, 80% of couples who were struggling with conception ended up conceiving after following the University's programme of simple changes to their diet and lifestyle.

What's hugely exciting about this is that couples with difficulties may not need to go down the expensive IVF route if they improve their chances of having a baby so phenomenally by just diet alone. Female eggs and also sperm grow for about 90 days before they're at the stage to become candidates for conception. This proves how much what we eat has a bearing on whether conception is going to happen or not.

I wrote about this for my Shelf Life piece in this week's Irish Times Health. You can read the full piece at the link below, and remember enjoying food and enjoying yourself are also one sure fire way to get pregnant, and a sun holiday. Apparently that's the real place where the magic happens x

No comments:

Post a Comment