Diets Are Leaving Aussie Women Nutritionally Unprepared For Pregnancy

Pregnant woman standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of water while preparing breakfast.
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine



New research revealed today that only a quarter (27 per cent) of current or aspiring mums are consuming specific nutrition important to a healthy pregnancy.

Almost half of all women (44 per cent) actively trying to conceive (TTC) also said they don’t understand what to eat to access the nutrients they need for a healthy pregnancy. The Pregnancy Nutrition Survey commissioned by Elevit explores the knowledge of, and approach to nutritional needs during pre-conception and pregnancy of 1000+ Australian women aged 18-54.

It found that a third of women surveyed (31 per cent) are more conscious about what to avoid eating (e.g. soft cheeses, cured meats), or are adhering to diets (such as intermittent fasting, keto and dairy-free) that potentially starve the body of key nutrients such as calcium, folate, potassium and magnesium. This is in spite of the fact that pregnancy increases the nutritional demands on their bodies by 50 per cent. Survey results also show that 47 per cent of women surveyed are not taking specific nutrition for pregnancy, as they believe their general nutrition will be sufficient.

According to paediatric nutritionist Mandy Sacher, “There are a range of micronutrients needed for critical developments of the fetus during those early weeks following conception – often before you’ve noticed the signs of pregnancy. Nutrition is so important from the first moment that you consider trying to conceive”.

Unfortunately, many Aussie women are unaware of how little micronutrients they may be getting from their modern diets. Moreover, the survey highlighted that 1-in-4 women surveyed did not understand the role of a pregnancy-specific multivitamin in helping to plug nutritional gaps.

To help Australian mothers and babies have the best first 1000 days and to make it easier for people to understand and access pregnancy nutrition, Elevit, in collaboration with Mandy Sacher, is serving up a range of speciallyformulated resources – The Pre-conception & First 1000 Days Nutrition Pack, available for download from the Elevit website.

• NUTRITION TABLE FOR PRE-CONCEPTION & THE FIRST 1000 DAYS:

The nutrition table outlines the food you can eat to access essential vitamins and minerals for pregnancy, such as folic acid, iron and iodine. The table also includes the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of each micronutrient, and outlines how much of each nutrient is contained per serve to help you navigate what you should eat during this time. For example, a RDI of Iron (27mg), Folic Acid (600mcg) and Iodine (220mcg) as well as a range of other micronutrients is important for both mum and baby from pre-conception to the age of two.

RECIPES FOR PRE-CONCEPTION & THE FIRST 1000 DAYS:

Mandy Sacher has developed a range of delicious recipes including miso salmon and dark chocolate bliss balls which contain the important nutrients to support Mums-to-be during pre-conception and baby’s healthy development during The First 1000 Days. The pack also includes suggestions of foods that can be swapped out to suit individual dietary preferences and offer variety.

• MEAL PLANNER FOR PRE-CONCEPTION & THE FIRST 1000 DAYS:

The meal planner template was developed with optimal nutrition in mind, providing a tool to help plan and track a balanced weekly diet that supports the nutrient requirements of both mother and baby.

Key Pregnancy Nutrition Survey findings that point to a gap in understanding of nutritional needs, include:

Eating in the age of diets:

o 23 per cent of Mums and Mums-to-be are currently intermittent fasting pointing to a potential need for additional nutritional support.

o A further 13 per cent are following a Keto diet, 13 per cent are Gluten Free and 19 per cent are Dairy Free.

o The top reasons for following the diets listed above were to manage weight (22 per cent), to manage nutrition (15 per cent) not relating to pregnancy and to manage allergens or health concerns (11 per cent).

• Maybe baby:

One in three women surveyed (32 per cent) are going to start trying for a baby in the next 6- 12 months and of these only 25 per cent will follow a pre-conception/pregnancy nutrition diet.

• Preconception misconception:

47 per cent of women surveyed think that their general nutrition will be sufficient to support their pregnancy and 1-in-5 women surveyed took a general multivitamin as opposed to a pregnancy-specific multivitamin despite the unique nutritional requirements of pregnancy.

• A pregnant pause:

37 per cent of women who are currently pregnant started taking pregnancy specific nutrition (including supplements) once pregnant. However it is important to consider that building higher levels of certain nutrients takes time, so it is better to start at least one month prior to trying to get pregnant as this will ensure your body is ready to support your baby’s health from the moment of conception.

“We know that pregnancy can sometimes be an overwhelming time, especially when it comes to what you can and can’t eat. It can be information overload and at times difficult to access credible information for free. This is why I’ve collaborated with Elevit to release The Pre-conception & First 1000 Days Nutrition Pack to help ease the mental load around pre-conception and pregnancy nutrition for women,” said Sacher.

Where optimal nutrition cannot be sourced solely from food, pre-conception and pregnancy multivitamins have an important role to play for supporting Australians looking to conceive and throughout their pregnancy. And yet as many as a quarter of those surveyed believe an everyday women’s multivitamin will suffice. “I always encourage that we focus on foods to fill nutritional gaps.

However, this is not always possible due to life demands, limited time and heightened nutritional needs at various times in life. In these circumstances, we need to supplement with vitamins and minerals. General multivitamins certainly fill a need when managing nutrient deficiencies, however when it comes to preconception and pregnancy, there are additional nutrients required to support the developing baby’s needs for the best start in life and these are available from tailored pregnancy multivitamins,” said Sacher.




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