by: Sinead

I hate New Year’s resolutions with a passion; I don’t even bother trying to pretend to start something just because it’s the start of the year. It’s too much pressure when we are all trying to cope with getting over the January blues and we are nearly there!

But because I work as a nutritionist it has me thinking about this pregnancy of mine lately (you just can’t help it – being in the line of work I’m in its hard to ignore) and I know I can do better, but after what I’ve been reading in work lately (which isn’t new news – just much clearer to me now) I just have to start doing better! So this isn’t a New Year’s resolution but more a commitment to my baby….!

I’ve been hearing more and more about the ‘first 1000 days’ of a child’s life and that starts from conception up to 2 years, not from when they are born! Basically (and it seems obvious when you think about it but actually making sure you are doing it is another matter that you just have to put your mind to), this first 1000 day period is a time that can decide if your baby is going to reach their maximum potential in life – now that might seem mad but it’s true! There is ample research to prove it.

If a baby doesn’t receive the optimum nutrition during these first 1000 days it can have irreversible effects on how well they turn out later on. Obviously they’ll still be healthy and well in most cases, as were our parents and us, but if you had done better – imagine what they could have become/achieved!

If you think about when a horse has it’s foal it instantly gets up and walks/runs, but when a baby is born it is 100% reliant on us to feed it, change it, teach it to develop/learn….as their brains are still developing.

So when pregnant we are mapping our child’s future…..take Vitamin D for example, even when we pregnant mums are getting all the vitamin D we require, our babies are only born with 50-60% of our stores, so if we aren’t getting all the vitamin D we need, our babies are then starting off on the back foot compared to those born from women that do.  So get the oily fish (eg salmon, mackerel etc), eggs (yolks) and vitamin D fortified foods into you ladies!

Our baby’s brain goes through a massive growth spurt from the third trimester and during the first year of life, if they aren’t getting enough of the right nutrients (e.g. iron and omega fats) to fuel this growth during this critical window – the effects are irreversible! So make sure you are eating a varied source of iron-rich foods like red meat, poultry, oily fish, green leafy veg, lentils and beans and dried fruit. And don’t forget to include your omega 3 from flaxseeds, rapeseed oil and again oily fish. There are lots of other foods that are fortified in these important nutrients too, just check the labels.

Scary stuff but we need to start during pregnancy to make sure our babies can reach their potential. So my commitment is to look at what I’m doing right and keep that going, but also to look at what I could really do better regarding my diet for the rest of my pregnancy (I’m definitely not getting 1-2 portions of oily fish a week!) and once this little ball inside me is born well that’s a new phase of these 1000 days….to be tackled from then!

So don’t wait to start, why not start making a healthier baby now? Little changes are all that are needed, think of what you can do now and the rest will follow as they say…