Ok yes it is a cliché but it’s one worth bearing in mind, particularly when it comes to your baby’s future health!
It’s the first week of 2016 and we are all thinking about new starts and New Year’s resolutions. You may be thinking about everything that this year has in store for you- maybe you are planning your first baby or thinking about adding to the family, you might already be expecting a new family member and wondering what life this time next year will look like! Whatever you have in the pipeline, there are some small steps you can take now to make sure that you are starting the year off on the right foot.
If you are planning a pregnancy here are 3 small things to focus on getting into the habit of this month:
1. Take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day. Put a reminder in your phone so you don’t forget!
Why? Folic acid is essential before becoming pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. Once you get into the habit of taking it its easy!
2. Be mindful of your portion sizes of the foods you commonly eat. What counts as a portion is actually alot less then you would expect, for example:
• A portion of pasta is about the same as a small white plastic cup.
• A portion of cheese is the size of a small matchbox
• More than enough meat for a serving is about the size of the palm of your hand
Why? Portion sizes can be a big problem! Reducing your portion size by a small amount in each meal can add up to a big saving on fat and calories and can help you to maintain a healthy weight which will improve your chances of becoming pregnant and start your pregnancy off on the right track.
3. Exercise more! This doesn’t mean you have to be out running a marathon straight away. Take small steps:
• Take the stairs instead of the lift in work each day
• Get off the bus one step early or park in the furthest space from the door
• Keep a pair of comfy shoes in work and if there is a nice day get out for a walk
Why? Everyone needs to be active to be healthier. All adults should be getting some form of moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes at least 5 days a week – this doesn’t have to be all at once and can be in three 10 minute bursts if it fits in better. If you are trying to lose weight you should aim for 60-75 minutes each day.
If you are already pregnant here are 3 small things to bear in mind this month
1. Don’t eat for two!
Why? This expression is commonly used when expecting a baby but in actual fact you don’t need to eat for two. You just need a very small amount of extra calories – 350kcal in your second and 500kcal in your third trimester which can be easily gotten from just 1-2 extra healthy snacks per day.
2. Take your vitamin D supplement and include vitamin D rich foods
Why? Vitamin D is essential to aid calcium absorption for your baby’s developing bones and for your own healthy bones. The best source is the sun so we have little hope of getting enough that way! Recent recommendations say that pregnant women should include a 5 microgram supplement daily. Also include sources in your diet such as oily fish and eggs.
3. Read up about breastfeeding!
Why? Breastfeeding gives your baby the very best start in life. And although it is natural it is still a learned skill and can take a little time or help to get the hang of. By being prepared and doing some research before baby arrives you can be better equipped for a positive breastfeeding experience.
Remember – just small changes can make all the difference to your baby’s future health. In fact only around 20% of your baby’s future health is determined by the genes that they inherit from you and your partner. The other 80% is made up of environmental factors such as nutrition and lifestyle choices.
Best of luck and have a happy and healthy New Year!