Apart from the sheer excitement of being pregnant and finding that pram you’ve always wanted, we can’t forget nutritional support, it’s your number one priority, right from the very beginning.

Being pregnant is very demanding on your bodies nutritional needs, not only from the demands of your own body but the growth and development of a brand new baby.

Nearly all women can benefit from nutritional and multivitamin supplementation four to twelve months before and all during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding bring their own nutritional needs and demands at different stages as baby’s growth continues.

The 4 key nutrients to consider for optimal health throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding are:

1) Folic Acid (B9) 

Folic acid is the only Vitamin whose requirement doubles during pregnancy. Its most well known role, is helping to support development of the neural tube. Deficiencies of folic acid have been linked to low birth weight infants and neural tube defects.

However, unlike some nutrients, our body cannot produce folate, so we are totally reliant on our dietary sources and supplementation.

Your daily supplement should be at least 500 ug.

2) Vitamin D 

Some may think being outside in the sunshine is enough for healthy vitamin D levels, not exactly. Australia and New Zealand are documented to have some of the worst levels of vitamin D, with 89% of us deficient.

This wonder vitamin, is crucial for a healthy immune system and plays a critical role in our body’s immune defense from the time we are in utero. Replenishing depleted stores can be a little trickier than you would first think. Any levels below 65 are classified as not sufficient and supplementation should be considered. Optimal levels of this immune supporting vitamin are between 85 – 150. If you haven’t recently had your levels checked, it’s recommended you visit your GP.

3) Essential fatty acids (fish oil)

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a big role throughout a pregnancy because of the rapid development of new cell growth. Fetal development is associated with a high EFA requirement, and this supply is dependent on the amount and availability of EFAs from the mother.

The Mother’s need for the essential fatty acids decrease throughout the pregnancy, however for the fetus, a deficiency of EFAs, particularly EPA and DHA , may lead to a poorly developed central nervous system.

4) Iron

The demand for iron is on the rise through all three trimesters as baby grows. Iron works in combination with B9 and B12 in the development of baby’s DNA so is essential to a healthy baby.

Feeling fatigued and tired is normal as you create life through pregnancy; however a deficiency in iron on top of this can really make life very difficult, especially if you have a toddler on your toes as well.

Do you have anything else to add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

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  • Only take Iron if you have checked with your Doc.
    I was with an amazing Doc who would test me every month to start with and then every 2 weeks. He felt that you only needed to take things like Iron tablets if you were not getting enough in your diet. I didnt need to take thme at all.


  • A healthy balanced diet, proper exercise and maintaining a happy state during pregnancy are keys to a smooth delivery.


  • Thanks for your thoughts. Looking after yourself physically and mentally is important too and being kind to yourself.


  • I don’t agree that Fish Oils are the only source of essential Fatty Acids, there are many good plant sources.

    • The article points out the importance of Essential Fatty acids. Fish oils are 1 source with food and dietary sources available as well.
      However the amount of DHA in a fish oil supplement far out weighs the unknown amounts in foods and would require consuming a lot if using it for fetal development.
      Unfortunately when eating dietary sources such as flaxseeds, our body requires further processes to then turn that flaxseed into a usable Essential Fatty Acid and unfortunately this process can become hindered and the use of the flaxseed for EFA’s don’t occur.


  • Don’t fully agree with this article – folate (folic acid) is added to bread these days and tins of sardines, tuna and salmon are readily available as well as having a walk in the fresh air and sunshine every morning will give you the necessary Vitamin D, and meat will provide the iron needed. Wherever possible one should get the nutrients required from food, exercise and fresh air. Supplements like iron cause constipation, and exercise is always a good thing especially in pregnancy.

    • Dietary choices & exercise are a big part of a healthy pregnancy, absolutely. The demand for higher intake of certain nutrients such as folate/folic acid are required daily at 400mcg – 800mcg of this particular nutrient to assist a healthy pregnancy and prevent Neural tube defects. unfortunately fortified foods with folic acid (synethic form) isn’t always easily absorbed or utilised, therefore requiring supplementation. In regards to Iron, our needs of iron through each stage of pregnancy differs. Iron is the common nutrients requiring supplementation through pregnancies. If constipation has ever been an issue for women taking iron supplements, it may be because they are using a pharmaceutical grade iron sulphate. My little rhyme is (iron sulphates, constipate) If supplementing iron, a better form would be iron phosphate or iron diglycinate and constipation won’t be an issue.
      I wish the sun was enough for Vitamin D like a lot of doctors suggest, but unfortunately 89% of Australians and New Zealanders are Vitamin d deficient for the very reason that vitamin D from the sun in an inactive form and requires our bodies to activate it. Correcting a Vitamin d deficiency can be quite difficult unless taking therapeutic doses for 2 -6 months and with the demands of pregnancy, this make correcting deficiencies even harder.


  • I always said, I’ve never been healthier than when I was pregnant! My nails grew perfectly and so strong!. I put it down to the supplements I was taking, which I pf course stopped as soon as I wasn’t pregnant anymore – had crap nails ever since, lol

    • Pregnancy is a wonderful thing, even for our nails :)


  • I don’t fully agree with this article. I am allergic to seafood, thus had no input of fish oils. I did however take a multi, so that may have helped. My kids are perfectly healthy. Of course it’s important to eat a balanced diet.

    • So happy to hear you had healthy pregnancies. Of course i wouldn’t suggest fish oil supplements in your case. Unfortunately allergies are common to lots of different foods, including fish oil


  • I made sure that i was taking each of these. A multi – prenatal multi – is usually good for this too


  • I was just given folic acid before and during the pregnancy. But vitamin D deficiency is so spread out nowadays that I regret not having taken it back then. Later in life I was diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency and anemia too.

    • Vitamin D deficiency is definitely becoming more of an epidemic nowadays and being spoken about in mainstream media a lot more. What is classified as deficient is also a problem. I like to see my clients vitamin D levels between 80 -120. The benefits of Vitamin D and the immune system are outstanding.

      • I agree with you. I read a very interesting book by Soram Khalsa called “The Vitamin D Revolution” and I learned a lot about it. I treated my vitamin D deficiency taking very high doses of Vitamin D. Now it’s ok (107) but I still take one capsule every day.


  • A healthy balanced diet and some light gentle exercise is all important for both mother and baby. During pregnancy a blood test can detect whether you are deficient in a particular nutrient like iron.

    • Absolutely and i would encourage all women to be tested via pathology for their Iron, Vitamin D and Folic acid levels preferably before falling pregnant and during certain stages of pregnancy as these nutrients are crucial.

      A healthy lifestyle with exercise would complete the picture for a healthy pregnancy too.


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