With our Food Brand Nutrition Crash Course now in full swing, we wanted to give you all another sneak peak in to some of the content that we are covering in the course. Today we are going to focus in on pregnancy as this is quite a unique period in many women’s lives and is also very unique in terms of nutrition and requirements. It also presents a unique opportunity for brands to narrow in on and provide niche products. Pregnancy and motherhood are a booming sector as mums want the best for their children and so will often prioritise health like they never have before.
Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations for food brands that are marketing products to pregnant women:
“Eating for two” is an old saying that we now know is not true in the slightest. Women who entered pregnancy at a healthy weight do not need any extra calories for the first two trimesters of pregnancy. Only in the last trimester do they need extra, to the total of 200 calories a day which is roughly a banana and a slice of toast!
Supplements: all pregnant women are recommended to take a pre-natal supplement to ensure that they are meeting all of their needs and the baby’s needs. Folic acid is particularly important as low folic acid levels can increase the risk of the baby having a neural tube defect. It is now advised that women take folic acid for the 3 months leading up to becoming pregnant as it is so crucial very early on in the pregnancy when many women don’t know that they are pregnant. Folic acid/folate is so important that over 80 countries, including the US and Canada, fortify foods with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. However, the UK does not and so it is particularly important for women in the UK.
Fish and Omega-3s
There are several types of fish that pregnant women are advised to limit or avoid due to high levels of pollutants, however omega-3s are very important during pregnancy for the baby’s brain development and to prepare for lactation so fish is an important food group for pregnant women. Swordfish, shark, marlin and raw fish should be avoided completely while tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout and herring should be limited to two portions per week. Overall, pregnant women should aim to eat two portions of fish per week, with one being oily, to get plenty of omega-3s alongside lots of other healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. This is a key consideration for vegan or vegetarian pregnant women, who may want to supplement if they do not eat fish.
The majority of women experience nausea during their pregnancies. While it is often described as morning sickness that is only present in the first trimester, many women experience it throughout the day and for much more of their pregnancy. It is believed to be caused by the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and can have a dramatic effect on a women’s food intake. Regular snacking on carbohydrate-based foods is advised to try and curb the nausea, but finding creative ways to get nutrients in can be important if women are struggling to keep food down.
If you are interested in learning more about nutrition during pregnancy and what some of the specific requirements are, be sure to check out our Food Brand Nutrition Crash Course. Session 3 covers pregnancy and other specific life stages such as infancy, childhood and old age.