Pregnancy news is always exciting but it can also be tinged with anxiety for some mums-to-be, if they worry about the health of their babies and grapple with all of the advice regarding health and nutrition.

Kathy Whyte, Nurture Mum, is a nurse with a Masters in Nutritional Medicine. She has a passion for promoting preconception health, which has long term benefits for both Mum and baby. She’s also a partner of The Wellness Crew (yes, we know we’re lucky!), bringing pregnancy wellness to the workplace.

Here, she met with Ciara Wright, our Food Crew Director, to chat (all-day-long) about the importance of good nutrition and the essential supplements for promoting good pregnancy health.

Kathy and Ciara Interview

Ciara: Kathy, we’ve already been chatting all morning about how important preconception health is, but let’s try and summarise this for those you aren’t actually that interested in hearing us prattle on for hours!

Kathy: The main take-home message I guess is that any improvements you can make to your diet and health before you get pregnant will really help your child in the long run, and of course your own health during and after the pregnancy.

Ciara: This means less complications in pregnancy, better weight management during and after and not being depleted after the pregnancy going in to breastfeeding – if that is your choice.

Kathy: Yes, and the impact on foetal health is huge – less risk of complications there and your preconception health can actually set your child up for better health all the way through its life, with less risk of chronic disease.

Ciara: I see a problem here. What if there’s an ‘accident’?

Kathy: Of course, almost half of all pregnancies are unplanned. It’s still important to make changes as soon as you find out you are pregnant, but if you have the opportunity to prepare for pregnancy then that’s ideal.

Ciara: Ok, so give us top tips here if you are considering a pregnancy

Kathy: Following a healthy diet and lifestyle for three months prior to conception would be great. Reduce negative lifestyle factors like caffeine, alcohol; and giving up smoking is very important. Aim to get your five-a-day in and try to focus more on fish and high-fibre pulses rather than red meat and processed foods.

Ciara: We’re not asking anyone to be perfect but any steps in the right direction are going to be beneficial. Research also shows us that this lifestyle you mention has benefits for fertility also. If you are struggling to get pregnant in the first place, your chances are increased if both you and your partner follow a healthy diet as you have described. So the men can get involved here too for sure!

Kathy: I would also like to highly recommend starting folic acid any time in your childbearing years. Folic acid at a dose of 400ug should be started at least 16 weeks before a pregnancy and continued for 12 weeks into the pregnancy. This is critical to reduce the risk of a baby being born with a neural tube defect (NTD) such as spina bifida. Some women may require a higher dose of folic acid 5 milligrams (mg), including women with a raised body mass index, history of diabetes, personal or family history of having a baby with an NTD. You can ask your doctor or pharmacy for advice on this.

Ciara: This one is tough, our ‘childbearing years’ go on for a long time! It is important to stress to young women to remember to take folic acid all the time, just in case. Ireland has an alarmingly high incidence of this and it’s such a pity because this is an effective prevention in most cases.

Kathy: Agreed, it is one of the most robust pieces of nutritional evidence. Folic acid can reduce neural tube defects by 72%.

Ciara: Thanks so much Kathy for your top tips here. Wishing all of our Wellness Crew followers happy and healthy pregnancies!

Pregnancy in the Workplace

News of pregnancy in the workplace is always well-received, but some managers may be unsure how to respond, and how best to support their team member(s) beyond the maternity leave policy.

If you are a manager who has just received news of an employee’s pregnancy, you can show them how much their role is valued within the company (as well as on a personal level) by providing additional support and investment before, during and after their pregnancy (the first thousand days). This can lead to:

High returns on investments such as:

  • Employee retention
  • Employee job satisfaction
  • Employee dedication
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