A-Z of pregnancy and nutrition: F is for...

What does F stand for in pregnancy? Here's our next instalment in our pregnancy A-Z series

When it comes to pregnancy and nutrition, what does the letter F stand for? We find out...

Make sure you catch-up on our pregnancy alphabet so far - A / B/ C / D/ E.

Feeling faint: Feeling faint when you stand for too long or get up quickly is caused by low blood pressure (BP). The pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes the walls of your blood vessels causing low blood pressure, however, low BP tends to return to normal during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Avoid lying on your back as pregnancy progresses; as the growing uterus becomes increasingly heavy it can press on a very large blood vessel if you do. This reduces blood to the brain and makes you feel faint. If this does happen, turn onto your side and the faint feeling will quickly pass.

Fish: Fish is a great source of protein and oily types provide Omega-3 fatty acids. However whilst pregnant avoid eating shark, marlin and swordfish and limit the amount of tuna you eat to no more than two tuna steaks a week (weighing about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or four medium-size cans of tuna a week (with a drained weight of about 140g per can). This is because of the levels of mercury in these fish. At high levels, mercury can harm your baby’s developing nervous system. This also applies during breastfeeding. Try to have one, but don’t have more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish includes tuna (see above for advice regarding fresh and canned tuna), mackerel, sardines and trout. Remember that eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby, so you should still aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish. Avoid raw shellfish because it may contain harmful bacteria and viruses that cause poisoning. However, shellfish that is part of a hot meal that has been thoroughly cooked is fine.

Flatulence: Did you know that the average person passes wind 14 times a day? Unfortunately, this can increase during pregnancy because increased levels of hormones, such as progesterone which can cause the smooth muscles in your body, including your gastrointestinal tract, to become relaxed. What can we say; pregnancy is not an elegant time! This relaxation process slows down your digestive processes, which causes burping and flatulence, especially after a big meal. The foods most likely to cause wind include beans, broccoli, sprouts and asparagus, as well as fizzy drinks. However, it is important that you eat a balanced diet so simply cut back on the foods that cause you the most discomfort.

Here are our tips for avoiding wind during pregnancy:

  • Don’t eat big meals. Instead, eat several small meals throughout the day
  • Don’t talk while you’re eating. Take your time and chew food thoroughly
  • Limit your fluid intake during meals (but don’t forget to make up for it between meals)
  • Limit fizzy drinks
  • Drink from a glass, not a bottle or a straw, and don’t gulp your drinks
  • Exercise. Even a brisk walk can help your sluggish digestive tract
  • Don’t smoke (this is a habit you should break before getting pregnant)
  • Consider taking up yoga for relaxation and good breathing techniques. (Some people tend to swallow more air when they’re excited or anxious if they’re prone to hyperventilating)

Folic acid: Read our folic acid tips here. Women are currently advised to take a 400mcg folic acid supplement prior to conception and for at least the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, but the benefits of folic acid supplementation extend throughout the whole of pregnancy. Women with multiple pregnancies or a previous history of neural tube defects should take more. Pregnacare® Original and Pregnacare® Plus contain 400mcg folic acid as well as other important vitamins and minerals vital for mother and baby. Find out more on the Pregnacare website.

Make sure you also read our posts on what to pack in your hospital bag and advice from our midwife on pregnancy and birth.

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