Your baby is now about 8.5cm long and its heartbeat can now be heard on an ultrasound. This is a time of rapid growth so it's really important to get all the nutrients you need, both for your baby and for you!
Essential fatty acids
Essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable and seed oils (e.g. rape seed oil, sunflower seed oil) and spreads made from these can help to keep your heart healthy. For your growing baby, essential fatty acids perform an additional role, forming a major component of membranes in brain cells, the coating of nerve cells and of the retina of the eye, thus laying the building blocks for their nervous system and eyes to develop. Nature has a clever way of taking essential nutrients from the stores in a mother’s body to ensure that the baby’s growth isn’t impaired. But, in order to maintain these stores, mums need to make sure they are getting enough from their diet. In particular, a lack of omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel) has been associated with giving birth early and having a baby with a low birth weight.
Extra vitamin D is needed during pregnancy and when you are breastfeeding to ensure that both you and your baby are absorbing all the calcium your bones and teeth need. You should take vitamin D supplements of 10 micrograms each day throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. These are available via the government’s Healthy Start scheme and also from pharmacies. This is particularly important considering that there are many women in the UK with low vitamin D status. A lack of vitamin D during pregnancy can affect a child’s bone health long-term and may also have long term detrimental affects for mums whose own skeleton acts as a calcium reserve during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- © British Nutrition Foundation 2011