This blog was originally written for Newcastle Obstetrics in October 2018.
If you could improve your child’s mental capability and their growth rate just by enjoying some safe fish meals through your pregnancy, would you?
We know that omega-3 fatty acids are linked with brain development in the foetus, particularly in the third trimester and for the first 18 months of life. But due to possible risks from mercury it appears that many women do not consume enough for best outcomes in their babies. Some too don’t realise that pregnant women actually need more omega-3s than the general population.
How much do you need?
A good number to aim for is three serves per week, although four serves wouldn’t go astray if you can manage it.
What about mercury?
Whilst it is good advice to limit serves of mercury containing fish there are actually many safe fish that are also high in omega-3s. The NSW Food Authority tells us that these include canned salmon and tuna in oil, sardines, mackerel, herring as well as Atlantic salmon and Silver Warehou.
How can I include it in my diet?
These can be easily included in meals as a protein serve, served on wholegrain toast or crackers with a squeeze of lemon and freshly ground black pepper, built into fresh salads and used in oven bakes.
What’s your favourite way of enjoying them?
It’s not all about the fish…
Of course, it’s not just about including fish in your diet to improve your baby’s health outcomes. It is known that a nutritious diet before and during pregnancy does result in better mental health outcomes along with other health biomarkers. This is one very good reason to arrange a visit with a specialist dietitian as early as you can in your pregnancy planning.
Accredited Practising Dietitian Sally Marchini at Marchini Nutrition, Swansea is one of the specialist dietitians from the Australia-wide network Nutrition Plus who offer more than just nutrition advice - they offer experience, problem solving, understanding and most importantly compassion to assist you on your health journey in preconception, pregnancy, postnatally and for specific health concerns.
Sally can be contacted via her website www.marchininutrition.com, the Nutrition Plus website www.nutritionplus.com.au, by telephone on 02-4971-0770, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org