“The amount of nutrition required to grow a human is similar to growing a plant and if you don’t provide that it won’t grow well.”
That’s the analogy dietitian Peta Adams, who specialises in pediatric nutrition, uses when talking about the nutrients required during conception and pregnancy.
“There’s a reason why things are important when growing a child when you think about the amount of cells replicating,” she said.
“A baby needs the right amount of nutrients to develop.”
These nutrients come largely from folic acids and iodine which should be obtained largely through diet unless supplements are needed.
“Never replace diet with supplements,” Ms Adams said.
“A lot of parents are scared into taking them but it’s not always necessary unless you’re unwell and not getting the nutrients needed through diet.”
These nutrients are so vital as they can prevent a range of health issues and birth defects.
Where do these nutrients come from? Folic acid is found in leafy greens like spinach, iodine is found in salt, bread, fish and seaweed (however, sushi isn’t advised).
“These foods are so important for the baby,” Ms Adams said.
Diet can impact the babies growth and development, impact on lifestyle disease and risks of becoming overweight later in life and even having a impact on food preferences with babies getting a taste for foods through breastmilk.
“We don’t often think about diet having a lasting impact on their lives,” Ms Adams said.
As a mother herself, Ms Adams understands the amount of information thrown at new mothers and the willingness for everyone to give their opinion. She encourages all mums to seek professional advice if they aren’t sure what to eat.
"You need to see someone who specialises in feeding your baby and feeding yourself,” she said.
“Just like GPs have their specialties, dietitians do too.
“Look at their credentials so you can guarantee their advice will be the best for your situation.”