Nutrition for pregnancy

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So, you’re pregnant.  You’ve probably been taking care of how you eat and drink if you’ve been planning your pregnancy but what now?  What kind of nutrients will be important during the next 9 months.  Well, of course there are many. This is a brief review of the most important and where to find them.


You’ll know about folic acid but do you know where to find it?  Green leafy vegetables, lentils and avocado are good sources.  You’re going to need B12 and B6 too – it’s important for production of genetic material, the RNA and DNA that determines the genetic make up of your baby.  B12 is found in eggs, dairy, fish, meat and poultry (If you are vegan you may want to check with your healthcare provider if you need a supplement).  B6 is found in sunflower seeds, bananas, avocados and eggs. 


Omega 3 is essential to brain development.  Make sure you are eating plenty of oily fish and flax, chia seeds and walnuts if you are vegan. 


There is some suggestion that low iron levels are associated with miscarriage.  Make sure you get plenty via meat, fish, eggs (yes, more eggs), broccoli and dried apricots. 


Calcium is another important nutrient and isn’t just found in dairy produce but in green (leafy) veg and sesame seeds.  If you crave chalk or plaster (yes, some women have been known to want to lick that wall) you might be deficient in calcium. 


And lastly, to build that baby!  Protein.  Vegetable protein has so many other nutritional benefits so stock up on your pulses (chickpeas (hummus), black beans, lentils, butter beans, etc) ,nuts and seeds, as well as fish, eggs and poultry. 


This is a recipe I made the other day that I have adapted slightly.  It ticks all the boxes above:


Chickpea and spinach stew (adapted from a recipe by Jose Pizarro), serves 4


Olive oil

100g (brown preferably) breadcrumbs

60g almonds

1 onion, finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp cumin seeds

pinch dried chilli flakes

1 can tomatoes

Salt and pepper

700g jar chickpeas

2 large handfuls spinach


Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the almonds, chilli and cumin seeds and toast them for a couple of minutes.  Add the breadcrumbs and toast a little more.  Transfer the mixture to a food processor, add some water and blend to a paste.

Heat some oil in the pan (no need to wash) and gently fry the onions for about 10 minutes until softened, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more.  Now add the tomatoes and season.  Bubble for 20 minutes or so then add the chickpeas AND their liquid.  Add the almond paste and bring to a simmer for a few minutes.   You may need to add a bit more water at this point depending on how thick the sauce is.  Now add the spinach, letting it wilt.


It’s ready to serve.  With a poached egg on top would be delicious.  Some avocado slices along side.  And a green salad. 

Sam Murgatroyd - Nutritionist