The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding for as long as possible. As babies grow at different paces, health professionals should advise the mother on the appropriate time when her baby should start receiving complementary foods.
Folic acid is a particularly important vitamin from the very start of a pregnancy. To avoid any deficiencies, you need to eat a varied and balanced diet before even falling pregnant . Opt for food types rich in folic acid.
What is folic acid good for?
Folic acid (also known as vitamin B9 or folate) is particularly important during the first two months of pregnancy. It plays a major role in the construction and proper functioning of the nervous system and is important for the development of the cells and the production of red blood cells. Your requirements increase from the time of conception of the baby, as the maternal tissue expands (blood, uterus, etc.) and they will remain high during your entire pregnancy as the foetus grows.
This is why all women of procreating age, and especially those wishing to have a baby, are advised to monitor their folic acid intake so that they will have sufficient reserves once they are pregnant.
On my plate…
The recommended intake of folic acid amounts to 600 micrograms per day for a pregnant woman. To meet your requirements, you should opt for foods such as:
- Salads made with lettuce and spinach shoots
- Green leafy vegetables e.g. broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts
- Cooked chickpeas
- Cooked white beans
- Fruit (e.g. oranges)
- Nut (e.g. hazelnuts)
Our practical suggestions
On a day-to-day basis, it is easy to consume sufficient folic acid by eating a plate of green vegetables, some green salad and two or three servings of fruit (especially citrus fruit). You should also consider putting a large plate of legumes and/or cereals on the menu several times a week, along with eggs and cheese.
Before you even fall pregnant, remember to consume sufficient foods rich in folic acid. You can also mention your desire for a baby to your doctor during a pre-conception check-up. He may recommend a folic acid supplement to take for several weeks before conception, as well as for some weeks afterwards. This is not always possible, as your pregnancy may not be planned or if you do not fall pregnant straight away!
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