2. Preparing the Body for Pregnancy

  1. Emma Derbyshire BSc, PhD, RNutr

Published Online: 6 OCT 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444344790.ch2

Nutrition in the Childbearing Years

Nutrition in the Childbearing Years

How to Cite

Derbyshire, E. (2011) Preparing the Body for Pregnancy, in Nutrition in the Childbearing Years, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, West Sussex, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444344790.ch2

Author Information

  1. Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Human Nutrition, Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 6 OCT 2011
  2. Published Print: 30 SEP 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444333053

Online ISBN: 9781444344790



  • pregnancy;
  • body weight;
  • balanced diet;
  • alcohol;
  • food safety


Women may alter their diets throughout the course of their pregnancy, but getting the right nutrients is just as important before pregnancy takes place. Ideally, the body should be prepared before the physiological demands of pregnancy occur. If nutrient reserves are low before pregnancy commences, this may affect the health of the mother and/or child later on. Data from nutrition surveys and studies show that a considerable proportion of women in their childbearing years are not meeting recommended intakes for key nutrients, i.e. iron and folate, and multiple micronutrient deficiencies are common when diets are poor. Poor quality diets and lack of knowledge about what constitutes a ‘balanced diet’ also mean that women's body weight may not be within recommended ranges when pregnancy begins; a factor that can again have later health consequences for both mother and child. Women need to be guided about the importance of eating a healthy diet and getting body weight into recommended ranges before becoming pregnant. It would also be of benefit if women were aware of certain food safety issues before or in the early stages of their pregnancies. Public health campaigns, nurses, midwives and health practitioners can play a key role in helping to communicate these messages.