Dietary advice during pregnancy
We discovered an interesting trend in dietary advice.
We advise women who are planning a pregnancy to see their GP and have a health check. But our results show that women who are planning a pregnancy do more research. Friends, family and the media also have more influence – they listen to their doctors less!
On top of that, once pregnant, women see their doctor for dietary advice about supplements more than any other time. However, they discuss their dietary needs with their midwife in less than 10% of cases.
The question is, why? Are women accessing midwifery care too late in their pregnancy to have any real influence? Are they not getting the information from their midwives and going elsewhere? Is midwifery knowledge about diet and nutrition lacking? Or is it the shortage of midwifery continuity-of-care models?
Perhaps there some emotional or psychological need in pregnant women using supplements? Do pregnant women feel like they should, even when there is no medical need for them? Do women think that pregnancy is a medical condition or is the GP as the first port of call in pregnancy in Australia influencing these decisions?
More than 25% of women in the My Body My Baby study (1) were taking individual supplements on top of their pregnancy multivitamin, with no identified nutritional deficiency. Do they need them?
Can’t hurt right?
A recent review of supplement practices and outcomes in South East Queensland found that over-supplementation was associated with a longer pregnancy. Great if you aren’t due yet, but not so good if you are impatiently waiting and term. In fact, in this study women who took multiple supplements in the third trimester had a higher chance of induction of labour for post-dates pregnancy (2).
So here it is in a nutshell…..the information-seeking behaviours shown by this group of women indicate that the recommendations around medical review and input into the preparing for pregnancy process are not being observed. Rather, they consult a wide range of sources while preparing for pregnancy. However, once pregnant they return to their doctors for guidance rather than to midwives. These behaviours are of concern as they do not support the recommendations arising from the Australian Maternity Services Review (3) and evidence-based best practice (4).
For more information on diet during pregnancy please click here.
Dr Janelle McAlpine (PhD), Clinical Midwife
- McAlpine, Janelle M., Vanderlelie, Jessica J., Vincze, Lisa J., Perkins, Anthony V. Use of micronutrient supplements in pregnant women of south-east Queensland. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Wiley; 2020;, doi:10.1111/AJO.13109
- McAlpine JM, Scott R, Scuffham PA, Perkins AV and Vanderlelie JJ. The association between third trimester multivitamin/mineral supplements and gestational length in uncomplicated pregnancies. Women and Birth. 2015.
- Australian Dept. of Health and Ageing. Improving maternity services in Australia: the Report of the Maternity Services Review. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government, 2009.
- Sandall J, Soltani H, Gates S, Shennan A, Devane D. Midwife-led continuity models versus other models of care for childbearing women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016 (4). PubMed PMID: CD004667.