On my 28th birthday, my husband surprised me with a lovely box in a familiar shade of duck egg blue. When I opened it up, the big box contained a camera, ‘What to Expect before You are Expecting’ and a bottle of prenatal vitamin from GNC. He sat me down and declared that two years into our marriage, he felt ready to have a child.

My husband knew me well – I like to prepare for things. I dutifully started my course of prenatal vitamins and conditioning my body for pregnancy. It is always recommended to be taking prenatal vitamins (6 months prior to conception). [The spotlight next month shall be on pre-conception strategy.]

In our first month of trying, I joined the international community at, eagerly noted every possible symptom to share and tested positive at 10 d.p.o. (days past ovulation). After confirming on no less than 5 pregnancy test kits, I made an appointment to see a gynecologist. In the clinic, I received my first experience of Western versus Asian culture shock. Both the doctor and the nurse were reluctant to have me test so early in my pregnancy. ‘You won’t test positive so early. You are not pregnant yet.’

That made no sense to me. Surely, the definition of pregnancy is conception and that happened when the sperm met the egg and mated. I explained to them the implanting spotting I had, the many pregnancy kits I had tested positive on. A pregnancy test kit works by detecting the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced by the placenta in the very early stages of pregnancy. The most sensitive test kit is capable of detecting hCG levels at the 20mIU/ hCG threshold (mIU, or International Units, is a level of measurement). 20mIU/hCG is the level of hCG that is typically present, on average, in the urine of pregnant women at about seven to ten days past ovulation. I had tested positive on test kits between 20-50mIU/hCG. In the end, the gynecologist reluctantly let me pee on a stick in the clinic, (which was positive of course) and gave me a note declaring I was pregnant, but need to return in two weeks to confirm again.

Despite the little hiccup, my husband and I were over the moon. Being the geek I was (and still am), I went straight to the book store and bought a number of pregnancy guidebooks. What to Expect When You Are Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, The Healthy Pregnancy Book by Dr William Sears, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. This was a good start and opened up points of discussions for my husband and me.

Fast forward 5 years and 2 children later, I became certified as Malaysia’s first Dr Sears Health Coach in family nutrition and ante-natal wellness. I always thought being a mother is about growing my children. Little did I expect that motherhood has helped ME grow instead. I give regular talks on nutrition and ante-natal wellness and my objective is to help women optimize their pregnancies from a nutrition and wellness perspective.

Many women I met are concerned about putting on too much weight and the difficulty of losing them post pregnancy. But the bottom line is you are supposed to put on weight when you are pregnant. You are creating a life and growing a little person. Focus on building this foundation for your little one. Eat well, eat right and the weight will shed in due time, in fact post due date.

The importance of good nutrition for mothers are:

Have fewer problems with morning sickness, constipation, fatigue, heartburn and muscle cramps

  • Experience fewer cravings for high fat, high sugar foods that have little nutritional value
  • Are less likely to suffer pregnancy complications such as anemia, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature birth, or giving birth to a baby with low birth weight.
  • Have an easier labour with fewer complications
  • Find it easier to take off excess weight after birth and experience less post partum depression.

Benefits for the baby are:

  • Healthier birth weight
  • Less likely to experience complications during and immediately after birth, including birth defects
  • Less likely to experience developmental delays

A pregnant mother needs the following throughout her pregnancy.

  • Essential Fats;

          Fats that your body needs but do not produce naturally

          DHA can only be derived from fish

          500-600mg extra DHA

          Total Omega 3 1000mg EPA/DHA

  • Protein: 25g extra; 100g in total
  • Calcium: 800mg extra; 1400-1600mg in total
  • Iron: 12mg extra; 30mg in total
  • Folic Acid: 400mcg extra; 800mcg in total
  • Carbohydrate: 55-60% of your daily diet
  • Water: ½ body weight in ounces of water per day

Weight in KG x 1.1 x s 0.034

  • Total calories count a day: no less than 2100 calories
  • Multiples: requires extra 250 calories per child and an extra 25g of protein

Avoid completely:

  • Trans Fat or Hydrogenated Fat: watch out for this in processed food or even your maternal milk
  • MSG, artificial sweeteners, or anything in the ingredient list that you cannot pronounce

Pregnancy is a temporary state whereby you are blessed to provide the most nurturing host environment for your little one. Cherish this privilege.