Friday 5 August 2011

Lessons from 'Growing the Milk Bank'

Last Wednesday, I was invited to Growing the Milk Bank, a PR event by Abbott Nutrition that aims to promote the importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

Growing the Milk Bank by Abbott Nutrition

Held at the Regent Hotel, the event saw many media representatives from various parenting platforms present to learn more about maternal nutrition. As usual, I'll be giving you a summary of the main things that I had learnt from the event.

Lesson 1: The Importance of Maternal Nutrition
by Dr Peter Chew, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Peter Chew Clinic For Women

Only 10-15% of women in Singapore actually visit their OBGYN when they are trying for a baby (i.e. before they are pregnant). Most people (including yours truly) do not realise the need to do so even though it is completely necessary. Even before conception, your doctor needs to check your weight and iron levels as well as prescribe folic acid to you. Folic acid has been found to significantly reduce neural tube defects in babies and is required at the instance of fertilisation to the birth of the baby. Hence, a visit to the doctor before said fertilisation occurs is very necessary.

After conception, it is important for mothers to watch their diet. Especially for the 20% of Chinese mothers who have some form of glucose intolerance, it is important that they eat wholesome and nutritious meals that are low in sugar and carbohydrates.

Star Nutrients that you must have in your diet include:
1) Folic acid (for DHA synthesis and cell devision)
2) Choline (reduced neural tube defects)
3) Iron
4) Calcium & Vitamin D
5) DHA (not only for brain development but also to reduce risk of premature birth)

"The diet that mothers choose to take on can contribute to long-term health consequences and it is critical that maternal nutrition is taken seriously, especially more so for those who are expecting or breastfeeding, as it will affect their unborn child. If food choices are limited or not easily available, mothers should consider nutrition supplements that offer the same dietary value.”
-- Dr Peter Chew

Lesson 2: Nutrition Requirements
by Mr For Wei Chek, Dietetics Manager at Mount Alvernia Hospital

Generally, we should refer to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) provided by the Health Promotion Board as the guide for our daily nutritional requirement.

There is a difference between nutrients-dense and calories-dense food. Nutrients-dense food have nutritional value on top of the calories it contains while calories-dense food don't provide any other benefit other than sugar (aka 'empty calories'). The former is of course recommended as opposed to the latter.

It is also important to introduce at least 2-3 servings of whole-grain products a day. This could be in the form of brown rice or even wholegrain cereal.

Pregnant and lactating mothers in particular have to consume additional servings of protein, calcium, iron and vegetables everyday. For example, pregnant women require an additional 9g while women who were breastfeeding require an additional 25g of protein daily. That is at least a palm size (which is equivalent to 9g of protein) more of meat/eggs/tofu/etc a day!

Hence, if you're eating solely or mostly carbohydrates, you're not eating enough nutrients for both you and your child!

"There is no truth in “eating for two” and double the amount of food and calories intake when mothers are expecting, as this may promote excessive weight gain or over-indulgence in certain food types and lacks certain key nutrients. Expecting and lactating mothers need to adopt a well-balanced diet which includes variety of foods from every food groups."
-- Mr For Wei Chek

At the end of the presentation, there was a supermarket tour where Mr For put theory into practice by showing us exactly how to read labels and determine the nutritional value of products.

Supermarket tour with Mr For Wei Chek

At the end of the event, I also got to take home a hamper sponsored by Abbott Nutrition. They had just recently relaunched their New Similac Mum which has been formulated to supplement the nutritional needs of pregnant and lactating mothers. It has all the nutrients that pregnant and lactating mothers need (as mentioned by both Dr Chew and Mr For) but with a lower fat content than other brands.

New Similac Mum by Abbott

If you would like to try the new and improved Similac Mum, you may request for a sample from Abbott Nutrition.

Overall, it was a very educational two hours and I look forward to other beneficial events in future.

Disclosure: A media invitation for this event was received from Abbott Nutrition. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.
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