Rihanna Has Opened Up About How She’s Preparing Her Body For Pregnancy

The singer has began taking supplements, as experts warn the vast majority of women aren't 'nutritionally prepared' for pregnancy.


by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Rihanna has opened up about her plans for motherhood, telling Extra that she has started taking supplements to prepare her body for pregnancy.

'A lot of women get very defensive [about motherhood],’ the 31-year-old said. ‘It’s personal, it’s our bodies, and of course it’s our time. It’s not necessarily everyone’s dream to be a mum… but it’s mine, so I’m fine.’

'I’m definitely feeling a shift. I’m growing up,' she continued. ‘There’s things that I’m paying attention to that I’ve never paid attention to. Like supplements. And working out. And hearing about my bones.

It comes after earlier this year, experts warned that the vast majority of women of reproductive age aren't nutritionally prepared for pregnancy .

Often, when women decide they want to have children they are advised by doctors to stop drinking alcohol, smoking and ensure their diet is giving them enough folic acid and iron, in order to prepare their body for pregnancy. However, 2018 research found that dietary changes should be made years before attempting to conceive.

In response, the government is consulting on plans to add folic acid to flour in the UK because so many women, including pregnant women, aren't aware they should take it.

If the plans to fortifying flour with folic acid go through, it is estimated up to 200 birth defects could be prevented a year, a fifth of the current amount of pregnancies affected by neural tube defects in the UK. In a consultation campaigned for by spina bifida and hydrocephalus charity Shine, the move would mean everyone who ate flour-baed foods like bread would get more folic acid.

Women are currently advised to take 400micrograms of the supplement a day for a month before conception and up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, however given that half of pregnancies are unplanned, many do not know - or forget - to take it. And it's not just women who want to conceive immediately that need the supplement.

A study by [University College London, published in The Lancet](http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736){href='http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'}, researched 509 women of reproductive age and found 96% had iron and folate intakes below the recommendation for pregnancy. Experts are subsequently warning that diet and lifestyle overhauls need to be made years before considering having children.

Researchers are also advising that children be taught about the best diet to prepare for pregnancy, with rates of obesity in England making us the sixth most obese country in the world. They found that more than one quarter of pregnant women are overweight or obese, and warned more long-term efforts need to be made to reduce high levels of obesity among expecting parents.

Being nutritionally unprepared for pregnancy puts the long-term health of children at risk, and excess weight while carrying a baby increases the risk of cardiovascular, metabolic, immune and neurological diseases.

Not only does it impact subsequent children if you do manage to conceive with an unhealthy diet, but the chances of that happening in the first place are already reduced. In fact, links between male obesity and poor sperm quality have been made.

Experts are said to be ‘extremely concerned’ by the findings of the study, with lead author Professor Judith Stephenson saying:

‘The preconception period is a critical time when parental health - including weight, metabolism, and diet - can influence the risk of future chronic disease in children, and we must now re-examine public health policy to help reduce this risk.

‘While the current focus on risk factors, such as smoking and excess alcohol intake, is important, we also need new drives to prepare nutritionally for pregnancy for both parents.'

And with the new consultation to fortify flour with folic acid, it seems that the government are taking the issue seriously. Not only would it increase the nutritional preparation of women hoping to conceive, but it could prevent birth defects for women who do. With over 40% of neural tube defects like spina bifida being fatal, it's a move Shine has been waiting for for 25 years.

'Had it been introduced all those [25] years ago, when the government's own scientific advisory committee on nutrition made the recommendation, it is estimated that it could have saved several thousands of UK pregnancies from being affected by spina bifida or anencephaly,' said Shine chief executive Kate Steele, 'However, we are not looking a gift horse in the mouth and are delighted that the government has launched this consultation and all we hope is that it will not take another 25 years to make mandatory fortification with folic acid a reality.'

According to Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy, the plans could help 'women from the poorest areas' who are 'less likely to take folic acid supplements'. 'We all want to give our children the best start in life and a birth defect diagnosis is devastating for parents,' she said, 'The simple measure of adding folic acid to flour would help spare hundreds of families from such a life-changing event.'

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