Frequently Asked Questions

Lifestyle Maternity aims to nourish, educate, and empower you through high quality education, resources and support.

What is the difference between

A nutritionist and dietitian?

In Australia there is a difference between a dietitian and other nutritional health providers including nutritionists. All dietitians are nutritionists, but nutritionists without a dietetics qualification can’t call themselves a dietitian.

While the definition of a dietitian and nutritionist are similar, there are differences in qualifications and regulation. As a profession, nutritionists aren’t regulated and can have limited qualifications. The dietetic profession is regulated. Most dietitians have graduated with an approved dietetics degree from an Australian university.

Dietitians with the Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) credential commit to ongoing training and education throughout their careers. It’s important to check the credentials of your healthcare provider before making an appointment

Does my health provider cover

dietitian appointments?

You can make an appointment with a Lifestyle Maternity dietitian without a referral from a GP or specialist. If you have private health insurance, some of your appointment costs may be covered depending on your level of cover – we recommend you check with your insurer. Following payment for your telehealth appointment we will provide you with a receipt to self-claim from them.

To check what you will be required to pay, provide your insurer with the consultation cost and the HICAPS item number below to find out how much you will be required to pay.

HICAPS item number:

  • Initial individual consultation: 301
  • Long review or review appointments: 302

Dr Shelley Wilkinson of Lifestyle Maternity is a Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinician. She is able to receive referrals from GPs to see people with diagnosed eating disorders. As we operate fully via telehealth the item number is 93074.

What is included in

an initial consultation?

Lifestyle Maternity offers a comprehensive approach to care, providing high level assessment, advice and ongoing support.

Prior to your consultation

Once you book an appointment with us, we will send you a link to complete a dietary assessment. This will let you share what and how you eat using industry standard surveys. This provides us with direction for your consult as well as a baseline against which we will measure your changes.

During your consultation

Based on your goals, questions, and dietary assessment, we will develop an individualised plan with you. This will involve tailoring best practice nutrition guidelines to your personal circumstances and preferences to optimise your preconception, pregnancy or postnatal health through dietary and lifestyle change.

Following the consultation

You will gain access to the Lifestyle Maternity members-only area. This will provide you with information, resources and activities. These will guide you to set goals, track your progress, and brush up on the latest in nutrition for optimal fertility, a glowing pregnancy, and a happy and balanced first year after birth.

We offer review and long review appointments for ongoing accountability and support.

How does an individual session differ from

an online, self-paced program?

Lifestyle Maternity’s online, self-paced programs are designed and delivered to achieve similar outcomes to individual appointments.

Participants will be encouraged and guided to assess their own health habits against fertility or pregnancy recommendations, participate in activities around health goals for optimal nutrition and how to adapt their routines to achieve them. Resources are provided to supplement activities and information.

Our programs are designed by Lifestyle Maternity’s principal dietitian, Associate Professor Shelley Wilkinson. They are based on her PhD and subsequent research which investigated effective ways to support women to achieve healthier pregnancies through better nutrition and physical activity habits.

Attendees are welcome to enrol in an online program as a one-off or as an introduction to building a relationship with Lifestyle Maternity, packing this purchase with a PeNut + Lifestyle Maternity 50-recipe cookbook and/or extending this with an individual appointment for ongoing support and accountability.

Our first program, Nourish & Nurture and the digital downloads can be found here.

What a woman (and her partner) eats before conception plays a significant role in many parts of the pregnancy journey. This includes how quickly they may fall pregnant, woman’s health through pregnancy, as well as how their baby develops in the womb AND it’s long term health.

An egg and sperm can take around 3 months to develop and the quality of someone’s diet in this time influences the processes of producing healthy reproductive cells. The types of food in a woman’s diet can reduce ovulatory infertility (which can occur in PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome). Adequate and appropriate folic acid supplementation is essential to prevent neural tube defects.

Despite some very clever marketing trying to convince us of otherwise, there are no specific foods that will help you fall pregnant. However, we know from big population studies that there is a pattern of eating that may improve your fertility. (Check out the ‘Nurses’ Health Study, if you are interested). The recommended changes you can make relate to the types of carbs and protein you eat, how you exercise and your weight. Attend our ‘Nutrition Essentials for Fertility’ group to find out about how to apply these strategies to your lifestyle and preferences.

Folate is needed for healthy growth and development. Taking a folic acid supplement reduces the chance of neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida) in your baby. It is recommended that women consume an extra 400 micrograms (“μg”)/day of folic acid, in the month before conceiving and the first three months of pregnancy. (This requirement is higher if your BMI is above 30kg/m2).

Although you don’t need more iodine until you become pregnant, taking a folic acid-iodine supplement is often the best way to take these nutrients. Unless you have been diagnosed with a nutritional deficiency, you do not need to take vitamin D or iron. A single supplement is best for these if you do have a deficiency.

There’s a lot of interest in zinc and selenium supplementation to improve subfertility. Although there are many research studies in this area, they haven’t all been done well. This means it’s hard to make any firm statements about their benefits. Importantly however, none of the studies showed bad effects of taking them at levels below recommended daily intakes – so they are probably safe to take, if desired.

Head over to our blog to read more.

The Nurses’ Health Study mentioned above has helped us understand a lot about how what we eat and drink affects our fertility. The researchers who analysed the data said they were surprised to not see a definite ‘cut off’ level for caffeine intake and fertility. They suggest more of a ‘dose dependent’ relationship. It is recommended to limit caffeine to one serve a day.

Despite no definite cut off with alcohol intake and fertility, it is recommended that people do not drink when trying to conceive. This advice is supported by recent research from the US that showed the associations between drinking alcohol and decreased chances of successful conception as it is thought to disturb the delicate sequence of hormonal events around ovulation, fertilisation, and implantation.


Understand how to adopt nutritional habits proven to optimise your fertility.

Preconception nutritional advice Lifestyle Maternity


Simplify your pregnancy journey by tailoring nutrition advice to your preferences and lifestyle.

Nutrition priorities for a healthy pregnancy can  be a real balancing act. They include optimising nutritional intake and limiting at-risk foods, while considering pregnancy side-effects (morning sickness, heartburn, constipation). Added to the mix is managing weight gain within recommended ranges while balancing appetite and activity levels.

A specialist maternity dietitian is trained to consider all aspect of a woman’s lifestyle, social and cultural needs, as well as any pre-existing conditions (coeliac disease, diabetes). At Lifestyle Maternity we will collaborate with you to develop an individualised pregnancy nutrition plan. This will involve tailoring best practice nutrition guidelines to your personal circumstances and preferences. Following this, we will provide you with information, resources and activities to guide you to set goals, track your progress, and brush up on the latest in nutrition for pregnancy.
This is one of the biggest myths that you hear in pregnancy.  Your body becomes so efficient in pregnancy that you only need a small number of extra kilojoules in the second and third trimesters. We often say, “you don’t have to eat for two, but you have to eat twice as well!” due to the large increases in some of the nutrients you still need to make sure you’re getting. It is important to gain pregnancy weight in the range recommended to optimise the health of you and your baby. If you eat for two you will gain more than the recommended amount of weight.
We now know that the “eating for two” concept and putting on large amounts of weight is not good for you and your baby’s health.  Large amounts of weight in pregnancy can increase the risk of a caesarean section, gestational diabetes and other pregnancy difficulties.  A large amount of weight gained can also increase the likelihood of you and your baby being overweight in the future. It is difficult to drop the extra weight after the birth and with each pregnancy women often get heavier each time. 
When you see a Lifestyle Maternity dietitian you will be provided with a personalised pregnancy weight tracker that is tailored to your pre-pregnancy weight and national guidelines.

Sometimes it can feel like the list of foods to avoid in pregnancy is longer that what you are allowed to eat. Due to changes to the immune system during pregnancy, you are more susceptible to food poisoning. This is from the usual culprits, but also one you hear a lot about in pregnancy, Listeria. This means extra care is needed for food storage, preparation and, of course, selection. However, you don’t have to go without! For every item on the “no” list, there are a number of alternative choices. Instead of deli meats, try tinned fish, well cooked eggs, or BBQ chicken meat (if eaten very soon after purchase). Homemade salads and chopped fruit beat pre-prepared varieties. Hard cheeses and cheese spreads or even soft cheeses that are cooked (think pizza toppings or pasta bakes) are great alternatives to regular soft cheeses.

There are two essential nutrients you need to take during pregnancy from a supplement or tablet.

It is recommended that you take an extra 400 micrograms per day of folic acid from the month before pregnancy to three months after you become pregnant. The second one is iodine with the guidelines advising all pregnant women to take a supplement that contains 150 micrograms of iodine. 

The best way to get these is from a supplement or tablet. This can be taken as part of a multivitamin or in a tablet that only contains those nutrients such I-folic.  Check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist about the best supplements for you. 

Be careful not to overdose on vitamins. More is not always better.  Megadoses of vitamins and minerals can be harmful to your baby. For example vitamin A can be toxic to your baby in large quantities. Vitamins and minerals are important but it is important to think about food and meals to get all the nutrients you need. Dr Shelley Wilkinson and her colleagues have looked into this in detail in a study published here. She has also published this in a shorter editorial (4min read) and a podcast (16min).  

Make an appointment with a Lifestyle Maternity dietitian if you’d like to check how you can optimise your nutrition during pregnancy.

Dieting during pregnancy could cause harm to both you and your growing baby. Losing weight in pregnancy is not recommended. Your stomach is supposed to get bigger and is a great sign that you are growing a healthy baby.  Some diets and weight loss could leave you low in some of the important nutrients such as folate, iodine, iron and calcium and the energy you need to grow that healthy baby. The amount of weight recommended to gain in pregnancy will be discussed with you by your Lifestyle Maternity dietitian and is based on your weight before pregnancy in relation to your height. Lifestyle Maternity dietitians are specialists in respectfully supporting healthy pregnancy weight gain, optimising both nutrition and health.

Health professionals in Australia and the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that women AVOID alcohol during pregnancy. This is because there is no known safe level of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.  Alcohol crosses the placenta and can lead to physical, growth and intellectual problems in some babies and affect how children grow, develop, learn, and behave as they get older.

To keep you feeling well-nourished and with enough energy to get through the day (and night) aim to eat regular meals and snacks and drink plenty of water. Aim to choose food across the five food groups to nourish you and your baby. You will most likely feel VERY thirsty and need a drink at each feed (or express).

Breastfeeding women need 270 micrograms of iodine (also written as μg). It is recommended that all women should take a supplement with 150μg during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Iodine is a nutrient we need in very small amounts. It is part of thyroxine, a hormone of metabolism, growth and development. We need more iodine when pregnant and breastfeeding. This is for growth and development, especially of baby’s brain.

Good sources of iodine are some pregnancy and breastfeeding multivitamins (check the label!), breads and cereals (these are now made with iodised salt), and vegetables (variable levels), fish, and iodised salt.

As tempting as it sounds, there is currently no scientific evidence that specific foods improve breast milk supply (including fenugreek or lactation cookies). Lactation cookies are usually very high in kilojoules and can cause unwanted weight gain; when breastfeeding and expressing is meant to be helping you to lose weight.

A recent study from the United States looked into lactation cookie effectiveness. Their results showed:

  • no improvement in subjective milk production (women didn’t feel they produced more milk)
  • no increase in objective milk production (measurement showed no more milk was made)
  • no improvement in lactation self-efficacy scores (women didn’t feel more capable of producing more milk)
  • unnecessary $$ spent (ker-ching!).

If you drink when you are breastfeeding, alcohol crosses into your breastmilk and can:

  1. stay there for several hours,
  2. reduce the flow of your milk (this can unsettle your baby and cause them to eat and sleep less), and
  3. affect how your baby’s brain and spinal cord develops.

When you drink, the concentration of alcohol in your blood and breastmilk is the same. A baby’s brain keeps developing after it is born. This means an infant’s brain is more sensitive to damage from alcohol than an adult brain.

We recommend the Feed Safe app as Australia’s most trusted source of breastfeeding information. Feed Safe is a collaboration between the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Reach Health Promotion Innovations and Curtin University. It is based on the latest research, and the official guidelines of Australia’s peak health and medical research body, the National Health and Medical Research Council.


Nourish yourself while caring for your new baby with our practical lifestyle solutions and support.

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