Diet and Nutrition
Pregnancy places added requirements on your body and is a time when special care should be paid to your diet. You will need to consume a variety of foods, in order to obtain all the nutrients you need.
You should eat fruit, salad and vegetables, preferably raw, on a daily basis to ensure you have sufficient vitamins and minerals and include carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, bread or potatoes, with every meal.
It is better to have five small meals evenly spaced throughout the day as opposed to three larger ones.
Although energy intake does increase during pregnancy, the amount is often over estimated. During the first three months energy needs are only moderately higher and caloric requirements increase by 200-300 calories daily for the remainder of the pregnancy. The additional energy needs can be met by eating an extra serving, for example, a yogurt, a piece of fruit and two tablespoons of bran or oat flakes.
It is best to increase your calories by trimester. Based on the estimate of 285 calories per day overall - this would equate to:
- First Trimester - 85 extra calories
- Second Trimester - 285 extra calories
- Third Trimester - 475 extra calories
The mean weight gain during the 9 months of pregnancy is 12 kilograms. Moderate fat gain during pregnancy has an important role to play as it provides a buffer of energy stores that will be used during lactation after the birth.
It is important to get enough fluid. Try to drink one and a half to two litres a day.
Protein is an essential building block for cells, muscles and organs. During pregnancy the required protein intake increases by approximately 10 grams per day (for example, 30 grams of hard cheese). Meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs, legumes and tofu are all excellent sources of protein.
The recommended daily fat intake is between 60 and 80 grams, the majority of which should be made up of vegetable fats and oils. Grapeseed and olive oil are highly recommended. Be careful of hidden fats in sausages, sauces, pastries, fried foods, etc.
Although the requirement for carbohydrates increases only moderately during pregnancy, carbohydrates should account for some 50% to 55% of overall energy intake. Given the substantially higher vitamin and mineral requirements during pregnancy, whole-grain products are preferable. These are also an important source of indigestible fibre.
Vitamins and Minerals
During pregnancy the need for certain vitamins and minerals increases. To avoid vitamin deficiency, you should take care to include sufficient quantities of the following:
Very important for the development of the foetal central nervous system, folic acid is found in vegetables, fruit, grain germs, whole meat products, pulses, meat and egg yolk.
Important for the formation of bones and teeth in the growing foetus, calcium can be found in dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and quark and in calcium enriched mineral water.
Helps reduce cramps in the calf muscles and premature labour pains and is contained in whole meal products, pulses, nuts, dark chocolate, vegetables and fruit, such as bananas, dates, figs and berries.
Important for the formation of red blood cells, iron is found in meat, fish, egg yolk, whole meal products and vegetables.
Taking specific multivitamin preparations, particularly those containing folic acid, during pregnancy can reduce approximately 50% of congenital malformations, e.g. neural tube defect, heart or palatal defect (clef palate). Additionally, the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and nutritional deficiency can be lowered.