As your body nourishes the fetus during pregnancy, it is very important for a mother-to-be to adhere to a healthy diet for pregnant women. It doesn’t mean that you have to try not to gain weight, but rather eating various foods full of vitamins and vital nutrients. At the same time you should avoid or minimize the consumption of foods high in sugars and trans fats as you may develop gestational diabetes.
It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water (about 2 litrers) per day.
It was estimated that a pregnant woman doesn’t need the extra calories in the first trimester, in the second trimester she should consume additionally about 300-350 calories per day – about 500 calories. When a woman is expecting several children, she should consume extra 300 calories per day for every fetus. Usually a woman gains approximately 10 – 16 kilograms during pregnancy.
What should you eat?
- Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of nutrients and vitamins. You are recommended to eat about five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Dark green vegetables (kale, spinach), broccoli contain fiber, various vitamins, iron and potassium.
- Berries supply the body with water, vitamin C and fibers.
- Lean meat (beef, pork, chicken) is the source of iron and vitamins B. Iron is vital for the mother and the child as iron deficiency anemia is a common complication of pregnancy.
- Salmon and fish liver oil are the main sources of omega-3 fatty acids – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), necessary for the brain development. Fish liver oil supplies a body with vitamin D, which is required for the development of the fetus’ skeleton. You should not consume more than 1 tablespoon of liver oil as excessive intake of vitamin A may be harmful for the baby.
- Dairy products and especially Greek yogurt provide the fetus with protein and calcium. Dairy products provide your body with protein (casein and whey), calcium, phosphorus, vitamins of a group B, zinc and magnesium. Some dairy products contain probiotics necessary for the functioning of the digestive system.It is recommended to eat 3-4 portions of dairy food per day.
- Legumes such as lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas etc. contain a lot of fiber, proteins, folic acid, iron and calcium necessary both for the mother and a baby. Folate is essential during the first trimester for the organogenesis and the development of the neural tube.
- Whole grains contain fibers, vitamins B and magnesium.
- Eggs are the essential source of calcium – a mineral necessary for the formation of the skeleton.
- Rice, potatoes, pasta and bread provide the body with carbohydrates and, therefore, produce a lot of energy.
What should you avoid?
- Alcohol may harm the baby and cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), especially when consumed during the first trimester of pregnancy. Respectively, pregnant women are recommended to avoid alcoholic beverages during the whole pregnancy.
- Caffeine was linked to miscarriages, so in general, pregnant women are advised to stop drinking coffee. However, 200 mg of caffeine per day is believed to be safe. It is important to remember that not only coffee contain caffeine, but chocolate and tea as well.
- Raw or undercooked meat may contain various bacteria or parasites. Deli meats (salami, bologna, ham etc.) were reported to be the sources of Listeria – a bacterium that may cause miscarriage.
- The liver shouldn’t be consumed as it contains vitamin A in large amounts, which has been linked to birth defects.
Raw fish and fish high in mercury
Swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish contain mercury in high amounts. These products can be harmful to the child’s nervous system. However, some fish contain less mercury and may be consumed up to three times per week (up to 12 ounces a week). These include shrimp, pollock, catfish, anchovies, trout and light canned tuna.
Raw fish and shellfish (sushi, sashimi, and raw oysters, scallops or clams) should be avoided.
- Unpasteurized and raw dairy
Soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, feta, blue cheese) contain unpasteurized milk and should be avoided.
- Raw eggs may contain Salmonella and, therefore, are inadvisable.
- Trans fats, which may be found in cookies, margarine, crackers, fried and frozen foods have little nutrients and are considered unhealthy.