During pregnancy, nutritional needs are increased in order to provide all the essential nutrients for the proper development of the fetus and the maintenance of optimal nutritional status in the future mother. Nutritional deficiencies in the mother can seriously affect the fetus. This is why the special pregnancy diet aims, above all, to meet the nutrient needs of the mother and the fetus throughout pregnancy.
The main points of the diet during pregnancy:
- Avoid nausea and constipation
- Eliminate the risk of food poisoning
- Have a good intake of vitamins and minerals
- Maintain a good protein intake
- Eat enough foods that are sources of fiber
Benefits of diet during pregnancy
The special pregnancy diet has many benefits, it allows you to:
- Reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women in the 1st trimester
- Reduce constipation
- Avoid food poisoning
- Maintain optimal nutritional status for fetal growth
- Promote good weight gain in the future mother
- Avoid complications and gestational diabetes
- Avoid foods that can harm the fetus
- Make the right food choices when it comes to protein, fats, and carbohydrates
- Have enough vitamins and minerals to cover increased needs
- The development of the fetus, the increase in blood volume, the growth of maternal tissues, and the formation of maternal reserves increase the requirements for certain nutrients in pregnant women. Nutrient deficiencies in the mother can greatly affect the growth of the fetus. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that the nutritional status of the mother is as optimal as possible.
Diet and desirable weight gain during pregnancy
Desirable weight gain during pregnancy takes into account the body mass index (BMI) of the mother before pregnancy.
What diet for pregnant women in the 1st trimester in case of nausea and vomiting?
Hormonal changes would be responsible for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Nausea affects 70 to 85% of pregnant women and usually begins between the 4th and 8th week. Nausea and vomiting are very rare after the 20th week. In this sheet, you will find some advice to help manage nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.
Diet to avoid constipation during pregnancy
Constipation can affect up to 38% of pregnant women. It is caused by physiological changes such as relaxation of the gastrointestinal tract, increased fluid absorption from the colon, and expansion of the uterus. It is therefore recommended to have an adequate consumption of fiber and liquids and to continue to practice physical activity.
Meals for pregnant women in the 1st trimester: dietary recommendations
Pregnancy is a very special period of life during which it is necessary, more than ever, to pay attention to the quality of food. It is the future mother who allows, through a balanced diet, the good growth of the fetus. In this sheet, we present the main recommendations to be applied as part of the special pregnancy diet to ensure the smooth running of pregnancy for the mother, as well as for the baby.
Food recommended as part of the special pregnancy diet
Vitamin and mineral requirements are increased during pregnancy. In particular, special attention should be paid to calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, iron, and essential fatty acids. In addition, we recommend a fractional diet, rich in fiber and Omega-3 to meet all the nutritional needs of the mother and the fetus without inconvenience (nausea, constipation, etc.)
During the first trimester, the calorie requirement remains the same as that of a non-pregnant woman. In the second trimester, requirements are increased by 340 kcal, and in the third trimester by 450 kcal. Adding one or two snacks can easily meet this additional need. The ideal is to eat regularly by following the rule of 3 meals a day and to have snacks between meals as needed.
What is a 100-calorie snack?
1/2 cup dried fruit
30g of cheese
1 medium banana
2 to 3 dry biscuits
200ml soy milk
1/2 cup of vegetables
1 apple compote
200ml skimmed milk
3 fresh figs
125ml orange juice
2 rice cakes
1 pear or apple
Vegetables and fruits should be present with every meal and snack if possible. They contain many nutrients including folic acid, vitamin C, and fiber. Choose them as colorful as possible. Contrary to what we often hear, cereal products do not make you fat. It is the quantity and frequency of consumption and their accompaniments that are often the culprit of weight gain. It is recommended to include cereal products every day and to choose them complete. Brown or wild rice, whole pasta, and cereals rich in fiber are examples of cereal products that will provide a good dose of energy and will help meet the needs of group B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. These nutrients contribute to the development and functioning of the nervous, cardiovascular and digestive systems. Quinoa, barley, millet are less popular but equally tasty cereals to include in the daily menu.
Dietary fiber intake helps control weight gain and fight constipation throughout pregnancy. They also prevent gestational diabetes and associated complications. The fiber-rich diet must be combined with good daily hydration, i.e. at least 2 liters of water per day.
Here are some tips for increasing fiber intake as part of the pregnancy diet:
Choose starchy foods and wholemeal bread instead of common white flour products
Consume fruits rich in fiber: apples, pears with the skin, red fruits, and dried fruits
Eat fiber-rich vegetables: artichokes, beets, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, potatoes with the skin
Include more legumes in the diet in soups, salads, dips, etc.
As a snack, choose wholemeal products, dried fruits, or oilseeds
Cooking to the max and incorporating oat bran into baking recipes
Add oat or wheat bran to yogurts, compotes, soups, and dishes
Read labels carefully and choose products with more than 4g of fiber per serving
Folic acid (vitamin B9)
This nutrient is important, especially in early pregnancy. A B9 deficiency during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight babies, premature babies, maternal anemia, and neural tube defects. Folic acid requirements are doubled during pregnancy, from 400 mcg to 800 mcg per day. It is for this reason that folic acid supplementation is necessary to meet these needs because diet cannot do it alone. Folic acid supplements usually contain 0.4 to 1 mg of folic acid. It is recommended to start taking the folic acid supplement three months before conception and to continue taking it throughout pregnancy. Despite vitamin B9 supplementation, it is still recommended to increase your dietary intake of folic acid.