Pregnancy and Nutrition
Pregnancy, a very special time in the life of every women
Pregnancy is a very special time for every women. It is a time of looking forward – a new human will be born – it is a time many waited for a long time.
But the time of pregnancy is also often a time of uncertainty, of change.
It is a time where your body constantly changes. A time with new nutrition needs by your unborn baby. Where you always wonder what is best for your future baby.
And it is a time in which you understand your life will change after birth, be it your first baby or not.
And during this special time you want to do everything right. Everything right for your unborn baby and for you. Health and nutrition become key to you as it is one key elements for a healthy pregnancy.
Over- and underweight and Infertility
Many women do not know that infertility and the likelihood to conceive depend on amongst many other factors also on weight. Too little weight or to much reduce the likelihood to become pregnant.
The optimal Body Mass Index as always is 20 to about 25.
Researchers found out that with every one point increase of the body mass index above 29 the chance to conceive drops by 4%.
But it also depends a little bit where the fat is allocated.
There was a study published in the British Medical Journal that found that very lean women and very obese women (BMI >38) had lower conception rates. However, body fat distribution was found to have a greater impact. Women with a high waist-hip ratio had greater trouble conceiving — so being shaped like an apple is not as good for conception as being shaped like a pear..
Obesity and Pregnancy
Being overweight can have a negative impact on the unborn baby and the process of pregnancy.
Obesity increases your risk of having a number of pregnancy complications. The more obese you are, the more your level of risk will increase.
You are at increased risk of the following pregnancy complications if you are obese.
When you are pregnant
• gestational diabetes — a form of diabetes that developes during pregnancy
• pre-eclampsia — a condition that only occurs in pregnancy, characterised by hypertension (high blood pressure) and the presence of protein in the urine
• abnormalities of the baby’s growth, development and general health
• sleep apnoea — a condition that causes you to temporarily stop breathing while you are sleeping.
• failure to progress in labour
• shoulder dystocia (the shoulders get stuck during birth)
• difficulties monitoring the baby’s heart
• difficulties with providing satisfactory pain relief in labour
• increased risks with attempted vaginal birth after caesarean section
• need for an emergency caesarean section
• increased risk of complications related to caesarean section.
• increased risk of wound infection
• increased risk of blood clots (particularly following a caesarean section)
• postnatal depression.
For all above items, it is just and increase of the risks and you might have a pregnancy not facing any of these issues.
You should though just consider if you plan to be pregnant in the future if changing to a healthier lifestyle is not worth it. Or for some few actually to increase their weight if the BMI is less than 20.
Weight gain during pregnancy
During the pregnancy you should gain weight gradually. Most of the weight will be gained in the last three month.
Many doctors advise:
- 500 gram to 2 kg per month in the first three month (first trimester)
- 1 kg to 2 kg per month from the 4th to 9th month (second and third trimester)
The total weight gain is for average weight women about 12 kg to 18 kg during pregnancy. More details can be discussed with the dietitians at the Personal Dietology Center Palitra Pitania.
Pregnancy and nutrition needs
First of all your nutrition needs to be balanced during pregnancy as it should always be.
Only a balanced nutrition allows you and your unborn baby to be healthy.
At the Personal Dietology Center Palitra Pitania we advise our clients on our unique Easy Step Pregnancy method. The method allows to eat a balanced nutrition consisting of all six food groups and water. Following this method you have all building blocks for your and your unborn baby to be healthy.
The Easy Step method is based on portions. You do not need to count calories etc but your personal dietitian will design for you the right diet for you. Following this system it will be very easy for you to adjust during your pregnancy the portions you consume in order to provide you and your growing baby all the food you need.
The precise amount of portions depend on many factors. Key here is your starting weight and your overall constitution and BMI when you conceive.
As a general advice the amount of grains you eat should increase proportionally more than other food groups and you should make sure that at least half the grains you eat should be whole grains. If you are not sure on whole grains read below.
Whole grains are key
Whole grains are unprocessed grains. In general you can plant whole grains and they will grow (if they are not processed whole grains). Whole grains should contain the entire grain and not just the core – as do refined grains.
The reason why whole grains are better than refined grains is due to the nutrients contained in the shell.
Key to understand though is that even whole grains can be “processed” e.g. ground to produce whole grain flour. And actually unprocessed whole grains are healthier than ground whole grain flour. The reason being that when ground the surface area is increased very much and the digestion process will be substantially faster which is bad for the body. Nevertheless, also we understand that you might enjoy a good bread out of whole grain and for this whole grain flour is needed.
Pregnancy and Nutrients
A balanced diet is the best way to receive nutrients, but vitamin supplements can also be beneficial. Pregnant women should only take vitamin supplements based on a qualified doctors advice. Supplements never replace a healthy diet but rather ensure that a woman is receiving enough daily nutrients. Vitamin supplements work best when taken as part of a healthy diet and not as a substitute for a healthy diet.
During pregnancy the intake of protein, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, vitamin C and D, Iron and Iodine should be increased. The precise amount depend on multiple factors and it can not be generalized.
Best to consume these additional nutrients by selecting the right foods and not by eating additional pills. An issue with pills can be that the doses of additional nutrients is too high which can also result in adverse effects.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
Raw Meat and raw Seafood: Uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked beef or poultry should be avoided because of the risk of contamination with different bacteria and also to the effect raw foods has on your body.
Fish with Mercury: Fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided. Mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. A sample of these types of fish include: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Canned, chunk light tuna generally has a lower amount of mercury than other tuna, but still should only be eaten in moderation. Certain types of fish used in sushi should also be avoided due to high levels of mercury.
Liver: Do not eat liver during pregnancy, the level of pollution can be very high.
Smoked Seafood: Refrigerated, smoked seafood should be avoided because it could be contaminated with Listeria. (These are safe to eat when they are in an ingredient in a meal that has been cooked, like a casserole.)
Fish Exposed to Industrial Pollutants: Avoid fish from contaminated lakes and rivers that may be exposed to high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls. This is primarily for those who fish in local lakes and streams.
Raw Shellfish: The majority of seafood-borne illness is caused by undercooked shellfish, which include oysters, clams, and mussels. Cooking helps prevent some types of infection, but it does not prevent the algae-related infections that are associated with red tides. Raw shellfish pose a concern for everybody, and they should be avoided altogether during pregnancy.
Raw Eggs: Raw eggs or any foods that contain raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Some homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custards, and Hollandaise sauces may be made with raw eggs.
Soft Cheeses: Soft cheeses may contain bacteria called Listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening. You would need to avoid soft cheeses such as: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Feta and Gorgonzola unless they clearly state that they are made from pasteurized milk.
Unpasteurized Milk: Unpasteurized milk may contain bacteria called listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening. Make sure that any milk you drink is pasteurized.
Caffeine: Although most studies show that caffeine intake in moderation is OK, there are others that show that caffeine intake may be related to miscarriages. Avoid caffeine during the first trimester to reduce the likelihood of a miscarriage. As a general rule, caffeine should be limited to fewer than 300 mg per day during pregnancy.
Alcohol: There is NO amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy, and therefore alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of the baby.
Unwashed Vegetables: Yes, vegetables are safe to eat, so you still need to eat them. However, it is essential to make sure they are washed to avoid potential exposure to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis may contaminate the soil where the vegetables were grown.
And when your baby is born your nutrition should change again ……
And to read more about our special Easy Step Pregnancy program click on the below logo.