Nutritional Advice for would be Mothers
There’s a very simple recipe for nutrition during pregnancy: it should be varied and sustaining. You don’t have to weigh everything to the milligramme, shop in health food stores or work out an entirely new diet. Just eat healthily. Your child will then get everything he or she needs.
Babies need lots of protein for the development of all kinds of body and organ tissue. It is the most important nutrient for our cells. A mix of animal and vegetable protein is ideal. Good animal sources are, for example, milk, yoghurt, curd, cheese, eggs, fish and lean meat. Vegetable protein can be obtained from potatoes, nuts, wholemeal or soya products among others. If you are concerned about eating meat, the DGE (the German society for nutrition) advises around 150g of meat two or three times a week. It should be thoroughly cooked.
Pregnancy hormones increase the mother’s blood fats. There’s a good reason for that. The baby needs fat to help him or her to grow. The daily portion of fat (up to 80g) supports your supply of nourishment to the baby and the use of certain vitamins that are only absorbed by the body in combination with fat. Ideal fats are high-quality vegetable fats (e.g., rapeseed, olive and sunflower oil) and milk fats. That means you are allowed to eat butter. However, you should be more cautious with super-fatty foods such as some kinds of sausage, chips, mayonnaise, sauces, cakes etc.
These control all the important bodily functions. With a balanced diet, you will not normally suffer from any deficiencies even during pregnancy. The most important sources of vitamins are fruit, vegetables and dairy products. To enjoy full natural power, buy fruit and vegetables fresh or frozen, eat a lot raw or steam them in a little water. Leafy green vegetables contain the vital folic acid.
Minerals and trace elements
You only need tiny amounts of these vital substances. With a few exceptions, a balanced diet will mean you get enough of them with your daily meals. The following ones are the most important:
- Calcium and phosphorus: Important for mother and child to build and maintain bones and teeth. The source: dairy products.
- Potassium: The substance that controls the body’s water balance, or rather the elimination of water from tissue. Ideal providers: bananas and apricots, fresh or dried. If you suffer from serious swelling of your arms and legs, it is essential to consult your doctor.
- Iron: Without this magnetic element, there would be a serious deficit in our blood: iron is responsible for the formation of hemoglobin (Hb), the red coloring in blood vessels. Its job is to carry oxygen from the lungs through the arteries to every cell in our bodies. However, we can only obtain iron from our food. The best sources are meat, nuts, whole meal bread, kale, oatmeal and millet. Vitamin C helps us to absorb iron, magnesium hampers the process. For this reason, magnesium tablets for cramps are best taken approx. two hours after a meal.
Thirst – how much water can I have?
Your kidneys are now working at full stretch and need more fluid for healthy operation. You really need at least two litres a day, including half a litre of milk. There’s a lot of debate at the moment about coffee. But that only applies to large quantities. Two to three cups are a reasonable guide. The same applies to black tea. Be wary of sugary drinks: lemonades, cola and a lot of fruit juice-based drinks pack a lot of calories.
Fish during pregnancy?
The DGE recommends fish 1–2 times a week for pregnant women to provide polyunsaturated fatty acids and as a rich source of iodine and selenium. Thoroughly-cooked oily sea fish – deep or shallow fried or boiled – of select quality, preserved fish or pasteurized fish products are suitable.
Oily sea fish include herrings, mackerel, salmon, sprats and sardines. However, less oily fish such as trout, cod and even prawns contain significant amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids. With regard to the possibility of pollution, large sea fish such as tuna, redfish, spined loach, bonito and shark should only be eaten in small quantities and not on a regular basis. Provided these preventive health recommendations are followed, fish is considered an important food for mothers-to-be.
If an expectant mother doesn’t eat any fish at all, she should talk to her doctor about how to supplement the essential fatty acids.
The scales tell all: how many extra pounds can I put on?
In the first three to four months, a lot of women put on weight mainly because their appetite increases. By the time of the birth, around 10 or 12 kilos will be added to your weight. That’s the average. It can be less in your case, for example, and be perfectly okay as long as you are eating enough. If it is very much more your doctor will monitor you for a healthy level.
Toxaemia of pregnancy
Toxaemia of pregnancy, or EPH gestosis or pre-eclampsia, is a disease that may be accompanied by oedemas, proteinuria (excess protein in urine) and high blood pressure. Around 8-10% of all expectant mothers are affected. This disease generally becomes acute in the second trimester of pregnancy. Frequent signs are swelling of the fingers and feet. The probable reason for the toxaemia is hormonal changes in a woman’s salt and water balance during pregnancy. Out-dated advice on nutrition is still given for toxaemia. “Rice days” and diuretic tablets are no help. Not using salt in cooking is also a frequent prescription: however, it triggers counter regulation which may tend to make the disease worse. Therefore, both healthy expectant mothers and those with toxaemia should take care to consume a normal amount of salt, vitamin-rich food and sufficient fluid.
Women who suffer from phenylketonuria or hyperphenylalaninaemia and are pregnant have maternal phenylketonuria. In this case, a strict low-phenylalanine diet is recommended during the entire pregnancy. The phenylalanine levels in the blood have to be checked regularly and at frequent intervals and a low-phenylalanine diet adjusted accordingly. The unborn child’s phenylalanine levels are around twice as high as the mother’s. High phenylalanine levels in the expectant mother’s blood can damage the fetus (the brain or heart) or lead to a miscarriage. A pregnancy should therefore be planned and the gynecologist consulted in good time to prevent damage to the fetus in the early stages. It is therefore recommended to start a strict low-phenylalanine diet under medical guidance even before conception.
Humana wishes you a healthy appetite during pregnancy.