guidance through your pregnancy

Health & Food

Diet Regimen during Pregnancy

April 27, 2020

A desired pregnancy is almost always an occasion for the expectant mother to think about lifestyle habits – and not least about her diet. In doing so, she will be particularly concerned about three points of view:

  • How much should I eat?
  • What should I eat to meet my increased needs for vitamins and minerals?
  • What should I avoid in order to minimize exposure to undesirable food components?

The statements presented in the following “ultimate Diet Regiment guide 2021” are based predominantly on the publications of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) and other internationally recognized scientific societies, which are united in the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS).

Additional food intake

The energy requirement during pregnancy is an individual quantity that shows a wide range of variation. It is therefore not possible to give generally valid recommendations for energy intake; a schematic application would burden a part of the women by too much weight gain, another part by insufficient food intake.

Recommended additional energy supply per day: 300 kcal

If the physical activity of the expectant mother does not change significantly during pregnancy, a mean value of additional energy intake is around 300 kilocalories. But as stated before, this only represents a mean value and depends on your current weight.

Definition of normal weight by Broca

A definition of normal weight, in which both risk ranges are as small as possible, is therefore already of great importance in early pregnancy stages – even better during pregnancy planning. The following formula is been established:
reference weight [kg] = height [cm] -100.
Exceeding 10% or more is usually considered clinically relevant overweight; women who reach only 85% of the reference weight are likely to be underweight.

Underweight women are more likely to deliver underweight newborns [10, 15, 16]. This is exacerbated if weight gain during pregnancy was low. An above-average weight gain (up to 16 kg) almost completely compensates for the unfavorable effect of the mother’s underweight.

Obesity in pregnancy amplifies several risks – for the mother: Venous disease, birth complications, and for the child: Brain bleedings and birth-related fractures [10]. To some extent, these risks are even more amplified by above-average weight gain [15].

Additional nutrition intake during pregnancy

No less important than a balanced energy intake is an adequate supply of essential nutrients for pregnant women: Protein, essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. Table 1, shows a recommended amount of additional nutrients (German Society for Nutrition):

Nutrition Daily additional intake
Protein30 grams
Essential fats1 gram
Calcium400 milligrams
Phosphorus200 milligrams
Magnesium100 milligrams
Iron7 milligrams
Iodine30 micrograms
Zinc10 milligrams
Vitamin A0.3 milligrams
Vitamin D5 micrograms
Vitamin E2 milligrams
Thiamine (Vit. B1)0.3 milligrams
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)0.3 milligrams
Niacin2 milligrams
Vitamin B61 milligram
Folic acid160 micrograms
Pantothenic acid2 milligrams
Vitamin B121 microgram
Vitamin C25 milligrams
Table 1: Additional nutrition intake during pregnancy

From what has been presented so far, a varied mixed diet provides the safest basis for a diet that meets requirements, even during pregnancy. Table 1 shows, however, that during pregnancy an increased intake of calcium, iron, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folic acid should be aimed for.

Therefore, special emphasis should be placed on a higher consumption of

  • Milk, as the main source of calcium and riboflavin (on average 1/2 L per day)
  • Green vegetables – also canned – as high-yielding sources of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin C
  • Lean meat to cover iron and vitamin B6 requirements (and thiamine requirements in the case of pork)
  • Whole-grain products (e.g. oatmeal) to supply thiamine and dietary fiber

Calf and pork liver are particularly rich sources of iron and numerous vitamins, especially vitamin A, vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin B6. Sea fish are particularly rich in iodine and vitamin D. So one liver and fish meal a week add variety and replenish nutrient storage.

Pregnant women with weight problems should especially limit their consumption of sweets (including sweet drinks) and fat (hidden fat in sausages and eggs).

Even though, a healthy vegetarian/vegan diet during pregnancy is the same as a healthy diet for anyone, the next chapter will give more insight into a vegatarian/vegan pregnancy.

How does our food intake affect our health?

To keep our body in good shape, it is necessary that it receives enough vitamins and minerals from our food intake. Take for example Vitamin A. This micro-nutrient is needed to keep physiological functions running, especially the functions of all surface tissues of the skin, the bladder, the lining of the respiratory tract, the inner ear, the eye, and the gut.

It is also responsible for maintaining good vision despite conditions of poor lighting, and for maintaining a healthy immune system. Deprivation of Vitamin A will make all the functions mentioned above fail. Deficiency of the said vitamin can also lead to throat and chest infections, acne, dry skin and dry eyes, and night blindness. So what diet regimen during our pregnancy can counter this? We need to eat food that is rich in Vitamin A. These foods range from carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, mangoes to animal sources like liver, eggs, milk (and breast milk). 

We got a long list of examples proving how our eating habits dictate the kind of person we are. The disposition (physical, mental and emotional) of sickly people differs greatly from that of a healthy and well-nourished individual. All the more, this proverb is true even more when we are pregnant, as we are responsible for the development and the becoming of the little angel developing inside us. That being said, we need to be mindful of the things that we put inside our body.

How can we make sure that we will be delivering a healthy baby just by the food we consume?

It has been discovered that those who had poor diet regimen during pregnancy were women who had lower household incomes. This is according to a study done in Singapore. Other demographics includes those women who are illiterate and those who are younger and had experienced pregnancies previously (Han et al.). The study stressed the importance of the quality of food pregnant women. They also take into consideration how social demographics affect these women’s food choices. Food choices and food intake, needless to say, have strong and lasting effects on how women experience pregnancy.

It is important that we provide enough nourishment to our baby through the food and vitamins we take. We need our body to be in a good shape during this time of our pregnancy. Sometimes we are tempted to taste some food that isn’t necessary for the fetal development. As much as possible, we should be able to create discipline in ourselves and resist these unwanted foods. Bear in mind that you are not alone in this endeavor. Someone precious is dependent on you. The rest of his or her human life is dependent on the food that you take while he or she is under your care. 

Eat responsibly. Eat healthy so that your is body in good shape during and after pregnancy. A great part of what your child becomes depends on the food you take.

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