Time of changes
You must change your current lifestyle and adapt yourself to a new situation. You should remember that you are planning a diet for two organisms; their demand for energy and building materials will increase.
As a result of hormonal changes, you may feel nauseous and constantly sleepy. In your body, specific instincts will rouse, which will have a great influence on your mental and emotional balance. Too much stress and improper reaction to stress is dangerous for you and your baby.
Proper diet will help you maintain optimum health and will ensure that you baby develops well.
The most important dietary principles
Principle 1: Eat regular and diverse meals
- You should eat 4-5 meals a day.
- Each meal must contain cereal products, i.e. wholemeal bread, groats, pasta, rice, muesli, or cereals (the source of fiber, vitamins B, iron, manganese, and selenium).
- Dairy products are also recommended, fresh and sour: fresh milk (avoid UHT milk), cream, natural yoghurts, sour milk (contains amino acids, acidophilic bacteria, and lactose, which is essential for the development of proper bacterial flora in the intestines).
- You should eat diverse meals consisting of meat, fish, or eggs with fruit and vegetables.
- Eat vegetable fats, at least one tablespoon of various oils daily, e.g. linseed oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, evening primrose oil, sunflower oil etc.
- It is recommended to avoid strong addicting substances, i.e. cigarettes, alcohol (completely), strong black natural coffee, and strong tea.
- It is worth resigning from fizzy drinks and sweets (they contain artificial preservatives, colourants, and aromas). If you are thirsty, drink still mineral water, fresh natural fruit and vegetable juice, herbal teas, fruit teas, green tea, and chicory coffee.
- Avoid spices and very aromatic and spicy foods.
Principle 2: Always start your day with breakfast
When you forget about breakfast, the blood glucose levels are low, what may lead to dizziness and faints. Therefore, eating breakfast will give you and your baby strength for the whole day.
For breakfast, you may eat milk with muesli, oatmeal, and dried fruit. We also recommend eggs in any form and dairy products. For breakfast, you should also eat fish combined with dairy products frequently.
Meat is recommended only when it is processed by you (roast pork loin, tenderloin, neck etc.). Morning coffee should be replaced with chicory coffee, green tea, or black tea with milk.
For second breakfast, you may eat baked fruit (apple, pear, plums) with a few nuts (you should scald them first in order to kill fungi on nut surface).
Principle 3. Remember about supplements
Deficiency is bad, but excess even worse.
The most important supplements:
It is very important from the very conception. The shortage of follic acid causes defects of the embryo's neural tube (including anencephaly, rachischisis, and myelomeningocele). These defects are developed during the first 3-4 weeks of the embryo's life, when the women is not even aware that the conception has taken place.
If there is no follic acid in the mother's body, this can be a cause of miscarriage or other dangerous complications.
The most follic acid can be found in liver, eggs, wholemeal bread, fruit (e.g. bananas), green vegetables (e.g. Brussels sprouts, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and, in smaller quantities, lettuce, cucumbers, and pepper).
The demand for follic acid in the first trimester of pregnancy is so high that it is necessary to take supplements containing from 400 to 1000 mcg of follic acid.
The deficiency of iron is the most frequent dietary deficiency in children and the most frequent cause of anaemia.
The recommended prevention in babies is the supplementation of iron in foodstuffs or dietary supplements.
Anaemia in pregnant women more than doubles the risk of anaemia in their babies as compared to babies of women with no anaemia.
Iron can be found in two forms:
- The better assimilable one, in animal products, e.g. red meat, or liver.
- The more poorly assimilable one, in vegetable products, e.g. nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and wholemeal bread.
Unfortunately, iron is poorly absorbed from food. Taking vitamin C before meals has a positive influence on the assimilation of iron. You should then also strong tea, coffee, sorrel, rhubarb, and beverages similar to coke in large quantities. They contain certain compounds, i.e. tannic acid, oxalates, or phosphates, which virtually make it impossible to absorb iron.
Iron deficiency leads to anaemia which many pregnant women suffer from, in particular in the third trimester. Therefore, it is worth taking care of taking supplements with iron and vitamin C even before pregnancy. You should select supplements containing 6-8 mg of iron.
However, you should be careful because too large quantities of iron can have an adverse effect on your intestines, in particular on the bacterial flora (you may observe black or even bloody stool).
Magnesium deficiencies during pregnancy lead to pathologies.
Processes of development of placenta and foetus in pregnant women are correct only when the mother's body has an appropriate amount of magnesium. A 4-month-old foetus increases its weight 20 times until the birth; in the same time, the magnesium and calcium levels in its body increase 40 times.
Magnesium deficiencies lead to preterm birth and to births of babies with too little body mass, i.e. hypotrophic infants. They are also the cause of blood circulation system pathologies, neurological diseases, metabolic disorders, and complications during pregnancy.
Mothers-to-be should take up to 300 mg of magnesium a day during their pregnancies.
Daily demand for magnesium should be satisfied with everyday food, what is virtually impossible. Even a balanced diet based on foodstuffs from supermarkets leads to magnesium deficiencies (glutaminian and aspartam contained in such products accelerate the loss of magnesium from the mother's body).
Magnesium deficiencies can also be caused by long-term stress reactions, excessive amounts of natural coffee, alcohol, or eating too much sweets. Even people convinced that they are living a healthy lifestyle are at risk of an overt or latent magnesium deficiency.
Calcium is one of the most important “building materials” of your body. It can be found mainly in bones but app. 5% of calcium has a great influence on maintaining many metabolic balances.
Babies needs calcium for bone building and the correct development of muscles, heart, and the nervous system.
If you are pregnant, remember that calcium deficiency has an adverse effect on the development of foetus. Babies will have low birth weight, tendencies for rickets, and may also have developmental defects.
In case of the chronic calcium deficiency, the risk of gestosis and hypertension increases and the blood coagulability is reduced.
During pregnancy, you should eat 1000-1200 mg of calcium daily.
To improve calcium absorption, you should take vitamin D. During sunny days a half-hour walk is enough for your body to produce an essential dose of this vitamin. In autumn and winter, you should eat fat sea fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Preparations with the proportion of 2/1 or 3/2 of calcium to magnesium are perfect for supplementing magnesium and calcium levels in the body of a mother-to-be. Alfalfa (extract from lucerne) is also a good preparation. You should remember that the supplementation of omega-3 acids has a synergistic effect.
Eating omega-3 acids is essential for a baby to be healthy after birth and clever in future life. The presence of these acids influences the correct development of the baby's body, in particular the nervous system. Only in such a case can the intellectual development of your baby progress as expected and the baby's senses can be efficient.
DHA acid has a particular importance for the correct development of brain and sight.. Since the fourth month of pregnancy, DHA incorporates itself into the baby's retina and takes part in the transformation of light signals into nervous impulses which are transferred to the brain.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids can be divided into two groups, i.e. omega 3 and omega 6. People need both of these groups; however, it is omega-3 acids that play a particular role in the development of your baby. They include ALA, DHA, and EPA acids.
The recommended daily dose is 2 g of ALA, and 0,25 of long-chain DHA and EPA.
The only source of DHA for a baby is its own mother. However, the body of a pregnant woman is not able to produce sufficient amounts of DHA on its own. Daily demand for DHA during pregnancy increases four times. First, the mother passes DHA to her baby through the placenta and then with milk during breastfeeding.
Supplementation started in the third month of pregnancy helps to accumulate sufficient DHA reserves, which will be used by the baby in the second half of the pregnancy and during the breastfeeding period.
A mother-to-be can choose the following options: vegetable DHA or fish DHA. Fish do not produce omega-3 acids but absorb it from algae they eat. Therefore, you have to eat sea fish, such as mackerel, salmon, codfish, tuna, or herring.
Scientific literature indicates that fish products can contain toxic compounds, e.g. heavy metals. Therefore, pregnant women and children below 4 should be careful with eating fish.
You should choose only these which do not come from fish farms and do not contain metals. If you do not know where the selected fish come from, you had better choose omega-3 supplements.
Lecithin is a mixture of phospholipides, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylinositol derived from vegetable oils or egg yolks.
Phospholipides are present in all cells and are parts of cellular membranes. They take part in lipoprotein metabolism.
The supplementation of lecithin is recommended:
- In degenerative processes of the nervous system (the greatest amounts of lecithin are present in membranes and intracellular structures of neurons).
- During increased mental and physical effort, reduced concentration, and memory disorders.
Lecithin is acetylocholine precursor; acetylocholine is a neurotransmitter which has an influence on the dilatation of blood vessels, reduction of blood pressure, reduction of heart rate, strengthening smooth muscles of bronchial tubes, intestines, and bladder, and increasing the glandular secretion.
Lecithin protects people from adiposis of liver, kidneys, and cardiac muscle. Regular supplementation of lecithin improves the lipid profile, what reduces the risk of myocardial infarction.
How to survive the revolution in your digestive system?
During the first trimester of pregnancy, most mothers-to-be suffer from morning nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually subside in the fourth month of pregnancy.
You will survive this period easily by following several basic principles:
- Before getting up, eat one acerola (30 mg of vitamin C). In the evening, eat a little snack: a tablespoon of muesli with yoghurt or a piece of fruit (it doesn't have to be citrus).
- During daytime, eat small amounts of food frequently.
- Drink at least 2 litres of liquids daily.
When you feel nauseous:
- slowly take small sips of still water
- you may eat a few almonds (scalded with hot water, best without skin) – they bring relief to some women
Remember that your fridge should be full of small portions of varied food. The more diversified your diet is, the less the risk of dietary mistakes will be.