The Most Comprehensive Guide to Nutrition for Pregnancy

Written by TsangShireen

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Posted on July 26 2022

The excitement and joy of welcoming a new baby is often accompanied by great anxiety and confusion: what can I eat? What can't I eat? How to eat healthy and nutritious? What extra nutrients do I need to supplement?

During pregnancy, if you don't supplement the nutrients in time, you are afraid of causing nutritional deficiencies to the pregnant woman and her baby; if you supplement more, you are afraid of overdoing it. These two mindsets will continue throughout the pregnancy along with the physical changes.

In this article, we will talk to you about "nutrition during pregnancy" from the three stages of preparation, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Table of Content:

  • Preparation
  • Pregnancy 
  • Breastfeeding

Preparation

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and have preconception checkups

1. 6 months before the planned pregnancy, both spouses should abstain from alcohol and smoking, and take the initiative to stay away from smoking environment.
2. Both spouses should follow the principle of balanced diet, correct bad eating habits and actively supplement nutrition
3. Maintaining good personal hygiene habits to avoid inflammation and infection
4. A full body health check-up is required before pregnancy preparation and active treatment of relevant diseases to avoid pregnancy with diseases
5. Ensure at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day, such as jogging, stair climbing, cycling, etc.
6. Regular life, avoid staying up late, ensure sufficient sleep and happy mood

Adjust pre-pregnancy weight to an appropriate level

1. Obese and low weight women of pregnancy age are at high risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and should have a body mass index (BMI) in the range of 18.5-23.9 kg/㎡ to conceive new life in the best physiological condition.
2. Low weight (BMI<18.5kg/㎡) people can increase their body mass by increasing the amount of food and regular exercise appropriately, with 1-2 additional meals per day, such as 200ml of milk, or 50g of cereals/animal meat, or 75g of eggs/fish per day.
3. Those who are obese (BMI<28.0kg/㎡) should change their bad eating habits, slow down their eating speed and avoid over-eating; reduce the intake of high-energy, high-fat and high-sugar foods, and choose more foods with low glycemic index (GI) and rich in dietary fiber; at the same time, they should increase their exercise, and 30-90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day is recommended.

Dietary advice

1. Eat more iron-rich foods to increase the body's iron stores.

Normal adult women store about 0.3-1.0 g of iron in their bodies, but women of childbearing age often have insufficient iron stores due to childbirth and menstrual blood loss. Iron deficiency or anemia before and during early pregnancy can affect pregnancy outcomes and the health of both mother and child.
Animal blood, liver and red meat have high iron content and iron absorption rate. 50-100 g of lean meat should be included in three meals a day, and 25-50 g of animal blood or animal liver and kidney once a week.
In the intake of iron-rich animal meat or animal blood and liver, at the same time intake of vegetables and fruits containing more vitamin C, can improve the absorption and utilization of dietary iron.

2. Use iodized salt and eat more iodine-rich foods.

The iodine nutritional status of the mother is related to the intellectual and physical development of the baby. Good iodine nutritional status before and during pregnancy can prevent the adverse effects of iodine deficiency on the neurological and physical development of the fetus.
Based on a daily test intake of 6 g, it is possible to consume about 120μg/d of iodine, which is the recommended amount for adults.
Considering the increased demand for iodine during pregnancy, the serious danger of iodine deficiency to the fetus and the impact of pregnancy reactions on iodine intake in early pregnancy, it is recommended that pregnant women preparing for pregnancy consume iodized salt regularly and then consume iodine-rich foods such as kelp and laver once a week to increase a certain amount of iodine reserves.

3. Start folic acid supplementation at least 3 months before pregnancy.

Folic acid supplementation in the first 3 months of pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube and multiple malformations in the offspring and requires 400μg per day.

 

Pregnancy 

Take folic acid supplements, eat iron-rich foods often, and choose iodized salt.

1. Acquisition of folic acid during pregnancy:

Foods rich in folic acid include animal liver, eggs, legumes, yeast, green leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts. Ensuring a total vegetable intake of about 400 g per day, including more than 1/2 of fresh green leafy vegetables, can provide about 200μgDFE of folic acid.
In addition to regular consumption of folic acid-rich foods during pregnancy, 400μg/d of folic acid preparation should be supplemented daily to meet its needs.

2. Dietary iron acquisition in mid and late pregnancy:

Iron-rich foods are mainly animal blood, liver and lean parts of red meat, which contain iron as heme iron with high bioavailability.
The increase of 20~50 g of red meat per day in the middle and late pregnancy can provide iron 1~2.5 mg, and the intake of animal blood and liver 1~2 times per week, 20~50 g each time, can provide iron 7~15 mg, which can basically meet the increased iron nutrition needs during pregnancy.

3. In addition to iodized salt, pregnant women should eat iodine-rich seafood, such as kelp and laver, etc.

Moderate physical activity to maintain appropriate weight gain during pregnancy

1. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can easily lead to pregnancy complications, such as hypertension and diabetes, and is not conducive to postpartum weight recovery and maternal and child health.
2. Appropriate weight gain during pregnancy can help to obtain a good pregnancy outcome, and attention should be paid to body mass monitoring and management: body mass can be measured once a month in early pregnancy with little change; body mass should be measured weekly in middle and late pregnancy. Throughout pregnancy, mothers' weight and body size will keep changing. We need to prepare some suitable maternity dress.
3. A healthy pregnant woman should do not less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day.

Dietary advice for early pregnancy

Those with severe pregnancy sickness should eat small and frequent meals to ensure the intake of carbohydrates.

1. Those without obvious early pregnancy reactions should continue to maintain a balanced diet before pregnancy.
2. Pregnant women with obvious pregnancy vomiting or poor appetite do not need to increase the intake of various nutrients prematurely, and do not need to overemphasize balanced diet or force eating. You can choose easily digestible foods according to your personal food preferences and tastes, eat small and frequent meals, and maintain a happy and stable mood.
3. During pregnancy, you need to take at least 130g of carbohydrates per day, preferring easily digestible cereals and grains, such as rice, noodles, toasted bread, toasted buns and cookies. Various cakes, potatoes, root vegetables and some fruits also contain more
Carbohydrates can be chosen according to the taste of pregnant women.
Sugar and honey are mainly composed of simple carbohydrates, which can be easily absorbed. They can be consumed when you have little food or have severe pregnancy vomiting to quickly replenish your body's needs.
4. Those who have difficulty in eating or have severe pregnancy vomiting should seek medical attention promptly and can supplement the necessary amount of carbohydrates through intravenous glucose infusion.

Dietary advice for middle and late pregnancy

Should increase the intake of milk, fish, poultry, eggs and lean meat in an appropriate amount.

1. Starting from the middle of pregnancy, pregnant women's demand for calcium increases, and milk is the best food source of calcium. 200g of dairy products can be added daily to bring the total intake to 500g/d.
Dairy products include liquid milk, yogurt, milk powder, etc., which can be consumed at regular meals or extra meals, and low-fat milk can be used to reduce energy intake when body mass grows faster during pregnancy.
2. Starting from the middle of pregnancy, pregnant women need to increase 15g of protein and 300kcal of energy per day, and increase fish and poultry on the basis of balanced cakes before pregnancy.
Eggs, lean meat total 50g, late pregnancy and then increase about 75g.
When the pregnant woman's body mass grows more, she can eat more fish and less livestock and poultry, and try to eliminate the skin and the fatty meat visible to the naked eye when eating livestock and poultry, and give priority to beef for livestock.
3. The same weight of fish compared with livestock and poultry food, the quality of protein content provided is similar, but fish contains significantly less fat and energy than livestock and poultry meat.
Especially deep-sea fish, such as salmon, herring, anchovies, etc., contains more n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, of which DHA is beneficial to the development of fetal brain and retinal function, it is best to eat 2 to 3 times a week.

Breastfeeding

Variety of foods during breastfeeding but not too much, emphasis on nutrition throughout the breastfeeding period

1. You should eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and other animal foods every day during lactation, but not in excess;
2. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, and ensure a daily intake of 500 g of vegetables;
3. Ensure adequate and balanced nutrition during the whole breastfeeding period in order to continue breastfeeding.

Happy mood and sufficient sleep to promote lactation

1. Family members should care for the mother, help her adjust her attitude, relieve stress and build up self-confidence in breastfeeding;
2. Lactating mothers should have a regular life, ensuring more than 8 hours of sleep every day;
3. The daily water requirement should be 500~1000 ml more than the average person, and every meal should be guaranteed to have food with soup and water.

Increase animal food and seafood rich in high quality protein and vitamin A. Use iodized salt.

1. Increase about 80~100g of fish, poultry, eggs and lean meat per day compared with pre-pregnancy (total 220g per day).
The total amount of fish, poultry, eggs and lean meat (220g per day) can be partially replaced by soybean and its products if necessary; drink 200ml more milk per day than before pregnancy, so that the total amount of milk reaches 400~500ml per day;
Eat animal liver (e.g. 85g of pork liver or 40g of chicken liver) 1 or 2 times a week;
3. Eat seafood such as sea fish, seaweed, seaweed and shellfish at least once a week; use iodized salt to cook food.

Adhere to breastfeeding, moderate exercise, and gradually restore the appropriate body mass

1. After giving birth, you can try the following exercises in stages according to your own recovery, remember: do it according to your ability!
2. Start regular aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, etc;
3. aerobic exercise from 15 minutes a day gradually increase to 45 minutes a day, adhere to 4 or 5 times a week.

The above can be called, in a way, the "best solution" for the pregnancy process. The most important thing is to take care of the mother's emotions during the whole pregnancy, without forcing yourself to submit a perfect answer.

The arrival of a new life is undoubtedly joyful, and as parents, we need to solve the problem of feeding, clothing, housing and transportation of the child. This can be a sweet burden. Wholesale kids clothes is a good choice to buy children's clothing before preparing to welcome this new life.

Last but not least, I would like to remind you that the pregnancy and birth of a new life is definitely not a woman's business alone, and the physical and mental health of mothers deserve to be taken seriously and cared for, both during pregnancy and after delivery.