What your Diet should contain during Your Pregnancy

Having a healthy diet during pregnancy and getting all the nutrients you and your baby need is very important. Fine-tuning your diet will ensure the health of both you and your baby.

In the pregnancy period your body becomes more efficient and makes better use of the energy you receive from your food so you only need to consume around 300 extra calories per day.

Your diet should consist of enriched foods, such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta and rice, as well as fruits and vegetables. You should also include good protein sources at every meal to support the baby’s growth, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk and nuts.

Whole-grain breads contain the much needed essential carbohydrates while they also provide fiber, iron and B-vitamins.

Dairy products should also be consumed (3-4 servings per day) as they provide the much needed dose of Calcium (at least 1000 mg of calcium is needed daily), that are essential in your baby building strong teeth and bones, normal blood clotting, and muscle and nerve function .

The fruits and vegetables contain a lot of nutrients and are rich in vitamins and fibers so these will be very important during your pregnancy. You can get from here your needed daily dose of at least 0.4 mg of folic acid (from dark green leafy vegetables, lack or lima beans, black-eyed peas, veal) or the needed daily dose of at least 70 mg of Vitamin C (from oranges, grapefruits and honeydew, and vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts).

Vitamin supplements can only complement a healthy diet during pregnancy but we advise you consult your Doctor and establish which work best for you.

Vitamin D and Pregnancy during Winter

Your Vitamin D levels during pregnancy are important for your baby’s health and help prevent certain diseases. Differences between babies born during summer and babies born after October are believed to be partly due to differences in sun exposure. Because the amount of sun exposure is higher during late spring, summer and beginning of autumn than the rest of the year, women who are pregnant in this period benefit from more Vitamin D intake on average.

Effects of Vitamin D intake during pregnancy

What does this mean? Your baby needs Vitamin D for growth, especially in the second half of pregnancy, when ossification processes and bone growth are developing. Babies born during the summer are more likely to have bigger bones than babies born during the winter season. On average, “summer babies” are 5 mm taller than “winter babies”. This difference is correlated with the difference of Vitamin D levels measured in the blood of the mothers while pregnant.

Vitamin D has many other benefits for maternal and fetal health. It has important effects for the immune system and it may play a role in preventing food allergies, asthma and preeclampsia. Try to spend as much time as possible in daylight, especially during the winter season, when days are shorter.

Food sources of Vitamin D and dietary supplements

Products fortified with Vitamin D are a good choice, since very few foods have sufficient Vitamin D. Cereal, milk and orange juice that are fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium are usually easy to find. Other foods rich in Vitamin D are: egg yolk, tuna, sardines and pink salmon. However, when you are pregnant, your body needs much more Vitamin D than any of these foods can supply. So if the rainy days keep you inside, vitamin supplements are a must. Always consult with your doctor beforehand.

Most pregnant women need to take dietary supplements that include Vitamin D, as intake from food is often not sufficient. The level of Vitamin D in your body can actually be measured if deficiency is suspected, so check with your doctor at the next appointment for advice on taking supplements. Talk to your midwife for nutrition and lifestyle advice that will help you increase your daily intake of Vitamin D. A tip: hold back on using sunscreen with SPF higher than 30, it reduces your Vitamin D intake.

10 Healthy Pregnancy Snacks That Are Actually Quick and Tasty

Ideally, you should eat small meals and plenty of snacks throughout the day during pregnancy. Eating snacks that are healthy for you is important, but not always at hand. If you’re running out of ideas, here is a list of 10 quick snacks recommended for moms to be.

Oranges

  • They contain Vitamin C and folate, so they are especially healthy during the first trimester.
  • Eat them as fruits or juiced early in the morning.

 

Fortified cereals and milk

  • Cereals are rich in fibre and are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals.
  • For those who don’t like drinking plain milk, adding cereals can be the perfect fix.
  • Add berries for extra Vitamin C and yumminess.

 

Baby carrots

  • Easy to carry around, baby carrots are rich in Vitamin A and are the perfect on-the-go snack.
  • Keep them close during your second trimester: the beta-Carotene is important for the development of your baby’s visual system.

 

Leafy greens and nuts salads

  • Fix yourself a healthy snack with spinach (or other dark green leaves), Brazil nuts, fresh cherry tomatoes and some lemon juice.
  • Leafy greens and tomatoes are rich in iron and contain essential vitamins, while Brazil nuts contain calcium and are probably the tastiest source of magnesium.
  • Eat them raw and make sure the spinach is fresh.

 

Granola bars

  • Buy granola bars with nuts or prepare them yourself (non-bake recipes are ideal)
  • Opt for the ones with honey and almond butter (rich in Magnesium), they’re delicious and healthy.
  • The perfect time for a granola bar snack is at brunch.

 

Smoothies

  • Start your morning with a fresh smoothie out of your favourite fruits for yet another awesome day of pregnancy.
  • Mix in raw or roasted almonds for Magnesium intake and a nutty flavour (roasted almonds taste better and preserve their nutritional values pretty well).
  • Check out these healthy smoothie recipes.

 

Dried fruits and nuts mix

  • Create your own trail mix of raw nuts and your favourite dried fruits.
  • The healthy picks for the trail mix are: almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries and apricots.

 

Fresh fruit salad

  • Mix apples, pears, bananas, kiwi and other favourite fruits with low-fat yoghurt.
  • The benefits you’ll get are vitamins, calcium, water and energy throughout the day.
  • It is recommended to eat fruits especially in the first half of the day, after at least half an hour from the previous meal.

 

Avocado dip

  • Mush one avocado together with a small yoghurt, lemon juice, tahini paste, one scallion and a pinch of salt.
  • Avocados contain more folic acid than any other fruits, and tahini is a powerful combo of iron, calcium and magnesium.
  • Serve it with red bell peppers and eat it within a few hours at most, before the avocado will oxidise.

 

Low-fat cottage cheese

  • Cottage cheese is rich in proteins and it’s a delicious source of calcium.
  • Spread it on whole wheat bread or crackers.

One Delicious Pregnancy Smoothie for Every Trimester

Blend all the essential vitamins and minerals for your current trimester in a tasty and healthy power combo smoothie.

First Trimester: The Mango Avocado Power Up Smoothie

Start your day with this fresh and thick green smoothie. Avocado and mango are rich in folate, which plays an important role in cell growth during your first trimester. Pumpkin seeds and spinach contain iron, while yoghurt contains calcium, both essential during the first months of pregnancy.

You need:

  • 1 avocado
  • A spoonful of pumpkin seeds (raw)
  • 1 mango
  • 1 small yoghurt
  • Optional: 50g (2 oz) spinach (for extra leafy points)

Peel the avocado, remove the seed and split it in 4 or 6 cuts. Blend it all together with the sliced mango, the pumpkin seeds and the yoghurt. Add fresh spinach leaves to increase iron intake. If the mango is not very ripe and sweet, add one tablespoon of honey and squeeze a lemon half. That’s it! You’ve got one large, energizing smoothie for you and your baby.

Second Trimester: Almonds and Pineapple Smoothie

This is mouth-watering and healthy smoothie, perfect for your nutrition plan during the second trimester of pregnancy. Raw almonds are the key ingredient, as they are rich in Vitamin E and Calcium, essential for these months of pregnancy. Pineapple completes the vitamin intake with its rich amounts of Vitamin C (though you can also replace it with orange juice). Bananas are energizing and make a delicious thick base for your smoothie. Use non-sweetened coconut milk instead of milk: it contains plenty of saturated fats and adds an exotic taste to your smoothie.

You need:

  • ½ cup of raw almonds
  • ½ pineapple
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup of non-sweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

Grind the almonds into fine bits and blend it in with the coconut milk and fruits. Add honey. Set aside a pineapple slice for decoration. Enjoy this smoothie in the morning or as a brunch snack.

Third Trimester: Energizing Banana Smoothie

Bananas are rich in Vitamin K, which needs to be in sufficient values when you’ll go into labour. To top this with Vitamin E, Calcium and Iron, add apricots, spinach leaves and almond milk.

You need:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 small apricots
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 10 to 20 fresh spinach leaves

Cut the fresh spinach leaves in fine bits. Peel the banana and the apricots and slice them. Blend it all together with the almond milk. This smoothie will keep your energy levels up during the day, while providing essential nutrients for you and your baby during the third trimester of pregnancy. As a bonus, the Vitamin E contained in almond milk helps prevent stretch marks.

The Most Successful Ways to Reduce Pregnancy Stretch Marks

In the third trimester of pregnancy, most women get stretch marks as a result of the drastic gain in weight. While there are many methods to prevent their appearance, the most influential factor in the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy is genetics. And once the stretch marks have made their appearance it is almost impossible to make them completely disappear. Yet there are ways to make them fade. Here are the most recommended ones. Remember, the earlier you begin to apply them, the more effective they are!

IPL Treatment

Sessions with Intense Pulsed Light are a highly effective post-pregnancy treatment for your stretch marks if they are still red. Although there is no evidence yet that IPL treatment affects pregnant women in any way, most clinics and salons avoid treating pregnant women for extra precautions.

Pulsed dye laser

Only choose this option if your stretch marks are still red. Treatment with a pulsed dye laser device will not completely eliminate stretch marks, but it will make them appear more faded.

Prescription creams

Body creams based on retinoids (derived from Vitamin A) and glycolic acid increase the elasticity of your skin and can have visible effects if applied in the early stages of stretch marks. However, you cannot use retinoids while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor for a custom recommendation.

Exfoliation

Choose a natural exfoliator that is gentle with your skin and use it once or twice a week. Through exfoliation, dead cells are removed and your skin cells renew faster. You’ll also have a softer and more radiant skin.

Moisturize

Treat your skin with body lotion, almond oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter, or other body moisturizers. They won’t make the stretch marks disappear, but if applied early on, they will have an effect in the later stages of the stretch marks’ evolution.

Eat what’s right for your skin

Foods containing Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Zinc are your skin’s best friends.

Exercise

Physical activity keeps your skin healthy and nourished by increasing blood flow in your body. Another great thing about exercise is that it helps reduce stress, which has an impact on how your skin behaves. More than that, if you keep an exercise routine during pregnancy, you will most likely gain weight gradually and not abruptly.

Keep hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin elastic. The more elastic your skin is, the slower your stretch marks will expand.

The 8th Week of Pregnancy

The baby bump may not be showing by the 8th week of pregnancy in most cases, yet a lot of changes are already going on with your body. Your breasts are becoming more sensitive and tender and you’ll probably need to change your bra to a bigger size by now for proper support. This is caused by the changes in hormonal levels and prepares your body for lactation. In most cases cups will grow by 2 sizes, so it’s practical to buy maternity support bra with two sizes bigger than your current one. You will notice that in this period the areolas around your nipples will begin to darken, also due to the change in hormones.

If you haven’t already followed a nutritional plan, start now. You will need plenty of vitamins and minerals to give your baby all the nutrients needed for a healthy development. Talk to your doctor or a specialist in nutrition about a recommended plan and any supplements you might need. Plan a custom exercise program as well. You will need to strengthen your muscle tone for carrying the weight to come in the next seven months.

Your baby, now at about the size of a raspberry, is growing fast. Although you cannot feel it yet, your baby has already started to move and shift its position. All of the organs have started developing and functioning, and muscles and nerves continue to form. Believe it or not, your baby’s lips begin to take shape around the 8th week of pregnancy, and in most cases fingers and toes are starting to appear. Your baby’s gonads begin to take shape into either ovaries or testicles, although it’s often impossible to see this on the scan that early into pregnancy. You can follow the progress of your growing baby through ultrasound scans now. Many parents find this experience to be magical, as you can actually see the miracle of life unfolding over the course of a few months.

There are genetic screening tests and other tests you can already take during this week. Discuss your family medical history with your doctor to see what tests are needed in your case. Many conditions, such as RH disease, are treatable during pregnancy, so take precautions to reduce all risks and have a safe pregnancy and birth.

Nutrition Advice for Your Third Trimester

Your baby’s growth rate will be at its highest during your third trimester. At this stage, your baby’s eyes start opening and later on detect light, breathing begins and many vital minerals are absorbed from the intestinal tract. Nutrition in these last months is as important as ever, so make sure to include these essential vitamins and minerals in your diet.

1. Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation and it helps prevent loosing too much blood during labour. Foods rich in Vitamin K are bananas, prunes, potato skins, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is recommended for overall maternal health and for your baby’s development. You will find it in nuts such as almonds and pine nuts and in spinach and green olives. Eating the nuts in their raw form is the healthiest option. Another excellent benefit of Vitamin E is that it helps minimise and heal stretch marks.

3. Vitamin D & Calcium

Calcium complemented by Vitamin D support the calcification of your baby’s bones and prevents forgetfulness in expecting mothers. Spending time in the sunlight is the easiest way for Vitamin D intake, as the human body can synthesize Vitamin D from sun exposure. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, tofu, sesame seeds, almonds and Brazil nuts. During rainy weather, try including mushrooms and fatty fish like Mackerel and Salmon in your diet for a sufficient intake of Vitamin D.

4. Iron

Iron keeps you energy levels up and minimizes the effects of blood loss during childbirth. There are two types of iron you can absorb from food: heme iron, which is found in meat, and non heme iron, found in vegetables. Heme iron is more easily absorbed that the iron found in vegetables. Rich sources are red meat and poultry. Dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, apricots and tomatoes are not only iron-rich, but contain other essential vitamins and minerals as well.

Try to keep your diet varied, yet keep in mind that it is recommended to not mix heme iron sources with non-heme iron sources in one meal, as the amount of each type of iron absorbed is reduced and thus total absorption is not maximized.

Nutrition Guide for Your Second Trimester

At this stage, what your baby needs most is to grow. Most expecting moms feel more energized during the second trimester and begin to put on weight. Vital systems start to develop and kicking can be felt already. Here are the most important vitamins and minerals you will need for a healthy development during your second trimester of pregnancy.

1. Vitamin E

A good balance of Vitamin E and Omega oils is healthy for you as well as for your baby. Vitamin E helps prevent and heal stretch marks, while contributing to your baby’s development. Vitamin E in excess is not recommended. Avoid taking dietary supplements and try instead nuts such as almonds and pine nuts, spinach and green olives. These vitamin-rich foods are healthiest in their raw form and will satisfy the recommended daily dose in a balanced diet.

2. Vitamin C and Zinc

Vitamin C and Zinc are both critical in aiding your immune system and preventing infections. There is also evidence that Vitamin C and Zinc can help with the development of the baby’s nervous system. Try including strawberries, kiwi and other fruits in your diet, as well as bell pepper, broccoli, lamb, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. Eating one portion of peanuts per week during pregnancy reduces the chances of your child developing allergies later on. Peanuts are recommended only for those without a family history of peanut allergy.

3. Vitamin D and Calcium

During the second trimester, your baby’s bones and teeth begin to harden. Calcium with Vitamin D and magnesium are essential in the formation of bones and teeth, so make sure you spend sufficient time in sunlight and eat plenty of cheese, milk, tofu, mushrooms, sesame seeds, almonds and Brazil nuts. Complete you diet with fish like Mackerel and Tuna, which are rich in magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Beta-Carotene

Beta-Carotene is the most popular provitamin A, widely available in plenty of fruits and plants. Because it converts to Vitamin A within your body, it plays an important role in the development of your baby’s vision. You will find beta-Carotene in orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, beetroots, mangoes and papayas. Sweet potatoes and lettuce are also a rich and healthy source. Beta-Carotene is a safe source of Vitamin A and does not have its toxic effects. It is highly recommended to not use dietary supplements of Vitamin A and to avoid consuming liver during pregnancy.

7 Vitamins and Minerals for a Healthy First Trimester

Are you eating everything your baby needs at this early stage? We’ve prepared a list of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health and for your baby’s development during the first trimester of pregnancy.

1. Folate

Folate, or folic acid, is of critical importance in stages like pregnancy or infancy, due to its significant aid to rapid cell division and cell growth. Folic acid is recommended during the preconception period – just before and after the moment of conception – as well as during the first trimester. Also known as Vitamin M or Vitamin B9, folate intake is important for preventing congenital malformations and is required in the formation of all bodily cells for both you and your baby.
Rich sources are leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, asparagus and turnip greens. Other folate-rich foods are bananas, avocado, broccoli and fortified grain products.

2. Vitamin D

Intake of Vitamin D increases the bioavailability of calcium. Also called the „sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D can be synthesized by the human body when exposed to sunlight, so enjoy sunny afternoons outdoors as often as possible. Your baby’s spinal cord and bones start developing during the first trimester. It is important to have plenty of Vitamin D during this period, as it helps with the calcification of foetal bones. Foods rich in Vitamin D are fortified milk products, mackerel, button mushrooms and Shiitake mushrooms. Don’t forget sun exposure!

3. Calcium

Calcium is essential in the formation of bones and teeth, as well as for other cellular processes. There is evidence indicating that deficit of maternal calcium can lead to hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are the most popular sources of calcium. Other calcium-rich foods include: sesame seeds, soy products (especially tofu), sardines, herring, almonds, flax seeds and Brazil nuts.

4. Iron

Iron intake contributes to the increase in maternal blood volume and is crucial for increasing the rate of haemoglobin. Red meat and poultry, lentils, beans, leaf vegetables, tofu and pumpkin seeds are particularly rich in iron. Iron found in meat, however, is absorbed more easily that the iron found in vegetables.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C prevents infections by increasing the immune response and contributes to the absorption of iron in the organism. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, these are the richest natural sources of Vitamin C. Green pepper, parsley, broccoli and kiwi are just a few of the most popular plants that are rich in Vitamin C.

6. Omega-3 (DHA)

DHA Omega-3 supports the normal development of the foetal brain, which already begins in the 5th week of pregnancy. There is also evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids might play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body. DHA Omega-3 is commonly found in marine oils. Sardines, salmon and halibut are a tasty and popular source, but you will also find Omega-3 in flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans and grass-fed beef.

7. Zinc

Zinc helps your body shield from infection and from contracting infectious diseases. Some evidence suggests that adequate levels of zinc in the organism help reduce the incidence of prolonged labour. This is especially beneficial since newborns of prolonged labour can be more agitated and cry more than others. Foods which are rich in zinc include beef, lamb, venison, turkey, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and green peas. It is recommended to consume zinc rich foods such as seed and nuts in their raw form, where possible.

Keep in mind that you can obtain all these vitamins and minerals from eating natural foods, which is always a healthier option than taking supplements. It’s a good idea to listen to your cravings, yet try to eat a large variety of foods in moderate amounts. Don’t forget to spend time in the sunlight and relax.