Healthy diet during pregnancy
They often say that a pregnant woman should “eat for two”, but is that really true? And how much more should a pregnant woman eat every day? Read more about the nutrients you need during you pregnancy and how to plan your daily meals through the three trimesters.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
It can be confusing to know what you should eat when you are pregnant. What should you eat more of, less of, what should your drop from your diet and how much do you need to each every day from now on? The body changes, and so does its need for nutrition and energy, so it is important to ensure you have a healthy and balanced diet.
The following products help you get a balanced diet:
- Wholegrain products, every day
- Vegetables, 3-4 servings per day – a total of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- Fish, two to three times per week – to get vitamin D and omega-3 from oily fish and iodine from lean fish
- Liver paté
- Legumes, beans, lentils and peas
- Low-fat dairy products, 3 servings per day – a good source of iodine and calcium
- Lean meat and lean meat products
- Fruits and berries – be aware that fruit contains fruit sugar, you do not need more than 1 to 2 pieces of fruit per day
- Leaner and healthier food options such as “Keyhole”-marked products – the Nordic Keyhole scheme helps consumers buy healthier products
- Cooking oil, liquid and soft margarine, instead of solid margarine and butter
- Drink plenty of water
- Good protein sources
Did you know that most people, when they feel peckish, want sugary foods, fruits, juices, dairy products and salty foods? You sometimes hear that people crave the nutrients their bodies lack, but this has been proven to be wrong.
You should of course allow yourself some treats even when you are pregnant, but it’s best if you limit this to a particular day during the week. That way you are more likely to eat proper food when you feel hungry.
Everyone gains weight during a pregnancy. It is completely normal to gain between 11 and 16 kg. The weight usually increases the most at the end of the pregnancy. If you gain a lot of weight, this may impose a health risk on you and your baby. You should therefore eat a healthy and balanced diet, and remember that it is not healthy if the weight gain is too low, either. Find a balanced diet that suits you and talk to your doctor if you need help with your diet during your pregnancy.
Here is an indication to how much wait you should gain based on your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI):
- Normal weight women (BMI 18.5-24.9): 11.5-16 kg
- Underweight women (BMI under 18.5): 12.5-18 kg
- Overweight women (BMI 25-29.9): 7-11.5 kg
- Obese women (BMI over 30): 5-9 kg
The first trimester begins on the first day of your last period and lasts for about three months (12 weeks). Some women may not find out about their pregnancy until they are well into the first trimester.
The first trimester is when most pregnant women feel nausea and discomfort. A tip that may help is to eat little and often. Try to maintain a regular food intake throughout the day and drink plenty of fluids. Many women eat ginger or dry crispbread to manage their discomfort, while others prefer tasty foods. It’s a matter of trial and error.
The need for more energy and food increases as you progress through the pregnancy, but did you know that you only need about 100 extra calories a day during the first trimester? This is equivalent to one piece of fruit a day, such as a banana or an apple.
As the energy demand increases further, it is important to fill this gap with nutritious foods that contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids. The diet should be varied and include all the nutrients you and your baby need. Simplify everything and follow the dietary advice from HelseNorge – a guide for Norwegian citizens wanting to take care of their health and learn about public health care in Norway.
The second trimester is the middle part of the pregnancy. It spans from the fourth month to the sixth month. In this trimester you feel a little more relaxed. Hopefully the nausea is gone, and you feel strong and healthy!
The energy requirement increases slightly in this trimester, and your body now needs 300 extra calories, which is equivalent to a midday snack. Eat an extra slice of wholegrain bread with some cheese and a piece of fruit per day.
The last and third trimester is here, and the arrival of your baby is approaching. Moving around is probably getting a little harder with each day and your body requires even more energy now. From month seven you can increase to 500 extra calories per day, which is equivalent to two snacks such as oat porridge and a slice of wholegrain bread or a piece of fruit.
It is during these last months that the baby grows the most, and you can preferably drink some skim or medium-fat milk with your meals to ensure you get enough important nutrients such as calcium and iodine.
Particularly important vitamins and minerals
It is critical to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs when you are pregnant, and you can get most of these by choosing the right foods for your diet. Having said that, it can still be difficult to get sufficient levels of some nutrients through the meals. You can then take supplements that contain the nutrients you’re not getting enough of.
Here is a list of important nutrients you need when you are pregnant:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA
Pregnant? Then omega-3 is particularly important
This should be avoided
It can be tricky to know what you can and cannot eat when you are pregnant, as there are many different myths out there. Learn more about the most important vitamins for pregnancy.
Below is a list of what you shouldn’t eat and drink when you are pregnant:
- Unpasteurised dairy products and soft cheeses such as brie, camembert and blue cheeses
- Raw meat such as cured meats, marinated meat, beef tartare, carpaccio, roast beef, pink meat. Everything you eat must be well cooked
- Pike, blue halibut over 3 kilos, perch over 25 cm, trout over 1 kg, fresh tuna, shark, swordfish, skater, fermented fish, fish liver, fish roe paste
- Seal meat
- Unwashed vegetables
- Drugs, alcohol and tobacco
- Limit your intake of processed meats, red meats and foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt
- A maximum of 100-200 mg caffeine per day. Caffeine content per dl drink:
- Brewed and filter coffee: 50-60 mg
- Instant coffee: 40 mg
- Espresso: 120 mg
- Tea: 26 mg
- Coca Cola: 13 mg
- Energy drink: 32 mg
Food suggestions before and during childbirth
Giving birth is often a long and tiring process that requires a lot of energy, so it is important to eat well both before and during childbirth. Here is a list of foods and drinks to bring to the hospital to ensure you don’t run out of energy sources in the delivery room:
- Bring foods and snacks that you like. For many, childbirth can be so exhausting and painful that nausea sets in. So it’s important you eat even if you can’t bear the thought of food.
- You need to realise that childbirth is an energy-intense process, so bring energy-rich foods such as nuts, biscuits and chocolates. Remember that foods that are easy to handle and eat is a plus.
- Although you can probably refill your water bottle at the hospital, it may be harder to find other drink options. Bring flavoured waters, carbonated water, sodas, smoothies, juice, chocolate milk drinks or other options that you like.
- Remember not to eat everything at once. They will serve you the main meals at the hospital. Eat little and often to keep your energy level up.
- Your partner is not always served food by the hospital, so remember to bring enough for him or her too.