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Dossier: Pregnancy

Nutrition advice for expectant mothers

Nutrition during pregnancy is important for the health of both the unborn child and expectant mother. What is an ideal diet and which foods should pregnant women avoid? Recommendations and tips for a balanced diet during pregnancy.

Drinks

Drink around 1.5 to 2 litres of still or sparking mineral water  or unsweetened herbal or fruit tea a day.

Meals

The standard nutritional recommendations apply during pregnancy, too – eat fresh vegetables and fruit, complete carbohydrates, sufficient protein and healthy fats. However, it’s better to eat several smaller meals instead of a few big meals. This takes the pressure off the stomach and helps ease symptoms such as morning sickness. Mums-to-be should eat three main meals and two snacks.

Between meals

Yoghurt, fruit and raw, well-washed vegetables, unsalted nuts and wholemeal bread

Sweet and savoury snacks

Allow yourself one portion a day (e.g. 1 row of chocolate or 30 g of crisps).

Nutrients/supplements

Talk to your doctor about nutrients you should be taking during pregnancy. The most important nutrients are listed here:

  • Folic acid and other vitamins: Until the 3rd month of your pregnancy, you’ll need 800 mg of this vital B-group vitamin per day. Folic acid can be found in wholegrain products, green leafy vegetables, eggs, fish, milk and many fruits. You should also take 0.4 mg of folic acid a day in tablet form – at least until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. Ask your doctor if you need to take other vitamin supplements.
  • Iron: You’ll need 30 mg a day. Iron can be found in meat, pulses and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, beetroot, etc.
  • Iodine: You’ll need 230 µg per day during pregnancy and up to 260 µg per day while breastfeeding, because you’ll be supplying two thyroid glands – yours and your baby’s. Iodine can be found in iodised salt and seafood.
  • Calcium: You’ll need between 1,000 and 1,200 mg a day. Calcium can be found in mineral water, milk, dairy products, herbs and vegetables.

Foods to be wary of

  • Fish: predatory fish in particular contain high levels of toxins such as mercury and dioxins, which are harmful to the foetus. You should therefore avoid eating fish such as Baltic salmon and herring, marlin and swordfish. Fresh tuna should not be eaten more than once a week.
  • Wild mushrooms: these can also contain toxins such as mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Coffee, green and black tea Caffeine can restrict the foetus’s absorption of iron, but there’s no harm in drinking one or two cups of coffee or four cups of black or green tea a day.
  • Game: venison and wild boar can contain lead, which, in the worst case, can damage your child’s nervous system. 
  • Liver: excessive vitamin A can cause foetal malformations. Therefore, expectant mothers should avoid eating liver until the 4th month of pregnancy. 

Black list (listeria and toxoplasmosis)

An infection with the pathogen toxoplasmosis (parasite) and the bacterial disease listeria usually go unnoticed in adults. However, these can cause considerable harm to the unborn child or lead to a miscarriage. You should therefore avoid:

  • Folic acid and other vitamins: Until the 3rd month of your pregnancy, you’ll need 800 mg of this vital B-group vitamin per day. Folic acid can be found in wholegrain products, green leafy vegetables, eggs, fish, milk and many fruits. You should also take 0.4 mg of folic acid a day in tablet form – at least until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. Ask your doctor if you need to take other vitamin supplements.
  • Iron: You’ll need 30 mg a day. Iron can be found in meat, pulses and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, beetroot, etc.
  • Iodine: You’ll need 230 µg per day during pregnancy and up to 260 µg per day while breastfeeding, because you’ll be supplying two thyroid glands – yours and your baby’s. Iodine can be found in iodised salt and seafood.
  • Calcium: You’ll need between 1,000 and 1,200 mg a day. Calcium can be found in mineral water, milk, milk products, herbs and vegetables.

Consume only small amounts of:

  • Wild mushrooms, because they contain high quantities of cadmium and mercury
  • Flaxseed: no more than 20 g a day due to the high cadmium content
  • Coffee, green and black tea: caffeine can reach the unborn child via the placenta and restrict the absorption of iron into the blood, but drinking 1 to 2 cups a day is okay
  • Game: it can contain lead, which, in the worst case, can damage your child’s nervous system
  • No liver until the 4th month of pregnancy, because too much vitamin A (contained in liver) can cause malformation

Don’t eat due to increased risk of bacteria and infection (listeria):

  • Undercooked or raw meat (e.g. salami, cold cured ham, carpaccio, rare steak)a name
  • Smoked fish
  • Raw fish
  • Raw eggs (e.g. in tiramisu and mayonnaise)
  • Unpasteurised milk
  • Cheese made from unpasteurised milk, soft and semi-hard cheeses (e.g. feta, mozzarella, Camembert)
  • Packaged mixed salads