Fine – tune your diet – even if you already eat well:
Now that you’re a mum-to-be, it’s important to try and increase your intake of certain vitamins and minerals (such as folic acid and iron). You may also need to slightly increase your calorie intake as your pregnancy progresses.
If your diet is poor to begin with, it is even more important to make the transition to eating nutritious, well-balanced meals. Limit junk food, as it offers little more than empty calories, which means calories with few or no nutrients.
Your body becomes more efficient when you’re expecting a baby and makes even better use of the energy you obtain from the food you eat. The average woman does not need any extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy and only about 200 extra calories per day for the last three months.
Two hundred calories is equivalent to:
• two slices of wholemeal toast and margarine/butter;
• one popiah roll (not fried);
• plain thosai (without gravy or curry);
• one slice of cheese on toast;
Your own appetite is the best indication of how much food you need to eat. You may find your appetite fluctuates during the course of your pregnancy:
• In the first few weeks your appetite may fall away dramatically and you may not feel like eating proper meals, especially if you suffer from nausea or sickness.
• During the middle part of your pregnancy your appetite may be the same as before you were pregnant or slightly increased.
• Towards the end of your pregnancy your appetite will probably increase, but if you suffer from heartburn or a full feeling after eating you may find it helpful to have small frequent meals.
The best rule to remember is to eat when you are hungry. Don’t worry about your changing appetite as long as you are following the advice given about the type of food you need to eat and you are gaining weight at the appropriate rate, which your doctor or obstetrician will monitor.
Eat the right kinds of fish:
Experts generally recommend that pregnant women and children under 16 don’t eat shark, swordfish or marlin, as it may contain potentially unsafe levels of naturally occurring mercury. Also avoid bottom feeders, such as catfish, as they may ingest more pollutants.
They also advise that pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those who intend to become pregnant, should eat no more than four medium-size cans of tuna, or two fresh tuna steaks per week. This advice is based on two medium-size cans with a drained weight of 140g per can and fresh tuna steaks weighing about 140g when cooked or 170g raw. Also consider sardines, anchovies and mackerel (commonly grilled in an ikan bakar dish) as these smaller fishes are also high in oil).
Fish contains proteins, minerals, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which your baby will miss out on if you give it up altogether.
Some foods are no-nos:
During pregnancy you should try to avoid:
• Raw seafood, such as oysters or sushi.
• The cockles found in laksa and char kway teow are supposed to be boiled before they are added to these dishes, but you may want to ask the hawker to leave them out as you can’t know how thoroughly they were cooked.
• Steamboat ingredients that are not cooked through – make sure the broth is brought to boil every time new ingredients are added, especially shellfish, meats and eggs.
• Cheeses with a white, “mouldy” rind, such as Brie and Camembert, and blue-veined cheeses like Stilton. All these cheeses could contain listeria, a bacteria that could harm your baby.
• Pate, raw or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs (cook all meat until there are no pink bits left and eggs till they are hard). All are possible sources of bacteria that can harm your unborn child.
• Liver and liver products (pate, liver sausage) should be avoided, too, because they may contain large amounts of the retinol form of vitamin A, too much of which could be bad for your developing baby.
• It is recommended that some women avoid peanuts and foods that contain them. If you, your husband, or any of your other children (if you have any) have a history of allergies such as hay-fever, asthma, or eczema, avoiding peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding may reduce your baby’s chances of developing a potentially serious peanut allergy.
• Many women choose to avoid or cut down on alcoholic drinks during pregnancy, too. Drinking too much alcohol can cause physical defects, learning disabilities, and emotional problems in children, so many experts recommend that you give up alcohol completely while you are pregnant.
If you decide to drink alcohol during your pregnancy, it is recommended by experts that you drink no more than one or two units of alcohol, no more than once or twice a week, and don’t get drunk.
• You might want to cut down on caffeine, too. This may be easy for women who are suddenly revolted by the stuff during their first trimester, but that doesn’t happen for everyone. Why is caffeine a potential problem? Research has linked consuming more than 300mg of caffeine a day with an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight, and one study has linked even low levels of caffeine to miscarriage. To be on the safe side stick to no more that three mugs of instant coffee, three cups of brewed coffee, six cups of tea or eight cans of cola per day. Or, you may want to be more cautious and cut down further on caffeine, or switch to non-decaffeinated hot drinks and colas, instead.
Take a suitable antenatal vitamin – mineral supplement:
In an ideal world – free of morning sickness or food aversions – a well-balanced diet would be all an expectant mum ever needed. But in the real world, an antenatal vitamin-mineral supplement may be good insurance to help you meet your nutritional needs. Ask your doctor whether you should take a vitamin supplement.
Folic acid is one supplement that is particularly important to take before you conceive – and for the first three months or so of pregnancy. A lack of this B vitamin has been linked with neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. Not surprisingly, Positive Parenting, the expert education programme initiated by the Malaysian Paediatric Association, stresses that a folic acid supplement is absolutely necessary to prevent birth defects – you can get a prescription from your doctor.
Some experts recommend that you take a supplement containing 10 mcg of Vitamin D every day. If you are Asian, if you keep well-covered and don’t get much sunlight on your skin then you may be at greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency – see your doctor for individual advice.
Later on in your pregnancy some women may need to take an iron supplement. Your iron levels will be checked periodically during your pregnancy, and your doctor will advise you about your individual needs.
If you are a strict vegetarian, have a medical condition such as diabetes, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or anaemia, or if you have a history of low-birth-weight babies, do talk with your doctor about any special supplements you might need.
Remember, though, that more is not always better: Vitamin A supplements which contain retinol, the animal form of vitamin A, can be toxic to unborn babies in large quantities. The plant-based carotene type of vitamin A is safe in pregnancy. Megadoses of most vitamins and minerals could be harmful to your developing baby.
Don’t go on a diet:
Dieting during pregnancy is potentially hazardous to you and your developing baby. Some diets can leave you low on iron, folic acid, and other important vitamins and minerals. Remember, weight gain is one of the most positive signs of a healthy pregnancy.
Women who eat well and gain an appropriate amount of weight are more likely to have healthy babies. So if you’re eating fresh, wholesome foods and gaining weight, relax: you’re supposed to be getting bigger!
If you are overweight, you can improve your diet, cut out junk food and get some exercise (see your doctor first). Research has shown that in these circumstances it is safe to not gain any weight or even to lose weight during your pregnancy, as your body’s fat reserves will provide your baby with enough calories.
Gain weight gradually:
Weight gain varies amongst individuals and depends on many factors. Although you will be weighed at each visit to your doctor, remember that there is no evidence that a specific weight gain has any effect on your baby’s health.
Average weight gain during pregnancy seems to be between eight kilos / 18 pounds and 15 kilos / 32 pounds. Concentrate on eating a healthy diet: plenty of carbohydrates, lots of fruits and vegetables, reasonable amounts of protein, and just a little in the way of fats and sugars.
When you put on weight may be as important as the total amount. Most women gain the least weight during the first trimester and steadily increase, with the greatest amount being put on over the course of the third trimester when the baby is growing the most.
Eat small meals every few hours:
Even if you’re not hungry, chances are your baby is, so try to eat every four hours. And if morning (or all-day) sickness, food aversions, heartburn, or indigestion make eating a chore, you may find that eating five or six small meals, rather than the usual three larger ones, is easier on your body.
Remember, your developing baby needs regular sustenance, so try not to miss meals.
Occasional treats are OK:
You don’t have to give up all your favourite foods just because you’re pregnant. But processed foods and snacks and sugar-packed desserts shouldn’t be the mainstay of your diet, either. So as far as snacks are concerned, try a banana rather than luxury ice-cream, or a frozen fruit sorbet instead of cendol. But don’t feel guilty if you fancy the occasional biscuit. Enjoy every bite!
Read more @ http://www.babycenter.com.my/pregnancy/nutrition/diethealthypregnancy/