The nutrition program of the expectant mother should be carefully and individually prepared by the healthcare team following the pregnancy. The mother's body weight before pregnancy, gestational week, risk conditions during pregnancy, working conditions, climatic conditions, etc. should be taken into account.

Nutrition in Pregnancy 

Pregnancy is a miraculous event for humans as it is for all living things. An invisible creature emerges, grows in the womb of the expectant mother in 280 days, and is born as a small but human-like human being. Each day is different from the next and develops in an unbelievably miraculous order.

While the baby is developing in the mother’s womb, the habits of the expectant mother and her diet affect the baby as much as her lifestyle. The baby meets all his needs through the mother. The mother gives her oxygen, water, vitamins, minerals, and immune weapons against microbes when she needs it. For this reason, it is very important for the expectant mother to be able to meet the needs of the baby as well as her own needs. The most important step in this is to carry out a regular nutrition program.

The nutrition program of the expectant mother should be carefully and individually prepared by the healthcare team following the pregnancy. The mother’s body weight before pregnancy, gestational week, risk conditions during pregnancy, working conditions, climatic conditions, etc. should be taken into account.

A healthy diet does not mean that the expectant mother no longer needs a meal for two. Doubling the food intake during pregnancy will not benefit the baby. On the contrary, it can cause excessive weight gain and accordingly the pregnancy and the baby to be at risk. It is sufficient for the expectant mother to provide the vitamins and minerals that the baby needs according to the gestational week.

A healthy woman’s daily calorie intake is about 2000 calories under normal conditions. During pregnancy, this need becomes 2500-2800 calories. The calorie requirement varies according to the gestational week and the developmental level of the baby. As the gestational week progresses, calorie needs increase. While the calorie requirement of a normal weight pregnant woman does not change in the first trimester of pregnancy compared to the pre-pregnancy, an additional 350 calories are required in the second pregnancy month and an additional 500-800 calories in the last trimester.

There is usually no need for a special diet program during pregnancy. Except for some special conditions, diseases and risky pregnancies, the expectant mother continues to eat normally. It is sufficient to provide the vitamin and mineral support that the baby needs. This should be met primarily from food, and if it cannot be met or taken adequately, supplementary products should be supported.

Here are some recommendations regarding nutrition during pregnancy:

Protein intake

Protein needs should be met in a balanced way in order to reduce the risk of pregnancy poisoning (preeclampsia) during pregnancy and to support the development process of the baby. Eating too little or too much protein can harm the baby.

The average protein requirement during pregnancy is 80-100 grams. This corresponds to an average of 3 patties. High protein, heavy diet programs are not applied to pregnant women.

Protein needs can be obtained from foods such as fish, red meat, eggs, chicken meat, beans, nuts.

Fat intake

Fat requirement during pregnancy is about 70 grams/day. It is recommended that the oil taken is of vegetable origin.

Fat is important for vitamins A, D, E, and K. Therefore, there may be vitamin deficiencies in the case of dietary fat restriction. This may pose a risk for fetal development.

Carbohydrate intake

Carbohydrate requirement during pregnancy is about 300 – 400 grams/day. It is recommended to get this need mostly from grain products.

Calcium intake

The daily calcium requirement of pregnant women is 1.5 grams. This need can be obtained from a daily bowl of yogurt, 2 glasses of milk or two matchboxes of cheese.

It is recommended to start supplemental calcium for pregnant women who cannot get enough calcium. Calcium is important for bone development in infants.

Calcium can also be obtained from foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, arugula, lettuce, cabbage, soy products, bread, sardines.

sodium intake

Sodium restriction is not applied in pregnant women unless there is a special situation.

Iron intake

It is important for pregnant women to have sufficient iron stores. Pregnancy becomes difficult in iron deficiency. Anemia develops. Expectant mothers get tired very quickly.

It is recommended to meet the increased iron need during pregnancy through lean meat, green vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, peanut / peanut butter if there is no allergy, breakfast cereals with iron added.

If anemia is detected in the tests performed until the 16th week of pregnancy, an iron supplement of 40-60 mg/day is recommended at the treatment dose, and after the 16th week of pregnancy, all pregnant women.

It is important for the health of the mother to use iron preparations after the 16th week of pregnancy until delivery and for three months after delivery. It is beneficial in terms of bleeding during childbirth and possible infections afterward.

Folic acid intake

In folic acid deficiency, important problems can be seen in the development of the nervous system in the fetus. Therefore, expectant mothers should take a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms/day until the 12th week of pregnancy.

Folic acid can also be obtained through green leafy vegetables and breakfast cereals. However, these are not enough during the months of pregnancy. Therefore, folic acid should be taken alone or in the form of multivitamin preparations.

Folic acid supplementation can be increased up to 5 grams/day in pregnancies with a risk of fetuses with neural tube defects, those with increased blood glucose levels, those receiving epilepsy treatment, and pregnant women receiving HIV/AIDS treatment.

Vitamin D intake

Vitamin D intake is necessary for fetal muscle, bone and tooth development. In vitamin D deficiency, the balance of calcium and phosphate is disturbed, and the risk of developing rickets, premature birth, congenital cataract, pregnancy poisoning, and low birth weight increases. Vitamin D also plays an important role in brain and nerve development.

While the body can produce its own vitamin D, especially in the months when the sun is intense, it cannot meet the vitamin D level required by both the pregnant and the baby in the autumn and winter months.

Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, milk and dairy products, eggs, red meat, and breakfast cereals are also beneficial in meeting the need for vitamin D.

It is recommended that all expectant mothers receive 1200IU of vitamin D daily from the 12th week of pregnancy until six months after birth. Taking 4000IU or more of supplemental vitamin D per day is harmful.

Vitamin A intake

Excessive intake of vitamin A during pregnancy may be harmful to the fetus. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the content of multivitamins. 

C vitamin

There is no need for special vitamin C supplementation during pregnancy. It can be taken in sufficient amounts with fresh fruits (oranges, strawberries, etc.), fresh vegetables (green, red pepper, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.) in the diet.

Other nutritional advice

  • Vegetarian, vegan or special diets during pregnancy may cause problems for the mother and the baby. Those who follow this type of diet for various reasons should be evaluated by the healthcare team, especially in terms of vitamin B12 supplementation.
  • Multivitamin support can be recommended for vegetarians, multiple pregnancies and epilepsy.
  • Make it a habit to start the day with a healthy breakfast during pregnancy. This will prevent you from turning to snacks and getting unnecessary fat and sugar during the day.
  • Overeating at meals causes unhealthy weight gain and related negativities. For this reason, it is recommended to eat at frequent intervals (6 meals a day) but little by little.
  • There is no benefit in taking too much food in twin or triplet pregnancies. The important thing is to get the vitamins and minerals that twins or triplets need. For this, the following team will organize the nutrition program of the expectant mother.
  • Pre-pregnancy and pre-pregnancy nutrition program with expert support is beneficial both for a comfortable pregnancy and for the healthy development of the baby.
  • It is beneficial to drink plenty of water during pregnancy, reduce pregnancy-related symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, prevent urinary tract infections, and regulate bowel habits.
  • Dark tea and coffee may pose a risk of anemia due to the caffeine they contain. Also, high caffeine may be associated with stillbirth and low birth weight. For this reason, it is recommended to consume tea and coffee less during pregnancy or to consume light tea and decaffeinated coffee.
  • It is recommended to use iodized salt during pregnancy.
  • Fiber foods should be preferred to ensure that bowel habits are regular.
  • Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables will also be beneficial for constipation. It is recommended that pregnant women consume fruits and vegetables at every meal.
  • Bread, breakfast cereals, rice, potatoes, pasta, noodles, oats, cornmeal, low-fat bakery chips can be consumed in appropriate amounts. It provides the energy, vitamins and fiber needed due to its contents and keeps it full.
  • Products containing additives should be avoided. It may harm the baby and pregnancy.
  • It is necessary to wash the salad ingredients thoroughly and eat them in order to prevent the contamination of parasites or bacteria.
  • Raw meat, canned products, raw eggs should be avoided.
  • It is recommended to choose lean meat when consuming meat, not to add additional oil while cooking, and to remove the skin from chicken meat.
  • Make sure that all meat products are thoroughly cooked.
  • It is recommended to consume fish other than sharks and swordfish, twice a week. At most, one of these should be selected from oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc.).
  • The saccharin contained in artificial sweeteners is harmful to the fetus, its use is not recommended.
  • Raw or undercooked products such as mayonnaise are not recommended.
  • Raw products and cooked foods should not be stored in the same environment.
  • Hands should be washed thoroughly after contact with raw products.
  • Kitchen utensils such as cutting boards and knives that come into contact with raw products should be thoroughly washed.
  • Milk and dairy products should be preferred low-fat or fat-free.
  • It is not recommended to consume chocolate, chips, carbonated drinks. In addition to the fat and sugar ratios they contain, additives can also be harmful.
  • During pregnancy, small sandwiches with cheese, tuna sandwiches, salad, low-fat or non-fat yogurt, dried fruit, fresh fruit, oatmeal with milk, breakfast cereals, dairy products, small amounts of nuts, cakes can be preferred as snacks during pregnancy.
  • In case of consuming packaged products, packaging information, content, additives, expiry date, etc. should be evaluated well.
  • When consuming fish products, it is recommended not to prefer fish containing heavy metals such as mercury, to eat different kinds of fish by alternating, to prefer steamed or boiled.
  • Herbal teas such as linden, rosehip, fennel can be consumed. However, senna, sage, basil, raspberry and flax seeds are not preferred as they can increase uterine contractions.