Nutrition during pregnancy is one of the hottest topics expectant mums and their family members will talk about. Just think about all the lengthy messages forwarded to you over messaging applications like WhatsApp and Telegram, and all those Facebook links shared. Don’t you hope that all these could be summarized once and for all into an easy-to-read and simple summary?
Well, here it is.
Amongst many other things to worry about, first time parents end up stressing too much about nutrition in pregnancy. So many mums-to-be and dads-to-be are overwhelmed by the de facto flood of information available and presented to them. Thus, our team at MEIDE has taken it upon ourselves to sort out these myths and facts and give you a concise and one-stop guide for nutrition in pregnancy.
The 6 Rules To Follow About Nutrition During Pregnancy
In a one-minute short read, nutrition during pregnancy should adhere to these six important rules:
- Avoid consumption of alcohol contents at all costs – these increase risks of fetal defects and birth complications.
- Avoid raw foods, especially unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, raw eggs, and meat, as certain germs (such as the Toxoplasma bacteria) thrive in uncooked dishes (eg. sashimi) and will cause dreadful diseases to your unborn baby.
- Gradually (over a few days) increase your caloric intake by 300 to 400 kcal. That is equivalent to about 1 breakfast or half a lunch/dinner serving. Or simply refer here for suggested foods of 300 calorie.
- Start supplementation of Folic Acid, Vitamins A, B (especially B12), C and D, Calcium and Iron. Additionally, you can read about the importance and “enriched foods” containing such nutrients here. Oh, and did we mention – it may actually be beneficial for ladies to start these supplementations even during stages of conception planning!
- Stop smoking! Need we say more?
- Stay away from foods high in mercury such a shark, swordfish and century eggs – refer to a list here.
Now, doesn’t that make your lives so much simpler and better? Take time to treasure your pregnancy journey and worry less!
If you are keen to learn more, let us now discuss some frequently asked questions about nutrition during pregnancy too!
9 Common Questions Regarding Diet and Nutrition During Pregnancy
There are tons and thousands of old wives’ tales and myths about nutrition during pregnancy, so we first disclaim that we cannot cover all of them. Nonetheless, based on our experience, we have sieved through numerous established sources and consulted medical professionals for their take. Here are MEIDE’s lists of common questions and myths about nutrition during pregnancy to clarify and debunk respectively!!
Do I need a dietary revamp?
Well, unless you have really been leading a very, very unhealthy diet, most women do not need to stress about a diet revamp. In fact, as long as you follow our six rules above, fret less and focus on enjoying your pregnancy journey!
As a rule of thumb, a healthy expectant lady should upkeep her nutrition habits almost similar to what she normally has, and there is no real need to have a drastic revamp of diet.
Should I eat for two persons during pregnancy?
No, do not eat double, or twice your amount of food! Overeating during pregnancy is not good. It may lead to increased risks of gestational diabetes, or even worsen symptoms of fluid retention and vomiting. If you are harboring twins, triplets, or more, consult your doctor for detailed advice – but again, most pregnant ladies do not actually need to eat twice the amount of food.
Can I take bittergourd during pregnancy?
Now, this may seem trivial, but it is a serious nutritional topic during pregnancy! Why? Because bittergourd is an ingredient used traditionally for abortions and contraception traditionally. However, it is vital to note that in such procedures, very high concentrations and quantities of bitter gourds are used. Usually, people would use bitter gourd juice or paste for it.
Thus, it may be prudent to avoid bitter gourds in large amounts. Moreover, according to a local expert – scientific studies have shown that large amounts of bitter gourd can cause uterine contractions – possibly causing pregnancy complications.
But before you panic, let us reassure you that bitter gourd MUST be taken in really large amounts to produce such effects. Hence, if you take a balanced diet, and consume bitter gourd in moderate amounts or with other foods, such risks are pretty low.
Can I take seafood, eggs and cow’s milk during pregnancy?
Long answer short, yes you can. Although there are rumors and old wives’ tales about these nutritional products causing allergies, asthma and so on, they are NOT scientifically proven. Perhaps, as above, one thing to avoid is raw seafood or unpasteurized milk. Otherwise, the rest is probably hearsay. Hence, worry less about the dos and don’ts, but focus just on the 6 tips on nutrition during pregnancy above! Maintain a balanced diet and you will be fine!
Can I take mooncakes?
Yes, but only small amounts are recommended. Why? Because of the lack of nutrition and high sugar and saturated fat contents in most of the mooncakes in Singapore! Furthermore, if you have a family history or personal history of heart disease, high cholesterol, or diabetes melitus, it is best to avoid such unhealthy snacks and foods altogether. Lastly, pregnant women at risk of, or diagnosed with gestational diabetes melitus, should stay far away from mooncakes and other similar foods with high sugar and low nutrients!
Can I take coffee or tea during pregnancy?
Again, this is an important topic to note for pregnant ladies! Simply put, coffee or tea should be taken in close moderation and limited to 2 cups per day. Better still, coffee or tea can be totally omitted for health-conscious mothers-to-be!
If need be, it is also advisable to consume these beverages in between meals, rather than during or before meals. The reason is that polyphenols and tannins contained in these drinks can reduce the absorption of iron, which is an essential nutrient for pregnant mums! Yes, you hear right. The chemicals responsible for these undesirable effects of coffee and tea are not caffeine. Thus, decaffeinated coffee or tea should be avoided or limited too.
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Should I take Bird’s Nest or Chicken’s Essence During Pregnancy?
There are two sides to this. First, some claim Bird’s Nest and Chicken’s Essence provide nourishing benefits. Yet, others say that they may contribute to allergies, asthma and other ailments. All in all, scientific evidence has yet to sufficiently prove either. Notably, there are hearsays about Bird’s Nest contributing towards asthma, allergies and eczema. However, it should be noted that consumption of Bird’s Nest as nutrition during pregnancy has not (yet) been proven as a definitive causative factor. In fact, the allergy to Bird’s Nest is a unique ailment amongst Asian kids. Like asthma and eczema, it is probably more genetic-related.
Although some sources may claim that these products contribute to sugar and calorie intake unnecessarily, as long as you keep within the recommended limits and consume in moderation, these should be of little worry. Consult your doctor if you are still unsure!
Can I take traditional herbs or tonic soups?
In general, traditional herbs or tonics are double-edged swords. Nutrition during pregnancy should focus on our 6 tips as elaborated above. Even with extensive research, one can only conclude that there are numerous articles espousing the possible benefits (eg. boosting intelligence) of herbs and tonics. However, there are also numerous articles warning about possible adverse effects (eg. organ damage). As such, in our professional opinion, it may be wiser to simply save your time and money and skip the herbs and tonics!
Is full cream or low fat milk better?
In terms of nutrition, both full cream and low fat milk contain similar essential beneficial ingredients – particularly Calcium, Phosphorus, and proteins. Hence, both are equally nutritious for pregnant ladies! The difference is that full cream milk has higher calories and fat content. Thus, in general, low fat milk is considered healthier. That said, we would not sweat it if your overall calorie and fat intake is well within the acceptable limits of your balanced diet! As mentioned in our 6 basic rules above, just take note not to over consume (or under consume) the calories and foods!
Bottomline About Nutrition In Pregnancy
We hope you have benefitted from these concise tips for nutrition in pregnancy!
All in all, simply reduce fatty, oily and processed foods, and eat a healthy and balanced diet. Again, there is no real need to panic and decide to reconstruct an entirely fresh “pregnancy diet” based on the flood of tips and advice fed (pun intended) to you. Nutrition in pregnancy is as simple as these 6 tips from us at MEIDE!
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