Table of contents:
- Diet in Pregnancy
- Why does the energy requirement increase during pregnancy?
- What is the nutritional requirement during pregnancy?
- Which foods and luxury foods should be avoided during pregnancy?
- What specific dietary recommendations are there for pregnant women?
Diet in Pregnancy
So that mother and child are well supplied with energy and nutrients, a balanced and varied diet is important. The additional requirement should be covered by nutrient-dense foods. These include, for example, vegetables, fruit and whole grain products. Certain foods and stimulants are taboo during pregnancy. These include alcohol and nicotine.
The diet before and during pregnancy is based on the general recommendations for a healthy diet. It should cover needs and be varied. Ideally, several meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a morning and afternoon snack and a late meal) are eaten per day. In this way, the pregnant woman's body is evenly supplied with energy and nutrients.
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- ">Why does the energy requirement increase during pregnancy?
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- Which foods and luxury foods should be avoided during pregnancy?
- What specific dietary recommendations are there for pregnant women?
Why does the energy requirement increase during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, additional energy is required for the child's growth, the formation of new body tissue and an increase in the basal metabolic rate. This additional energy requirement increases gradually and is often overestimated. It is not necessary to eat for two while pregnant. Gaining too much weight can negatively affect the child's development and the mother's health. For example, the risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes as well as high birth weight and overweight / obesity in childhood and adolescence is increased. The ideal weight gain during pregnancy depends on the starting weight before pregnancy.
You can find more information here: Physical changes during pregnancy
How high is the energy requirement during pregnancy?
The daily energy requirement for pregnant women increases by an average of 250 kcal from the second trimester of pregnancy (13th to 27th week of pregnancy). It is not necessary to eat more before the 13th week of pregnancy. In the third trimester of pregnancy (28th to 40th week of pregnancy) the calorie requirement increases again by approx. 250 kcal per day. In total, the guide value for the additional energy intake in the 28th week of pregnancy is 500 kcal.
The following food combinations correspond roughly to 250 kcal:
- an apple and a pack of plain buttermilk (0.5 liters) or
- a piece of wholemeal bread with a sheet of ham, a small slice of lean cheese and ¼ fresh cucumber or
- a serving of vegetable patty with yoghurt dip.
The following food combinations correspond approximately to 500 kcal:
- a serving of colorful lentil stew or
- a portion of pikeperch with polenta and tomato salad or
- a serving of couscous salad with apple and a small handful of nuts (e.g. ten grams of walnuts).
(Source: German Society for Nutrition, Austrian Society for Nutrition, Swiss Society for Nutrition (Hrsg): Energy. In: Reference values for nutrient intake. Bonn, 2nd edition, 1st edition (2015)
What is the nutritional requirement during pregnancy?
The need for nutrients increases faster than the need for energy during pregnancy. The need for vitamins of the B group (e.g. folic acid) and the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and some minerals (e.g. iron, iodine, zinc and magnesium) is increased. A deficiency in certain nutrients (e.g. folic acid) can lead to complications for mother and child (e.g. growth retardation, premature birth) during pregnancy.
Note Always discuss the use of preparations with a doctor.
During pregnancy, particular attention should be paid to the intake of the following nutrients:
- Protein: The basis for the recommendations for protein intake are protein deposits and an average weight gain of 12 kg during the entire pregnancy. The recommendation for the intake of protein increases in the second trimester of pregnancy (13th to 27th week of pregnancy) by 7 g of protein per day. This amount can be covered by an extra serving of dairy products per day (or an additional serving of fish, lean meat or an egg per week). In the third trimester of pregnancy (28th to 40th week of pregnancy), the recommended additional protein intake is 21 g per day. See protein for more information.
- Folate / folic acid:Folate is a water-soluble vitamin that is important, among other things, for cell division and the growth of the child. The synthetic form of the vitamin is called folic acid. It occurs in fortified foods and vitamin supplements. A folate deficiency can increase the risk of impaired growth in the child and of congenital malformations of the brain and / or the spinal cord, e.g. neural tube defects (the most common form of open back). In addition to a diet rich in folates (e.g. green vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grain cereal products), a folic acid preparation should be taken if you wish to have children. It is recommended not only to start during pregnancy, but also before the pregnancy begins. Important: Always discuss the use of preparations with a doctor.For more information, see Folic Acid.
- Vitamin A: The recommended intake of vitamin A is increased from the fourth month of pregnancy. Vitamin A is required for growth and development, the strengthening of the immune system as well as lung maturation and the visual process. Yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots and green vegetables (eg spinach, kale, green cabbage, broccoli) are good sources of vitamin A during pregnancy. These contain precursors of vitamin A, such as beta-carotene, which are converted into vitamin A as required can be. Liver as a direct source of vitamin A is not recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy due to its high vitamin A content. For safety reasons, vitamin A intake during pregnancy should not exceed 3 mg per day. For more information, see Vitamin A.
- Iron: The iron requirement is increased during pregnancy due to the growth of the fetus, the formation of the placenta and the increase in the maternal blood volume. The recommended amount (30 mg per day) is difficult to achieve with food. However, the increased iron requirement with advancing pregnancy causes an increasing usability (bioavailability) of the iron consumed. A doctor should clarify whether it is necessary to take any preparations. In any case, a diet rich in iron is recommended (e.g. meat, whole grain products, legumes, oat flakes). See Iron for more information.
- Iodine: During pregnancy, the need for iodine increases due to the increased production of thyroid hormones, the growth of the baby and increased excretion via the kidneys. The use of iodized table salt and the regular consumption of sea fish (e.g. salmon, herring) and milk (products) are recommended. The use of iodine preparations should always be discussed with a doctor. For more information, see iodine.
- Calcium and vitamin D.: Both mother and unborn child need calcium, among other things for building bones. The recommended calcium intake for all women 19 years and older is 1,000 mg per day. The intake of this recommended intake is achieved by consuming 250 ml of milk and two slices of cheese. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract as well as bone development. The body's own production of vitamin D takes place when the skin is exposed to sunlight and, compared to vitamin D intake through food, makes up the majority (approx. 80-90 percent) for the supply of vitamin D. As a good food source for the supply of vitamin D. Use fatty fish (e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel) and, to a lesser extent, liver, margarine (enriched with vitamin D), egg yolks and some edible mushrooms.WHO experts do not recommend a general intake of vitamin D to pregnant women, but only in the case of a proven vitamin D deficiency. A doctor should discuss whether it is necessary to take vitamin D supplements. For more information, see Calcium and Vitamin D.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the healthy development of the eyes and the brain. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chain, highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, is particularly found in high-fat fish (e.g. salmon, char). If fish is not eaten regularly (one or two servings per week), vegetable oils such as rapeseed, walnut or linseed oil should be used. The alpha-linolenic acid contained in these oils can be converted into DHA. After consulting a doctor, the use of preparations (DHA) can be recommended if necessary. See fats for more information.
Play YouTube video Eating properly during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Which foods and luxury foods should be avoided during pregnancy?
Some foods and beverages should not be consumed during pregnancy. Certain products can even lead to foodborne infections (e.g. listeriosis) that can spread to the child.
The following foods and luxury foods should be avoided:
- No alcohol and nicotine (flour dishes, sweets or cooked sauces can also contain (residual) alcohol).
- Caffeine only in moderation: a maximum of two to three cups of coffee or a maximum of four cups of green or black tea per day. Caution: Iced tea, iced coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks with guarana etc. also contain caffeine.
- No beverages containing quinine (tonic water and bitter lemon) and no highly sugared drinks.
- No raw or incompletely cooked meat (e.g. carpaccio, beef tartare, medium steak).
- No raw meat products such as Mettwurst, raw sausages (e.g. salami), smoked meat.
- No raw milk or products made with raw milk. The label “made with raw milk” on the product indicates this.
- No soft cheese and smeared cheese (e.g. brie, camembert, blue cheese). In addition, the rind of the cheese should be removed before consumption.
- No raw or not completely cooked eggs (e.g. soft eggs, fried eggs) and dishes that contain raw eggs (e.g. tiramisu, mayonnaise, chocolate mousse).
- No raw and semi-raw fish, no raw seafood (e.g. sushi, maki, oysters, caviar) and no smoked / fermented and pickled fish (e.g. gravlax, smoked salmon).
- No high-fat predatory fish species such as tuna, swordfish, halibut and pike and no offal due to possible heavy metal contamination.
- No pre-cut, packaged salads or unheated / raw sprouts and seedlings, no unheated frozen berries.
- No open pickled food, ready-made sandwiches, open salads and freshly squeezed juices in grocery stores, restaurants and communal catering.
- Pay special attention to the hygiene of sliced sausage and cheese products packaged in the supermarket as well as pre-marinated meat.
YouTube video What should not be eaten during pregnancy and breastfeeding? play
You can find more information on foodborne infections during pregnancy here:
- AGES: Brochure: Pregnancy - Food Infections
- REVAN: Recommendations for Avoiding Food Infections During Pregnancy
What specific dietary recommendations are there for pregnant women?
The Austrian food pyramid for pregnant and breastfeeding women provides simple and practical tips. The essentials in brief:
- Drinks: Drink enough and regularly (at least 1.5 liters). Ideal drinks are water, mineral water, unsweetened fruit teas and highly diluted fruit and vegetable juices in a ratio of 1: 3.
- Vegetables, pulses and fruit: three servings of vegetables or pulses and two servings of fruit a day. From the 13th week of pregnancy, an extra portion of fruit or vegetables is added to the menu.
- Bread, pasta, potatoes and co.: Four servings of cereals, bread, pasta, rice or potatoes, preferably made from whole grain, every day. A fifth serving can be added from the 13th week of pregnancy.
- Milk and milk products: three servings of milk and milk products such as yogurt, curd cheese and cheese every day. The lower-fat variant offers more advantages. From the 13th week of pregnancy, an additional serving (or: one serving of fish, lean meat or one egg per week) can be placed on the plate.
- High-quality vegetable oils: The daily requirement for essential fatty acids can be covered by one to two tablespoons of high-quality vegetable oils (e.g. olive, rapeseed, walnut and linseed oil), nuts and seeds. From the 28th week of pregnancy, there should be an extra serving of vegetable oil, nuts or seeds. Spread, baking and frying fats as well as high-fat milk products such as whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche should be used sparingly.
- Fish: Ideally, one to two servings of fish (150 g each) are eaten per week.
- Meat, sausage and eggs: We recommend no more than three servings of lean meat or lean sausage products per week (300 to 450 g per week). Red meat (e.g. beef and pork) should be eaten less often. There can be up to three eggs per week on the menu.
- Sweets, snacks and high-energy drinks rarely.
Tip During pregnancy, digestive problems such as constipation can occur. This can be counteracted with a high-fiber diet (whole grains, vegetables and fruit), plenty of fluids in combination with moderate exercise.
You can find more information under Symptoms during pregnancy.
Further helpful information:
Food pyramid for pregnant and breastfeeding women (Ministry of Social Affairs)
- Poster: Food pyramid for pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Folder: Food pyramid for pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Recipe brochure: “Eat right from the start! - Pregnancy and breast feeding period"
- Food selection according to the food pyramid; online under Eat right from the start!
- Vitamin and mineral sources: online at Eat right from the start!
You can find more information about proper nutrition during pregnancy in the free workshops that are offered throughout Austria as part of the “Eat right from the start!” Program.