Nutrition is one of the most important issues concerning maternal and infant health during pregnancy. It is possible to have a healthy and easier pregnancy with the right diet. Near East University Hospital Gynecology and Obstetrics Department Specialist Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay gave tips on how to plan proper nutrition during pregnancy.
Stating that the children of women with severe malnutrition experience health problems, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that carbohydrate, protein, fat and vitamin requirements, which are the main nutritional sources, increase in the body during pregnancy, and accordingly, the amount of calories increases: “The difference in calorie requirement between pregnant and non-pregnant women is only 300 calories, and this It is a difference that can be compensated by eating 1 – 2 spoons more in a meal. The important thing is not to eat too much and gain weight, but to take the necessary substances in a balanced and sufficient amount. The expectant mother should gain an average of 11 – 13 kg by eating adequately. Weight monitoring should be done during pregnancy. It is normal to gain an average of half a kilo to one kilo in the first three months, and an average of 1,5 kg to 2 kg per month in the following periods.”
Increase the number of meals to five during pregnancy
Stating that changes should be made in the diet during pregnancy, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that three meals a day, which are used in normal times, should be increased to five during pregnancy. Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özay stated that by increasing the number of meals in this period, expectant mothers can prevent nausea and vomiting that may occur in the early period, and they can also prevent stomach burning and bloating problems.
Do not consume Fast Food!
Stating that the fast food eating pattern is generally devoid of nutritional value and high-calorie, Asst. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that eating fast food is not recommended especially during pregnancy because it contains a high amount of additives. Stating that calories are necessary for three reasons during pregnancy, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özay stated that these three reasons are the production of new tissues related to pregnancy, the maintenance of these tissues and the movement of the body. Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özay continued as follows: “A pregnant woman needs about 300 more calories per day than a non-pregnant woman. This clearly demonstrates the importance of a balanced diet, not over-nutrition. While calorie consumption during pregnancy is minimal in the first 3 months, it increases rapidly after this period. In the second 3 months, these calories mainly cover the development of the plannta and embryo, while in the last 3 months, they are mainly spent on the growth of the baby. In a normal healthy woman, the recommended calorie increase during the entire pregnancy is 11 – 13 kg. Of these 11 kilos, 6 kilos belong to the mother, and 5 kilos belong to the baby and its formations.
Excessive consumption of carbohydrates causes the mother to gain excessive weight
Stating that the three main energy sources that meet the caloric needs of the body are protein, fats and carbohydrates, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay continued: “If carbohydrates are taken insufficiently, your body starts to burn proteins and fats to provide energy. In such a case, two consequences may arise. Firstly, there is not enough protein to ensure the development of your baby's brain and nervous system, and secondly, ketones appear. Ketones are acids that are the product of fat metabolism and can negatively affect brain development by disrupting the baby's acid-base balance. Therefore, a low-carbohydrate diet is not recommended during pregnancy. Complex carbohydrate sources such as rice, flour, bulgur, besides being a source of energy for the mother, contain plenty of B group vitamins and trace elements such as zinc, selenium, chromium, and magnesium. If carbohydrates are in excess, they do not provide any extra benefit for the baby, and they only cause the expectant mother to gain excessive weight.
Consume 60 to 80 grams of protein per day
Stating that proteins composed of structures called amino acids form the basic building blocks of cells in the body, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that there are 20 types of amino acids in nature, some of them can be produced from other substances in the body, while amino acids called essential amino acids cannot be produced in the body, so they must be taken from outside through food. Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özay emphasized that proteins are the building blocks of all cells in the body, from hair to toe, and are of vital importance for the development of the brain and nervous system, and recommended that pregnant women consume 60 - 80 grams of protein a day.
Use olive oil instead of margarine and sunflower oil!
Stating that meat, fish, poultry, eggs and legumes provide protein as well as vitamins and minerals, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that protein is important for tissue development and new tissue formation in pregnant women and their babies. Stating that such foods should be taken at least three meals a day, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özay stated that legumes can be eaten with cheese, milk or meat to increase their protein value. Emphasizing that there is no change in the body's need for fat-containing nutrients during pregnancy, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özay added that 30% of the daily calories should be fed from fats. At the same time, he recommended the use of olive oil by avoiding saturated oils such as margarine and sunflower oil.
When should vitamin supplements be used?
Stating that it is a routine event to administer drugs containing many vitamins and minerals to pregnant women, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that the necessity of these drugs is still a matter of debate. Stating that there is no need for external vitamin support for a pregnant woman with a balanced and proper diet, the best way to get vitamins and minerals is to consume natural foods. Assoc. Dr. Expressing that pregnant women will not need medical support if they are fed properly, Özay said: “Folic acid and iron are in an exceptional situation regarding medical support. Since folic acid is key for the baby's brain and nervous system development, it should be taken three months before conception. The increased iron requirement during pregnancy is not met naturally. For this reason, especially after the second half of pregnancy, iron supplements are given externally. Since iron deficiency anemia is very common in Turkish society, support can be started from the very beginning of pregnancy if anemia is detected in the blood count performed at the beginning of pregnancy. Another importance of iron use during pregnancy is that it is necessary to adequately replenish the iron stores of both the expectant mother and the baby, even if there is no anemia.
The most important nutrient of pregnancy period: Water
Stating that water is the most important nutrient that should be taken care of during pregnancy, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that while it was argued in the past that salt consumption should be restricted during pregnancy, today there are opinions advocating that this is not necessary, that salt taken with food in normal amounts is sufficient and that restrictions should not be applied. Stating that a pregnant woman should take 2 grams of salt per day, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Özlen Emekçi Özay stated that insufficient or excessive salt intake negatively affects the fluid and electrolyte balance of the expectant mother.