A dietician is fully trained to understand the needs of pregnant women. They have the knowledge in food science to design a diet that is adapted to the individual’s needs while avoiding any deficiencies during this important period in their life.
Eating during pregnancy is always a bit of a mystery. Many expectant moms wonder if special pregnancy food supplements are really needed. Well, it depends.. Vitamin B9, vitamin D, iron, calcium … are important for pregnancy, but a balanced diet rich in micronutrients can help limit the use of nutritional supplements.
The specific nutritional needs of the pregnant woman.
Pregnancy is a special moment in life. Your body needs to work for two for a several months, so you’ll need to be pampered even more than usual! And that means a pregnancy diet loaded with micronutrients.
Here are some things you should be aware of:
Sufficient Vitamin B9:
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is a vitamin that we can not make so it has to be introduced into the body by food. During pregnancy, it has a very important role, participating in cell division and therefore your little one’s development. It is also, and above all, essential to the closure of the neural tube, which takes place early on, between the 22nd and 28th day. Maybe you did not even know you were pregnant at that time! An anomaly of this closure is called Spina Bifida. This condition relates to malformations in the nervous system and the brain leading lead to foetal growth retardation. Vitamin B9 is therefore an essential vitamin of pregnancy, and must be provided at about 4mg / day.
Do not neglect Calcium and Vitamin D:
Calcium is, as in adults, responsible for the formation and maintenance of the skeleton of the child, that your child’s development takes place close to your stomach is indicative that it needs plenty of nutrients and minerals. Despite the fact that we generally consume less dairy products during pregnancy it is important that there is an intake all the same – indeed, women should consume a minimum of 1200 mg per day.
Of equal importance, vitamin D helps calcium to attach to bones. A deficiency in this mineral can cause what is called neonatal hypocalcemia* which can lead to neuromuscular disorders in the baby, as well as heart problems.
Have enough iron reserves
During pregnancy, blood volumes increase: it is physiological, you have to ensure the life of another little being who needs plenty of energy!
As a result, the need for iron increases as it is this mineral which is responsible for capturing oxygen and transporting it throughout the body. In order to avoid anaemia, you should make sure you eat foods rich in iron.
What nutritional supplements should we take during pregnancy?
There are a multitude of nutritional supplements available for pregnant woman. Very often, women choose complex vitamins like Gestarelle G3 that promise energy and health throughout pregnancy. And it appears that this marketing works as the 2013 Nutrinet Health Study revealed that almost 75% of women were consuming dietary supplements during their third trimester of pregnancy. But are they really indispensable? Well, no!
You know it, and I repeat it often enough to my patients: you are unique! A blood test will quickly reveal whether you suffer from deficiencies or not, and if a small temporary boost is needed to recharge your batteries. In any case, before any supplementation, consult your doctor. An incorrect supplementation can actually have adverse effects to those desired. Vitamin A, for example, can, if overused, can cause foetal malformations.
The only food supplement that I recommend to be taken in a systematic way (and ANSES too!) is vitamin B9. Given its important role in the development of a baby it is better not to miss it, and this, from the first weeks of pregnancy.
Avoid pregnant food supplements with balanced menus
And what’s the best way to avoid dietary supplements during pregnancy? Simple, preventing possible deficiencies through proper nutrition and balanced diet menus designed for pregnant women. Nature is a marvellous thing, almost all the vitamins and minerals mentioned above are present in the foods you eat every day. It is therefore very important to target these foods during these few months. Here are some examples of what should be found on your plates:
- Calcium: dairy products, sardines, almonds
- Vitamin D: salmon, mackerel, herring and … the SUN!
- Vitamin B9: green leafy vegetables, corn, chickpeas
- Iron: red beans, lentils, clams
It’s not always easy, however, to find foods rich in micronutrients that are important for pregnancy, while being careful about those foods to avoid. It can quickly become messy on your plate. This is why we recommend consulting our team of qualified dietitian-nutritionists who are not only specially trained in the nutrition of pregnant woman, but also in the science of food. They know perfectly well how to advise you to eat properly during pregnancy, ensuring not to miss anything while avoiding any risks. By setting you up on a special pregnancy diet with regular follow-ups, you will no longer have to worry about your diet during pregnancy, and will be able to naturally provide your body with all the micronutrients it needs.
* Bui, T., & Christin-Maitre, S. (2011, October). Vitamine D et grossesse. In Annales d’Endocrinologie (Vol. 72, pp. S23-S28). Elsevier Masson.