Why do I crave butter during pregnancy?
Women who are expecting their first child, in particular, are often unsure what to expect of themselves and their child during pregnancy. A real industry has also emerged that aims to satisfy the alleged and actual information needs and wishes of pregnant women with its products.
The basic rule is very simple: a balanced diet and a regular rhythm of life without excesses are best for mother and child. So there is very little that is forbidden, such as Need.
A woman's body is naturally well-equipped for pregnancy. Nevertheless: Knowing what your own organism and the growing child need helps to hopefully experience pregnancy in a healthy and carefree way.
Dinner for two? - Diet and energy needs
Being pregnant doesn't mean “eating for two”. However, indulging yourself is allowed! Ideally with enough time for a varied, high-quality meal with a lot of insoluble fiber, fiber, which ideally consists of 15–20% protein, 25% fat and 55–60% carbohydrates. Whole grain products are particularly suitable as a source of carbohydrates during pregnancy, among other things because they contain insoluble fibers that protect against constipation.
metabolism. The metabolism of pregnant women changes. The “basal metabolic rate” - that is the amount of energy that the body consumes per day without great exertion - increases by 20%; that sounds like a lot, but only corresponds to ~ 500 kcal per day. The necessary “more” is often achieved with an additional one or two slices of wholemeal bread. During the entire pregnancy, an expectant mother should not gain more than 13, a maximum of 15 kg.
Diet cures are to be strictly avoided during pregnancy - on the one hand, they place a considerable burden on the entire organism, on the other hand, they increase the child's pollution by mobilizing harmful substances stored in fat during the weight loss cure.
oxygen. Mother and child need around 20–30% more oxygen during pregnancy, especially in the last three months. This explains why pregnant women breathe faster and deeper.
Drink. Another basic substance is increasingly needed by pregnant women: water. The daily amount should be at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water, juice spritzer or herbal tea. The reason for this is shown in the following example: In the 30th week of pregnancy, around 2.5 liters of water per hour are transported in the bloodstream from mother to child (and back again) just to exchange the amniotic fluid!
protein. The child in particular needs a lot of protein to grow. Therefore, the diet of the pregnant woman should be at least 80-100 g of protein per day. B. in dairy products, fish, low-fat meat and whole grain products. A vegetarian diet with lots of eggs and dairy products can cover the protein requirement, but not the iron requirement. In any case, a vegan diet does not contain enough protein; it must be discouraged during pregnancy.
fat. The guideline value for fat for pregnant women is around 70 g per day. That looks like a lot, but it isn't. Because fat is not only contained in fat products such as butter and oil, but also in many other foods. So are z. B. sausage, chips and chocolate extremely rich in fat. 250 g chips contain z. B. ~ 70 g fat. Therefore, pregnant women should be careful with such foods and (largely) omit them.
Insoluble fiber (Fiber). A high-fiber diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grain products prevents constipation, which is common during pregnancy.
Calcium. Because the child's skeletal development begins early in pregnancy and the bones grow with it throughout the pregnancy, the calcium requirement is increased. We therefore recommend 1.5 g of calcium per day for pregnant women instead of the usual 1 g. This amount can be covered well with milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts, green vegetables and whole grain products.
iron. The body needs significantly more iron during pregnancy than usual. Unfortunately, many women develop anemia in the course of their pregnancy, more precisely iron deficiency anemia. That is why the hemoglobin and thus indirectly the iron content of the blood is measured during the preventive pregnancy check-up.
A common recommendation is to take in an additional 20 mg of iron per day from the 12th week, for example through legumes such as peas or lentils, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, yeast, oatmeal and wheat germ. The best source of iron in natural foods is meat. Accordingly, the risk of iron deficiency anemia is increased with a vegetarian diet.
If, however, an iron deficiency can already be proven, a very meat-rich diet is not enough to replenish the iron stores until birth.
In this case, the gynecologist will recommend a suitable iron preparation (coated tablets or capsules). Unfortunately, many women get nausea, constipation or diarrhea from the supplements. In these cases, midwives often recommend using herbal blood, a juice that contains iron, which is better tolerated.
Every pregnant woman should refrain from eating raw fish, undercooked eggs and raw meat - especially because of the risk of infection with toxoplasmosis.
Iodine. Because the placenta releases messenger substances that increase thyroid function, iodine is a trace element that the body particularly needs during pregnancy. To meet the iodine requirement, one to two fish meals per week and the use of iodized table salt are recommended. However, since many surveys have shown that this is not enough in practice and most areas in Germany are iodine deficient areas, nationwide it is also recommended to take one to two Jodid 100® tablets daily, corresponding to 100–200 µg iodine, as a precautionary measure.
Folic acid. It is also definitely advisable to take folic acid before and in early pregnancy, which has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as an open spinal canal (spina bifida). If you take folic acid during pregnancy, it can probably also reduce the risk of premature birth. It should be taken when planning pregnancy or after contraception has been discontinued; the recommended dose is 0.4 mg (400 µg) to a maximum of 0.8 mg (800 µg) daily. It can be stopped after the fourth month of pregnancy.
Vitamin D. 90% of delivered women and 88% of newborns have a vitamin D deficiency. This was found in a 2011 study that looked at scientists' blood samples taken from the infant's umbilical cord after delivery. A low vitamin D level increases the risk of premature birth in pregnant women. Affected infants are more likely to develop lower respiratory tract infections and rickets after birth, and their bone structure is impaired.
Apart from these recommendations for additional vitamins and minerals: It has not yet been proven whether multivitamin preparations can prevent malformations or premature births. Only folic acid is appropriate in the indicated dosage.
Unusual food preferences
The “appetite for sour cucumbers” during pregnancy is legendary: Cravings for anything are not unusual and you can give in to them confidently - and in moderation. Just as common, however, are strong aversions and even massive nausea towards certain foods such as garlic, onions or generally unfamiliar smells.
This aversion has a deep developmental reason: the growing organism should receive the best possible protection against foreign and thus possibly unhealthy or toxic substances. Therefore, foods that have been known for decades are usually preferred.
And something else to calm you down: the “food cravings” often contain substances that the body needs at the moment!
What is pleasure and what is addiction? What harms “only” the mother, what also affects the child? For most of the so-called luxury foods, these questions can be answered clearly.
Smoke. The most common cause of deficiencies in children is smoking. In contrast to newborns from non-smokers, the affected children are born “too small”. Many studies show that:
- The placenta, which is responsible for supplying the child with food and oxygen, shrinks when the blood vessels become narrowed by nicotine.
- The risk of premature birth is increasing rapidly.
- Smoking affects the brain development of the unborn child.
Passive smoking also has these consequences. Smokers in the vicinity of pregnant women should be warned that they are causing harm to the unborn child.
The connection between tobacco consumption and increased miscarriage rates is plausible: with every cigarette puff, the vessels that lead to the placenta and supply the child with oxygen narrow. Smokers therefore often give birth to underweight children who are also particularly susceptible to respiratory diseases, allergies and infections. Often there are also withdrawal symptoms in newborns from smoking, which are manifested in very frequent crying and months of “bad mood”. Smoking is also a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome.
Despite all these arguments, some smokers fail to quit smoking during pregnancy. Then she should at least reduce her cigarette consumption, which is still better than continuing to smoke unchanged. Quitting smoking before pregnancy is the best solution!
alcohol. Many gynecologists recommend absolutely abstaining from alcohol. Because alcohol gets into the child's body almost unhindered through the placenta and has extremely pathogenic consequences. B. the risk of malformations and miscarriages.
Studies show that even 10 g of alcohol a day, i.e. a small beer or 100 ml of wine, can lead to severe fruit damage (the so-called alcohol embryopathy). As a result, developmental disorders and reduced intelligence can occur in the child.
Many pregnant women find this impractical; they believe that alcoholic beverages are part of social life in our culture. Therefore, other doctors recommend the so-called weekly rule as a compromise: The pregnant woman can consume as much alcohol per week as a non-pregnant woman can safely consume daily, i.e. a glass of wine or two glasses of beer. Nevertheless: the less alcohol, the better!
Smoking and alcohol are poison for the child in the truest sense of the word: Most undesirable developments in unborn babies are caused by nicotine and alcohol.
Caffeine and tea. Scholars are still divided on caffeine. A high consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black tea or cola can promote deficiencies in the unborn and premature babies. According to a US study with animal experiments, coffee consumption in early pregnancy could impair the development of the child's heart. Coffee, black tea and cola drinks can be enjoyed in normal quantities. There is nothing wrong with three to five normal sized cups of coffee a day.
Drugs. Drugs are extremely problematic during pregnancy - for mother and child. Drug addicts pregnant women need professional help to cope with the changed life situation. This help can be provided by drug advice centers and health authorities. Because the children develop withdrawal symptoms after delivery, the child should definitely be born in a center specializing in newborns (perinatal center) with an attached children's clinic.
Although the body goes through a number of changes during pregnancy and “dog days” are unavoidable, most women do very well during this time.
Of course, as the embryo grows, so does the size of the uterus. If it weighs between 30 and 60 g in non-pregnant women, their muscle mass increases by 30 times to 1,200–1,500 g by the time they are born. Towards the end of pregnancy, the uterus takes up so much space that it even prevents the lungs from expanding completely, making breathing difficult. But months beforehand she moves the other organs in the abdomen step by step aside, which causes typical pregnancy symptoms, e. B. Heartburn from the displacement of the stomach and constipation from the squeezing of the bowels. Due to the constant pressure of the uterus on the urinary bladder, the pregnant woman has the feeling of constantly having to go to the toilet, but she can only urinate a little (pollakiuria). But also for hormonal reasons, an increased urge to urinate is completely normal during pregnancy.
In the course of pregnancy, the uterus also presses on the pelvic veins, which favors blood congestion in the veins of the legs; Varicose veins can be the result. Movement, wearing support stockings and regular elevation of the legs work against this.
The veins from the region of the large intestine are also compressed. A congestion in these blood vessels can cause hemorrhoids - these can be treated with analgesic creams or suppositories.
In addition, due to pregnancy, six to seven liters more water than usual are stored in the body. This accumulation of water (edema) in the tissue is the reason why many women complain of arms and legs falling asleep during pregnancy - the water in the tissue presses on the nerves and temporarily paralyzes them. These complaints also disappear after the birth at the latest.
Weight gain of up to 15 kg is harmless during pregnancy. More than half of the weight gain is due to the above-mentioned accumulation of body fluid, mostly in the lower half of the body. The result is uncomfortable swelling in your hands and feet, which is usually not a cause for concern. A lot of exercise and a balanced diet can prevent excessive fluid build-up.
Due to hormones, the mammary glands enlarge in the first few days after the child has implanted in the uterus; by the due date they multiply their volume and weight. Due to the considerable stretching of the surrounding skin areas, the subcutaneous connective tissue can tear; this can lead to the formation of stretch marks. The nipple (nipple) also grows, and the areola (areola) becomes darker and larger. Since the nipples are subject to considerable mechanical stress during breastfeeding, they should be hardened in the course of pregnancy.
The following exercises will help harden the nipples; you can of course also involve your partner:
- Wash the breasts with cold water and a rough washcloth and dry them with a rough towel. This makes the warts coarser and more resilient.
- Vigorously roll the warts with your thumb and forefinger. Even very flat nipples begin to stand up.
- Firmly pinch the warts at the edge of the areola a few times. How to mimic the child's jaw pressure.
- Expose the chest to the fresh air and also to the sun.
- Avoid wearing the bra again and again so that your nipples rub a little on the outer clothing.
- Massage the breasts with a massage oil, from the outside towards the nipples. In the weeks before the birth, it is also possible to strip out some yellowish foremilk. This should also prevent a possible blockage of the milk at the beginning of the breastfeeding period.
Many pregnant women struggle with back pain, especially in the last trimester of pregnancy. No wonder: the bigger the belly, the more the extra weight puts a strain on the back. To compensate for this burden, many pregnant women make a hollow back, which overstrains the back muscles.
In addition, the hormone progesterone loosens the ligaments that stabilize the joints in preparation for childbirth. When the child's head presses on the sacrum towards the end of the pregnancy, pain is inevitable. Even if back pain is inevitable, especially towards the end of pregnancy, it can be prevented.
Skin and hair
During pregnancy, the woman's skin is very well supplied with blood due to the hormonal change, small wrinkles disappear due to the water retention, and acne can also improve. Due to the change in the hormonal balance and the strong stretching of the skin on the stomach, the skin is also stressed. Since most of the abdominal skin is rather dry, a daily massage with skin and massage oils is highly recommended.
As the unborn baby grows, the tension on the abdominal wall increases, which can tear the subcutaneous tissue and the dreaded stretch marks (striae distensae) can form.Unfortunately, these persist even after the birth. Brushing, kneading and plucking the abdominal skin with a body oil should prevent the streak - although scientific studies and life experience show that neither this nor regular lotioning really help.
Because the body produces more hormones during pregnancy that are responsible for the dark skin pigment, dark color deposits often occur in the skin, especially on the nipples, at the vaginal entrance, and around the anus, in the midline of the abdomen (Linea fusca) and butterfly-shaped on the face (Chloasma uterinum). Small, dark-colored warts can also form on many parts of the body. However, these changes regress again after the birth.
Of course, pregnant women can shower every day or wash their whole body. There is also nothing to be said against full baths, not least because women sweat more than usual during pregnancy. The child, its surrounding membranes and the placenta are well protected by the tightly closed cervix, even if bath water penetrates the vagina from outside. Light, not tight-fitting, absorbent clothing supports the wellbeing of the pregnant woman.
In the last trimester of pregnancy, many women lose more hair due to hormonal changes. But this is also reflected in the first few weeks after the birth.
Interestingly, pregnancy also affects teeth. The body needs more calcium and fluoride, two substances that harden and protect the teeth. During pregnancy, these “hardeners” are the first available to the child and their own teeth are missing. In addition, the pH of the saliva drops due to a change in the saliva composition. The result: pregnant women are more prone to tooth decay.
The changed hormone balance also increases the growth of blood vessels in the teeth supporting structure. This leads to more frequent bleeding gums and pregnancy-related inflammation of the mucous membranes (pregnancy gingivitis). To avoid pain, pregnant women should take care of their oral hygiene. H. Brush your teeth regularly and massage the gums with a nourishing balm.
Many dental treatments that are subject to additional payment in Germany can be carried out by the dentist free of charge during pregnancy. One more reason to plan a visit to the dentist during pregnancy.
Exercise during pregnancy is recommended. As long as the cervix is closed, swimming is possible until birth. It is the ideal strengthening gymnastics especially for the back. Comfortable cycling (but not mountain biking over hill and dale), gymnastics, aqua jogging and hiking are also suitable for pregnant women.
Sports with an increased risk of accidents such as skiing or horse riding and sports that cannot be stopped - e.g. B. Sailing and mountaineering - should however be avoided.
Sports that include fast, jerky movements and that strain the pelvic floor muscles are also unfavorable, e.g. B. tennis, squash and trampoline jumping.
Exercise caution when building muscle in the gym; Abdominal muscle training and exercises that put a lot of strain on the tendons and ligaments in particular should be avoided.
Weight training and competitive sports should be taboo during pregnancy. They put such a strain on the body that the unborn child may be insufficiently supplied.
Otherwise, as long as the pregnant woman feels comfortable and not overburdened, exercise is very good for her.
In principle, pregnant women can have sexual intercourse until birth. Many women experience sexual needs during pregnancy as different from “normal” times. There are phases of weakened as well as phases of greater pleasure. However, if complications such as vaginal bleeding (threatened miscarriage) or premature opening of the cervix (cervical insufficiency) occur, or if the pregnant woman has already had several miscarriages, vaginal sex should be strictly avoided.
This also applies if the placenta is in front of the cervix, placenta previa. In the case of infections, sexual intercourse should also be avoided.
Towards the end of pregnancy, uterine contraction during orgasm can trigger labor. In addition, sperm contains the tissue hormone prostaglandin, which softens the firm cervix and could thus initiate childbirth. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid sex if they have premature labor.
At the beginning of pregnancy, many women have an increased need for sleep. You feel tired during the day and sleep more than usual at night. The cause of this is probably the pregnancy hormone progesterone. During pregnancy, especially in the last three months, many women complain of particularly poor sleep. Studies show that the sleep pattern changes: the phases of deep sleep decrease and the tendency to wake up at night increases. In the last phase of pregnancy, sleep disorders occur frequently, e.g. B. through leg cramps, back pain, heartburn, movements of the unborn child, general malaise or increased urination.
Tips against insomnia:
- Make sure you have a regular sleep and wake rhythm. Even if you are already on maternity leave and no longer work, set the alarm clock so that you always get up at the same time in the morning.
- Get outdoors for half an hour at least once a day. "Gentle" sports such as swimming or pregnancy gymnastics also contribute to better falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Avoid excessive stress.
- Muscle relaxation exercises promote sleep.
- Do not eat heavy or spicy foods three hours before going to bed. This avoids heartburn and your digestion comes to rest in time.
Changes in the immune system
Similar to a transplant, the immune system must be made to not only tolerate the "foreign body child" (because it is 50% genetically different from the mother), but also to support it in growing. This is achieved through special antibodies that neutralize the maternal defense reactions and thus prevent rejection.
The change in the immune system is noticed above all by pregnant women who have a chronic disease in which the immune system is involved, such as neurodermatitis or a rheumatic disease, e.g. B. systemic lupus erythematosus. In almost all of them, the symptoms of the disease change, often less severe, but sometimes worse.
From the 20th week of pregnancy, antibodies against pathogens pass through the placenta to the child from the mother's blood and protect it from infections (nest protection) for about six months after birth.
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