Your diet can have a big impact on your chances of getting pregnant – and subsequently a big impact on the development of the fetus. Read more in this blog post, where we summarise good dietary advice for fertility and pregnancy and tips for a method that you can use to ensure a good and sensible diet.
Many different factors can influence how easily a woman gets pregnant. You have probably heard that the woman’s age means a lot for her chances of pregnancy, which is primarily due to the fact that successful fertilisation becomes harder and harder over time. But other factors such as overweight, underweight or malnutrition can also have an impact. In general, the message is that stable healthy eating habits increase your chances of pregnancy and of giving birth to a healthy child who stays healthy, through adulthood as well. Researchers have shown that once you become pregnant, it is important for fetal development that you continue to make sure you eat the right diet. Below we have listed 5 good reasons to think about your diet when being pregnant:
Obesity or severe weight gain during pregnancy is associated with increased birth weight as well as metabolic problems and obesity for the baby later in life1.
Underweight is not healthy either. Lack of energy-giving nutrients in the fetal state gives rise to metabolic adaptation to a life with limited nutrition – ie. in the child, the body is prepared to utilise the nutrients optimally (low metabolism). This will most likely mean that the child will have trouble keeping a healthy weight2.
Healthy diet (lots of vegetables, fruits and vegetable oils) reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia compared to more unhealthy diets (lots of meat, sugary drinks and salty snacks)3.
You should also make sure you get enough protein, fat and carbohydrates. Protein is needed by both mother and fetus as an energy source, but also for the formation of e.g. hormones, antibodies and cellular components, especially muscle cells. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which the body itself can form most of, but the so-called essential amino acids we must get through our diet. Fat can also be formed by the body itself, but most polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential. The body needs fat for formation of hormones, nerves, cell membranes and optimal regulation of blood pressure and immune response. Carbohydrates have been much denounced in recent years, and it is also true that one can easily ingest an excess of carbohydrates, which the body thereby converts to and stores as fat. However, a stable moderate intake of complex carbohydrates such as starch and fiber is good for blood sugar levels and body function in general4.
Do not underestimate the importance of minerals and vitamins. The body needs iron to maintain a normal blood percentage. Calcium is necessary for bone formation, the formation of healthy teeth and the entire motor function of the body, and a lack of calcium also increases the risk of pre-eclampsia and rickets (soft skull bones, wheel bone, growth retardation) in the fetus5,6. The uptake of calcium is dependent on vitamin D, which is why the above risks increase with a lack of vitamin D. Lack of folic acid increases the risk of spinal cord herniation in the fetus7.
A way to
ensure a good and sensible diet is by using Sense. Here you put together your
diet with the right distribution between vegetables, protein, starch / fruit
and fat. Practically and more specifically, you measure the amount of food you
need to eat with the palms of your hands. Then use the Sense “lunch
boxes”, which are both a practical and a mental tool, to help you keep
track of your meals. Each lunch box represents a meal. You have three lunch
boxes available a day, each filled with your three to four handfuls of food
plus one to three tablespoons of fat.
to author Suzy Wengel, since she launched the concept in 2014, she has received
several messages from users who say that they have succeeded in getting
pregnant and having “Sense babies” after using her dietary advice.
Watch the video below where Suzy explains the simple and easy-to-use tools in Sense that can help you change your eating habits.
Read more about Sense here, where there is material and guide videos free-of-charge.
Poston L (2012): Maternal obesity,
gestational weight gain and diet as determinants of offspring long term health.
Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 26:627–639.
Almond D and Currie J (2011): Killing
Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis. J Econ Perspectives 25, 153-172.
Brantsaeter et al. (2009): A
dietary pattern characterized by high intake of vegetables, fruits, and
vegetable oils is associated with reduced risk of preeclampsia in nulliparous
pregnant Norwegian women. J. Nutr. 139, 1162–1168.
Amezcua-Prieto et al. (2019): Types
of Carbohydrates Intake During Pregnancy and Frequency of a small for
Gestational Age Newborn: A Case-Control Study. Nutrients. 11(3) 523.doi:
Hofmeyr et al. (2014): Calcium
supplementation during pregnancy for preventing hypertensive disorders and
related problems. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 6, CD001059.
Pettifor JM (2014): Calcium and
Vitamin D Metabolism in Children in Developing Countries. Ann Nutr Metab. 64
Van Gool et al. (2018): Folic Acid
and Primary Prevention of Neural Tube Defects: A Review. Reprod Toxicol.