It's important to take care of yourself at this time. But even if you eat a healthy, varied diet, it can be hard to get enough folic acid, iron, vitamin D and calcium.
During pregnancy, it is easiest for the body to absorb nutrients in the form of healthy food. But it can be good to complement your diet with supplements and multivitamins. Folic acid is recommended for women both before and during pregnancy. And many women need to take an iron supplement to protect against anaemia.
The Swedish National Food Agency recommends that all women planning a pregnancy take a folic acid supplement, preferably a month before getting pregnant.
If you are already pregnant, it is especially important to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily until week 12. This is because taking folic acid during the first trimester reduces the risk of spinal bifida in the foetus. And folic acid is also important during the rest of your pregnancy, both for yourself and the foetus.
Foods containing folic acid
- vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and cabbage
- beans, chickpeas, lentils
- fruits and berries
- whole grain products
- folic acid tablets
Calcium is essential to the development of the baby's skeleton and teeth. You should try to eat approximately 900 mg of calcium per day. This is equivalent to about 500 ml of milk and a portion of yoghurt or a few slices of cheese. If you only want to drink milk, you will need about 750 ml.
Foods containing calcium:
- milk, yoghurt, cheese
- broccoli, spinach, cabbage
- green beans
Calcium and vitamin D should be eaten together. Vitamin D is essential in order for you and the baby to absorb the calcium in your food. You can get some of these nutrients through your food, but the body also produces its own vitamin D when you spend time in the sun.
Foods containing vitamin D:
- milk, soured milk, yoghurt, margarine (enriched with vitamin D)
- fish and eggs
Swedes do not normally need to take extra vitamin D during the sunny seasons, but they may need to in the winter.
The darker your skin, the more difficulty it has producing vitamin D. If you tend to keep most of your body covered up when you are outdoors, you may need a vitamin D supplement even during sunny periods. Consult your midwife.
Don't overdose on vitamin A
Among other things, vitamin A is essential to the development of your baby's vision. However, it is believed that too much vitamin A in early pregnancy risks harming the foetus.
To prevent your growing baby from getting too much vitamin A, you should avoid eating liver and kidney. Liver pate is OK because it is low in vitamin A but high in iron, which your body needs during pregnancy.
If you take vitamin supplements, make sure they provide no more than 1 milligram of vitamin A per day.
Carrots contain plenty of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, and you can't overdose on them.
If you choose a multivitamin supplement intended for use during pregnancy, it will contain the recommended daily amount of folic acid and vitamin D.
Always tell your midwife which vitamins and other supplements you are taking. It is unnecessary to take dietary supplements unless recommended by your midwife or doctor. You should particularly avoid products containing ginseng and algae.
Many pregnant women become anaemic. Read here about how to get enough iron in your diet.