Lifestyle advice

If you are or want to get pregnant, we recommend that you have a healthy and balanced diet. This is important for you as a mother-to-be, because such a diet will give you more energy during your pregnancy. Subsequently, you will be stronger when you have to give birth. A healthy diet will also facilitate a speedy recovery after the delivery. A healthy diet is important for your baby as well, because your body provides all the necessary nutrients for your baby.

The healthy diet of the mother provides the foundation of the further development of the baby. Women gain approximately 10-12 kilograms during their pregnancy. If you lose or gain a lot of weight, please discuss this matter during your checkup. We advise against purposely losing weight before or during the pregnancy.

Be careful with:

  • Raw meats: To avoid toxoplasmosis, we recommend that you do not eat any raw (red) meat like red steak, carpaccio, steak tartare or roast beef. If you cook the meat thoroughly, the toxoplasma parasites will no longer pose a threat.
  • Cat litter and gardening: Cat litter and gardening: You can also get toxoplasmosis by touching cat litter, which is why it is important that you do not empty the litter box yourself. Wear gloves when working in the garden and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. It is also important to thoroughly rinse fruit and vegetables.
  • Unpasteurised cheese: Unpasteurised cheese: Listeriosis can be avoided by thoroughly heating your food and by avoiding cheese that is made of raw, unpasteurised milk. This is usually soft, French cheese, with “au lait cru” stated on the label. Soft cheese made of pasteurised milk is safe, as long as you do not keep it in the refrigerator for too long.
  • Pre-packaged raw fish: To avoid listeriosis, we recommend that you cook pre-packaged raw fish thoroughly, and not to eat it raw.
  • Caffeine: We advise you not to drink more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day. This equals 1 cup of coffee or two cups of black tea, or 1 glass of Coca-Cola. Avoid energy drinks during your pregnancy.

For further information: voedingsadviezen bij klachten. General advise about nutrition from the Netherlands Nutrition Centre (in dutch).

For more information about nutrition and pregnancy, we recommend that you read the information on the following website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/healthy-pregnancy-diet/

Folic Acid

We recommend that you take 0,4 – 0,5 milligrams of folic acid a day from the moment that you decide that you want to get pregnant until you are 10 weeks pregnant. This dosage reduces the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, which is also known as spina bifida.

Calcium

The Dutch health council recommends that pregnant women take 1 gram of calcium a day. New research shows that pregnant women who take 1200 milligrams of calcium a day at 12 weeks pregnant and onwards, have a 55% lower chance of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a complication that can disrupt the pregnancy. The main symptom of preeclampsia is high blood pressure.
You can calculate your daily intake of calcium with the help of the calcium calculator. Based on the outcome, you will know how much extra calcium you need a day.

Vitamins

Vitamin A: We recommend that you consume only a small amount of products containing vitamin A, such as liver and liver products like pâté or liver sausage. High concentrations of vitamin A can be toxic.

Vitamin D: Pregnant women need extra vitamin D. This vitamin is produced in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Butter and margarine are examples of products that contain vitamin D. When you are pregnant, your body needs 10 micrograms extra vitamin D a day. This extra dosage of vitamin D enables the body to better absorb calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is important for the mother-to-be, but it is also essential for the formation of the bones, teeth and molars of the baby. Vitamin D is available at drugstores or pharmacies without a prescription.

Vitamin supplements

If you have a healthy and balanced diet, it is not necessary to take vitamin supplements. Folic acid and vitamin D are exceptions. If you feel that you need more vitamins, please make sure to take a vitamin supplement especially for pregnant women. The concentration of vitamin A in such a supplement will not be too high.

For more information about vitamins and minerals, please read:
https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/food-and-nutrition/eating-well/vitamins-and-minerals#overview

We have listed some recommendations for a healthy and balanced diet below. Every day, you should:

  • Drink at least 1,5 litres of water.
  • Eat whole-grain products, potatoes (4 pieces), rice, pasta or legumes (4 – 5 serving spoons).
  • Eat at least 200 grams of vegetables.
  • Eat 2 pieces of fruit a day (fruit also contains a lot of sugar, so it is important not to eat more than two pieces a day).
  • Consume 450-500 ml of dairy products; this includes milk, yoghurt, yoghurt drinks and cheese.
  • Eat about 100-125 grams of meats, fish, chicken, eggs or a meat substitute. (Fish is a major provider of essential fatty acids; these are necessary for the development of the nervous system and the brain of the baby.)
  • Make sure you eat enough food that is high in iron: meat and fish, whole-grain products, green vegetables, eggs and legumes. (It is better not to drink dairy products or coffee or tea during or immediately after dinner; these products will impede the absorption of iron).
  • Eat 30-35 grams of (low-fat) margarine, butter or oil.
  • Make sure you have a varied diet.
  • Regularly eat small(er) portions, so as to keep your sugar level constant.
  • Try to refrain from sweets

Alcohol and smoking

Smoking and alcohol are bad for your unborn baby. It is wise to stop smoking when you want to get pregnant or as soon as you know that you are pregnant. The same accounts for consuming alcohol.

Smoking and pregnancy

Women who smoke are less fertile and have miscarriages more often. Babies of women who smoke are often born too early and have a lower weight at birth. Babies of women who smoked during their pregnancy have an increased risk of congenital defects, such as a cleft lip and/or cleft palate or clubfeet. Babies of mothers and fathers who smoke have a greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Are you pregnant, would you like to quit smoking and would you like to get some extra support in doing so? If the answer is yes to all three questions, you can participate in the program ‘Rookvrij! Allebei?’, which consists of phone coaching (in Dutch). Specialized coaches with knowledge and experience in the field of smoke-free pregnancies will help you to quit smoking during your pregnancy and to stay a non-smoker. Partners who smoke can also participate in this coaching program.

To participate in the program, fill in the contact information sheet on the website www.rookvrijallebei.nl.

klik hier voor: www.rookvrijallebei.nl
Voor meer informatie: Hulp bij stoppen met roken.

More information on the effect of smoking on the pregnancy and the effect of secondhand smoke on your baby, see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/smoking-pregnant/

If you do not succeed to quit smoking (entirely), we recommend that you take 500 mg of vitamin C a day. Research has shown that babies of smoking mothers who took vitamin C during their pregnancy have better functioning lungs than smoking mothers who did not take vitamin C.

Alcohol and pregnancy

If you want to get pregnant, alcohol reduces the fertility of you and your partner. The consumption of alcohol increases the chance of a miscarriage at the moment of fertilisation. Alcohol is harmful to the development of the brain of the baby. This also accounts for the alcohol in breast milk.

For more information on alcohol and pregnancy, see: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/alcohol-medicines-drugs-pregnant/

Preventing infectious diseases

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Young mothers and pregnant women who come into contact with small children, risk getting infected with the cytomegalovirus (CMV). Babies of women who get infected during the first half of their pregnancy, have an increased risk of being adversely affected by the virus. One in a hundred children is born with a CMV infection. Only a few of the children born with CMV infection get health problems. So the risk is small. CMV is present in urine, blood, saliva, breast milk and tears. To minimize the risk of contamination, it is important to frequently wash your hands with soap. Especially after changing diapers. To minimize the contact with saliva, let toddlers use their own plate and cutlery.

Fifth disease (Parvovirus)

Pregnant women who work at, amongst others, a child day care, preschools or hospitals, can get fifth disease. Many women have had this disease as a child and are therefore protected for life. The midwife can order a blood test that will determine whether or not you had fifth disease. If you have no antibodies against fifth disease, and you regularly come into contact with children at work, then we recommend that you avoid the workplace and that you consider the options for suitable alternative work.

Chickenpox

During your first consultation, the midwife will ask you whether you had chickenpox. If you ever had chickenpox, then you are protected for life. If you are not protected against chickenpox and have been in contact with a person who has chickenpox, please contact the midwife on call immediately.

Whooping cough (also known as Pertussis)

Whooping cough is dangerous for babies.You can protect your baby from whooping cough by getting vaccinated yourself during your pregnancy. The vaccine is available starting from the 22nd week of your pregnancy. Since the vaccine is included in the National Immunisation Programme, the shot is free.
After you are vaccinated, your body makes antibodies. These antibodies are shared with your unborn baby via the placenta. As a result, your baby will have enough antibodies to protect against whooping cough for the first few months. Until your baby gets his or her first vaccination. The vaccine protects your baby, but it also protects you. You won’t be able to get whooping cough or infect others.
Another benefit: if you get vaccinated, your baby might not need te be vaccinated as often. In that case, your baby will get the first vaccination at 3 months instead of 2 months.

Protect your baby
against whooping cough

Information brochure of RIVM

Download folder

Make an appointment with the Well-Baby Clinic to get the shot. While
you are there, you will hear more about the vaccinations that your baby
will be offered later via the National Immunisation Programme. Through register you can find out where you can make an appointment.

Make an appointment

Zika-virus

A Zika virus epidemic has emerged in Latin America and South America. This epidemic could be dangerous for pregnant women or women who want to get pregnant. The virus could potentially be harmful to unborn children. Adults can become ill, but always recover without serious consequences. Mosquitos transfer the virus. The RIVM states that the Zika virus epidemic has emerged in 27 countries in Central and South America and in the Pacific Ocean. These countries include Brazil, Suriname and Mexico.

The RIVM recommends that pregnant women or women who want to get pregnant do not travel to countries where the Zika virus is going around. The RIVM states that these women should consider postponing travelling to these countries unless the journey is absolutely necessary.

Sports

You can continue to do sports at the beginning of your pregnancy. Regular exercise during your pregnancy is a good thing, your physical condition will stay good and your muscles will stay firm. With regular exercise, you will suffer less from haemorrhoids, varicose veins and constipation. But listen to your body; don’t put too much strain on your body.

Once you are further along in your pregnancy, it might be necessary to take it easy. In your pregnancy, you are more vulnerable to injuries. Take it easy when doing sports such as squash or aerobics. We recommend that you wear a good support bra and maybe even a pregnancy belly band. It is better to avoid dangerous sports, such as horse back riding, gymnastics, martial arts or skiing. Endurance sports, such as running marathons, are also not good for pregnant women. Pregnant women are not allowed to go scuba diving.

You can continue to swim and cycle throughout your pregnancy. These activities support your physical wellbeing. Going for walks is also fine

Work

Your work situation can influence or have a damaging effect on your pregnancy. That is why it is important to discuss your work situation with your midwife. How do you deal with the influence of work on your pregnancy, how can you minimize any possible damage? The following factors could have a damaging influence: working with chemical substances, heavy physical work, stress, irregular working hours, risk of infection and the influence of physical factors, such as noise.

For more information, please read the flyer ‘Veilig in verwachting’ en Risico’s op het werk’ by the KNOV. Unfortunately this flyer is only available in Dutch.

Maternity leave

Pregnant women have the right to maternity leave. Maternity leave lasts 16 weeks. Fathers have five days of leave after birth.

Information about maternity and paternity leave according to the Government of the Netherlands.

KNOV verloskundige