Getting pregnant is one of the most wonderful things for a woman. Giving birth to a new life is so joyous, the experience is amazing! However you need to be very careful, especially with your pregnancy and nutrition when you are prepping for this journey because it will have a direct impact on your baby. You will need more calories, more proteins, vitamins and minerals for the development of the baby.
So how do you know what to eat and what not? What are the foods that are high in nutrition? How should your diet be? What is the weight that you need to gain?
Pregnancy and Nutrition – Prenatal Checklist
- Check your weight. If it is optimum, you need not worry about calories in your first trimester. You need to eat healthy and eating healthy does not mean eating more.
- Skip raw seafood, unpasteurized milk, soft cheese and undercooked meat. These are possible sources of germs that can harm your baby.
- Give up alcohol as it can cause learning disabilities, physical defects and other problems for the baby. Go for fruit juices instead.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Opt for healthy drinks such as skimmed milk and lemon water.
- You may need some mineral and vitamin supplements to ensure you are getting proper nutrition.
- Packaged foods need to be avoided. However eating processed foods once in a while is fine.
One piece of advice- Do not diet during pregnancy. Do not think of weight loss. In fact, gaining weight while you are pregnant is a welcome sign. Dieting during this time may make you deficient in iron, folic acid and calories which is not good for your baby. You need to have sensible and balanced meals to increase your weight gradually.
Your baby relies on you for sustenance, so it is your responsibility to eat right. Healthy eating is what you need to focus on most for planning healthy pregnancy and nutrition , go through the below points for a better idea:
1. Talk to your doctor about weight gain
When you are pregnant it is obvious that you gain weight. This is because your uterus bulges, breasts enlarge and the placenta grows. You need to discuss with your doctor on what is the ideal weight gain for you, considering your BMI. If you are already obese, you need to gain less and if you are underweight, you will be asked to gain more.
2. Exercise Regularly
Pregnancy is not just about eating and relaxing. Your body needs exercise, yoga would be a good option that can help you prepare for labor. However consult a professional before you start on any exercise. Walking is highly recommended.
3. Drink lots of water
During pregnancy it is important to keep yourself hydrated. If plain water does not go well with you, try adding some lemon or orange to it. Keep caffeine and sugary juices to the minimum.
4. Prenatal Vitamins – Key Part of Pregnancy and Nutrition
Most women need this because you cannot expect to get all vitamins through your regular foods, unless you have a proper plan charted out. However most women don’t do all this and supplements are a straight way of getting nutrition in appropriate quantities.
5. Go for small meals
Frequent, small meals would be ideal during pregnancy. Nausea is common when you are pregnant and it is difficult to consume a large meal at a time. Small meals also keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
6. Healthy Snack
Fast foods and packaged snacks are not healthy. Every bite of food reaches your womb, so be careful! Prepare smoothies and have them whenever you feel hungry between two meals. Whole grain crackers and fresh fruits are healthy options too.
7. Learn Healthy Substitution
Certain cravings can be substituted with healthy foods. For instance if pizza was a regular item on your menu, you can have whole grain pizza with tomato and spinach. If chocolate is your craving, you can add cocoa powder to warm milk. This way you can satisfy your craving while benefitting from nutrition as well!
Healthy eating is recommended at all times, but during pregnancy, it is of utmost importance. You need to give wonderful health to your baby, so it is significant that you include all essential nutrients in your diet plan throughout your pregnancy. Especially during your second and third trimester, you will need 300 calories extra per day to cope with the productive changes in your body.
Pregnancy is a time when your body sees hormonal and numerous physical changes. You need to nourish your body right to ensure a healthy baby arrives! You require more macro and micro nutrients for proper nourishment of your baby. While micro nutrients like minerals and vitamins are needed in small quantities, macro nutrients like fats, proteins and carbohydrates provide energy and are needed in large quantities.
It is best advised that you discuss your nutritional needs with your doctor/ nutritionist. Ignoring nutrition means you are neglecting your baby’s health!
Here are some points you need to understand as a pregnant woman:
- You need not eat for two persons if you are pregnant. There will be an increase in your nutrient requirements, but energy needs enhance by only 300 calories/ day.
- You need to gain enough weight to prevent premature birth. So do not think that gaining less will make way for an easy delivery. The excess fat stored in your body will be used as energy during labor.
- Cravings do not indicate your nutritional needs.
- Nausea, constipation and heartburn are common during pregnancy. However if you are eating a balanced and healthy meal, drinking lots of water and avoiding sugary foods and fat, these symptoms can be reduced.
Food Groups Vital for Pregnancy and Nutrition
Protein: 75- 100g/ day is the recommended protein intake. This is required for fetal tissue and brain growth, besides your uterine tissue and breast development. Protein also plays a vital role in enhancing blood supply. Beans, chicken and nuts are good sources of protein.
Calcium: 100mg/ day is the calcium requirement. It is essential for fluid regulation and to help build your baby’s tooth buds and bones. Milk, cheese, cabbage and yogurt are rich sources of calcium.
Iron: This is required to enhance blood volume and prevent anemia. 27mg/ day is ideal. You need iron to help supply oxygen to the baby. Green leafy vegetables, cereals, citrus fruits, eggs and dried fruits are rich sources of iron.
Folic Acid: To keep away neural tube defect risk, 0.6-0.8 mg of folic acid per day is recommended. Nuts, eggs, dried beans, peanut butter and leafy green vegetables are the best sources of folic acid.
Vitamin C: Vegetables and fruits that have a high vitamin C content aid in wound healing besides bone and tooth development. 85mg is the daily requirement.
Grains are rich sources of energy. Vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. For protein, folic acid and iron, you need to eat legumes, meats and nuts. Dairy products have vitamin D and calcium in them.
If you are vegan or suffering from any health condition, you may need extra supplements to make for the gaps in nutrition. You may need to start with these supplements even before conception. However consult your doctor before you start with any supplement.
Some Other Things You Need To Know About Pregnancy And Nutrition
Pregnancy is a time when you will be most concerned about your food. You need to know the must- have and must- avoid foods during pregnancy to give birth to a healthy baby. While food groups and weight gain/ loss is already discussed, here are some other things that cannot be ignored:
- Fats and oils are not food groups, but they are essential nutrients too. The fats you consume during pregnancy help in building fetal organs and provide energy. Limit fats that come from animals and processed foods, fats from plant sources are best preferred.
- Being obese means you are prone to pregnancy problems. Gestational diabetes, premature birth, high blood pressure are some of them. Your child is also at increased risk of being obese besides probability of being born with some defects. So be careful to maintain your weight.
- Take care to avoid food poisoning. Diarrhea and vomiting can cause water loss, which disrupts chemical balance in your body. So before you cut, eat or cook, wash and thoroughly rinse all raw foods under running water. Ensure your kitchen is clean.
- Avoid these foods to prevent Listeriosis- Unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, meat spreads, undercooked meat, seafood and eggs. Pregnant women are more prone to this illness.
This is a craving causing disorder for items with zero nutritional value. Pica can cause craving for clay, starch, cigarette ashes, among other weird substances. If you are suffering from Pica, it means you lack a specific mineral or vitamin. Eating such items is not healthy, so consult your doctor if you have any such craving.
Make sure you eat these during pregnancy:
- Protein- a minimum of 3 servings/ day
- Whole grains- at least 6 servings/ day
- Vegetables and fruits- not less than 5 servings/ day
- Dairy products- More than 3 servings/ day
- Essential fats containing foods and prenatal vitamins
Give A Good Start To Your Baby!
Your baby is the world to you- it means everything! You need to take all care to bring a healthy baby to this world. You need to be extra cautious right from the time you plan for a baby, even before conception. A well balanced diet plan assures optimum nutrition for you and your baby, so plan with your doctor what to eat and what not. This also helps you during delivery time. Remember, if you are healthy, your baby will be healthy.
A pregnancy and nutrition diet generally includes:
- Vitamin c
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains
- Good fats and folic acid
What if you are having twins or multiples?
Generally a pregnant woman needs more energy, thus require more nutrients than a normal woman. If you are going to have twins or multiples, you certainly will have more nutritional requirements. This is because, you need to nourish more babies! If the babies are undernourished, it will lead to a lot of complications. So you better talk to your healthcare provider to understand your nutrition needs.
Now you know what to eat, how much to eat and what not to eat during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a great time when you have a new life inside you. To enjoy the time happily, you need to stay healthy and fit, so make sure you eat nutritious foods. Ignoring your health when you are pregnant is very risky and will lead to many problems.
Visit your doctor regularly, avoid outside foods and eat at regular intervals.
Pregnancy and Nutrition go together. Eat healthy to have a happy and healthy baby!