What you eat during your pregnancy can be incredibly important both to you and you baby in so many ways.
From your point of view, good nutrition is essential for normal organ development and functioning; normal reproduction growth and maintenance; for optimum activity level and working efficiency; to fight infection and disease; and for the repair of any damage or injury to the body. To this end you need essential nutrients (with carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water) and calories.
How to supply the 2000 to 3000 calories needed per day to ensure a healthy baby
- 2/3 helpings of meat, fish, nuts, eggs or legumes
- 2/3 helpings of dairy – milk, yogurt or cheese (organic)
- At least 2 helpings of green vegetables and 1 of yellow (in fact there is no limit to the amount of vegetables cooked or raw – the more the better)
- 3 helpings of fruit
- 3 helpings of whole grain breads, cereals or other high-complex carbohydrates
- 6 to 8 glasses of pure, filtered water (not bottled)
This is very important and you should get 80 to 100 grams of protein per day. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you will need to find suitable substitutes for the normal meat, dairy and eggs that we eat for their protein value. It can sometimes be quite difficult for vegetarians to get all the protein they need to increase their blood supply during pregnancy. It does take extra attention to your diet. Making sure you have sufficient protein in pregnancy can prevent the complications of pregnancy such as pre-clampsia (metabolic toxaemia of late pregnancy). Calcium is also said to be important to reduce the incidence of pre-clampsia.
This is a B vitamin and is essential to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. 400 micrograms is the recommended dose which is found in whole grain breads, citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables. Root vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, kidney and white beans, salmon, orange juice, avocado and milk are all important sources of folic acid too.
These are found in fruit and vegetables, particular those of a leafy dark green variety, citrus and berries. You cannot go far wrong if you include as many different colors of fruit and vegetables as possible. Vitamin A and C are important to fight infection, boost the immune system, for assisting cell structure and preventing placental detachment.
This is found in the seeds of pumpkin, squash, sunflower as well as seafood, organ meats, mushrooms, brewer’s yeast, eggs, wheat germ, turkey and other meat and helps in boosting the immune system while improving the birth weight of your baby as well as fetal development itself.
If you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need for the sake of your pregnancy, and your baby, from the natural sources of food, this is so much better than having to resort to supplements. Stick to a variety of the good healthy natural food (organic and free range whenever possible) and avoid the processed and sweet foods that you know are not healthy for you.
Of course we all know about pregnancy cravings – it is the stuff of romantic comedies! Although it is usually regarded as a joke, cravings for healthy foods can actually indicate a need or a deficiency in the diet. So it is fine to support cravings for the good stuff but be wary of cravings for the really weird! It might even indicate an unusual condition and you should chat to your doctor about this.
What about caffeine you might ask?
Although caffeine is one of the most loved stimulants in America, if you are pregnant it must be cut down. Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic so that it increases your blood pressure and heart rate as well as your urination. Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby so although you may be able to handle the caffeine, your baby will not. So stick to a moderate intake of caffeine while you are pregnancy – that is less than 300 mg per day.
Just for your interest, a Starbucks Grande Coffee has 400 mg of caffeine so that is already well over the maximum dose.
You can expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy although it is normal to gain less if you start out overweight and more if you are expecting more than one baby or you were underweight when you became pregnant. Sometimes in the first trimester, it is difficult to keep up with you daily eating pattern because of morning sickness or nausea.
This is roughly how those 25 to 35 pounds add up
Remember that the link between what you consume and the health of your baby remains 100% important throughout your pregnancy.
- 7.5 pounds average baby's weight
- 7 pounds extra stored protein, fat and other nutrients
- 4 pounds extra blood
- 4 pounds other extra body fluids
- 2 pounds breast enlargement
- 2 pounds enlargement of your uterus
- 2 pounds amniotic fluid surrounding your baby
- 1.5 pounds the placenta