Nutrients from the foods you eat become the building blocks that form the organ systems, brain, skeleton, muscles, and all the components that make up your baby. Therefore, what you eat is an important factor in determining your baby’s future health.
Energy needs during pregnancy - You should not actually “eat for two” or double your calorie intake. However, in order to gain weight, you do need to eat extra calories in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Energy needs increase, but will depend on factors such as your pre-pregnancy weight, height, age, and activity level.
Extra calories are not needed during the 1st trimester, because the size of the baby is still very small and little weight gain is expected. However, you should eat an extra 340 calories/day during the 2nd trimester and an extra 450 calories/day during the 3rd trimester to provide much-needed energy for your rapidly growing baby.
A healthy diet - A well-balanced, healthy diet is one that provides nutrients in the correct proportions from a wide variety of foods, a diet that emphasizes nutrient-dense foods. These foods are high in nutrients relative to the amount of calories they contain. Meeting with a Registered Dietitian to assure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby is a great idea to consider. Most insurance companies DO allow for Medical Nutrition Therapy. So it’s worth contacting Nutrition Authority and letting us do a pre-benefit check for you!
Meeting with your own personal nutritionist helps to individualize your specific nutrient needs depending on your stage of pregnancy, age, weight, and activity level.
Fiber - The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we consume 14 grams (g) of fiber for every 1000 calories. For example, a person on a 2000-calorie diet should aim for 28 g fiber/day. Remember that “whole grain” does not necessarily mean “high fiber.”
Some high-fiber foods include:
Most vegetables, including:
Potatoes with skin
Most fruits, including:
Apples with skin
Grains, such as:
Beans and lentils
Nuts, such as:
Seeds, such as:
Rye or whole-wheat bread
Nausea and other pregnancy symptoms
Some women have gastrointestinal upsets and symptoms during pregnancy, including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation, hemorrhoids, food aversions or intolerances, and food cravings.
The following tips may help in dealing with these issues:
Have small, frequent dry meals and snacks, eating at least four to six times/day
Consume at least 25−30 g of fiber/day
Drink at least six to eight glasses of liquid/day, primarily water
Choose foods that you tolerate well—you will learn from experience
Eat saltine crackers or other dry, bland carbohydrates before getting out of bed
Try eating cold foods rather than hot foods
Avoid strong food odors, using a fan to reduce odors while cooking
Stay away from highly seasoned foods and heavy, fatty foods
Serve only solid foods at meals and have liquids between meals
Add ginger to foods—a natural remedy for nausea
Suck on a fresh lemon wedge or drink water with fresh lemon juice
Take the time to enjoy your food by eating slowly
Find smart nutrition substitutions when craving empty calories, such as:
Chocolate—fat-free chocolate syrup drizzled over fresh strawberries
Sweets—dried fruits (apricots or raisins) or low-fat yogurt with fruit
Salty foods—low-fat popcorn sprinkled with herbs
Snacks are a great way to satisfy hunger pangs or cravings between meals, to help manage nausea, and, if chosen wisely, to add important nutrients to your diet. Make fruits and vegetables more convenient by having small containers of them already washed and chopped up in your refrigerator. Also, keep individual containers of low-fat milk or yogurt, 100% fruit juice, whole-grain crackers or pretzels, and low-fat granola bars on hand. These snacks are convenient to carry to work or bring on long car rides.
Here are some other healthy snack suggestions:
Granola bar or other healthy snack bar with fat-free milk
Chopped fruit topped with yogurt and chopped nuts
Wheat crackers and apple wedges with cheese slices
Baby carrots dipped in hummus or low-fat ranch dip
Rice cakes or graham crackers with peanut butter and banana
Trail mix made of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
Rolled-up turkey and cheese slices with pear wedges
Nutrition during lactation
Good nutrition also is important following your delivery, especially if you are nursing. Breastfeeding increases your need for calories, as well as many key nutrients. Women who are nursing need an additional 330 calories/day during the first 6 months and 400 calories/day during the second 6 months to ensure adequate milk production. Key nutrients include protein, calcium, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins E and B6.
It is important to drink plenty of water to help you stay well hydrated. Also, limit caffeine and alcohol, because these may affect breast milk and the let-down reflex (alcohol). If you are trying to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy, make sure to lose weight gradually by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.
The bottom line
As always, it is important to discuss your diet and eating plan with your health care professional. With all of this information, some determination, and motivation, you can begin a journey of healthy eating to help ensure the optimal growth, development, and future health of your baby, while also optimizing your own health and well-being. You both deserve it.