01 Mar Pregnancy Nutrition
This is a guest post from a nutrition practicum student Mosope. She just happens to be a mom of 2, and pregnant with her third so pregnancy nutrition was the perfect topic for Mosopoe to write about today:
As someone who have been through 2 pregnancies and in currently in my third, I know all too well the struggles and fears that many mothers face in pregnancy: from food cravings to heartburn and the inevitable nausea. While the last thing that you might want to hear while you are dealing with these issues and more is that you need to make “healthy choices”, research has shown that the nutrition and lifestyle choices during pregnancy can affect the health of both the mother and the baby. A healthy diet can help prevent or manage pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia or excessive weight gain. Therefore, if you are currently pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you might find the following guidelines useful.
Tracking your calories during pregnancy is not required, actually it’s something that I myself never do. However, it is important to ensure that you are not eating too much or too little…but what exactly does that mean?
There is no increased caloric requirement during the first trimester of pregnancy. Usually during this time, women tend to have nausea and food aversions that may make it hard to even meet their daily caloric requirements. I personally find it hard to keep anything down during this period of my pregnancies. I have found that Starchy foods and foods high in fiber and protein can be very helpful during this time. Refer to previous post Nutrition Tips to Help with Pregnancy Nausea for more detail.
During the 2nd trimester the recommendation is and additional 340kcal/day. This is the equivalent of a slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or a small meal of ½ a cup of brown rice with chicken.
The increased calorie recommendation for the 3rd trimester is 450kcal/day. This is the equivalent of 2 slices of bread with peanut butter or a turkey wrap.
Macronutrients: Carbs, Protein & Fats
In pregnancy a diet high in fiber which consists of whole foods (fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates), lean protein and essential fatty acids is ideal. The only macronutrient that has an increased recommended daily allowance (RDA) in pregnancy is protein. It is important to ensure that you are getting adequate protein which is the building block for tissue.
Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals
While there is a slight increase in caloric requirements during pregnancy, there is a more notable increase in some micronutrients that are important for fetal development and growth. These include;
- Folate – Folate is required for cell growth, and for reducing the risk of neurological tube defects in the fetus. Folate-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, legumes, and folate-enriched flour. However, a folic acid supplement is required because the increased requirement of cannot be met through diet alone.
- Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of red blood cells, brain development and for normal neurological function. Pregnant women who are vegans or vegetarians are likely to be deficient in vitamin B12 because it is mostly available in animal products such as, beef, fish and eggs.
- Iron – Iron is required in pregnancy to support fetal and placental growth, as well as the increasing blood volume of the mother. Iron can be absorbed from meat, meat products, fish and dark vegetables.
- Calcium – The calcium requirement during pregnancy does not increase from the recommended, however, it is important to meet the RDA because calcium is taken from the mother’s skeleton to support fetal bone development. Calcium primarily found in dairy products, as well as in leafy vegetables, fortified soy products and cereals.
- Vitamin D – An increase in vitamin D is not required. However, it is especially important to have sufficient vitamin D during pregnancy to enhance calcium absorption and deposition. Dietary sources of vitamin D include milk, eggs and oily fish.
Most of the above mentioned micronutrients can be derived from an adequate diet as mentioned as well as from using a good prenatal multivitamin as recommended by your doctor.
If you need help with navigating your pregnancy nutrition journey, First Step Nutrition can help. Sign up below to grab my free video: the most important pregnancy nutrient you’ve never heard of: