Pregnancy And Nutrition: What To Do When Eating For Two
Now that the Pavilion for Women is open for business, it’s time to talk about the building blocks of healthy moms and babies — proper nutrition! All pregnant women have different nutritional needs, but here are a few general guidelines to get you started on the path to a healthy pregnancy.
Did you know that a recent study linked both inadequate weight gain and excessive weight gain during pregnancy with increases in childhood fat mass? The study found that women who gained either more or less than recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) had children with significantly more fat mass at age 6 than their peers. To ensure optimum health for you and your baby, use the IOM guidelines (below) and talk to your doctor to see what amount of weight gain is right for you.
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Source: Institute of Medicine. Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines. Washington, DC. 2009
The number of extra calories needed is different for every
pregnant woman, but a good rule of thumb is to add around 300 calories per day in the 2nd trimester (about 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich), and 500 calories in the 3rd trimester (a small meal).
It’s important to eat healthy fats while pregnant — like olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocado. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA and EPA) are also important and are found in cold-water fish* like salmon, sardines, anchovies or fish-oil supplements. Fat should provide less than 30% of total daily calories. Be sure to talk to your doctor before adding any supplements.
*While pregnant, you should avoid large fish like king mackerel, swordfish, shark and tilefish. They may contain higher levels of mercury.
It is very important to get enough fiber each day to help prevent constipation. Fiber is found in whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Drinking 8-10 cups each day is recommended during pregnancy. Also, caffeine intake should be limited to no more than 200 mg per day. That’s about 1 medium (12 oz) coffee, 3 cups of black tea, or 3 cans of soda per day.
It’s hard to eat enough iron to meetrecommendations (27 mg/day during pregnancy, which is about 3 10 oz steaks!). Prenatal vitamins can help pregnant women and teens meet their iron needs, but upping your iron can lead to constipation, bloating and nausea. Make sure to get enough fiber and fluid to help with constipation and try to take iron supplements — like prenatal vitamins — with food or at night before bed.
Folic Acid (Folate)
Folic acid prevents neural tube defects during early fetal development. This is why it’s so important to get enough folic acid in the beginning of pregnancy. Good sources of folic acid include spinach, lentils, black beans, and okra as well as fortified grain products like breads, cereals and pastas.
Most pregnant women need a prenatal vitamin or other supplement to meet their nutrient needs. Don’t take any vitamins, minerals, supplements or medications without talking to your doctor.
Always avoid alcohol and tobacco products. Hazardous foods (raw meat/eggs, undercooked or spoiled food, unpasteurized dairy, deli meats) should also be avoided because your body is much more susceptible to foodborne illness while pregnant.
Talk with your dietitian about any food cravings or aversions and let your doctor know if you are having cravings for non-food items.
Blog post co-written by Grad Student Michelle Caruso.