During pregnancy, it's essential to consume a healthy diet, especially during the second and third trimesters. While your calorie intake should increase by approximately 300 calories per day, you should also focus on eating plenty of iron-rich foods low in saturated fat and salt to maintain your health and keep your baby healthy. In addition, make sure you're consuming enough protein since your body needs it to build your baby's organs, muscles, and tissues.
What to avoid during pregnancy
There are certain foods that pregnant women need to avoid. While some restrictions are meant to protect both mother and baby, others may be based on older ideas that don't reflect current research. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet. They can help you figure out if avoiding certain foods is necessary and can provide advice on how to make substitutions if needed. Here you need to know about nutrition during pregnancy.
Importance of Folic Acid
A diet rich in folic acid helps avoid neural tube defects and other congenital anomalies. Folic acid, or folate, is vital for healthy fetal development and helps prevent spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for women who are not pregnant is 400 micrograms per day. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned; it's essential to start taking folic acid before conception. Even if you're already pregnant, continuing your supplement regimen will ensure proper fetal development once a doctor has confirmed your pregnancy.
Things every pregnant woman should know
During pregnancy, there are certain things that women need to know. The first thing is, although there are no nutritional supplements that can prevent birth defects or boost intelligence in your baby, many foods have been shown to help expecting mothers and their babies stay healthy. Below you will find some nutrition information for pregnant women: * Calcium - Although all women should get about 1,000 milligrams per day from food sources, those who are pregnant need 1,200 milligrams daily from food and supplements combined. * Fatty acids - Healthy omega-3 fats during pregnancy support babies' brain development and help guard against depression in mothers later on in life.
Those who want to get pregnant or are already pregnant should eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods. It helps your body produce collagen, strengthening bones and connective tissue and supporting iron absorption for healthy blood cells. Plus, research suggests that vitamin C helps boost fertility and may help you enjoy pregnancy more. Advised daily intake is 75 mg for women ages 19–50 years old and 90 milligrams for those older than 50 years.
Protein during pregnancy
Women should increase their protein intake to between 75 and 100 grams per day during pregnancy. Protein is vital for cell and organ growth, so it's essential during pregnancy. You can achieve these numbers by increasing your consumption of lean meats like turkey, chicken, and beef; dairy products like yogurt and cheese; legumes such as beans; seeds like sunflower seeds; nuts like peanuts and almonds; and lentils or other beans (the vegetarian sources will likely give you more protein). Getting enough calcium in your diet is essential for your baby's developing bones. Women over 35 should aim for 1000 mg each day, while younger women should get about 1,200 mg per day.
Iron during pregnancy
The developing fetus needs iron, so it's essential to avoid anemia. Doctors advise that pregnant women eat three servings per day of iron-rich foods like lean meat and legumes while also eating plenty of green vegetables and vitamin C-rich fruits such as citrus and berries. Then, to ensure your body absorbs all that iron, take a daily multivitamin with extra iron or another source (like spinach). You can even add in foods like dulse or kelp for an extra dose. It's good for both you and baby!
Supplements are not always necessary
As with many things in life, you are taking too much (or too little) of anything can have harmful side effects. Many supplements are only recommended for pregnant women in certain situations, such as an identified deficiency or after medical evaluation. It's best to ask your doctor which supplements are needed and when you should be getting them. For example, in most cases, prenatal vitamins do not need to be taken daily—they can be taken at specific times throughout your pregnancy instead. This ensures that you get adequate essential nutrients without overdosing on vitamins and minerals.
Weight gain in pregnancy
It's important to remember that weight gain during pregnancy is not just about eating for two. While it is true that your growing baby does need some extra nourishment, at no point during pregnancy should you aim to gain more than 15 pounds. Ideally, women will only gain between 12 and 20 pounds throughout their pregnancy. Women who are very active and physically fit before becoming pregnant should have an easier time remaining healthy during their pregnancies; however, women who maintain an unhealthy lifestyle or lead sedentary lifestyles may struggle with fatigue, morning sickness, food cravings, and other symptoms common to pregnancy.
What about calcium?
Calcium is an essential nutrient for any woman's diet, and it's necessary during pregnancy. A pregnant woman should strive to consume at least 1,000 milligrams per day. Main sources of calcium include dairy products like milk and yogurt, leafy greens like kale and collard greens, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals. Calcium can also be found in black beans, soybeans, white beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black-eyed peas, and lima beans. Look for nonfat or low-fat dairy products because they typically contain higher calcium than other options.
Eating for two does not mean eating more!
Proper nutrition during pregnancy is essential for both mom and baby, but most people overestimate how much they should be eating in their daily diet. Many women feel guilty if they don't eat for two, but there's no need to consume additional calories. It may seem like common sense, but you only need an extra 200-300 calories per day during your second and third trimesters to support your growing baby and healthy weight gain.
You can consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current diet. It is also good to meet with a registered dietitian or nutritionist at least once during your pregnancy as you adjust to new nutritional needs throughout each trimester.