PREGNANT WOMEN Without a doubt, a nutritious, well-balanced eating plan can be one of the greatest gifts you give to your soon-to-be-born baby. Supplying your own body with a tasty blend of nutritious foods can not only improve your fertility, keep you feeling healthy during pregnancy, and pave the way for an easier labor, but it can also help to establish essential building blocks of growth and overall health for your child. The food we eat on a daily basis affects how our bodies work, how we heal and grow, and how we maintain energy and strength for years to come.
It also determines the basic nutritional health that our children are born with, and provides a model for their eating habits during childhood and beyond. Pregnancy is the one time in your life when your eating habits directly affect another person. Your decision to incorporate delicious vegetables, whole grains and legumes, lean protein, and other wise food choices into your eating plan before and during pregnancy will give your baby a strong start in life. Weight Change and Calories It is a wonderful fact –your body will gain weight during your pregnancy!
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As you watch your weight begin to increase, take it as proof that your body is nurturing your growing baby. By the time you are ready to give birth, your total blood volume will have increased by as much as 60%. Your breasts will have filled with milk. Your uterus will have grown to accommodate your baby and has filled with amniotic fluid; your baby has grown to weigh 6 to 10 pounds (on average). To accomplish all of these productive changes, your body needs approximately 300 extra calories per day during your 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Every woman should discuss her individual nutrient needs with her health care provider.
Do not neglect your baby’s health by neglecting your own! Myth: Now that you are pregnant, you should be eating for two (or twice as much! ). Fact: It is true that your nutrient needs increase, but energy requirements only increase about 300 calories per day for the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Food Groups Protein (Meats, Beans, Etc. ) Experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein per day. Protein in your foods positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy, and it plays a helping part in your increasing blood supply.
Examples of daily sources of protein: 2-3 servings of meat (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces/ size of a deck of cards) * fully cooked fish or seafood * liver * chicken * pork 2-3 servings of legumes (1 serving = approximately ? cup) * split peas * red and white kidney beans * Calcium Daily requirement of calcium is around 1000 milligrams during pregnancy. Calcium helps your body regulate fluids, and it helps build your baby’s bones and tooth buds. Examples of daily sources of calcium: 3-4 servings of dairy * milk (1 serving = 1 cup) * eggs (1 serving = 1 large egg) * salmon (1 serving =??approximately 3 ounces) turnip greens (1 serving = approximately 1 cup) Iron (Vegetables, Grains, Meat, etc. ) In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps increase your blood volume and prevent anemia. A daily intake of 27 milligrams is ideal during pregnancy. Examples of daily sources of iron: 2-3 servings of green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup) * spinach * lettuce * cabbage 3 servings of whole grains (1 serving = approximately. ? cup or one slice) * cereal * oatmeal 2-3 servings of lean protein (1 serving =??approximately 3 ounces/ size of a deck of cards) * beef * seafood * poultry Folate/Folic Acid (Legumes, etc. Folic acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Experts recommend 600 to 800 micrograms (. 6 to . 8 milligrams) daily. Examples of daily sources of folate: 2 servings of dark green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup) * spinach * lettuce * cabbage 2-3 servings of fruit (1 serving = approximately ? cup) * orange * strawberry * tomato 3 serving of whole grain (1 serving = approximately ? cup or 1 slice) * bread * cornmeal * cereal * oatmeal 2 servings of legumes (1 serving = approximately ? cup) * split peas * black-eyed peas * chick peas (garbanzo beans) Vitamin C Fruit, etc. ) Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C will help with wound healing, tooth and bone development, and promotes metabolic processes. Experts recommend at least 85 milligrams per day. Examples of daily sources of Vitamin C: 3 servings of fruit or vegetables (1 serving = approximately ? cup) * orange * strawberry * grapefruit * kiwi * peppers Other Nutritional Concerns During pregnancy, some foods can cause harm to a developing baby. Be sure that all meats are thoroughly cooked to avoid exposure to toxoplasmosis, salmonella, and other harmful bacteria. Eliminate tobacco smoke, drug use, and alcohol consumption from your diet.
Reduce or eliminate caffeinated beverages (soda, coffee) from your daily intake, and maintain a reasonable exercise program throughout your pregnancy. Walking and swimming are considered healthy activities during pregnancy, but always consult with your health care provider before starting a new exercise program. It is commonly said that you are eating for two when you are pregnant. This is true. You are the only source for your growing baby’s nutrition. However, your baby is a tiny being and does not have the caloric needs as an adult. The metabolic rate increases as much as 25% during pregnancy.
The recommended calorie increase for pregnant women is approximately 300 calories more per day (based off a 2100 calorie diet equals a total of 2400 calories a day). This may be more or less depending on your weight prior to pregnancy. So now you know about calories, but what foods should these calories include? We’ll begin with protein. By the time a fetus is born, 900 grams of protein are stored in the fetus. So extra protein is an essential component in a pregnant woman’s diet. Proteins are used in building your baby’s brain cells and a critical part in proper brain development. Sixty grams of protein is recommended during pregnancy.
Protein is found in animal products and dairy products. Cheese, eggs, fish, chicken, beef, lamb, and yogurt are some examples of protein sources. You can also find incomplete proteins in sources such as cereals, grains, pasta, legumes, beans, peanuts, broccoli, peas, and leafy green vegetables. Complimentary proteins only give you part of your protein needs so they need to be combined with other complimentary proteins to make a complete protein. They don’t have to be eaten at the same meal. Here is a sample of how much 60 grams of protein a day would include 4 oz pot roast, 3 oz chicken, 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of cereal, and 1 cup of broccoli.
Calcium is another nutrient that a pregnant woman needs to increase. Calcium and phosphorous are needed for your baby’s bone and tooth formation. You need approximately 1200 mg of calcium a day during pregnancy and lactation. Calcium can be found in dairy products and some plant sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables. Add two ounces of cheese and a cup of orange juice with added calcium to the above sample meal and you have your 1200 mg of calcium. What about iron? Yep, you guessed it. You need more iron during pregnancy. You need 30 mg of iron for pregnancy. It may be difficult to get enough iron in diet intake alone.
This is why your doctor will usually prescribe an iron supplement. The sample meal above only provided about 5 grams of iron. Some good sources of iron include lean meats, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, and whole grain cereals. Folic acid is something you’ve probably heard about at your doctors office or in magazines. Folic acid is needed for healthy embryotic tissue in the fetus. It has been shown to prevent neural tube defects. Food sources for folic acid include fresh green leafy vegetables, peanuts, liver, whole grain breads, and cereals. Your doctor will probably prescribe a prenatal vitamin that includes extra folic acid.
Now you know some of the foods you should consume, but what should you avoid. First and foremost alcohol should always be avoided during pregnancy. There is a risk of permanent damage to the baby and it is not known how much alcohol is needed to cause this damage. It’s just not worth the risk. You should also avoid food high in sodium content or nitrates during pregnancy. Some examples of which are processed foods, canned foods, and hot dogs. These foods contain excess sodium and little nutrition value. Proper nutrition during pregnancy is one of the best ways that you can start your baby off to a great start in life
Good Nutrition During Pregnancy What and how much should you eat to be healthy during pregnancy? You want to pay special attention to certain nutrients and add about 300 extra calories to your diet. The average recommended daily caloric intake varies depending on your activity level and normal weight. Your weight gain is a good guide to how well you are meeting your caloric intake. Protein You should increase your protein intake to 60 grams during pregnancy to provide for the growth of your baby and your breasts, uterus, and placenta; for the increased blood volume; and for the production of amniotic fluid. Iron
Iron is an important nutrient during pregnancy for three primary reasons. First, iron is necessary for the formation of maternal and fetal hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of blood. Since your blood volume increases considerably during pregnancy and your baby is manufacturing blood cells, too, your need for iron increases. Second, during the last trimester, your baby draws from you some of the iron reserves that help prevent anemia during the first four to six months of your baby’s life. Third, your increased blood volume and iron stores help your body adjust (to some degree) to the blood loss that occurs during childbirth.
If your doctor recommends an iron supplement, it will probably contain 60 milligrams of iron, although the recommended amount during pregnancy is 27 milligrams a day. Because iron from supplements is not totally absorbed, you must ingest about 60 milligrams of iron to ensure that you actually absorb the recommended daily amount of 27 milligrams. Iron supplements are best absorbed if taken with foods rich in vitamin C, such as orange, grapefruit, or tomato juice. Absorption is impaired if you take them with antacids or calcium-containing foods, such as milk and cheese.
Iron supplements sometimes cause an upset stomach, constipation, or nausea. If that is the case for you, remember that you can get much of the iron you need from iron-rich foods, such as organ meats, red meat, egg yolk, and legumes (dried peas and beans). Consult your doctor before stopping an iron supplement, however. Calcium During pregnancy, many doctors commonly recommend that you get between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day. Calcium is essential for the development and growth of your baby’s skeleton, heart, muscles, and tooth buds. Inadequate intake results in depletion of your own stores of calcium.
Milk and milk products (such as yogurt and cheese) are the best sources of dietary calcium. Tofu and canned whole fish (with bones) are good secondary sources. If you are lactose intolerant, meaning you cannot digest the lactose found in milk products, try a reduced-lactose or lactose-free milk product, soy milk, acidophilus milk, buttermilk, or cultured yogurt. If all else fails, your doctor may prescribe a calcium supplement. Vitamins The recommended daily intake of nearly all vitamins increases 25 to 50 percent for pregnant women. The daily recommendation for folic acid (folate) doubles.
A high-quality, varied diet will supply most of the vitamins you need, with the probable exception of folic acid. Folic acid supplements of 400 micrograms are usually recommended to provide for the increased folic acid requirement. Folic acid is important for synthesis of all cells and for production of DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. Deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia (development of abnormal red blood cells) in the mother and neural tube defects in the fetus. Since adequate folic acid intake is so important for your baby and you, choose a diet high in foods containing this essential vitamin.
Liver, lean beef, legumes, egg yolks, and dark green leafy vegetables are good food sources of folic acid. General Guidelines Use the freshest foods you can, choose a varied, high-quality diet, and prepare the foods carefully to ensure you get the most nutritional value from your food. Vitamins, especially the water-soluble vitamins (folic acid, niacin, vitamin C, and the B vitamins), are easily destroyed by overcooking. Uncooked vegetables and fruits have the highest vitamin content. Next best is to use very little or no water to cook and to cook for a very short time.
It is important to note that consuming excess amounts of supplements of certain nutrients, particularly vitamins A and D, iodine, and zinc, may produce toxic effects and congenital anomalies (birth defects). Some doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins, while others may prescribe only folic acid supplements or iron supplements. Remember that these supplements are not a substitute for a good diet. They supply only some of the nutrients needed for health. The rest you must get from food. There are also foods and harmful things to avoid during pregnancy. We’ll learn about these in the next section.