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Pregnancy Nutritional Needs

As you already know, during pregnancy, the body goes through lots of physical and hormonal changes. You'll need to make great food choices from a variety of sources to fuel yourself and your growing baby.

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet will make you feel good and give you and your baby everything you need. The food you consume is the main source of nourishment for your infant, so having all the nutrients you need is important.

The good thing? Not all of these diet recommendations are hard to follow and provide some tasty choices. Even with cravings you can make a nutritious menu in no time.

Nutrients Increased

No surprise: your body has increased nutritional needs during pregnancy — you're feeding a whole new human! While the old adage of "eating for two" is not entirely right, to sustain you and your infant, you need more micronutrients and macronutrients.

Micronutrients are nutritional elements that are only required in relatively small quantities, such as vitamins and minerals.

Macronutrients, or energy, are nutrients that provide calories. We're talking about carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. During pregnancy, you'll need to consume more of each form of nutrient.


Here are some general recommendations for a few essential nutrients that need to be adjusted to suit your needs:

  • Calcium: 1200 milligrams (mg)

  • Folate: 600–800 micrograms (mcg)

  • Iron: 27 mg

  • Protein: 70–100 grams (g) per day, increasing each trimester

Most pregnant women are able to fulfill these increased nutritional needs by selecting a diet that includes a range of nutritious foods, such as:

  • complex carbohydrates

  • healthy types of fat like omega-3s

  • protein

  • vitamins and minerals

Food Intake

Your aim? To have everything you and your baby need, eat a wide range of foods. It's not that different, but enhanced a little, from a daily healthy eating plan.

In reality, Trusted Source's current advice is to continue eating as you usually would in your first semester, then increase your baby's growth by 350 calories daily in your second trimester and 450 calories daily in your third trimester.

Stop overly-processed junk foods as much as you can. For instance, chips and soda contain no nutritional value. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans, or lentils, will help you and your baby more.

This does not mean that, during pregnancy, you need to miss all your favorite foods. Only match them with healthy foods so that any essential vitamins or minerals are not skipped.


Calcium

Calcium helps build the bones of your baby and controls the use of fluids in your body.

Pregnant women require 1,000 mg of calcium, preferably at two doses of 500 mg per day. You're likely to need extra calcium to complement daily prenatal vitamins.


Good sources of calcium include:

  • calcium-set tofu

  • cheese

  • dark green, leafy vegetables

  • low-mercury fish and seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, catfish, and canned light tuna

  • milk

  • yogurt

Folate

Folate, also known as folic acid, plays a significant role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects. There are major birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord of the infant, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

When you’re pregnant, recommends 600 to 800 mcg of folate. You can get folate from these foods:

  • dark green, leafy vegetables

  • dried beans and lentils

  • eggs

  • liver

  • nuts

  • nuts and peanut butter

Iron

Iron interacts with sodium, potassium, and water to increase the flow of blood. This will ensure that you and your baby get enough oxygen.

You should get 27 mg of iron a day, ideally in addition to some vitamin C, to improve your absorption. Healthy sources of this nutrient include the following:

  • citrus fruits

  • dark green, leafy vegetables (noticing a trend with this one?)

  • eggs

  • enriched breads or cereals

  • lean beef and poultry

Protein

Protein is essential to maintaining proper development of baby tissues and organs, including the brain. It also helps to improve breast and uterine tissue development during pregnancy.

It also plays a role in your growing blood supply, allowing more blood to be sent to your infant.

You're going to have to eat between 70 to 100 g of protein a day, depending on your weight and which trimester you're in. Speak to your doctor about how much you need.


Good sources of protein include:

  • beans

  • chicken

  • cottage cheese

  • lean beef and pork

  • nuts

  • peanut butter

  • salmon

Other nutrients are required to keep you healthy throughout pregnancy, such as choline, salt and B vitamins.

Besides eating well, it is important to drink at least eight glasses of water per day and to take prenatal vitamins. Sufficient quantities of certain nutrients, including folate, iron and choline, are difficult to obtain from food alone.

Make sure you talk to your doctor about which prenatal vitamins you should take.


To Sum It Up

Make sure that you eat a full and nutritious diet during your pregnancy so that you and your developing baby can be as healthy as possible.

Include whole, nourishing food and limit your consumption of food without good nutritional value, such as processed and fast food.

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