Eating Healthy When Pregnant

Good nutrition during pregnancy, and enough of it, is very important for your baby to grow and develop. You should consume about 300 more calories per day than you did before you became pregnant.

Although nausea and vomiting during the first few months of pregnancy can make this difficult, try to eat a well-balanced diet and take prenatal vitamins. Here are some recommendations to keep you and your baby healthy.

Goals for Healthy Eating When Pregnant

Good nutrition during pregnancy, and enough of it, is very important for your baby to grow and develop. You should consume about 300 more calories per day than you did before you became pregnant.

Although nausea and vomiting during the first few months of pregnancy can make this difficult, try to eat a well-balanced diet and take prenatal vitamins. Here are some recommendations to keep you and your baby healthy.

Goals for Healthy Eating When Pregnant

Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

What to Eat When Pregnant and Don’t Feel Well

During pregnancy you may have morning sicknessdiarrhea, or constipation. You may find it hard to keep foods down, or you may feel too sick to even eat at all. Here are some suggestions:

Can I Diet While Pregnant?

No. Do not diet or try to lose weight during pregnancy — both you and your baby need the proper nutrients in order to be healthy. Keep in mind that you will lose some weight the first week your baby is born.

Can I Eat a “Low Carb” Diet When Pregnant?

Low-carbohydrate diets, such as Atkins and the South Beach Diet, are very popular. There have been no studies of the effects of a low-carb diet on pregnancy, so its effect on the fetus, if any, are unknown. While you are pregnant, you should eat a balanced diet, from all of the food groups.

Can I Maintain My Vegetarian Diet When Pregnant?

Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you have to diverge from your vegetarian diet. Your baby can receive all the nutrition they need to grow and develop while you follow a vegetarian diet, if you make sure you eat a wide variety of healthy foods that provide enough protein and calories for you and your baby.

Depending on the type of vegetarian meal plan you follow, you may need to adjust your eating habits to ensure that you and your baby are receiving adequate nutrition. You should consume about 300 more calories than you did before you became pregnant. Discuss your diet with your doctor.

Why Do I Need More Calcium When Pregnant?

Calcium is a nutrient needed in the body to build strong teeth and bones. Calcium also allows blood to clot normally, muscles and nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally. Most of the calcium in your body is found inside your bones.

Your growing baby needs a considerable amount of calcium to develop. If you do not consume enough calcium to sustain the needs of your developing baby, your body will take calcium from your bones, decreasing your bone mass and putting you at risk for osteoporosisOsteoporosis causes dramatic thinning of the bone, resulting in weak, brittle bones that can easily be broken.

Pregnancy is a critical time for a woman to consume more calcium. Even if no problems develop during pregnancy, an inadequate supply of calcium at this time can diminish bone strength and increase your risk for osteoporosis later in life.

The following guidelines will help ensure that you are consuming enough calcium throughout your pregnancy:

How Can I Get Enough Calcium If I’m Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you may have cramping, gas, or diarrhea when dairy products are consumed.

If you are lactose intolerant, you can still receive the calcium you need. Here are some suggestions:

Should I Take a Calcium Supplement During Pregnancy?

If you have trouble consuming enough calcium-rich foods in your daily meal plan, talk to your doctor or dietitian about taking a calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement depends on how much calcium you are consuming through food sources.

Calcium supplements and some antacids containing calcium, such as Tums, may complement an already healthy diet. Many multiple vitamin supplements contain little or no calcium; therefore, you may need an additional calcium supplement.

Why Do I Need More Iron During Pregnancy?

 

Iron is a mineral that makes up an important part of hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron also carries oxygen in muscles, helping them function properly. Iron helps increase your resistance to stress and disease.

The body absorbs iron more efficiently during pregnancy; therefore, it is important to consume more iron while you are pregnant to ensure that you and your baby are getting enough oxygen. Iron will also help you avoid symptoms of tiredness, weakness, irritability, and depression.

Following a balanced diet and including foods high in iron can help ensure that you are consuming enough iron throughout your pregnancy. In addition, the following guidelines will help:

What Are Good Sources of Iron?

Should I Take an Iron Supplement During Pregnancy?

Talk to your health care provider about an iron supplement. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that all pregnant women following a balanced diet take an iron supplement providing 27 mg of iron during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy (that’s the amount in most prenatal vitamins). Your doctor may increase this dose if you become anemic. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the size and number of red blood cells are reduced. This condition may result from inadequate intake of iron or from blood loss.

Other Facts About Iron

Food Cravings During Pregnancy

Food cravings during pregnancy are normal. Although there is no widely accepted explanation for food cravings, almost two-thirds of all pregnant women have them. If you develop a sudden urge for a certain food, go ahead and indulge your craving if it provides energy or an essential nutrient. But, if your craving persists and prevents you from getting other essential nutrients in your diet, try to create more of a balance in your daily diet during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your taste for certain foods may change. You may suddenly dislike foods you were fond of before you became pregnant. In addition, during pregnancy, some women feel strong urges to eat non-food items such as ice, laundry starch, dirt, clay, chalk, ashes, or paint chips. This is called pica, and it may be associated with an iron deficiency such as anemia. Do not give in to these non-food cravings — they can be harmful to both you and your baby. Tell your health care provider if you have these non-food cravings.

If you have any problems that prevent you from eating balanced meals and gaining weight properly, ask your health care provider for advice. Registered dietitians — the nutrition experts — are available to help you maintain good nutrition throughout your pregnancy.

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