WHY IS NUTRITION IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY?
Nutrition during pregnancy is essential because you need to maintain your demands as well as the growing baby’s. That is a big deal! It will take a little extra effort on your part but it can be done! As you know; anything that you put into your body during pregnancy is a big deal. Anything you eat goes directly to your baby which why it extremely critical for you to start paying attention to what you are putting in your body!
When not pregnant it is ideal to consume whole foods, organic if possible, better yet maybe you grow many of them in your own backyard! Therefore; whole health during pregnancy is critical for the development of your baby and your own needs. If you haven’t adopted a healthy lifestyle yet, there is no better time than NOW. It will greatly reduce the onset of birth defects, and chronic illness in both mother and baby.
Studies have been done over time; and it shows that today in 2019, more babies are being born with illness, disease and sickness because poor nutrition while in uterus.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT GAIN IS NORMAL DURING PREGNANCY?
Weight gain tends to be one of the first things we think about as a newly pregnant mother. Gaining weight during pregnancy is inevitable, it is going to happen; you are growing life and in order to do so it is imperative that you grow with it. The American College of Obstetric & Gynecology recommends so much weight-gain based on your BMI. You can find your BMI here, but it is best to discuss this with your Doctor as they should be able to provide the best support for you based on your history current pregnancy status. Typically an AVERAGE pregnant women will gain anywhere from 18-40lbs. However many variables take into action, remember these are only guidelines and no two women gain weight in the same way.
The places you gain weight during pregnancy are more than just added weight. An average woman will gain roughly the amount of weight in these areas:
Increased Breast Tissue: 2-3 pounds
Placenta: 2-3 pounds
The actual weight of baby: 6-9lbs
Amniotic Fluid: 2-3 lbs
Blood Volume: 4lbs
Stored fat for breastfeeding: 5-9lbs
As you notice; adding weight in these areas is all essential to your growing baby! You need added weight in this area in order to grow your baby. Isn’t it amazing how our bodies grow, change and adapt in order to support life?!
HOW TO AVOID EXCESS WEIGHT GAIN DURING PREGNANCY
It is important to consume adequate calories regardless of what stage of life you are in. During pregnancy you have to incorporate more calories at certain points of your pregnancy, because you need to sustain life for you AND your growing baby. Eating additional calories does not equate to ‘eating for two’. Adding additional calories to your diet takes a little extra planning on your part but it can be done! Eating take out in large quantities each day, or a pint of ice-cream each night will cause excessive weight gain, and quite honestly probably make you feel like rubbish.
It is important to remember to continue to eat whole foods during pregnancy because you need it for your changing your body, and baby needs it for his/her growing body. The ACOG recommends these guidelines for each trimester:
First Trimester: No added Calories are needed at this time.
Second Trimester: An additional 340 calories, think two slices of toast with half an avocado
Third Trimester: An additional 450 calories, think a large banana & 2 energy balls.
You can go here to figure out what your base caloric intake is based on your current weight, you can add the extra calories as necessary per trimester. Take not that every pregnancy is different, so if questions or concerns arise please discuss this with your doctor.
SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT DURING PREGNANCY?
Adding certain supplements during pregnancy is recommended by the ACOG. Yes you can get the majority of your needed vitamins and nutrients from eating whole foods. Many times we do not eat the right amount of foods in order to meet these quantities. Supplementation is acceptable & encouraged while growing another life.
Iron: Extra iron is important during pregnancy because your body is pumping more blood volume than normal. Adequate intake can be achieved by eating a well rounded, whole foods diet. Think leafy greens, beans, & grass fed red meats. If you feel lethargic and groggy, it might be time to have your levels checked, your OB may advise you to supplement.
Folate: This is not to be confused with folic acid. When looking at prenatal vitamins many contain folic acid; which is the synthetic form of folate. Folic acid in synthetic form is not good, can cause cancer, undesirable side effects and not provide what your baby needs. Be sure to look for quality sources that state FOLATE on them and eat a lot of spinach!
DHA: There are limited studies that state DHA, or Fish Oil is beneficial for the baby or not. However, there are no negative reviews and I always say its better to have more healthy fats in your system than less! Healthy fats are essential for your joint health, your brain, and your baby’s brain. Look for quality, high grade natural fish oil supplements and of course touch base with your OB about best choices. More about the exact supplements I take on this Blog Post.
BIOTIN: Pregnancy often causes a deficiency in vitamin B7, so make sure you’re eating plenty of biotin-rich foods such as oats, milk, mushrooms, and Swiss Chard. The US Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine recommends at least 30 mcg of vitamin B7 for pregnant women.
When looking for a prenatal vitamin be sure to look for one that comes from whole-food, plant based sources. Powder form is typically best because you can dissolve it into water or your daily smoothie. Powdered form also dissolves into your body better and is better absorbed. These are some that I recommend: Pink Stork or Country Life Prenatal
CAN I HAVE CAFFEINE DURING PREGNANCY?
There have been several studies relating to caffeine during pregnancy and many of them have come up inconclusive. According to the American Pregnancy Association a pregnant woman should not have more than 200 ml of caffeine in a day.
Why? Because caffeine goes through your placenta, just because you can handle large doses of caffeine does nt mean your baby can! Trust me I have a cup of coffee every morning, and a cup of tea in the afternoon so I’m right at that 200 ml mark. My children do not seem affected, nor have they had any negative side effects from this as of late. It is something to be mindful off; if you really want an afternoon cup of joe, make it half decaf/ half regular, or switch to decaf totally. You’ll get the flavor but not the jolt! Drink more water!
WHAT FOOD GROUPS SHOULD I BE EATING DURING PREGNANCY?
During pregnancy you should be eating a wide range of food groups. The most of your food intake should come in the form of colorful vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats.
Below I have listed some examples of each for you:
Vegetables-are high in fiber and you need fiber to have healthy bowels. Fiber also fills you up leaving you full and satisfied.
Fruits-are also high in fiber and you need fiber to have healthy bowels. Fiber also fills you up leaving you full and satisfied.
Lean Protein: Protein gives you nutrients your body needs to grow and repair muscle and other tissue. Protein is found in the following foods:
- Beef, pork, and fish
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy foods
- Beans and peas
- Nuts and seeds
If you do not eat meat, protein can be found in nuts, seeds, nut butters, and soy products such as tempeh and tofu(always best to stick to organic for soy products) Vegetarians who include dairy products in their diets also can get needed protein from milk and eggs.
Complex Carbs/Grains-Complex carbohydrates include dietary fiber and starches. It takes your body longer to process them, so complex carbohydrates provide lasting energy than simple carbohydrates. (Simple carbohydrates being processed carbs, white breads, white rice, potato chips, sugary cereal, those with no to little fiber.)
Complex carbohydrates are found in bread, rice, pasta, some fruits, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn.
Healthy Fats- Healthy Oils and fats give you important nutrients. Healthy fats include unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nut butters, seeds, avocados, olives, coconut. During pregnancy, the fats you eat provide energy and help build many fetal organs and the placenta. Fats should make up about 20–35% of your total food intake—that’s about 6 tablespoons per day.
WHAT SHOULD I NOT EAT DURING PREGNANCY?
Typically one should avoid unpasteurized foods such as soft cheeses and processed meats such as deli meats and hot dogs. Why? Because they could contain Listeria which is a bacteria and will harm your baby. Listeria can also be found on unwashed fruit and vegetables so be sure to wash these items before eating them.
No raw foods should be consumed such as Sushi, runny eggs, under-cooked meat for concern of the same thing.
One should also be wary of their alcohol consumption.
I have linked a study from the ACOG guidelines so you can read the research.
If you focus on eating the right amount of food groups from above from whole food sources, you really should not have to worry about what you should not be eating.
YES, nutrition during pregnancy is important!! It is essential because you need to maintain your own bodies demands as well as the growing baby. That is a big deal and it will take a little extra effort on your part but it can be done! As you know; anything that you put into your body during pregnancy is a big deal.
The easiest way to get on track with proper nutrition is to first know what you need to eat in a day. Refer back to the section about how many calories you need each day and then fill it in. You want to be sure you are eating every few hours; specifically during that first trimester to avoid nausea if you can. During your third trimester you feel full all the time; so spacing out little meals every hour or two is honestly the only way I ever survived those last few months!
Once you know how many calories you actually need; be sure to check with your doctor on this or you can use this quick formula to calculate and then add in what is needed per trimester.
The next thing you do from there is add in all the different food categories, plan out your meals and be sure to be drinking a TON of water! Ya’ll your body pumps a cup of water per hour to your placenta to nourish your baby. ONE CUP PER HOUR. You must drink water! I personally have used this nutrition guide to guide me through my pregnancies and postpartum journeys. It changed my mindset around food and finally understanding what to eat at each meal was such a game changer for me!
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Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists https://www.acog.org/ Copyright 2019