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Having a Baby - Pregnancy Planner
Nutrition in Pregnancy

Right from the onset, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is vital for a pregnant woman and her developing baby. Although many people will say that you are “eating for two,” this is really not the case. In fact, most pregnant women only need an additional 300 calories each day.

In general, you should gain approximately 3 to 8 pounds in the first trimester, 12 to 14 pounds in the second trimester, and 7 to 10 pounds in the third trimester, for a total weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds. However, women who are underweight may need to gain more, while women who are overweight should probably gain less.

Keep in the mind the following bits of advice in order to keep your weight gain within the normal ranges:

  • Remember that with every bite of food that you take, you are also “feeding” your baby. If it is something that will benefit you both, go ahead and enjoy. If it is something that will simply satisfy your sweet tooth, you might want to reconsider and opt for something healthier.
  • Pregnancy is NOT a time to diet. Remember, if you are starving yourself, you are starving your baby. With that in mind, you should never skip a meal. Even if you are not hungry, try to eat something small, but healthy. Many pregnant women find that they prefer to eat five or six smaller meals, instead of three big meals. This many minimize your nausea and heartburn.
  • Each day, be sure to eat a combination of protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, iron-rich foods and calcium-rich foods. In order to maintain healthy bones for yourself, it is important that you consume four to five servings of calcium each day.
  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid each day, including water, milk, fruit juice, vegetable juice, naturally decaffeinated coffee and tea, soup, and plain soda water or seltzer

Eating healthy during pregnancy may take added effort, but it holds many benefits for you and your unborn child. During pregnancy there are many added demands placed on your body. Getting the right vitamins and minerals and reaching the appropriate caloric intake are essential for the health of you and your baby. If you already eat a balanced diet, all you have to do is add a few extra calories and nutrients. If you do not eat a balanced diet, it is important that you start now.

The Food Pyramid

The Food Pyramid was introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a guide for men and non-pregnant women to help chose foods that will give them the nutrients they need. As a pregnant woman you need more of these same nutrients so the food pyramid can still be used with some modifications.

Your diet should include proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fat. By following the suggestions made by the food pyramid, and varying your choices, chances are you and your baby are eating healthy and getting all the required nutrients.

The food pyramid is broken down into six categories:

1. Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta (6-11 servings, pregnant women need at least 9)-
This group provides your body with complex carbohydrates that give you energy. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. When choosing a food from this group look for foods that are whole-grain, such as whole-wheat bread, and try to avoid foods that are loaded with fat and sugar.

One serving equals:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 ounce of cold cereal
  • ½ cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta

2. Vegetables (3-5 servings, pregnant women need at least 4)-
Vegetables are a good source of many vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. They are also great for you because they are low in fat and high in fiber. To ensure that you get a wide variety of these vitamins and minerals choose an array of vegetables such as:

  • dark-green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli)
  • starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas)
  • deep-yellow or orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, squash)
  • legumes (chick peas and all types of beans)

One serving equals:

  • 1 cup of salad greens
  • ½ cup of other cooked or raw vegetables
  • 3/4 cup vegetable juice

3. Fruits (2-4 servings, pregnant women need at least 3)-
Like vegetables, this group also provides many vitamins and minerals such as potassium and vitamin A. Choose from fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits such as melons, berries, and citrus fruits. Another good choice is natural, unsweetened, fruit juices. Fruit drinks, which contain excess sugar and artificial flavors, should be limited.

One serving equals:

  • 1 medium apple, banana, or orange
  • ½ cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
  • ½ cup fruit juice
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit such as raisins

4. Milk, yogurt, and cheese (2-3 servings, pregnant women need 3)-
Dairy products are a significant source of calcium and other nutrients such as protein and phosphorus. Calcium is very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. When meeting your daily dairy requirements, try to choose low-fat, skim, or part-skim varieties of your cheeses, milk, and yogurt.

One serving equals:

  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1 ½ ounces of cheese

5. Meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and eggs (2-3 servings, pregnant women need 3 servings)-
This groups provides protein, vitamin B, iron, and zinc that the fetus needs to develop. To reduce unnecessary fats, choose lean meats and cut off fat and skin before cooking.

One serving equals:

  • 2-3 ounces cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

6. Fats, oils, and sweets (sparingly)-
These are full of unneeded calories and fat. You should get no more than 30% of your calories from fat. Choose low-fat salad dressings, and limit butter, margarine, and gravies. Eat high sugar foods and desserts sparingly. Also, limit sugar-free sodas, gelatins, gums, and other desserts. Many of these contain a sugar substitute called saccharine. The effect of this substance on the fetus is unknown so it is wise to avoid it when possible. Aspartame, another sugar substitute, is believed to be safe during pregnancy.

In order to ensure that the foods you are eating are good sources of nutrients you should get in the habit of reading food labels. The food label (usually titled Nutrition Facts) lists important information you should know about the food you are eating such as the serving size, the amount of calories per serving, the amount of fat per serving, the amount of fat calories per serving, and the list of nutrients in the food. The list also contains the percentage of your daily value (DV) that the food provides based upon the recommended daily allowances (RDA). These percentages can help you keep tabs on what nutrients you need more of, and what you need less of. Keep in mind though, that pregnant women often need more.

If you feel that you may not be getting enough of the essential nutrients talk to you doctor about using a prenatal supplement. But NEVER start using a supplement without first discussing it with your doctor. Certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful to you and your baby if taken in excess.

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