Good nutrition during pregnancy
One of the common misconceptions about being pregnant is that you can finally eat everything you want—after all, you're eating for two. While it's true that you will burn additional calories because of your growing baby, you may only need more calories in the second and third trimesters and it amounts up to about an extra 300 calories a day. If you've ever counted calories, you know that 300 isn't a lot.
Choose your calories wisely
It can be tempting to head for the fast-food drive-thru or local bakery once you find out you're pregnant. But unfortunately, those indulgences may add more calories to your diet than you need, nudging the scale past your recommended weight.
It's best to choose foods that give you the most nutrients for the calories. Focusing on basic foods—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats/poultry and beans—is an easy way to do that. These foods tend to be higher in nutrients, and are more nutritious, than foods such as bagged cookies or chips. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables also have fiber, which can help minimize the constipation that often comes with pregnancy.
Nutrients you need more of
Along with extra calories, your body also requires more nutrients to meet the needs of you and your baby. These nutrients include protein, calcium, iron, folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin B12. You might also need additional vitamin D.
Not sure which foods have these nutrients? Here are some examples:
- Dairy products for calcium and vitamin D
- Fortified cereals for folic acid and iron
- Carrots, cantaloupe and other orange vegetables and fruits for vitamin A
- Lean meat, chicken, fish and beans for protein
- Lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs for vitamin B12
Eating a variety of nutritious foods each day is the best way to help you get the nutrients you need. Still, most all pregnant women are prescribed a prenatal vitamin by their health care provider. If you want to take any additional supplements, talk to your health care provider before doing so since it's possible to get too much of some nutrients.
Weight gain during pregnancy
Excess weight gain during pregnancy can cause back and joint problems and may lead to gestational diabetes. It can also make delivery more difficult.
If you're taking in the right amount of calories, you should have a gradual weight gain of about 2-4 pounds in the first trimester and then up to a pound a week for the rest of your pregnancy. But remember, that's just an average. Your health care provider can review your height, age, and weight before pregnancy to help determine the healthy weight gain that's right for you, and will continue to monitor your weight gain at each prenatal visit.
How much do you know about your prenatal nutrition? Take our online quiz and find out.