The Basics on Nutrition in Pregnancy
Prenatal diet plays a key role in the growth and development of your baby and how you cope during the pregnancy term. From conception onwards, your baby is going to count on you for everything. Along with your growing nutritional needs, your blood volume increases to accommodate your pregnancy and to store calories in preparation for nursing. Now that you are eating for two it is safe to assume that your nutritional intake may continue to rise until your baby is born. It is important to note that individual appetite and food preferences differ for every pregnant woman. It is also important to note that just because you are eating for two, you need not go overboard with eating. Your energy requirements will increase only by 25% or 500 calories per day. So just as it is important to avoid binging, it is also important to avoid dieting at this time. These vital nutrients outlined below need to be a part of your diet regardless.
The must have Nutrients
|Protein - Amino acid is the main building block for development and growth; it is responsible for the manufacture of new cells and blood production and energy required during labor and delivery. Protein is also essential for regulating fluid balance through the enzymes and hormones synthesized.
|| Poultry, eggs, meat, seafood, soy beans, tofu
|| At least 60gm per day from 3 meals; 2-3 oz at each meal
|Carbohydrates - Carbs provide energy you can tap from immediately; also provides energy for the fetal growth and development. There are simple carbs (foods with high sugar content), complex carbs (starchy foods) found in grains, potatoes and complex unrefined carbs found in wholemeal foods; the latter provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. Simple car work as instant energy fixers.
|| Whole grain cereals and breads, brown rice and pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables
|| About 9 servings daily from the high fiber group and 3-4 from fruits and vegetables which equals to about 60% of your daily calorie intake
|Calcium this provides the mineral content for your baby's teeth and bones apart from strengthening your muscles. Keeping your intake high ensures your baby doesn't tap into your reserves (from your reserves & bones). Sufficient calcium prevents leg cramps and muscle spasms. It is important that you take adequate calcium from the start as baby's bones begin to form between weeks 4 - 6
|| Low fat dairy products including milk, cheese, yoghurt, soy milk, ice cream, sardines and salmon, green vegetables like broccoli and spinach. If you are not able to ingest dairy products and milk, calcium supplements is a must.
|| 1200 mgs daily
|Iron - this nutrient is necessary to ensure a good supply of hemoglobin, which help in the transportation of oxygen from you to baby. Iron also brings oxygen to your own muscles and organs thus keeping fatigue in control. Iron supply should not only be adequate but continuous throughout pregnancy. Inadequacy can result in anemia
|| Lean red meat, spinach, whole grain breads, apricots, fortified cereals, kidney beans and other legumes
|| 30 mg daily
|Vitamin A - this vitamin is necessary for the formation of baby's tooth enamel, hair, good eyesight and aids in the growth of thyroid gland; helps your body fight infection
|| Carrots, dairy (milk, butter, cheese, egg yolks), leafy greens, sweet potatoes
|| Up to 100 mcg daily retinol equivalent or 5000 IUs. Vitamin A can reach toxic levels via supplements but not from food sources
|Vitamin C - this vitamin contributes to the development of the skin, tendons and bones through the formation of collagen. Vitamin C can also help you reduce your chances of forming stretch marks. Assists in the absorption of iron.
|| Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, blackcurrants
|| About 80 mg daily
|Vitamin B6 this vitamin contributes to baby's overall development and also reduces the chances of morning sickness in the first trimester. Deficiency in this vitamin will cause baby to develop cleft palate; for the mother there is the risk of high blood pressure, edema. Adequately consumed this vitamin will help your body use up protein, carbohydrate and fat efficiently. It plays a vital role in protein and fatty acid metabolism and in the production of red blood cells.
|| Brewers yeast, Green leafy vegetables, soy beans, baked potatoes, meat, whole grain cereal, bananas, wheat-germ, mushrooms
|| 2.2 mg daily
|Folic acid - one of the key vitamins for pregnancy, this vitamin can prevent major birth defects of the skull and spine in your baby; it also aids in the production of blood cells required during pregnancy.
|| Raw leafy vegetables, oranges, bananas, walnuts, broccoli, black beans, chickpeas, whole grain bread and cereal
|| 400 mcg daily
|Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system and increases your ability to produce red blood cells; for your baby this vitamin is necessary for the production of red blood cells and prevents the incidence of oxygen deprivation. It is responsible for the formation of the central nervous system
|| Liver, meat, fish, poultry, milk. Since the source is mainly of meat origin, vegetarians need to take supplements
|| 3-4 mg daily
|Zinc deficiency can cause miscarriage or stillbirth. This mineral also aids in contraction during labor
|| High fiber foods like bran, nuts eggs, shellfish and hard cheese
||Burning sensation behind the breast bone and sometimes regurgitation of sour fluids
|Fat fat is a good source of long term energy for you while your baby needs some fat to grow
|| Plant oils such as canola, safflower, peanut and olive. Fats is also obtained from meat, dairy, nuts peanut butter, salad dressings
|| Fat should constitute 30% of your daily caloric intake with a low intake of saturated fat and trans fat should be eliminated from your diet totally if possible.
The facts on Vegetarianism
You need to make special efforts to ensure you eat right. By that, you have to work hard at getting adequate amounts of protein, vitamins and iron to meet your own and your baby's needs. Pregnant women need to be more careful of food choices than their meat-eating counterparts.
- Non-meat eaters can get their protein from dairy products and fish; if you are a strict vegetarian (no eggs even) you have to be vigilant about your menu. You have to ensure your body has the correct combination of incomplete but complementary plant protein found in grains, pulses, beans and nuts to provide you with the most of the necessary amino acids.
- For extra calcium, all pregnant women should increase their milk intake to half a liter a day (you can opt for semi-skimmed variety with high calcium and low fat)
- Iron is hard to find in vegetarian meals; certain substances interfere in its absorption. Dried fruits especially apricots, eggs and green leafy vegetables are secondary to meat in supplying iron since animal sources of iron are more easily absorbed into the system. Iron supplements may be recommended if your doctor sees fit.
- If you are a pure vegetarian, you have to work real hard to make sure you are not deficient in calcium, vitamins B6 and vitamins B12 and D, all of which are found mainly in meat & dairy products.
- Due to low fat and high bulk of vegetarian food, pregnant women may have a hard time consuming enough calories. Vitamin and mineral supplements becomes a must and extra vegetable oils and fats may be encouraged to increase fuel in the diet.
- Vegetarians can get their share of omega-3 from dried peas, beans and nuts.
Whole grains facts
Boost your energy levels with grains; grains and grain products belong to the rice family. These foods should form the bulk of your diet since they provide energy for your daily activities. Whole grains consist of 3 layers: endosperm, germ, bran. They contain more vitamins (B & E), minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium) fiber and phytochemicals compared to refined grains. Rich in fiber, whole grains help in bowel function and keep you full with fewer calories. It is important to consume enough fluids to combat constipation created by the bulk from grains.
The facts on fats
There are four types of fat: saturated fat, trans fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat If your diet is high in saturated fat and trans fat and low in unsaturated fat, your chances for getting heart disease increases. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products, high fat dairy products (butter, full cream milk and milk products); coconut milk and cream and blended oils used for cooking are also high in this type of fat. Trans fat is found in processed foods like factory-made cakes, pastries, biscuits and potato chips. High intake contributes to high cholesterol. A diet high in saturated fats tends to raise blood cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, most nuts and avocado. Good sources of polyunsaturated fats are vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, sunflower and safflower and deep sea fish such as salmon, tuna. While both these fats are beneficial, they should be consumed in moderation. Fish is a rich source of unsaturated fat especially omega 3 fatty acids. Choose oily fish like mackerel, sardines, tuna, herring, salmon which are high in this fat; eat fish twice a weak if possible, as an alternative to meat.
The facts on Water It is very essential to keep up your fluid intake, especially now since your blood volume and blood fluids are expanding. Do not restrict your water intake if you suffer from mild swelling of the ankles, fingers as this won't help. If at all, limit your consumption of high calorie drinks such as commercial juices and beverages but remember water is best for your blood, your bowel function and overall being. A good alternative to water is fresh fruit juices; your fluid intake, chiefly water, should be about 8 glasses a day (this does not include beverages).
Fruits for thought A diet rich in meat and low in fruits and vegetables may leach calcium away from your body; since our bodies are largely made up of this mineral it is important to increase fruits and vegetables intake as this slows down the leaching effect. Our bones are kept strong and become less prone to fractures.