What you eat and how much of it is more important than ever while you are pregnant. The amount of weight you gain during your pregnancy is as essential to your health as it is to the health of your baby. As your baby develops and your body works to support that growth, you will gain much-needed weight in specific areas.The amount of healthy weight gain during pregnancy varies, however, there are general guidelines to follow:

  • Normal total weight gain for a healthy woman is 25 to 35 pounds (11 to 16 kg).
  • Overweight women should gain only 10 to 20 pounds (4 to 9 kg) during pregnancy.
  • Underweight women or women with multiples (twins or more) should gain 35 to 45 pounds (16 to 20 kg) in pregnancy.

Snacks on Snacks

Eating for two does not mean eating twice as much food. Pregnant women need about 300 extra calories a day. But, where these calories come from matters. If you eat a lot of sugar or fatty foods, the extra calories won’t provide the nutrients you and your baby needs. As a result of being mindful of your meals, your growing baby will get the vitamins and minerals it needs from your own body.

You can swap out unhealthy snacks with the following replacements:

  • High in protein snacks like apple slices dipped in peanut butter.
  • Rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and lower in trans fats and saturated fats.
  • Calcium, for healthy growth. Try greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of granola.
  • Iron, for the baby’s blood supply. It also prevents anemia in the mother.
  • Folic acid, for reducing the risk for spina bifida (incomplete closing of the spinal column), anencephaly (defect of the brain), and other birth defects.
  • Finally, pregnant women should try to choose snacks that are relatively unprocessed and don’t have a lot of added sugar.

Getting The Right Nutrients

Eating a well-rounded diet with all of the right nutrients and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is important for a healthy pregnancy. For most normal-weight pregnant women, the right amount of calories is about 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester, about 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester, and about 2,400 calories per day during the third trimester.

Grains:

  • Eat 9 to 11 servings a day.
  • These foods (bread, cereal, rice, and pasta) give you carbohydrates. They turn into energy for your body and for your baby’s growth.
  • Whole-grain and fortified products have folic acid and iron.

Vegetables:

  • Vegetables are a good source of vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron, and magnesium.
  • Eat 4 to 5 servings a day.
  • Try to get at least 2 of your daily servings from green, leafy vegetables.

Fruit:

  • Eat 3 to 4 servings a day.
  • Fruit gives you vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Choose fresh fruits and juices. They are better for you than frozen or canned fruits. Eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods, like citrus fruits, melons, and berries. Try to avoid juices that have sugar or sweeteners added.

Dairy:

  • Eat 3 servings a day.
  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheese) are a great source of protein, calcium, and phosphorus. If you need to limit calories and cholesterol, choose nonfat dairy products.

Protein:

  • Eat 3 servings a day.
  • Foods from this group (meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts) are good sources of B vitamins, protein, iron, and zinc.

Fats and oils:

You need moderate amounts of fat in your diet for you and your growing baby. Fats provide long-term energy for growth and are needed for brain development. Women with special diet needs should plan their meals carefully to make sure they get the nutrition they need. Talk to your provider or a dietitian if you have a special diet, such as:

  • Vegetarian or vegan
  • Lactose intolerant
  • Gluten-free

Don’t Forget Your Vitamins

Pregnant women should also drink plenty of fluids including a lot of water to stay hydrated. Avoid drinks with caffeine and sugar. Ask your provider how much fluid you should get each day.

In addition, prenatal vitamins that have folic acid, iron, and the other minerals that you need should be a part of your day-to-day diet. Your provider may give you a prescription for vitamins, if not you can also get prenatal vitamins over the counter.

Finally…

Not gaining enough weight can jeopardize your baby’s growth and development, however, gaining too much weight can cause complications during your pregnancy and make it difficult for you to lose the extra pounds after your delivery. Eat a nutritious, well-rounded diet will help both you and your baby get the vitamins needed. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by Medline).