Your Pregnancy Health Plan
Pregnancy is actually an ideal time to make long-term changes to your diet. This is because you are embarking on the job of providing the best nutrition for your unborn baby via your body and beyond that, you are also embarking on a journey of motherhood to care for your family. There can’t be a better reason to begin practicing good eating habits for a lifetime of good health! A BabyTalk Supplement.
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Healthy eating vs dieting
Healthy eating should never be confused with dieting. They are not the same thing, whether you are pregnant or not. Typical dieting, as we have come to know it, is tied to the intention of achieving weight loss. With typical dieters, health is not a major issue, or at least falls second, compared to the success of losing weight.
Ironically, if a healthy diet is consumed regularly, one would have fewer issues concerning weight in the first place. So, what exactly is required nutritionally during pregnancy and, really, for a healthy life in general?
Appropriate calorie consumption
Pregnant women need about 2,300-2,500 calories a day, compared to 1,900-2,200 for other adult women. Note though, that the more active a woman happens to be, the more calories she will need.
While the difference in calorie-count isn’t much, just 300 calories. Pregnant women should generally eat in the high range of the recommended serving amounts of a typical food pyramid, (i.e., about 10 servings in the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group per day), especially during the second and third trimesters. Look on the label of foods for serving size amounts. Otherwise, using your common sense will probably work just fine!
Diversify Your Diet
You’re only going to be able to make long-term dietary improvements if you know what is and what’s not good for you. If you believe that the potato chips with your burger counts as vegetables and think butter squash is something you spread on bread then you are in need of some catching up in food education!
You’ll also want to consider widening your diet to include an appropriate diversity of foods. Any pregnant woman who thinks that a prenatal vitamin will cover her nutritional needs should think again. Essentially, nothing short of a varied diet can really ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need. If you eat the same foods over and over, you may be missing out on important nutrients, which in turn could spell trouble if you’re pregnant.
Connecting eating habits
First and foremost, be informed that if your child is raised in a house where the pantry is full of junk food, he or she is will be a prime candidate for health and weight problems, if not during childhood itself, then later on in life! The reason we’re stating this to you is because, establishing good eating habits for yourself now while you’re pregnant will make you better prepared to make smart decisions about what your family eats in the future.
Expand Your Horizons During Pregnancy
You may have certain food aversions when you’re pregnant, but often, picky eating goes way back to one’s own early days. What chance do you have of preventing your future kids from being picky eaters if you still turn up your nose at nutritious foods which you dislike?
Be a little adventurous yourself and get to know about food, even ones you disliked as a child. Just because you hated them then, doesn’t mean you would now! Reinvent foods with negative associations by approaching them with fresh eyes and new preparations. Start buying new cookbooks or reacquaint yourself with the ones you’ve got. Make foods you’ve never made before and find more appealing recipes for foods you assume you dislike but haven’t tried for a long time.
Eating for Two?
You may be surprised to hear this, but unless a food is dangerous to your health when you are pregnant, there should be no cause to forbid any kind of food from your diet. The key is diversification and moderation.
An important benefit to bulking up your food knowledge is that you will have the know-how to replace high-sugar, high-fat cravings with more sensible, yet satisfying, alternatives. Here are some suggestions:
You crave: Cake
Choose instead: Graham crackers and a glass of skim milk
You crave: Soda
Choose instead: Seltzer with a splash of fruit juice
If it’s just one of those days when nothing but cake will do, then, by all means, eat that cake! Stick to one slice and enjoy it slowly!
It would do you good to know too, that you’re not supposed to literally eat for two when you’re pregnant. Eating well for one is more like it. Adding the necessary 300 extra calories during pregnancy is almost too easy. Here are some ideas that will add about 300 calories to your daily diet:
- One slice of whole wheat bread with one teaspoon peanut butter, plus one cup skim milk.
- A medium sized cup of chopped fresh fruit.
Pregnant women to think smart about adding calories during mealtime. Here are some common sense suggestions:
- Have a cup of soup with your sandwich at lunch.
- Eat an extra piece of chicken at dinner.
An expecting mother’s diet is very important during pregnancy. The baby’s health depends on her gaining the right amount of weight by eating nutritional foods that provide protein, iron, calcium and vitamins, and avoiding or minimizing drugs like caffeine, and especially alcohol and nicotine — that could harm the child.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Unlike 40 years ago, we now recognize the relationship of pre-pregnancy weight and weight gain to pregnancy outcome. That is, low birth weight can increase the risk of infant mortality. A pregnant woman should gain approximately 25 pounds — more if she is underweight, less if she is overweight — for the sake of her baby’s health. Weight gain is minimal during the first trimester and accelerates in the second and third trimesters.
Good Nutrition During Pregnancy
A pregnant woman should add approximately 300 calories to her diet because she is providing for herself as well as the baby growing inside of her. It’s important that she increase her intake of protein, iron, calcium and vitamins, eat the freshest foods available, and keep track of what she is eating to ensure that she and her baby are getting all the essential nutrients they need.
Good Nutrition During Pregnancy
What and how much should you eat to be healthy during pregnancy? You want to pay special attention to certain nutrients and add about 300 extra calories to your diet.
The average recommended daily caloric intake varies depending on your activity level and normal weight. Your weight gain is a good guide to how well you are meeting your caloric intake.
You should increase your protein intake to 60 grams during pregnancy to provide for the growth of your baby and your breasts, uterus, and placenta; for the increased blood volume; and for the production of amniotic fluid.
Iron is an important nutrient during pregnancy for three primary reasons. First, iron is necessary for the formation of maternal and fetal hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of blood. Since your blood volume increases considerably during pregnancy and your baby is manufacturing blood cells, your need for iron increases. Second, during the last trimester, your baby draws from you some of the iron reserves that help prevent anemia during the first four to six months. Third, your increased blood volume and iron stores help your body adjust (to some degree) to the blood loss that occurs during childbirth.
If your doctor recommends an iron supplement, it will probably contain 60 milligrams of iron, although the recommended amount during pregnancy is 27 milligrams a day. Because iron from supplements cannot be properly absorbed, you must ingest about 60 milligrams of iron to ensure that you actually absorb the recommended daily amount of it.
Iron is best absorbed if taken with foods rich in vitamin C, such as orange, grapefruit, or tomato juice. Absorption is impaired if you take them with antacids or calcium-containing foods, such as milk and cheese. Iron supplements sometimes cause an upset stomach, constipation, or nausea. If that is the case for you, remember that you can get much of the iron you need from iron-rich foods, such as organ meats, red meat, egg yolk, and legumes (dried peas and beans).
Note: Consult your doctor before stopping an iron supplement.
During pregnancy, many doctors commonly recommend that you get between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day. Calcium is essential for the development and growth of your baby’s skeleton, heart, muscles, and tooth buds. Inadequate intake results in depletion of your own stores of calcium.
Milk and milk products (such as yogurt and cheese) are the best sources of dietary calcium. Tofu and canned sardines (with bones) are good secondary sources. If you are lactose intolerant, meaning you cannot digest the lactose found in milk products, try a reduced-lactose or lactose-free milk product, soy milk, buttermilk, or cultured yogurt. If all else fails, your doctor may prescribe a calcium supplement.
Folic Acid Needs
The recommended daily intake of nearly all vitamins increases 25 to 50 percent for pregnant women. The daily recommendation for folic acid (folate) doubles. A high-quality, varied diet will supply most of the vitamins you need, with the probable exception of folic acid. 400 micrograms are usually recommended to provide for the increased folic acid requirement.
Folic acid is important for synthesis of all cells and for production of DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. Deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia in the mother and neural tube defects in the fetus.
Since adequate folic acid intake is so important for your baby and you, choose a diet high in foods containing this essential vitamin. Liver, lean beef, legumes, egg yolks, and dark green leafy vegetables are good food sources of folic acid.
Use the freshest foods you can, choose a varied, high-quality diet, and prepare the foods carefully to ensure you get the most nutritional value from your food. Vitamins, especially the water-soluble vitamins (folic acid, niacin, vitamin C, and the B vitamins), are easily destroyed by overcooking. Uncooked vegetables and fruits have the highest vitamin content. The next best alternative is to use the least amount of water to cook and to cook for a very short time.
It is important to note that consuming excess amounts of certain nutrients via supplements, particularly vitamins A and D, iodine, and zinc, may produce toxic effects and congenital anomalies (birth defects).
To keep track of the foods you eat and to ensure you and your baby get all the essential nutrients you need, consider keeping a food diary periodically throughout your pregnancy. Record your daily intake of dairy, protein, grains and breads, fruits and vegetables, fats, fluids, and foods consisting primarily of empty calories (simple sugars). After several days, assess where you need to make changes in order to get the nutrients you need.
Sometimes your capacity or appetite is diminished, especially during late pregnancy or if you experience heartburn or nausea. Eat several small meals during the day instead of three large meals to help you get the nutrients you and your baby need. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about the amount of food you need.
If you find it difficult to eat a well balanced, healthy diet, consider consulting a certified nutritionist.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Everything the mother puts into her mouth during pregnancy essentially ends up in the baby growing inside of her. That’s why it’s important that you stick to a healthy diet and avoid or minimize potentially harmful substances like caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
Just as with the good foods you eat, the harmful substances you consume can get passed directly to your unborn child.
Caffeine is a substance naturally found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate. It is also in some medications. Read labels carefully to identify those products that contain caffeine. Caffeine readily finds its way to the fetus, and the concentration of caffeine in fetal blood will be about the same as in maternal blood. Studies have not shown an association between caffeine consumption and fetal abnormalities, but caffeine is a powerful stimulant. It also increases production of stress hormones, causing constriction of uterine blood vessels, which lessens the blood flow to the uterus and may temporarily decrease the amount of oxygen reaching the fetus.
While large amounts of caffeine cannot be good for your baby or you, caffeine consumption in small amounts (one to two cups of coffee per day) is considered safe during pregnancy.
Be Wary of Artificial Sweeteners
Pregnant women are advised to either stay away from artificial sweeteners or consume them in moderation. Pregnant women who have phenylketonuria (PKU) — a rare, inherited disease in which the body cannot metabolize phenylalanine (an amino acid) — or high levels of phenylalanine in their blood must avoid sweeteners containing aspartame altogether. Aspartame contains phenylalanine, and an excess of phenylalanine in the body damages the central nervous system and can cause mental retardation.
Saccharin should also be avoided by all pregnant and breast-feeding women. Although studies linking saccharin to bladder cancer have been dismissed, it has been shown to cross into the placenta and may remain in fetal tissue.
Even moderate consumption of alcohol, (one or two drinks per day) are associated with a higher miscarriage rate. Other studies associate alcohol drinking with a more frequent occurrence of birth defects and lower birth weights. No safe level of alcohol consumption has been established. As a result, it is best to take a cautious approach during pregnancy by abstaining from alcohol. Heavy drinking during pregnancy (more than five or six drinks daily) puts the baby at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome. Affected babies are born with physical malformations, including microcephaly (abnormally small head), certain heart defects, and often, mental retardation.
Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your wellbeing.
Just because herbal teas are considered to be natural does not mean they are safe for pregnant women. Some herbal teas contain drugs and even estrogen! Chamomile tea contains ragweed, which can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Teas made from juniper berries may cause stomach irritation. For your own safety and well-being, consume only teas known to be safe for pregnancy such as peppermint, rooibos and raspberry leaf.
Keep your kitchen stocked with items that can ease your pregnancy woes. Check out this list of quick bites that may help you in times of need.
Morning sickness aid:
- Carbonated drinks (without artificial sweeteners)
- Anything ginger
- Hard candies
- Pregnancy-friendly herbal teas
- Constipation aid:
- Beans and peas
- Leafy greens
- Oats and oatmeal
- Prune juice
- Prunes and figs