Guide to Understanding Pregnancy Nutrition

woman eating an appleIt is essential that you pay close attention to pregnancy nutrition throughout your term. Pregnancy is one of the most special times in a woman's life and listening to your body will help you through much of this. Your body will speak to you, but you need to learn how to listen to it. Keep in mind your body is not just supporting one person right now; you are sharing the space with your new baby, and that means you have much higher nutritional needs than you would at any other time in your life.

You should carefully plan your diet during pregnancy so that you are supplying everything your baby needs. What you choose to eat will decide the health of your baby. Even though your baby is not born yet, you need to start caring for him or her now. Unhealthy eating habits can put your baby at risk.

How to Eat Healthily during Pregnancy

Recent scientific research suggests that a mother's diet during pregnancy will affect the physical health and intelligence of their child. That is a lot of responsibility to determine the proper meals to eat for you and your developing baby.

You may have heard people say that as soon as they get pregnant they are eating for two. This is not technically true, as you do not have to double your nutritional intake. In fact, during the first trimester you do not really need to consume any extra calories. However, you do need protein, calcium, folic acid, zinc, and certain vitamins such as B12, B6, and D. Your baby will also need fatty acids to develop normally; all of these components should be considered when creating your pregnancy diet.

As your baby starts to grow you will need to be include more protein in your diet. You need around 300 extra calories during the final six months of your pregnancy. During the first three months you can expect to put on around 3-5 lbs; however, in the last 6 months you should only gain around 3 lbs a month. Your doctor can use your weight gain to advise the best diet options for you.

What to eat

You should be eating healthy food. Make sure you include plenty of foods containing fiber. You should try eating oatmeal to provide minerals and fiber, dairy products for calcium, carrots and tomatoes for carotene, apples and oranges for Vitamins B and C, nuts (except peanuts) for vitamin B + minerals, spinach and cabbage for calcium, and iron and lentils for protein. All of these foods are very important and should be included in your pregnancy diet.

You may find that you are not able to eat as much as you once were at a single sitting. Instead of forcing yourself, you should eat five smaller meals a day instead of the usual 3. You should also limit the amount of salt, sugar, and fat you consume. You should not eat too much during pregnancy, as this can cause you to feel uncomfortable.

One of the most important things to do when pregnant is to make sure that you drink plenty of water. This will prevent you from becoming dehydrated and help remove the toxins from your body. Some women are cautious about drinking water, as they believe that it might make their sickness worse; however, most people notice the opposite.

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You should avoid eating junk food, such as fast food, as this does not provide any real nutritional benefit to you or the baby. You should also avoid alcohol, caffeine, unpasteurized food, and greasy food.

In addition to eating right, you may also want to try some light exercise, but consult with your doctor beforehand.

What do you think?

Guide to Understanding Pregnancy Nutrition

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47 comments

  1. Maria says:

    I found this information especially helpful as I always eat a lot of junk and never drink enough water. I don’t particularly like water pregnant or otherwise, however I have noticed that since I have increased my intake I feel a lot better and I noticed that I’m not as dehydrated as I usually would be. Keep the info coming it’s greatly appreciated.

    • Amanda says:

      Something to help with water intake: I got a Brita Bottle with Water Filter from Target and it’s probably the best thing I’ve gotten during my pregnancy! I can refill it with an tap or fountain water and it filters it and improves the taste greatly! I find myself often drinking exactly what I need and never feeling dehydrated throughout the day. I completely recommend getting one of these Water bottles!!!!

    • Megan Klay says:

      Glad to hear you’re drinking some more water and are seeing the positive effects, Maria!

  2. Brittany says:

    That’s a lot of things to pay attention to while eating

  3. Eva says:

    I eat what I have always eaten. Nothing has changed. I am real small and my doctor told me that I had to drink about 3 milk shakes a day to gain weight.

  4. Rebeca says:

    i’m 9 weeks and hungry… Also looking forward to meat A LOT dinner is my favorite meal. Have a hard time stomaching breakfast. But man when the hunger hits it hits and I better have something to nibble on. I also found that coconut water fills me without reaching for something unhealthy. Plus it’s packed with potassium and electrolytes which is a good thing because I overheat easily and now that i’m pregnant I can’t imagine how hot I will be with the summer around the corner. 🙂

  5. I just found out I am expecting my first child and I am very scared. I am a diabetic and my sugars are yet not controlled but I am trying my hardest to eat healthy and stay active while I can. Is there anyone that can give me tips on what I can and can not eat.

    • Kim Shannon says:

      Hi Secilia Medina! Have you checked out this article yet? http://www.everydayfamily.com/diabetes-and-pregnancy/
      Also, I wasn’t diabetic before or after my pregnancy, but it runs in my family and the doctors kept a close eye on me. I ended up having gestational diabetes. For the remainder of my pregnancy, I became very familiar with pricked fingers, tracking levels, medicine, and a slightly modified diet. You’ll still only need the additional 300 calories per day, as well as the usual prenatal vitamin. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and unpasteurized meats and cheese. And even though most artificial sweeteners are regularly used by diabetics, “saccharin” is a concern during pregnancy – so do your best to completely avoid it during your pregnancy! Stick to lots of healthy fluids, whole grains, vegetables, and lean protein. You’ll be just fine!
      I hope this helped – congrats on your pregnancy!

  6. Shorts says:

    At 5 weeks I was always hungry, but now I’m at 6 weeks and back to normal with my hunger…except that now I’m disgusted from certain foods and get nauseous a lot.

  7. Smicky04 says:

    I’m 9 weeks and my last child is 14 years old and I don’t remember being this hungry! it is weird before I could get away with eating 2 times a day now its every 2 hours or my stomach starts to freak out and feel like its eating it’s self! This kids greedy!

  8. Lauren says:

    Eating Healthy is something I am trying to incorporate into this pregnancy!!! I want to make sure I am as healthy as I can be.

  9. Lallison says:

    eating healthy is all i have now lol when i eat certain things it won’t sit well with my stomach, but me and sweets no longer get along, i love salads and watermelon and orange juice and milk which consists of what i eat on a daily basis.

  10. AspenXIzzard says:

    I thought you had to take in more calories as soon as you get pregnant. Wow I was wrong! I know my tums have calcium but do I have to drink milk?

  11. AspenXIzzard says:

    I thought you had to taken in more calories as soon as you get pregnant. Wow I was wrong.

  12. Cassandra says:

    How much Milk should we be drinking daily? On WIC you get 5.5 gallons of milk,, Which seems like a lot.. also I heard artificial sugars like Stevia.. Is this true or false?

  13. Heatherly says:

    This is good info! I’d even say stay AWAY from sugar. Try eating honey or stevia instead. You’ll notice a big difference in your mood among other things.

  14. AnnieAmes says:

    Eating healthy is so much harder – especially when it’s the healthy foods that make you nauseous. Hoping these next couple of weeks fly by so I can be in my 2nd trimester!! 🙂

  15. PrettyBoogs says:

    I need to work a little harder at this eating healthy business. Its hard to do when you don’t have much for an apatite..

  16. Alicenwl421 says:

    I’m 10 weeks and FINALLY able to eat food again. The strawberry ensures have been a life saver, but to be honest, I’m still not Wanting anything in particular… I’m just not having food aversions anymore. Does this go away too?? I’m actually nervous about going the other extreme and craving everything! Lol

  17. I used to drink 48oz of caffinated coffee a day (love Kwik Star) I work 3rd shift as a nurse it was a must have! Since finding out I was pregnant I drink the same coffee, now decaf and found that it tastes the same and doesnt give me the gitters and gut rot I used to feel! Maybe I’ll keep this habbit after delivery.

  18. Anber says:

    Definitely became more aware of my diet since getting pregnant.

  19. hannah83 says:

    Doing my best for our little one to eat healthier. Also working out more now that morning sickness is getting better.

  20. ChrisS says:

    It’s hard to avoid eating junk food when that is what I’m craving for, I tried choosing some good nutrients in them. As for the first trimester, I wasn’t eating for the first two months due to morning sickness (it was pretty bad).

  21. Valerie says:

    Try decaf, I’ve found that it taste the same as the coffee/ sodas I had before.

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