Despite the common cliche that a pregnant woman is simply “eating for two,” eating when you’re expecting isn’t all that simple.
Morning sickness may derail your best meal plans in your first trimester, and cravings 一 hello, ice cream and pickles 一 can add the yum factor but not necessarily help you reach your nutrition goals.
Add in a few pregnancy conditions, such as gestational diabetes and hyperemesis gravidarum, and eating during pregnancy can get even more complicated. To compound matters, some of your favorite foods may be off-limits.
So what do you really need to eat during pregnancy? Dr. Gene Krishingner Jr. and our team here at OB/GYN Care Orlando in Oviedo, Florida, address your nutritional needs during your prenatal appointments.
We can help you determine what foods you need, what to avoid, and how much you need to eat depending on which trimester you’re in, if you’re pregnant with multiples, and if you have any pregnancy conditions that may impact your nutritional needs.
In the meantime, let’s look at some general nutritional guidelines for pregnancy.
Micronutrients matter during pregnancy
In addition to healthy macronutrients — carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein 一 it’s important to focus on vitamins and minerals. Your macronutrients and micronutrients ensure that you and your growing baby receive the right nutrition.
Folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin B, and vitamin D are among the most important micronutrients for expectant mothers.
Calcium and vitamin D
These nutrients support your baby’s bone and tooth development and your own bones and teeth. If you don’t get enough calcium, your body may take it from your bones to prioritize your growing baby. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Vitamin B Complex
All of the B vitamins are important during pregnancy. Vitamin B12 helps your body build the placenta and boosts your energy. Vitamin B12 is in meat, fish, and eggs. Other B vitamins support your hair, skin, nails, and nervous system.
Folic acid (vitamin B9) helps prevent neural tube defects, so it’s important to consume 600 micrograms per day. You can even take folic acid when you’re trying to conceive. Folic acid is in dark, leafy vegetables, beans, fortified foods, and prenatal vitamins.
Iron helps your body create more blood. Since your blood volume increases during pregnancy, iron is invaluable. Aim for 27 milligrams per day unless otherwise instructed.
Getting enough nutrients
Women trying to conceive or who are pregnant or lactating should take a high-quality prenatal supplement. Dr. Krishingner may recommend additional supplements based on your needs, including DHA and iron supplements.
So … what should you eat?
Depending on your body mass index (BMI) prior to pregnancy, you may need to alter your caloric intake only slightly. Eat 1,800 calories per day in the first trimester, 2,200 in the second trimester, and 2,400 in the third trimester. These numbers may rise if you’re expecting multiples.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables: berries, bell peppers, citrus, cucumbers, and apples
- Dark, leafy greens: spinach is good since it contains a lot of iron
- Lean protein: chicken, beans, hummus, and eggs
- Whole grains and other fiber-rich food
- Healthy fats: olive oil, walnuts, avocado, and chia seeds
- Dairy products: whole milk, Greek yogurt, pasteurized cheese, and kefir
- High-mercury fish
- Cold cuts (unless heated thoroughly)
- Raw honey
- Unpasteurized dairy products, including raw cheese
- Raw or undercooked meat or seafood
- Caffeine and some herbal teas
What you drink is just as important as what you eat during pregnancy. Your body needs plenty of water to help adjust to your additional blood volume, form amniotic fluid, carry nutrients, and support your digestion.
Aim to drink 8-12 cups of water per day. Milk, pasteurized juice, and pregnancy-safe tea can count toward your daily hydration goals.
Learning what to eat (and what not to) can be overwhelming, and this blog is just a start. Feel free to check out pregnancy books to learn more or ask us about your nutritional needs during your next appointment. Give us a call at 321-304-6249 or book your visit online.