Nutrition in Pregnancy

Posted on: February 8, 2021 | Body, Feeding, Information, Meals, Prenatal

Nothing sounded tasty. Claudia stood in front of an opened refrigerator door. She wasn’t the best when it came to her eating habits. In fact, a dessert was often an appetizer before dinner. During her prenatal visit, the provider explained the importance of nutrition in pregnancy; and what elements to her diet were essential for healthy fetal growth. Claudia knew she would have to make some conscious food decisions and she was willing to give it her all. 

Guidelines for nutrients

What goes in, must come out! Making sure that what goes in, is a benefit for the body will help what comes out also healthier. During pregnancy, there are certain vitamins and minerals that are needed to gestate a healthy womb environment. Many of these supplements can be found in every natural food item such as produce and fruits. While others are provided in dosages by taking prenatal vitamins. 

There are 5 key nutrients that are most beneficial to nutrition in pregnancy:

Iron. Daily doses of 27mg daily of Iron benefits fetal growth by preventing low birth weights, and encouraging full-term pregnancies. 

Folic Acid. 400mg daily is suggested intake for folic acid. Benefits to fetal growth is prevention of birth defects of the brain and spine. Folic acids can be found in beans, leafy greens, and citrus for example. 

Vitamin D. Found naturally by direct sunlight, but not enough to benefit a growing belly. Vitamin D helps develop bones and allows other nutrients to be absorbed into the body. Vitamin D can be found in fortified foods. 600 IU is the suggested recommendation. 

Protein. Benefit to protein in pregnancy helps promote growth, produce amino acids, and repair cells. 71g is the recommendation and can be found in lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and butters such as: peanut and almond. 

Calcium. Found in foods such as: milk, cheeses, beans, seafood, and greens, Calcium benefits fetal growth by developing strong bones and teeth. 1000mg a day.

Weight gain in pregnancy

Weight gain is an expectant in pregnancy. Growing another human being takes added calories and energy. Energy is fulfilled with sustenance. The amount of healthy weight gain during is often dependent on one’s pre-pregnancy weight. The average amount of weight a person gains during pregnancy is 25-35 pounds.

However, if an individual begins pregnancy underweight, the gauge of healthy gain is increased, 30-40 pounds. If an individual begins pregnancy overweight, the suggested healthy weight gauge decreases, 15-25 pounds.

There are many ways to achieve an ideal amount of nutrition in pregnancy, and still maintain a healthy weight. Pregnancy is not the ideal time to go on a diet or deprive the body. Listen to the body and talk to your care provider for options and ideas for a healthy for you pregnancy journey. Indulging in foods that you…er…um…the baby is craving is not a bad thing! In the womb, the baby also has preferences for tastes and smells. Go for it! 

Foods to avoid in pregnancy

While you’re out and about, grocery shopping or dining out, there are a few food items that one should steer cautious of during the gestational period. While “everything in moderation” truly does come into play with nutrition in pregnancy (a whole chocolate cake anyone?), some foods cause more harm, than a quick craving is worth. 

Raw or undercooked. Meats, doughs, and seafood that are raw or undercooked may contain bacterias, viruses, and parasites that the baby (and gestational carrier) can contact. Your favorite raw sushi will be waiting for you at the finish line!

Alcohol. This is a big controversy amongst society. In yesteryear (and in some countries), a glass of wine is encouraged. Doctors even suggest red wine for its heart health properties. Having a drink in pregnancy is one’s personal choice. Some concerns with alcohol consumption during pregnancy is that alcohol has been proven to prevent normal fetal development, robbing oxygen cells from developing.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is another concerning outcome of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. This is one of those instances to discuss with your provider, if you are conflicted. 

Lunch meats & soft cheeses. These foods can contain Listeria, a bacteria that causes miscarriages and still-births at any stage in pregnancy. Maybe hold off on that Lunchable for a few more months. 

Caffeine. Limiting your intake to 200mg a day is a safety net of getting that morning cuppa and still being cognizant. High intakes of caffeine can increase the risk of a miscarriage and low birth weights. There’s so many great options for getting that fizzy fix and natural energy, without all of the sugar and caffeine on the shelves now!

Seafoods & Fish. Hold up! Not ALL seafoods and fish, just some. Mercury is the culprit that causes seafood to be on the caution list. Mercury can interfere with brain development. Larger fish such as mackerel and shark contain higher levels of Mercury. Enjoy that celebration lunch at Red Lobster, just do a little research of the menu before the trip.

There’s always controversy about what goes into a pregnant person’s mouth. Heck, even strangers feel they have a right to confront you about that bite (or sip) you are about to partake in. Remember, everything in moderation may not work for every situation. And that YOU ultimately are the decider of what passes through your vessel. 

Common cravings in pregnancy

Pickles and ice cream anyone? For most, pregnancy=cravings. It’s estimated that 50-90% of people experience deep cravings during pregnancy. Cravings range from “normal” to “odd”. Some of the common cravings that occur in pregnancy are sweet foods, spicy foods, sour foods, and animal proteins.

These cravings can vary and change throughout the pregnancy. New foods become introduced in the diet, and old favorites are kicked to the curb. You’re no longer the boss of your body, when it comes to desires of the belly. All a part of the nutrition in pregnancy.

“Pica” is a term when there is cravings for non-food items, such as dirt. This is a condition that one should bring up to their provider, as this eating disorder could cause harm to the carrier and baby. Pica has been linked to iron-deficiency anemia and malnutrition. Pica is rare, however it affects over 40% of pregnancies. This is because ice/ice chips are considered a non-nutritive food item, and is highly desired in pregnancy. 

Claudia plopped down on the couch with her PB & J and a glass of milk. She flipped through the pages of the new book she recently purchased, Real Food for Pregnancy, for some easy and healthy meal planning ideas. Incorporating a healthier diet in her pregnancy might not be as difficult as Claudia first thought. “Now what’s for dinner..” Claudia spoke as she continued to flip through the book.  

Vegas Family Doulas offers prenatal and postpartum meal preparations for comfort and convenience. In-home your home, meals are planned out with a consult. Then on the selected day, meals are curated, cooked, cleaned up after. Your budget, your tastes, your kitchen. Leave the dishes to us! Call to learn more.