Nutrition in Pregnancy

Dietary Recommendations for Pregnant Women

  • Eat enough food to gain weight at the rate recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Try to include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (complex carbohydrates are better than processed foods). High protein foods are very important as protein is the building block for muscles and bones. Recommendations include:
    •  9 servings of bread, cereal, rice or pasta.
    • 4 servings of vegetables
    • 3 servings of fruit (be careful with fruit juice as it is high in sugar)
    • 3 servings of poultry, fish, dry beans, meat, eggs and nuts.
    • 3 or more servings of milk products daily, either with or between meals. One cup (1/2 pint) of milk is an example of one serving. Choose low-fat or skim milk products. If you are not a big on dairy, then you should take two calcium supplements 500-600mg each, like Os-cal or Viactiv chews, Citracal or Caltrate. These Calcium supplements should not be taken at the same time.
    • Eat small to moderate-sized meals at regular intervals, and eat nutritious snacks. This will help you and your baby have the best chance of getting all the nutrients you need.
    • To absorb more iron, include in your meals, some meat, poultry, fish, or vitamin C-rich foods, (such as orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries).
    • If you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages such as cola, do so in moderation (1 to 2 servings or less per day).
    • While you are pregnant, the only sure way to avoid the possible harmful effects of alcohol on the fetus is to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages entirely.
    • For foods to avoid altogether in pregnancy, as well as guidelines for the intake of fish in pregnancy, visit the FDA website

Nutritional Intake for the Vegan or Vegetarian

Vegetarians who eat no dairy products (Vegans) should eat fortified foods such as cereals, breads and rice, as well as fruit juices and soy milk, which have been enriched with additional calcium, Vitamins D, B12. and folic acid. Prenatal vitamins can also be supplemented with additional iron, calcium, or Vitamin B12 throughout the second and third trimesters.

Many vegetarians are also anemic because most iron absorbed by the body comes from animal products. Iron deficiency is common during pregnancy, even in women who are not vegetarian. It is important to include iron in your diet from fortified breads and cereals or by eating nuts and seeds. Strict vegetarians may also be deficient in zinc, which can be supplied from eating whole grain foods, peas and beans.

The vegetarian diet in pregnancy should focus on the following four food groups when choosing meals:

Whole Grains: Try to get at least 7 servings of whole grain products, including whole wheat bread, brown rice, and fortified cereals.

Legumes (peas and beans), nuts, soy, tofu and seeds: Your protein will come from these foods instead of animal products, so aim for five or more servings daily.

Fruits and vegetables: These form the basis of most vegetarian diets, so be sure to select 8 or more fruits and vegetables that are full of necessary nutrients. Focus on fortified juices, figs, and calcium-rich vegetables like bok choy.

Calcium Products: Calcium in milk and dairy products is in an easily absorbable form. If you do not drink cow-milk dairy products, try fortified soy milk or rice milk, or take calcium supplements. Oxalates (found in chocolate and spinach) and phytate (found in whole grains) are among the dietary substances that impair the absorption of calcium. In fact, 8 cups of spinach are needed to obtain the same amount of calcium available in an 8-ounce serving of milk or 1 cup of yogurt.

Weight Gain Recommendations

For most healthy women, the recommended weight gain in pregnancy is as follows:

  • 25 to 35 lbs. – if you are starting out at a normal pre-pregnancy weight
  • 25 to 40 lbs. – if you are starting out underweight
  • 15 to 25 lbs. – if you are starting out overweight
  • 15 lbs. or less – if you are obese

For more information, please visit the FDA website

Managing Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

  • Keep crackers, Melba toast, or dry cereal within reach of your bed. Eat some before getting up
  • Eat frequent small meals.
  • Avoid allowing your stomach to become empty as this can increase nausea.
  • Try to take adequate fluids, even small sips, if you can’t handle solids. Try clear juices, flat sugar-sweetened soft drinks, Gatorade, lemonade, ginger ale, tea like ginger tea, and peppermint tea.
  • Avoid drinking coffee and caffeinated teas.
  • Avoid drinking citrus fruit juices and large amounts of water.
  • Drink liquids mainly between meals.
  • Try to avoid cooking odors that make you feel ill.
  • Avoid or limit your intake of high-fat and spicy foods.
  • Sometimes Vitamin B6 may help (50mg a day).
  • Sea bands which are worn on the wrist and push on an accupressure point may help. (These may be found in anydrugstore.)
  • If you have a bad taste in your mouth, hard candy may help.

For more information, please visit the FDA website

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