Healthy Eating for Pregnant Women
Pregnant? Here's What you should Eat
You are expecting your first child and are feeling both excited and nervous. Everyone is doling out advice about almost everything, including what you should and should not eat.
To have a healthy pregnancy, you need to know what to include in your diet and the foods you can't eat when pregnant. In this flurry of information overdrive, here's what you need to remember
- Pregnant women have special dietary needs. They need to follow a healthy diet not only for their body, but more importantly for the development of their unborn child
- The quality of a woman's diet during pregnancy has a profound influence on positive fetal and maternal outcomes.
- Dietary quality, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy, exerts a strong influence on fetal and placental development and on subsequent fetal growth and maternal well-being.
The expression "eating for two" plainly describes this need for greater nutrient intake during pregnancy.
The Perfect Pregnancy Diet:
Good nutrition is essential for your developing baby. Learn just what you should be eating over the next nine months.
- During the first two months of pregnancy, the embryo and placenta undergo a process of rapid cell differentiation and division and are particularly sensitive to excesses and deficiencies in micronutrients. Adequate maternal nutritional status is an essential component of the intrauterine environment during this critical time of fetal development. Additionally, recent research suggests that inadequate levels of maternal nutrients during this crucial period of fetal development may lead to “reprogramming” within the fetal tissues that predisposes the infant to chronic illnesses in adulthood.
Tips on what to Eat while Pregnant
Prior to Pregnancy
- Eat iron-rich or iron-fortified foods (meat or meat alternatives, breads, and cereals). Include vitamin C-rich foods (e.g., orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries) to enhance iron absorption.
- Take folic acid supplements (400 micrograms), daily.
- Eat a well-balanced diet, including 3 to 3.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day, with a focus on a variety of different colors of these foods.
- Eat/Drink 3 cups of milk or calcium-rich foods per day, with a focus on low-fat or skimmed milk products.
- Do not consume alcoholic beverages.
- Continue to follow the recommendations listed above.
- Eat enough food to gain weight at the rate recommended by health-care provider.
- No need exists to increase food intake in the first trimester; however, continue to eat well-balanced meals. Increase food intake by only 340 calories per day during the second trimester and 450 calories per day during the third trimester.
- Do not skip meals. Eat three small- to moderate-sized meals at regular intervals and two to three nutritious snacks (fruits/vegetables) per day.
- If no medical or obstetrical complications exist, exercise 30 minutes or more, employing a moderate intensity of physical activity, on most, if not all, days of the week. Examples include walking briskly (about 3.5 miles per hour); hiking; gardening or yard work; dancing; golf (walking and carrying clubs); bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour); weight training (general, light workout).
- Only eat hot dogs and deli meats that have been reheated to steaming hot.
- Losing weight after giving birth does not affect the nursing newborn's weight gain.
- Exercise does not affect the ability to successfully breastfeed.
Implications of Practice and Nutritional Recommendation:
Assessing pregnant women's nutritional knowledge may be more difficult because the health-care provider may be unfamiliar with the varying volumes of intake recommended for the different age groups and activity levels. here’re the reasons why ?
- The public's lack of familiarity with specific recommendations presented in the new pyramid and limited access to educational materials also may hinder perinatal educators' ability to provide nutritional guidance to pregnant women.
- No governmental agency has synthesized the recommendations from the various sources into an easy-to-use guide to assist health-care providers and perinatal educators with dietary counseling for pregnant women. The recommendations outlined in Box 2 represent an initial attempt to provide such a guide.
- Health-care providers and perinatal educators need to become familiar with newer dietary recommendations for pregnant women to ensure that mothers eat foods that contribute to adequate birth weight, prevent obstetrical complications, and promote a woman's postnatal health.
Women are also encouraged by their doctors to keep track of what they are eating in a diary, to make sure that their diet encompasses all the required nutrients. Having a sensible diet coupled with mild exercise will help ensure that both mother and baby are healthy and happy.