Eating for two? Not necessarily. Here’s how much your caloric intake should change during your pregnancy:
First trimester- no increase in calories
Second trimester- increase calories by 300-350
Third trimester- increase calories by 450-500
As you can see, you don’t need to double up on your calories, instead focus your attention on getting specific nutrients to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Let’s discuss which nutrients you should be incorporating into your diet, what they do, and how to get them.
Folate is an important nutrient for all women of childbearing age because it helps prevent brain and spinal defects in the fetus. These organs begin forming often before most women even know they are pregnant. If you are planning to become pregnant, try to get at least 400 mcg of folate or folic acid every day. During pregnancy, you should aim for about 600-1000 mcg of folate each day.
Most prenatal vitamins have 600 mcg of folic acid, so getting your daily dose is convenient. However, you can still introduce foods to your diet that are high in folate since it is more easily processed by the body than the synthetic form, folic acid.
Fortified cereals, beans, lentils, and leafy greens are all great sources of folate.
Vitamin D, along with calcium, plays an important role in building your baby’s bones and teeth. It may also help to give them a strong immune system. You should aim to get at least 600 IU of Vitamin D every day.
You can get sufficient vitamin D from fortified milk or juice, fish, eggs, and mushrooms. If you want the most bang for your buck, setting your mushrooms in the sun for about 15-20 minutes allows them to absorb more vitamin D.
As mentioned previously, calcium works to build your baby’s bones and teeth as well as supports their circulatory, muscular, and nervous system. You need 1,000 mg of calcium per day during pregnancy.
Calcium-fortified cereals and juices are the best sources. You can also find calcium in milk, cheese, yogurt, and salmon.
Iron is used to supply oxygen in the blood to the body’s tissues, including the placenta. Without iron, your baby would not get the necessary oxygen to survive. You will also be supplying your baby with enough iron stores that will last them 4-6 months after birth. Throughout your pregnancy, you should try getting at least 27 mg of iron each day.
Meat is usually the best source of iron, however, you can still get plenty of iron from vegetables. Peas, broccoli, spinach, lentils, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes are all rich in iron.
Some meats have more iron than others. The general rule of thumb is the redder the meat, the more iron it contains. Beef for example is richer in iron than chicken, so you would need to eat more chicken than beef in order to get the same amount of iron.
There are two types of iron: heme which comes from meat and non-heme which comes from plants. Heme iron is absorbed most easily, however, you can help increase the absorption of non-heme iron by taking it with vitamin C at the same meal.
Protein is the cornerstone for fetal growth development and it takes a lot to grow a baby from scratch. Your daily intake goal should be between 75-100 grams of protein.
Commonly, iron and protein go hand-in-hand so it can be easy to get both nutrients simultaneously. However, there are other sources of protein that don’t have iron, like cottage cheese and yogurt.
Other sources of protein are meat, eggs, lentils, seeds, and oatmeal. A high protein diet is especially important for women with Gestational Diabetes.
Fiber works to keep your bowels moving regularly and prevent constipation. It can also help you feel fuller longer, preventing you from overeating. You should aim for about 25-30 grams of fiber per day.
Luckily, fiber is found in a variety of foods like oatmeal, raspberries, acorn squash, peas, legumes, and nuts. If you are getting your other nutrients, fiber should not be difficult to get the full recommended daily amount.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water helps to form the amniotic fluid, carry nutrients throughout the body and to the baby, as well as aids in digestion. Depending on your activity level, size, and the weather, you should be drinking anywhere from 64-96 ounces of water daily.
It can sometimes feel challenging to drink that much water in one day, but it is important. Try finding a cup that you love to make drinking water easy. Some women find it easier to use a straw, while others may like an open cup or one with a spout. You may also get hydration from foods like watermelon or cucumbers.
If you are getting adequate hydration, your urine should be a pale yellow or colorless and you should drink when you feel thirsty.
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