Nutrition and Pregnancy

Being a clinical dietitian and currently seven months pregnant, nutrition during pregnancy is very important to me. Nutrition is the one big way we can help determine pregnancy outcome (that along with proper weight gain). After suffering the loss of my first at 16 weeks and now wanting to do everything possible to prevent this from happening again, I have been studying pre-natal nutrition. Here are the basics and the most important things to consider:

You need to eat 300 more calories a day and 10 more grams of protein. Thus, if you are not a teenager, you should be eating about 2000 calories and 70 grams protein. About 60% of these calories should come from carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, breads, grains, pasta, cereal, rice, etc.) and 30% should come from fat. This is not the time to restrict fat from your diet. Your body needs this fat to help with hormone production. Without proper hormone production your body may not be able to support your baby. If this seems like too much to consider, just follow the guidelines below:

Amounts of food groups to eat:
Breads/cereals    7 to 11 servings
Vegetables    4 to 5 servings
Fruits    3 servings
Meat/meat alternates    3 servings
Milk/milk products    3 to 4 servings

Note that I have written “servings” after each food group. This is a very important factor to think about. I have many patients say, “I can’t eat seven servings of breads/cereals/pasta/rice.” They are thinking of their personal serving size, when actually 1/2 cup cooked pasta or rice is considered one serving in this group. A full hot dog bun is two servings, as is a whole bagel and English muffin. A ?-cup cereal is one serving as well. If you look at labels, look at the serving size on the box and see how many grams of carbohydrates there are in the item for that amount. Fifteen grams of carbohydrates is one serving, so if you have something that has 30 grams of carbohydrates in it, that is two servings. A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, or three ounces.

Each of these groups fills special roles in the development of your baby. The carbohydrates in the breads/cereals group fill the major source of energy for your baby. The Fruit and Vegetable groups help give your body and your baby the vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need for proper development. They also give your body fiber, which is necessary for regularity. The meat provides the protein that is needed for your baby to put on muscle. It also provides some very important vitamins and minerals that are only found in meat. Milk provides calcium so that your baby has strong bones and teeth. This is very important during the development of your baby.

There are also a few key nutrients that need to be increased during pregnancy. One of the most important is Folic acid. This is a B vitamin that is needed within the first 30 days of your baby’s development. This helps the brain and the spinal cord to form correctly. This is why all women who are sexually active and planning to have a child should take 400 micrograms a day. You have to take a supplement for this because you cannot get this much through food.

Other important nutrients are:
Iron for all women    30 mg/day
Vitamin D for vegetarians and those who don’t drink milk    10 microg/day
Calcium for women who consume less than 600mg    600 mg/day
Vitamin B12 for vegetarians    2 microg/day
Zinc & copper for women with anemia    15 mg Zn/day, 2 mg Cu/day

Finally, I cannot forget the most important nutrient of all during pregnancy: WATER. There is a higher percentage of pre-term labor and deliveries in the summer. Why? Dehydration. I have gone into labor twice so far with this pregnancy, the reason was dehydration. When the uterus gets dehydrated it gets irritated and contractions can start. This is why many Doctors may tell you to lie on your side and drink water if you feel contractions. The best way to tell if you are drinking enough water is to look at your urine. Your urine should be almost clear. This pretty much means that you do need to be drinking throughout the day, and soda does not count (not even diet soda).

If you are having trouble getting pregnant fast, find out ways to increase opportunities of conceiving a baby by discovering more info about ovulation, menstrual cycles, when to have intercourse and also signs of pregnancy.

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