To improve your chances of having a healthy baby during pregnancy you should consider “Good Nutrition”. Healthy eating during pregnancy also reduces your child’s risk of certain chronic conditions long after he has grown.
Make Calories Count during Pregnancy
• You may not notice a big weight gain during the first few months of pregnancy; some may even lose weight during the first trimester because of nausea and vomiting that prevents them from eating and drinking normally.
• No extra calories are required in the 1st trimester, while calorie needs increase by additional 340 calories during the 2nd trimester and 500 calories in the 3rd trimester.
• 340 calories a day sounds like a lot, but it’s about a sandwich of 2 slices bread, 60 g chicken and 1 teaspoon of reduced fat mayonnaise.
Weight Matters during Pregnancy
• Gaining the recommended number of kilograms limit pregnancy and delivery complications and ensures a healthy infant.
• Women who start pregnancy at a normal weight (BMI 19.8-26) can expect to put on between 11.5- 16 kg.
• Underweight women (BMI<19.8) may need to gain 12.5-18 kg, overweight moms (BMI 26.0 – 29.0) may be advised to put 7-11.5 kg, while obese mothers (BMI>29) should not gain more than 6-8 kg.
• Gaining weight in pregnancy accounts for the baby’s weight and other tissues and fluids accompanying pregnancy. Here’s where the weight gain goes:
o Increased fat stores: 1-3.6 kg
o Increased blood volume: 1-1.8 kg
o Amniotic fluid: 4-5.9 kg
o Placenta: 0.5 kg
o Baby: 2-3.4 kg
o Larger breasts: 0.5-1.4 kg
o Larger uterus: 0.5-1.1 kg
Nutrients During Pregnancy
Every nutrient is necessary for your baby’s growth and development, yet certain nutrients are essential for your baby, especially as pregnancy progresses.
• Protein helps maintain muscle and body tissue. It is also important for growth, especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
• Insufficient protein during pregnancy restricts fetal growth. And it may even affect your child’s chances for high blood pressure later in life.
• The needs of protein during pregnancy increases by 25 g a day; the amount found in 2 cups of milk or about 100 g cooked seafood, chicken or meat.
• Iron is essential for the formation of the protein on red blood cells (hemoglobin) which is responsible for carrying oxygen.
• Iron requirements increases by 50% for a pregnant woman, which is equivalent to 45 mg/day from dietary supplements and foods.
• Iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy can cause fatigue in mom, and possible problems for baby.
• Low birth weights and iron-deficient infants are seen in moms with severe iron deficiency anemia.
• During the 1st month of pregnancy, folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects, including Spina bifida; which is when a baby’s spine and spinal cord don’t develop properly causing a gap in the spine.
• Aim for 400 micro grams of Folic Acid supplements per day.
• Choose foods fortified with folic acid, such as breads, cereals, pasta and rice.
• If you don’t consume enough calcium, your body will take it from your bones, and this can cause a decrease in bone mass and increase your risk for osteoporosis.
• Pregnant women should aim to consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day. This is about 3 servings of calcium-rich foods.
• Omega 3 is important for brain and eye development.
• Fish harbors this omega-3 fatty acid but there’s a catch, pregnant women should steer clear of shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because of mercury, a heavy metal that’s toxic to the development of the baby’s neurological system.
• Safer omega-3 rich sources include fortified eggs and salmon.
• Requirements of fluid for pregnant women are 10 cups of fluid everyday. Even though plain water is preferable, juice and milk count too.
• Drinking alcohol during pregnancy promotes physical and mental birth defects. However, there is no known safe level for alcohol so the best thing to do is to avoid it.
• Limit coffee to 1-2 cups/day to be on the safe side, since the effects of caffeine on the development of the babies are a subject of debate.
• For a healthy alternative to soft drinks, go for juices. However, juice is loaded with calories that can cause unwanted weight gain, so replace it with a piece of fruit.
Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian