Nutrition During Pregnancy: Nourishing Yourself and Your Baby

Nutrition During Pregnancy

We all understand that nutrition during pregnancy is important. Pregnancy is a time of immense growth and development for your baby, and proper nutrition is vital to ensuring that your little one gets the best possible start in life.

Not only does good nutrition help support your baby’s growth and development, it also plays an important role in keeping you healthy and feeling your best throughout your pregnancy. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help reduce your risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and can even help with labor and delivery.

During pregnancy, a woman’s nutritional needs increase. So, let’s break it down with some helpful guidelines on what you should try to eat:

Guidelines for nutrients:

  • Protein: Lean meats, fish, beans, nuts, and dairy products provide necessary protein for both you and your growing baby.
  • Calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt, and leafy greens are rich sources of calcium essential for strong bones and teeth.
  • Iron: Include lean red meat, beans, spinach, and fortified cereals in your diet to prevent anemia and ensure adequate oxygen supply to your baby.
  • Folic acid: This essential nutrient is vital for preventing birth defects in the baby. You can find it in leafy greens, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These healthy fats are crucial for the baby’s brain and eye development. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Vitamin D: This helps the body absorb calcium and is important for bone health. Fatty fish, dairy products, egg yolks, shiitake mushrooms and sunshine are all great ways to get Vitamin D. 

Average Suggested Weight Gain:

The average suggested weight gain during pregnancy is between 25-35 pounds, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). However, this can vary dramatically depending on your pre-pregnancy weight and BMI which must be taken into account. On a personal note, I gained about 45 pounds with each of my full-term pregnancies, and the extra weight was helpful for me during my breastfeeding journey. Each person will have their own unique circumstances. It’s best to consult with your care provider to determine the appropriate weight gain for your individual needs.

Wondering where all that weight goes? 

The breakdown looks something like this, but again it varies:

  • Baby: 7-8 pounds
  • Placenta: 1-2 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
  • Uterus: 2 pounds
  • Breast tissue: 2 pounds
  • Blood supply: 4 pounds
  • Fat stores: 7 pounds

What about food aversions? 

It’s common to experience food aversions during pregnancy, where certain smells or tastes make you feel nauseous or not want to eat. It’s perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Avoiding foods that make you feel sick and finding substitutes with similar nutrients is a great way to combat food aversions. 

If you are worried that morning sickness has you eating poorly, give yourself grace and hang in there. You will have time to make up for it with more nutritious choices when the nausea settles down. 

Now, let’s talk about pregnancy cravings! 

Some common cravings include: 

  • Sweet foods: Ice cream, chocolate, candy. 
  • Spicy foods: Chili peppers, hot sauce, curry. 
  • Salty foods: Potato chips, popcorn, pretzels. 
  • Sour foods: Pickles, lemons. 
  • Fruits: Oranges, strawberries, grapes.
  • Carbohydrates: Bread, pasta, pizza. 

While there’s no scientific explanation for these cravings, some experts suggest that they may indicate a deficiency in certain nutrients. For example, cravings for sweets could mean you need more carbs, while cravings for salty snacks could indicate a need for more sodium. It’s okay to indulge your cravings and treat yourself once in a while. You are working hard growing that beautiful baby! Just remember to use moderation and offset your cravings with healthy choices.

Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and taking prenatal vitamins are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Consult with your care provider or a professional dietitian for individualized advice on your nutritional needs.

Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy!

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading