Nutrition During Pregnancy

Eating healthy is the most important thing you can do for your baby during your pregnancy! If the mama lacks nutrients in her bloodstream, then her baby is not getting them, either.  A healthy diet during pregnancy can drastically reduce the risk of low birth weight, prematurity, and toxemia/pre-eclampsia. On the other hand, poor nutrition can lead to a reduced number of brain cells in the baby, a baby that has more infections in his first year of life, and a more difficult labor and delivery. Nourishing your baby properly is especially important during the last trimester for the prevention of mental disabilities. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has advised against the practice of limiting weight gain; so instead of worrying about dieting, you should eat wholesome and nutritious foods to keep you and your baby healthy.

Every day of the week you and your baby should have:
  • Four servings or more of dairy products
  • Two whole eggs
  • One or two servings of fish, seafood, poultry, meat, beans, or any kind of cheese
  • One or two good servings of dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Two or three servings of whole grains
  • One or more servings of citrus fruit or juice
  • Three servings of healthy oils such as butter, olive oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Other fruits and vegetables
Also include in your diet:
  • A yellow or orange-colored fruit or vegetable five times a week
  • Liver once a week (if you like it)
  • Whole baked potato (including the skin) three times a week
  • Plenty of fluids, water, juice, etc.
  • Salt food to your taste for a safe increase in blood volume

DAIRY: Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Kefir, Ice Cream
Milk contains many important elements in a well balanced diet including calcium, protein, folic acid, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin and many more. These are important for bones, muscle growth, muscle contraction and nerve transmission. They are also essential for healthy blood, they ease insomnia, and help regulate the heartbeat. Dietary fats in regular milk are important for the development of the fetus as well as young children. Milk is an easy to obtain, inexpensive source of protein, calcium and calories. Recommendation: 4 or more servings per day.

EGGS: Scrambled, Boiled, Fried, Custards, Quiches, French Toast, Egg Salad
Eggs provide protein, healthy cholesterol for fetal brain growth and immune support, vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, the anti-infection vitamin. Eaten together, milk and eggs provide a protein, vitamin, mineral, and calorie foundation for the rest of the diet. Recommendation: 2 per day.

PROTEIN: Fish, Seafood, Beans, Poultry, Meat, or Cheese
Protein provides amino acids which are the building blocks of the body. It is important for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, brain… everything! Inadequate protein intake can lead to: fatigue, cravings for sweets, a lack of appetite, toxemia, swelling, and pre-mature labor. If you are craving something sweet, then you haven’t eaten enough protein! Dairy foods and eggs are a great complete source of protein and are relatively inexpensive. Also, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies are sources of the vital omega-3 acid known as DHA that your baby cannot synthesize for himself; it is especially important to consume as much fish as you want during your third trimester to increase your baby‘s IQ scores. Recommendation: 2 servings per day, making 80-100 grams of total protein intake (from all food categories) per day.

GREENS: Kale, Turnip, Collard, Mustards, Broccoli, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, Spinach
Fresh, dark green vegetables are rich in vitamins (particularly A and B complex) and minerals, which are necessary to help your body use the protein in other foods. These are also high in folic acid, which is essential for good growth, and which protects against neurological disorders and spina bifida. Greens also play a role in the formation of red blood cells. A deficiency could lead to anemia. The darker the greens… the higher the concentration of vitamins and minerals! Recommendation: 2 servings per day.

WHOLE GRAINS: Whole Grain Brown Rice, Whole Grain Bread, Oatmeal, Quinoa
These are excellent sources of carbohydrates you need to fuel your body. If you have too few carbohydrates, your body burns the protein you eat for energy, thus robbing you and your baby of the building blocks for tissue growth and repair. Carbohydrates from whole grains also are a good source of B vitamins, which are necessary for the growth and function of nerve tissue and energy. Recommendation: 4 or more servings per day.

FOODS HIGH IN VITAMIN C: Citrus Fruits, Dark Greens, Cauliflower, Strawberries
Vitamin C is important for the body’s ability to manufacture collagen, the substance that holds tissue together. Without adequate C, your uterus is not going to be as strong and may not perform as well in labor. Vitamin C is crucial in the body’s defense system against infection and in improving iron absorption. Recommendation: 1 or more servings or cup of juice per day.

HEALTHY FATS: Butter, Olive Oil, Nuts, Avocados, Coconut Oil
Contrary to popular diet propaganda, butter is one of the healthiest fats for you, and it is the least likely to make you fat! Avoid margarine, shortenings, and fried foods–which are loaded with trans fatty acids that wreak havoc on your body. Healthy fats and oils, including whole milks and full-fat dairy products, are needed in your diet to help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats and oils also contribute to a fine-textured (stretchable) skin that is less likely to tear or need an episiotomy. Recommendation: 3 or more servings per day.

YELLOW & ORANGE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Carrots, Bell Peppers, Cantaloupe
These foods are high in Vitamin A, which is known for its role in preventing infection. During pregnancy, when the pressure of the growing uterus on the bladder is constant, extra Vitamin A helps protect you against bladder and kidney infection and is also good for the skin. Vitamin A is also found in whole milk, full-fat dairy products, and liver. Recommendation: 5 times a week.

Salt is an essential nutrient. There is an increased need for salt during pregnancy because of the extra blood volume needed to supply nutrients to the baby. Use common sense; let your body tell you how much salt you need. Without enough salt (hyponatremia), you are more likely to develop swelling and leg cramps. It helps to maintain an adequate blood volume for safety. Recommendation: Salt to taste.

Water is essential for good health during pregnancy. Dehydration can lead to headaches, declined circulation, hypovolemia (low blood volume), and oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid volume), which can trigger premature labor. However, avoid bottled water with magnesium sulfate (MgSO4 or Epsom Salts) on the label, which is a laxative, muscle relaxant, and is used to stop labors. Recommendation: Drink often!!! At least 10 glasses of water daily.

Remember, don’t beat yourself up!
Every choice you make towards eating healthier
is contributing to a healthier baby!

This information is taken from Nourishing Your Unborn Child by Phyllis Williams, and
The Brewer Medical Diet for Normal and High-Risk Pregnancy by Gail Sforza Brewer with Thomas Brewer, M.D.