A key part of having a healthy pregnancy is what goes into your body or nutrition. Nutrition plays a complementary role throughout the trimesters and will help give you the energy to exercise safely. Jennifer Lynn-Pullman, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, of Nourished Simply shares the basics for pregnancy nutrition. We’d love to hear your questions!
Pregnancy is a time during a woman’s life when what she eats has a profound effect on her body and especially her unborn child. A growing fetus gets all of its nutrients from the mother, so mom needs have adequate nutrients to share. Of course it is best to make sure that your nutrition status is the best that it can be before you even become pregnant, but let’s face it not all pregnancies are planned. Feeding your body the best sources of nutrients as soon as you know you are pregnant will help you have a healthy baby.
One of the misconceptions is that pregnancy requires a lot of additional calories. You often hear people say “I am eating for two”. This is far from true. Extra calories are needed to support the growth of the baby and a woman’s’ growth, however this growth does not require a significant increase in calorie intake. The first trimester is not a time of significant growth, so no additional calories are needed. The second and third trimesters are a time of growth and an additional 300 calories per day is needed to support this growth. Three hundred calories is basically an extra snack.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Exact weight gain varies and is dependent on a number of factors: a woman’s weight when she becomes pregnant, frame size, fluid retention as the pregnancy goes on to name a few. Here’s a breakdown of an average pregnancy for a medium build woman.
- Fetus: 7.5-8.5 lbs.
- Stores of fat and protein: 7.5 lbs.
- Blood: 4.0 lbs
- Tissue fluids: 2.7 lbs
- Uterus: 2.0 lbs
- Amniotic fluid: 1.8 lbs
- Placenta and umbilical cord: 1.5 lbs
- Breasts: 1.0 lbs
- Total: 28-29 lbs
These are the numbers for an average pregnancy, NOT all pregnancies. Your doctor is still the best resource to ask your weight related questions.
Other Important Nutrients
Many nutrient intake recommendations go up slightly during pregnancy. Below are the most significant and the most important nutrients to be mindful of.
Protein: additional protein is needed to support the growth of the body. Official recommendations are an additional 25 grams of protein per day above the RDA of 0.8g/kg of body weight.
For example, to find how many kilograms (kg) a person weighs:
Weight (kg) = Weight (lb) / 2.2
A 140 lb pregnant woman would weigh 63.6 kg.
Do some simple math:
63.6 kg * 0.8 g/kg = 50.9 g
50.9 g + 25 g (extra protein needed) = ~75 g/day protein
This is the recommended daily allowance or minimum to maintain health.
Calcium: 1000 mg/day
Folate: 600 mcg/day
Vitamin A: 770 mcg RE/day
Iron: 27 mg
These are guidelines to follow for a healthy pregnancy. As always consult your physician or health provider before any changes in your diet or beginning any supplementation. Also, proper nutrition is complemented by prenatal appropriate exercise.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact Jennifer of Nourished Simply!
Mahan, L.K and Escott-Stump, S. (2008). Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation. Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy, 12 Edition, 164-170