All the nutrients the unborn child needs are supplied by the mother during pregnancy. The baby will weigh about seven pounds at birth. The baby`s life-support system consisting of the placenta, uterus, membranes, fluid and maternal blood volume also grows during pregnancy, facilitating the growth of the fetus. Your body also gets ready to give birth and nourish the baby through breastfeeding. Your pregnancy may de-plete you of important nutrients if you do not nourish yourself adequately. All these added demands require that you develop a good eating habit.
You need about 300 calories per day more than you did when you were not pregnant. These amounts to a total of about 2.100 to 2.400 calories per day .These additional calories should come from high protein, high calcium and iron rich foods. Three hundred calories is not much actually. It could be obtained from 2 tall glasses of milk or a bowl of hearty soup, a serving of meat or fish. Do not add lots of high calorie non nutritious food such as cakes or dessert.
A good daily pregnancy diet should consist of a variety of food containing plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, pro-tein foods (such as meat, fish, nuts, eggs, and legumes), some fat and about two quarts of fluid a day.
To get enough nutrients, pregnant women should take a multivitamin and eat healthy foods from the four basic food groups everyday including:
Fruits and Vegetables - Pregnant women should try to eat 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (for example: 3 servings of fruit and 4 of vegetables) daily.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables also contain vitamin C which will help you and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues. Vitamin C also helps your body to heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, lemons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables also add fiber and minerals to your diet to give you energy. Plus, dark green vegetables have vitamin A, iron, and folate, which are important nutrients during pregnancy.
One Serving Fruit = 1 medium apple, 1 medium banana, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice One Serving Vegetable = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables (raw or cooked), 3/4 cup vegetable juice.
Whole-grains or Enriched Breads/Cereals - Pregnant women should eat 6 to 9 servings of whole-grain or enriched breads and/or cereals every day.
Whole-grain products and enriched products like bread, rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals contain iron, B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Folic acid has been shown to help prevent some serious birth defects. Eating breakfast cereals and other enriched grain products that contain folic acid is important before and during pregnancy.
One Serving Cereal/Bread = 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
Dairy Products - Pregnant women should try to eat 4 or more servings of low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products every day. Dairy products provide the calcium you and your baby need for strong bones and teeth. Dairy products are also great sources of vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin A helps growth, fight infection, and vision. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and tofu.
One Serving Dairy = 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 oz. natural cheese, 2 oz. processed cheese.
Proteins - Pregnant women and their growing babies need 10 grams of protein more than non-pregnant women. Pregnant women should eat 60 grams of protein every day.
Two or more 2-3 ounce servings of cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry without skin, or two or more 1 ounce servings of cooked meat contain about 60 grams of protein. Eggs, nuts, dried beans, and peas also are good sources of protein.
Protein builds muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for you and your baby. Protein-rich foods also have B vitamins and iron important for your blood.
One Serving Protein = 2-3oz. of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1 oz. meat also = 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, 1 egg, 1/2 cup tofu, 1/3 cup nuts, 2 T. peanut butter.
Folic acid: Pregnant women need 400 micrograms (400 mcg) of folic acid every day to help prevent birth defects. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of a baby`s brain or spine called neural tube defects. Getting enough folic acid can also help prevent birth defects like cleft lip and congenital heart disease.
An easy way to get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin every day. Orange juice, spinach and legumes are also good sources of folic acid.
Iron: Pregnant women need twice as much iron - 30 mg per day - than other women.
Pregnant women should also eat lots of iron-rich foods. Some good sources of iron include lean red meat, fish, poultry, dried fruits, whole-grain breads, and iron-fortified cereals.
Pregnant women need extra iron for the increased amount of blood in their bodies. Iron helps keep your blood healthy. Plus, your baby will store iron in his body to last through the first few months of life.
Too little iron can lead to a condition called anemia. If you have anemia, you might look pale and feel very tired. If your doctor finds that you have anemia, she will give you a special iron supplements to be taken once or twice a day.
Calcium: Pregnant women aged 19 to 50 years should get 1,000 mg/day of calcium. Younger pregnant women need even more - 1300 mg/day. Low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products are great sources of calcium. Eating green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and breakfast cereal can also provide calcium. If your diet is does not provide you with 1,000 mg/day of calcium, talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
Water: Pregnant women should drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water per day. Water plays a key role in your diet during pregnancy. It carries the nutrients from the food you eat to your baby. It also helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections. Drinking enough water, especially in your last trimester, prevents you from becoming dehydrated. Not getting enough water can lead to premature or early labor.