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009: Facts and Myths About Nutrition in Pregnancy (Guest Post) by D. Narducci M.D.

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iStock_000015450812XSmallShould you eat as much as you want while pregnant? FALSE.

Your pre-pregnancy weight determines how much you should eat while pregnant. If you were a healthy, normal weight before you became pregnant then you should aim to eat only 300 extra calories per a day.

Example of 300 calories:

  • 2 scrambled eggs and 1 plain English muffin
  • ½ sandwich and 1 glass of skim milk
  • 2 small bags of popcorn
  • 3 oz salmon fillet and 1 oat bran dinner roll

How much weight should you gain during pregnancy?

This is also determined by your pre-pregnancy weight. Your pre-pregnancy weight can be determined by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your doctor can calculate this for you. If you are a healthy weight before becoming pregnant you should aim to gain between 25-35 pounds. Expect to gain 1-5 pounds during the first trimester and 1 pound a week for the rest of your pregnancy. If you are overweight before becoming pregnant you should gain 15-20 pounds during pregnancy. It is important to not try and lose weight while pregnant. Being underweight before pregnancy should result in a 30-40 pound weight gain. Speak to your doctor about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.

Do women who are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant need extra nutrients? TRUE.

Your diet, even when you are not pregnant, should include a variety of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins and healthy fats. If you plan on becoming pregnant or have recently discovered that you are pregnant it is important to start taking a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins have extra iron and Folic acid. Folic acid is required in higher amounts before or while you are pregnant to prevent neural tube defects of your unborn child. Iron in our red blood cells allows oxygen to travel to our organs and to the baby. Not having enough iron in your blood, also called anemia, can be prevented with prenatal vitamins.

What foods should you avoid while pregnant?

Caffeine should be limited to 200 milligrams per day (two 8-ounces of coffee) while pregnant. Fish that is high in mercury can be harmful to the developing fetus. A good rule is to avoid larger fish like swordfish, mackerel shark and tile-fish The following fish have less mercury but should still be limited to no more than 12 ounces per a week: canned tuna, salmon, shrimp, pollock, and catfish. Listeriosis caused by bacteria found in some uncooked deli meats, raw hot dogs, and unpasteurized soft cheeses and milk. Pregnant women are susceptible to Listeriosis, to prevent stillbirth all pregnant women should avoid food potentially carrying this bacteria.

Do some women crave weird food while pregnant?

Pregnant women can crave any type of food during any point of their pregnancy. Sometimes pregnant women crave and eat nonfood items such as dirt, clay, ice, baby powder, or cornstarch. This condition is called Pica and can occur for many reasons, one of them being during pregnancy. Eating nonfood items can be harmful to you and your baby, so if you are experiencing strange cravings talk with your doctor.

Is it important to follow the Food Groups while being pregnant? TRUE.

For a healthy and happy pregnancy it is important for you and your baby to receive the daily recommended foods.

Below you will find examples of how you can eat foods containing specific nutrients during pregnancy:

  • Vitamin C/Fruits (85 or more milligrams per day, 3 servings): oranges, strawberries, peppers, potato, melon, tomato, mango
  • Protein (75-100 grams per day):
  • Meat (2-3 servings daily, 1 serving is equal to the size of a deck of cards): pork, chicken, lean beef, nuts (1/3 cup), tofu (1/2 cup), fully-cooked fish
  • Legumes (2-3 servings daily, 1 serving is equal to ½ cup): white/red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, chick peas, lentils, and split peas
  • Calcium/Dairy (1000 milligrams per day, 3-4 servings daily): 1 cup milk/yogurt, 1 egg, 1 cup cabbage/turnip greens,1.5 ounces of pasteurized cheese
  • Iron/Folic Acid/Vegetables/Grains (27 milligrams per day):
  • Green Leafy Vegetables (2-3 servings daily, 1 serving is equal to 1 cup): turnips, collard greens, lettuce, spinach
  • Whole Grains (3 servings daily, 1 servings is equal to ½ cup or 1 slice): bread, cornmeal, cereal, and oatmeal

Is morning sickness harmful to me or my baby?

Morning sickness can be the first sign of pregnancy, with nausea and vomiting starting around week 6 and lasting until the second trimester. Roughly 50% of pregnant women experience some type of morning sickness. Morning sickness is not harmful to you or your baby. A more serious condition called Hyperemesis gravidarum consists of severe vomiting that does not allow you to get enough nutrition to keep you and your baby healthy. This is a serious condition and requires medical treatment.

Is there anything I can do or avoid to ease my morning sickness?

  • Helpful: Eat Small Meals
  • Munch on crackers before getting out of bed in the morning
  • Avoid smells that make you nauseous (try sniffing ginger, or lemons)
  • Rest, Stay cool
  • Sucking on hard candy or ice cubes made of juice
  • Exercise
  • Avoid: Lying down after eating
  • Skipping meals/Empty Stomach
  • Eating spicy or uncooked foods




Are there any websites or programs that can help me create a diet plan while pregnant? YOU BET.

  • MyPlate (www.choosemyplate.gov)
  • SuperTracker (www.supertracker.usda.gov)
  • Babybumpmeals (www.Babybumpmeals.com)
  • Ask your Doctor!

 

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