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Nutrition during Pregnancy

Your body will gain weight during your pregnancy! As you watch your weight begin to increase, take it as proof that your body is nurturing your growing baby. By the time you are ready to give birth: 

  • Your total blood volume will have increased by as much as 60%

  • Your breasts will have filled with milk

  • Your uterus will have grown to accommodate your baby and has filled with amniotic fluid.

  • Your baby has grown to weigh 6 to 10 pounds (on average).

 

While you are pregnant, it can be an excellent time to explore body kindness if you have not already.  Here are a few great resources that I found helpful during pregnancy and beyond.

  1. Body Kindness Book

  2. Embodied and Well mom group

  3. Healthy Habits Happy Moms / Balance365 website, podcast and facebook group

 

 

 

Vitamin and Minerals to consider 

 

Calcium

Why is calcium important during pregnancy and how much do I need daily? 

Calcium is used to build your baby’s bones and teeth. All women, including pregnant women, aged 19 years and older should get 1,000 mg of calcium daily; those aged 14–18 years should get 1,300 mg daily. Milk and other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, are the best sources of calcium. If you have trouble digesting milk products, you can get calcium from other sources, such as broccoli; dark, leafy greens; sardines; or a calcium supplement. 

 

The daily requirement of calcium is around 1000 milligrams during pregnancy.  Calcium helps your body regulate fluids, and it helps build your baby’s bones and tooth buds.

 

Examples of daily sources of calcium:

3-4 servings of dairy

  • milk (1 serving = 1 cup)

  • eggs (1 serving = 1 large egg)

  • yogurt (1 serving = 1 cup)

  • pasteurized cheese (1 serving = approximately 1.5 ounces or 4 playing dice stacked together)

  • tofu (1 serving = ½ cup)

  • white beans (1 serving = approximately ½ cup)

  • almonds (1 serving = approximately ⅓cup)

  • salmon (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces)

  • turnip greens (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)

  • cabbage (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)

 

Iron

Why is iron important during pregnancy and how much do I need daily? 

Iron is used by your body to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, you need extra iron—about double the amount that a nonpregnant woman needs. This extra iron helps your body make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby. The daily recommended dose of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg, which is found in most prenatal vitamin supplements. You also can eat iron-rich foods, including lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, and prune juice. Iron also can be absorbed more easily if iron-rich foods are eaten with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes. 

In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps increase your blood volume and prevents anemia. A daily intake of 27 milligrams is ideal during pregnancy.

 

Examples of daily sources of iron:

2-3 servings of green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)

  • collard

  • turnip

  • spinach

  • lettuce

  • cabbage

3 servings of whole grains (1 serving = approximately ½ cup or one slice)

  • bread

  • cornmeal

  • cereal

  • oatmeal

2-3 servings of lean protein (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces/size of a deck of cards)

  • beef

  • seafood

  • poultry

 

Folate/Folic Acid

What is folic acid and how much do I need daily? 

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is important for pregnant women. Before pregnancy and during pregnancy, you need 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects. Current dietary guidelines recommend that pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms of folic acid daily from all sources. It may be hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from food alone. For this reason, all pregnant women and all women who may become pregnant should take a daily vitamin supplement that contains folic acid. 

 

Folic acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Experts recommend 600 to 800 micrograms (.6 to .8 milligrams) daily.

 

Examples of daily sources of folate:

2 servings of dark green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)

  • collard

  • turnip

  • spinach

  • lettuce

  • cabbage

2-3 servings of fruit (1 serving = approximately ½ cup)

  • orange

  • strawberry

  • lemon

  • mango

  • tomato

  • grapefruit

  • kiwi

  • melon

3 serving of whole grain (1 serving = approximately ½ cup or 1 slice)

  • bread

  • cornmeal

  • cereal

  • oatmeal

2 servings of legumes (1 serving = approximately ½ cup)

  • split peas

  • red and white kidney beans

  • black beans

  • navy beans

  • black-eyed peas

  • chick peas (garbanzo beans)

 

Vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C will promote wound healing, tooth and bone development, and metabolic processes. Experts recommend at least 85 milligrams per day.

 

Examples of daily sources of Vitamin C:

3 servings of fruit or vegetables (1 serving = approximately ½ cup)

  • orange

  • strawberry

  • lemon

  • mango

  • tomato

  • grapefruit

  • kiwi

  • melon

  • potato

  • peppers

 

Food sources of vitamin C 

• tomatoes, tomato sauce, broccoli, cabbage, sweet peppers, potatoes 

• oranges and other citrus fruits, cantaloupe, kiwis, mangos, strawberries 

 

Vitamin D

 

  • Why is vitamin D important during pregnancy and how much do I need daily? 

  • Vitamin D works with calcium to help the baby’s bones and teeth develop. It also is essential for healthy skin and eyesight. All women, including those who are pregnant, need 600 international units of vitamin D a day. Good sources are milk fortified with vitamin D and fatty fish such as salmon. Exposure to sunlight also converts a chemical in the skin to vitamin D. 

 

Food Safety 

  • Pregnant women may be more susceptible to certain food-borne illnesses. Therefore, it is best to avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood. 

  • Also, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark may contain toxic contaminants and should be avoided. 

  • Washing hands and cooking surfaces, refrigerating foods promptly, and cooking foods completely ensures further food safety. 

 

 

RESOURCES

 

  1. http://americanpregnancy.org

 

  1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Weight gain during pregnancy. Committee Opinion No. 548. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 121:210–2. January 2013.

 

  1. WIC

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