Health Tips

Proper Nutrition for Expectant Moms


You’ve probably seen women, whether your friends or your sister (or even yourself), use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever they want. “I’m eating for two!” they say as they inhale a bag of potato chips or candy. Or maybe you have the defeatist attitude that because you’re going to gain weight anyway, you might as well stock up on comfort food.

But here’s the fallacy. While you may think all that extra weight gain is just fat, consider some of these interesting facts from KidsHealth. Out of the 25-35 pounds you will probably gain, about 7.5 of that will end up being the baby’s weight, about 10 pounds will be from extra blood and fluids, 4 more pounds are attributed to breast and uterus enlargement, and almost 2 pounds for the placenta. That leaves only about 7 pounds of your overall weight gain for stored protein, fat and other nutrients.

The Importance of Nutrition

Now, there’s nothing wrong with eating yummy desserts or snack foods on occasion, but keep in mind that the nutrients from the foods you consume are being passed on to your baby. So if the bulk of your diet consists of pizza or junk food, that will be the basis for your baby’s diet as well.

According to KidsHealth, “To eat well during pregnancy you must do more than simply increase how much you eat. You must also consider what you eat. Although you need about 300 extra calories a day — especially later in your pregnancy, when your baby grows quickly — those calories should come from nutritious foods so they can contribute to your baby’s growth and development.”

Key Nutrients

KidsHealth pinpoints some key nutrients that expectant mothers need. You’ll need proteins for cell growth and blood production. Carbohydrates provide energy. Calcium helps keep your bones strong. Iron helps prevent anemia. Folic acid is critical during early pregnancy (and before conception) to help prevent neural tube defects in your baby. You’ll also want to make sure you’re eating healthy foods rich in vitamins A, C, B6, B12 and D.  And even fat is a necessary component to a healthy diet, although as during your non-pregnancy days, limit your fat intake to less than 30% of your total calories.

Foods to Avoid

In addition to making sure you are consuming enough healthy foods, you also need to make sure you are avoiding certain others. Physicians are now warning against any alcohol consumption during pregnancy. And while many doctors allow for one or two caffeine beverages a day, try to eliminate them completely from your diet if possible. If you have been taking any vitamins or herbal supplements, talk with your doctor before continuing them. You’ll also want to be extra vigilant against food-borne illnesses, so avoid the following: unpasteurized dairy products; raw or undercooked eggs (and foods containing raw eggs such as mousse and tiramisu), meats, fish or shellfish; uncooked processed meats (such as hot dogs or deli meat); and fish high in mercury content (such as swordfish).

Concluding Thoughts

KidsHealth encourages moms-to-be that, “The key is to eat foods from the different food groups in approximately the recommended proportions. If nausea or lack of appetite cause you to eat less at times, don’t worry — it’s unlikely to cause fetal harm because your baby gets first crack at the nutrients you consume. And although it’s generally recommended that a woman of normal weight gain approximately 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy…don’t fixate on the scale. Instead, focus on eating a good variety and balance of nutritious foods to keep both you and your baby healthy.”

This article is based on information from KidsHealth.

Medical information within this site is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition. Please consult a licensed health care professional for the treatment or diagnosis of any medical condition.

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