Whether you’re in your first, second or third trimester, healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to your baby’s growth and development. But sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information out there about what you should and shouldn’t eat while pregnant. So here is a quick list to simplify some of the basics of good pregnancy nutrition.
1. Stay Hydrated
A simple fact is that pregnant women need more water than the average person. Water helps to provide nourishment to your baby, keeps you from overheating and reduces the chances of having a fainting or dizzy spell which are the result of low blood pressure. Although water doesn’t have to be your only source of fluids, it is the best way to stay hydrated. Fruit juices, tea and milk are also good options.
2. If you’re not already on folic acid then start.
Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain or spinal cord. They usually happen during the first few weeks of a pregnancy which for some women means the problem might develop even before they realize that they’re pregnant.
Folic acid has been found to help stop neural tube defects and the earlier it’s started the better. Great sources of folic acid include dark green leafy vegetables, legumes or veal. However taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid are by far the easiest and most reliable way to get folate into your diet.
3. Remember that you’re not eating for two
Even though you’re providing nourishment to your growing baby don’t fall into the habit of thinking that you are eating for two. You’re not. To put things in perspective, consider that in your second and third trimester you only need an extra 300 calories per day while pregnant . That’s it.
During pregnancy focus on the types of food you are eating more than the quantity itself. This means eating sensible portions, eating the right foods and making healthy food choices.
4. Fall back in love with fruits and veggies
Most of us aren’t great at eating our daily fruits and vegetables but when you’re pregnant it’s important to try and work them into your diet. Fruits and veggies contain many important nutrients for pregnancy including things like Vitamin A, B, C and antioxidants.
5. Prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are tailored to help support growing babies in the womb. They contain all of the folic acid that you need and are packed full of minerals and vitamins that your daily diet may not include. Prenatal vitamins are essential but don’t forget that they are meant to support healthy eating, not replace it.
6. Your energy powerhouse: Breads and Grains
The body’s main source of energy during pregnancy comes from carbohydrates which are found in starchy foods like breads and grains.
Pasta, rice and potatoes are examples of carbohydrate-rich items to include in your diet that will help keep your energy levels high. As an added bonus try whole grain and enriched products that also provide other nutrients like iron, B Vitamins and fiber.
7. Protein, protein and more protein
Your developing baby needs plenty of protein, especially in the second and third trimesters . Iron helps to carry oxygen to your growing baby and also carries oxygen to your muscles to help avoid symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, irritability, and depression .
Any kind of meat option like beef, chicken, lamb, liver and turkey are all high in protein. For those who are vegetarian or vegan then make sure you look at alternative sources of protein like Soy, eggs or spinach.
8. Calcium matters
Dairy products that are rich in Calcium should be at the top of your nutrition list. At least 1000 mg of calcium is needed daily to support a pregnancy . And since your developing baby requires a considerable amount of calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones if you do not consume enough through your diet.
9. While alcohol is a definite ‘no’ coffee is a ‘maybe’ (in small amounts)
It won’t come as a surprise to know that all alcohol and alcohol-related products are strongly advised against during pregnancy. And while some people advise against drinking coffee there’s a little bit of gray area here. The truth is that caffeine in moderation is safe for mom and baby and does not have any negative effects on the growing fetus . Doctors recommend that pregnant women just limit themselves to less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day  -that’s about a 12 ounce cup of coffee or weak tea. So your early morning coffee fix is still okay.
10. Mix things up
The bottom line is to try and eat a variety of foods throughout the day. Mix things up to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients both you and your baby need and the added variety will help keep your diet interesting.
1, 2) American pregnancy association. Diet During Pregnancy
3) Cleveland clinic. Pregnancy nutrition. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
4) Pregnancy week by week. Mayo Clinic. September 2014