While pregnancy is not an excuse to eat everything you want when you want it, it IS a good time to think about nutrition and diet. Your body is about to undergo some pretty significant changes and what you eat and drink can really support you and your baby!
Experts say you need about 300 extra calories a day to maintain a healthy pregnancy, but those shouldn’t necessarily come from an increase in, let’s say, red velvet cake, queso, or a big bag of Doritos.
Instead, stick with lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for those extra calories. Besides getting enough calories, a healthy diet can reduce nausea and constipation, which some people experience during pregnancy. It’s also important to drink, drink, drink water (and avoid all forms of alcohol).
There are a few foods you want to avoid during pregnancy because of the risk of infection: unpasteurized milk and foods made from unpasteurized milk (including cheeses like feta or brie), hot dogs and lunch meat, and raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat.
Make sure you are getting plenty of folic acid as it reduces certain birth defects. You can get folic acid from green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, and some enriched breakfast cereals (check the label for folic acid). You can also get folic acid and other important vitamins and minerals in a prenatal vitamin.
Where Does the Extra Weight Go?
Depending on your weight before you were pregnant, you will probably gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.
Where does that weight actually go?? Let’s look:
Baby: 8 pounds
Placenta: 2-3 pounds
Amniotic fluid: 2-3 pounds
Breast tissue: 2-3 pounds
Blood supply: 4 pounds
Stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding: 5-9 pounds
Growth of uterus: 2-5 pounds
What About Cravings?
Besides the classic pregnancy cravings for pickles and ice cream, you may have heard of some other crazy cravings. (For me, it was McDonald’s sausage and biscuits. What?)
Most doctors agree that pregnancy cravings (which might include some combinations of foods you would NEVER EAT OTHERWISE) are your body’s way of asking for something it needs—like sodium, protein, potassium, calcium, or fat. Also, your hormone levels in pregnancy can alter your sense of taste and smell so some of your cravings may be working around new aversions.
So try to answer those cravings with something healthy and reasonable (NOT McDonald’s).
Speaking of Food Aversions in Pregnancy . . .
Don’t be surprised if some of your favorite foods are suddenly . . . revolting.
Most of these aversion will happen early on when your body is flooded with new hormones, but new ones can begin anytime during pregnancy. As long as you are getting the nutrition you need, it is okay to avoid your aversions.
Take heart! These aversions will disappear after the arrival of your baby!
Just like in all aspects of pregnancy, listen to your body, your doctor or midwife, and join our facebook group—a great place to ask questions, get advice, and find resources!