10 Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy
It seems like everyone is focused on dieting and nutrition this time of year, so we felt we should join in and discuss proper nutrition in pregnancy. There are many dietary recommendations that a pregnant woman may follow and as with many subjects during pregnancy, there is controversy with some of these recommendations. Nutrition can be a challenging topic to tackle with clients and the depth of the discussion will depend on your role, experience and knowledge of these topics. We use simplified dietary recommendations, developed in conjunction with a Nutritionist, in our Prenatal Wellness booklet and in our free Weekly Diet Checklist. We feel these products offer a good starting point for a discussion of diet. They address the most important nutritional information, while allowing for the user to add or adjust information based on the needs of the individual, rather than a “one size fits all” approach.
In addition, we have created a brief “Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy” list, which is available in a free PDF or can be read below.
10 Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy:
- Eggs (fully cooked) are a nearly perfect food for pregnancy. They contain protein, omega-3 fatty acids, cholesterol and many beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, calcium, zinc, B-vitamins and choline. Eggs from free-range hens may have higher omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A and E levels than traditionally raised hens.
- Super foods can give you the most bang for your buck or bite. Some examples include, berries, citrus fruits, yogurt, beans, nuts, wild caught salmon, dark green vegetables, eggs, cheese, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and lean, pasture-raised beef and pork.
- Water is essential! Water can ease pregnancy discomforts such as nausea, constipation, headaches, heartburn, swelling, UTI’s and dizziness and is essential for the expanding blood volume of pregnancy and for maintaining amniotic fluid levels. If you don’t like the taste of water or prefer juice, adding a small quantity of fruit (such as a lemon wedge or frozen strawberry) to pure water can alter the taste without adding a lot of sugar to your diet.
- Omega fatty acids are essential for fetal brain growth. It is recommended that pregnant women consume up to 12 ounces a week of wild-caught, low-mercury fish for an excellent source of omega-3's, protein and vitamins and minerals. Also, pay attention to the amount of omega-6 fatty acids (from sources like sunflower and corn oil) that you consume and strive for a ratio of omega-3’s to omega 6’s between 4:1 and 2:1. Omega-3 supplementation should be discussed with your care provider or a nutritionist to get the safest products and dosage for your lifestyle and diet.
- Dairy products contain calcium, protein and fat which are essential for maternal health and fetal development. 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day is recommended. Many dairy products are also fortified with vitamin-D (see below). Alternative sources of calcium include, nuts, beans and leafy greens.
- Vitamin D aids in calcium and phosphorous absorption and adequate levels can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy complications. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight, but this controversial method is not recommended by some who cite the increased risk of skin cancer with sun exposure. Fish, fortified milk and juice, cereal, and egg yolks also contain vitamin D and supplementation may be recommended by your care provider. 600 IU is the current recommended daily amount, though some research suggests higher amounts may have more benefit during pregnancy. How much to take is something you should discuss with your care provider and/or nutritionist.
- Keep blood sugar levels steady all day long! Avoid processed and refined foods; they are high in simple carbohydrates which quickly convert to glucose after consumption. Eat protein or complex carbohydrates through out the day, which are slower to digest and convert to glucose.
- Iron sources from meats, plants and supplements can help boost blood volume and prevent anemia. Eat a variety of sources of iron along with a vitamin C rich food: lean, red meat, beans, black strap molasses, and leafy greens contain the highest levels of iron. If a supplement is necessary, ask about using Floradix or black strap molasses in place of the standard recommendation of Slow Fe, which can cause constipation. Note: avoid consuming iron rich foods at the same time you consume iron-inhibiting foods like whole grains, legumes, and dairy (calcium rich foods).
- Vitamin C foods aid in iron absorption, promote wound healing and build a strong amniotic sac. Citrus, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, mango, raspberries, cantaloupe, bell peppers, potatoes and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C.
- A whole food based prenatal vitamin may help you get more of the nutrients that your body and baby need during pregnancy. Natural vitamins found in foods are digested and absorbed better (therefore more efficient and cost effective) and MAY cause less digestive upset than synthetic vitamins. Natural foods grocery stores often carry these, though check with your care provider before starting or switching nutritional supplements of any kind.
These websites have great resources for additional information: the USDA's website ChooseMyPlate.Gov, the Mayo Clinic or the March of Dimes. Are there other sites you use or recommend to clients? What other tips would you add to this list?
Disclaimer: All content provided is for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and no alterations in diet should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Consult your physician on any topics regarding your health and diet. Plumtree Baby, LLC does not assume any liability for the information contained herein, be it direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.
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