Pregnancy is a special and exciting
time in your life. Taking good care of yourself is especially important for you and your
baby. Good nutrition during pregnancy can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy
baby. In general, a woman's need for calories, protein, fluid and certain vitamins and
minerals increase during pregnancy. The following provides some information on specific
Folic Acid: Adequate folic acid
is important to decrease the risk of birth defects, such as spina bifida. The Dietary
Reference Intake (DRI) of folic acid for women of child bearing age is 400 micrograms
(mcg). Foods rich in folic acid include oranges, dark green leafy vegetables (examples: asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, collard greens,
spinach, Swiss chard and turnip greens) beans and fortified cereals and grains. It is
easier to get adequate folic acid from food now days as most grains are fortified.
However, you may want to consider a basic/generic multivitamin that contains folic acid if
you are unsure. The DRI of folic acid during pregnancy is 600 mcg. Most basic pre-natal
vitamins contain adequate folic acid.
Iron: Many women suffer from
iron deficiency anemia, which can cause fatigue. It is important to have your healthcare
provider assess your iron status to see if you need to include more iron in your diet.
Foods rich in iron include red meat, beans, fortified cereals and grains and dark green
leafy vegetables. The DRI of iron for non-pregnant women is 15 milligrams (mg) and 30 mg
for pregnant women. Most basic pre-natal vitamins contain iron as well. However, some
women find that iron containing supplements upset their stomach. Consult with your
healthcare practitioner for other options.
Calcium: It is important to get
adequate calcium in your diet as well. The DRI of calcium for both pregnant and
non-pregnant adult women is 1,000 mg. Most
supplements lack adequate calcium, so it is important that calcium rich foods are
consumed. Dairy products and green leafy vegetables a good sources of calcium. You can
also find many foods fortified with calcium such as juice, cereal, and soy milk.
Vitamin A: Excessive intake of
vitamin A (over 10,000 international units) has lead to spontaneous abortions and birth
defects. It is not recommended to take excess vitamin A in supplemental form during
Calories & Protein: An
additional 300 Calories and 10 grams of protein is recommended especially during the 2nd
& 3rd trimesters. Most pregnant women do not have trouble achieving this.
If you eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied your should get adequate
Calories and protein.
Fluid: Adequate fluid is
important too. Sixty-four ounces or eight 8 ounce glasses of fluid is recommended daily.
Water is a great way to hydrate yourself, but also consider soups and juices. Be careful
not to rely on juice too much as you may end up taking in more Calories than your body
Weight Gain: Weight gain varies
from woman to woman. There is typically about a 10 pound increase during the first 20
weeks of pregnancy and about 1 pound per week during the rest of the pregnancy. Many times
the weight gain is not linear, instead it comes in spurts. If you are concerned discuss
this with your health care provider. Remember that weight gain is not the only indicator
of a healthy pregnancy.
Unfortunately sometimes there are
nutrition related challenges and problems during pregnancy. The following tips may bring some relief.
* Eat small, low fat meals slowly
* Drink fluids between meals
* Dont lie down for 1-2 hours
* Limit caffeine intake
* Wear loose fitting clothing
* Limit stress and situations that may
* Consume adequate fluid (64 ounces or
* Eat foods high in fiber: cereals,
breads, legumes, fruit and vegetables
* Move your body more. Activity can help
* Try eating crackers or dry toast
before getting out of bed
* Eat small frequent meals and
dont let yourself get too hungry
* Limit high fat and spicy foods
* Eat and drink slowly
* Drink beverages between meals
* Limit caffeine intake
* Avoid odors that are offensive
* Consider nibbling on fresh ginger
* Some women find relief by wearing "Sea Bands". These are elastic wrist
bands that work on the principle of accu-pressure. You can find them in a
drug store near the motion sickness medications.