How to maintain proper nutrition during pregnancy

HealthNutritionDiets and Dieting

Pregnancy is one of the most amazing experiences a women has the opportunity to go through. It can also be a very stressful time as your body is changing and growing and you have someone else counting on you to provide a safe place for them to develop. Adequate and proper nutrition are extremely important during pregnancy and can have significant effects on both mother and baby.

Weight Gain
Many women are afraid of gaining too much weight during pregnancy and getting ìfat.î Pregnancy is not a time to worry about dieting and losing weight. Adequate weight gain is very important for a healthy pregnancy.
The recommended weight gain during pregnancy is based on your pre-pregnancy weight:
• Underweight: 28-40 pounds
• Normal weight: 25-35 pounds
• Overweight: 15-25 pounds

Weight gain is usually slow in the first two trimesters and starts speeding up in the last trimester, as this is the time when your baby is gaining weight and getting ready to come out into the world.

A very common saying we hear from pregnant women is, ìI’m eating for two!î This is true in that you are eating to provide nutrition for both yourself and your baby; however, it does not mean that you should consume two times the amount of calories you were before you became pregnant. A general recommendation is to consume 100 to 300 extra calories a day during pregnancy.

A balanced diet is necessary during pregnancy, meaning eating the proper portion of protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals. This can be achieved by eating a variety of foods each day and eating foods from all the food groups: meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, grains. It is also imperative that you take a daily prenatal vitamin during pregnancy; it can also be helpful to continue taking your prenatal vitamins after pregnancy while breast-feeding.

Helpful Nutrition Tips to Follow During Pregnancy
• Eat foods that contain folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects — green leafy vegetables and legumes
• Avoid alcohol
• Limit caffeine to less than 300mg per day
    1 oz espresso = 40-75mg
    8 oz coffee = 95-200mg
    8 oz black tea = 15-60mg     
    8 oz green tea = 25-40mg
    8 oz iced tea = 26mg
    12 oz Pepsi = 34mg
    1 Hershey Kiss = 1mg
• Avoid eating fish that contain very high levels of mercury because this contaminant can affect brain development — marlin, swordfish, mackerel, Ahi tuna (Grouper, canned tuna, yellow fin tuna, and white albacore tuna contain high levels of mercury and therefore, less than three 6oz servings of these fish should be consumed per month)
• Cook beef to well done
• Do not consume raw foods
• Avoid eating soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, gorgonzola, because they are often unpasteurized

Overcoming Nutrition Obstacles
It can be difficult to consume the amount of calories and nutrients during pregnancy for various reasons. Morning sickness is common for many women and can make it very difficult to eat depending on the severity and frequency. Morning sickness can cause weight loss in which case you should consult with your doctor to determine appropriate treatment options. Many pregnant women experience constipation and heartburn, which can cause problems with maintaining adequate nutrition. You may find that you develop aversions to various foods and cravings for others. Do not panic if you are experiencing any of these pregnancy symptoms as relief can often be attained. Try these tips below:

Morning Sickness
• Eat a few crackers before getting out of bed in the morning
• Eat small frequent meals throughout the day
• Avoid fatty, greasy foods
• Drink decaffeinated herbal tea
• Avoid foods with heavy aromas

Constipation
• Add more fiber to your diet by increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
• Drink lots of water

Heartburn
• Eat small frequent meals throughout the day
• Eating peppermints
• Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages

Pregnancy should be a special, pleasant nine months of your life. This is a time that you should enjoy eating the foods you like in moderation. Your unborn baby is relying on you to provide a healthy, safe environment for him/her to develop; therefore, maintaining a healthy balanced diet is vital. Almost everything you put into your body is passed to your baby, so before you put something in your mouth consider whether this is something you want your child to be exposed to. Cherish every moment of your pregnancy, and give your baby the very best.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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