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"Expectant moms need vital nutrients and calories to sustain their bodies and their pregnancy," Julie Paul, WakeMed registered dietian says. "Remember that babies are literally being built with the food we put in our bodies. For example, they need certain nutrients for brain development, and other nutrients for things like healthy bones, eyes and organs."
To make sure you and your baby get what you need, increase your daily intake by 300 calories, provided your pre-pregnancy diet was within a normal range. Specific nutrient recommendations include:
ProteinYou need an additional 10 grams per day, but most women get this in their diets already.
Carbohydrates Additional carbohydrates are needed for energy. The healthiest choices are whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, fresh fruits and milk.
FolateEssential due to increased blood volume and rapid cell growth of your baby, and can be found in leafy green vegetables, legumes, fruit, seeds and yeast.
Calcium, Phosphorus and MagnesiumNeeded to build your baby's skeleton. Good sources of calcium are dairy products, tofu, salmon and leafy green vegetables.
Iron Iron absorption is increased three-fold during pregnancy so you can provide your developing baby with iron stores for the first three to six months of life.
Nutrient needs during pregnancy are higher than any other time in your life, says Julie Paul, a WakeMed registered dietitian.
Most women cannot meet the increased need with diet alone and, in many cases, a supplement is recommended. Meats, dried beans and peas, enriched cereals, whole grain and enriched breads, dried fruits, green vegetables and eggs are all good sources of Vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron.
ZincZinc is found in high protein foods like meats, legumes and nuts. Many foods have more than one of the important nutrients that support a healthy pregnancy.
These include low-fat milk, lean meats, beans, eggs, dark green vegetables, Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals. Foods high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomato juice, strawberries, cantaloupe, greens, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
"This may sound like a lot of food, but if you're taking a prenatal vitamin in addition to a well-balanced diet, you should be in good shape," advises Paul. "As your pregnancy progresses, it may become more uncomfortable to eat three large meals. It's perfectly fine to have smaller meals throughout the day."
Some foods and substances are known or suspected to be detrimental to the health of a growing fetus. For your baby's sake, it's best to be conservative and avoid the following foods or substances:
*Limited amounts are acceptable. For more specific information about those limits, consult your doctor or dietitian.
Source: Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition & Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome, October 2002
In your second and third trimester, you need an additional 300 calories per day. Here are some healthy snack ideas to fill those extra calories.
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