Nutrition During Pregnancy
You’ve probably heard all sorts of stories about pregnant women’s eating habits such as weird cravings and “eating for two.” There are all sorts of myths about nutrition during pregnancy. In reality, you only need an extra 100 calories during your first trimester (1 banana) and an extra 300 calories during your second and third trimesters (1 peanut butter sandwich).
Try to eat a well-balanced diet that has a blend of whole grains, vegetables and fruit, and protein (lean meat, fish, beans, nuts, and dairy products. The US Department of Agriculture has an interactive tool for pregnant women to help you figure out your nutritional needs. You can get a daily food plan or track your own food choices here.
Some special nutrients to pay attention to:
- Folic Acid protects your baby against neural tube defects. Folic acid is found in dark leafy greens, nuts, beans, and fortified cereals.
- Iron is needed for your growing baby. Iron is found in red meats, some beans, and fortified cereals. Some women develop iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy which can lead to preterm delivery and low birth weight. Some women need to take an iron supplement during pregnancy.
- Calcium is needed for your baby’s bones, heart, nerves, and muscles. Calcium is found in dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheese), dark leafy greens, and some seeds.
Taking a prenatal vitamin every day is an important addition to your diet.
These are some food that you will want to stay away from during pregnancy: unpasteurized (raw) milk, soft cheeses (feta, brie, queso blanco), undercooked meat, poultry, or shellfish, prepared meats (like hot dogs and deli meat) unless they have been cooked to steaming hot. These foods can contain a bacterium called listeria that can cause serious health problems for your baby.
In rare cases, women will have urges to eat non-food items like cornstarch, ice, clay, or dirt. This is called Pica and is harmful for your baby. Talk to your provider if you have these urges.