Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy

Experts recommend that a mother-to-be's diet should include a variety of healthy foods and beverages to provide the important nutrients a baby needs for growth and development.

What woman eats and drinks during the pregnancy is her baby’s main source of the nourishment. So, experts always recommend that mother-to-be’s diet should include a vast variety of the healthy foods and beverages to provide important nutrients the baby needs for growth and development.

Here Is Why These Four Nutrients Are Important.

Folic acid:

Also known as the fol-ate when nutrient is found in the foods, folic acid is a B vitamin that is crucial in helping to prevent the birth defects in baby’s brain and spinal cord, known as the neural tube defects.
It may be hard to get recommended amount of the folic acid from the diet alone. For that reason it is recommended that women who are trying to have a baby take a daily vitamin supplement containing about 400 micrograms of folic acid per day for at least one month before becoming pregnant. During the pregnancy, it is advised that every women to increase amount of folic acid to 600 micrograms a day, an amount commonly found in daily prenatal vitamin.
Food sources of folic acid: leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, breads and pastas, citrus fruits.


This mineral is used to build the baby’s bones and teeth.according to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many dairy products are also fortified with the vitamin D, another nutrient that works with the calcium to develop a baby’s bones and teeth.
Pregnant women 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day;
Food sources of calcium: milk, yogurt, calcium-fortified juices and foods, sardines or salmon with bones,leafy greens.


Pregnant women need about 27 milligrams of iron the day, which is double amount needed by the women who are not expecting. Additional amounts of  mineral are needed to make more blood to supply baby with oxygen. Getting too little iron during the pregnancy can lead to anemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of the infections.
To increase absorption of iron, include a good source of the vitamin C at the same meal when eating the iron-rich foods, .
Food sources of iron: meat, poultry, dried beans and peas, fish,iron-fortified cereal.


More protein is needed during the pregnancy, but most the women don’t have the problems getting enough protein-rich foods in their diets.Protein as a builder nutrient, because it helps to build the important organs for baby, such as the brain and heart.
Food sources of protein: meat, poultry, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts, fish, tofu.

Foods That Can Maximize Prenatal Nutrition:

During pregnancy, the goal is to be eating the nutritious foods most of the time. To maximize the prenatal nutrition, she suggests emphasizing the following food groups that include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and dairy products.

Fruits and vegetables:

Pregnant women should focus on the fruits and vegetables, particularly during second and third trimesters. These colorful foods are very low in calories and filled with fiber, the vitamins and minerals.

Lean protein:

Pregnant women should include the good protein sources at every meal to support baby’s growth. Protein-rich foods include the meat, poultry, fish, beans, tofu, cheese, milk, nuts,eggs, and seeds.

Whole grains:

These foods are important source of the energy in diet, and they also provide the fiber, iron and B-vitamins. At least half of the pregnant woman’s carbohydrate choices per each day should come from the whole grains, such as the oatmeal, the whole-wheat pasta or the breads and the brown rice.


The Aim for 3 to 4 servings of the dairy foods a day is recommended. Dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt and the cheese are good dietary sources of calcium, protein and the vitamin D.
In addition to the healthy diet, pregnant women also need to take daily prenatal vitamin to obtain some of nutrients that are hard to get from the foods alone.

Foods To limit During Pregnancy

Fish with high levels of mercury:

Seafood such as the swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy and the tilefish are high in levels of methyl mercury, and should be avoided during the pregnancy. Methyl mercury is a very toxic chemical that can pass through placenta and can be harmful to the unborn baby’s developing the brain, kidneys and nervous system.


Consuming fewer than about 200 mg of caffeine a day, which is  amount found in one 12-ounce cup of coffee, is generally considered safe during pregnancy. The committee report said that moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy does not appear to contribute to the miscarriage or premature birth.


Fish is a very good source of lean protein, and some fish, including the salmon and sardines, also contain omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that’s good for heart. It is safe for pregnant women to eat about 8 to 12 ounces of the cooked fish and seafood a week.

But, they should limit albacore or the white tuna, which has very high levels of mercury, to no more than the 6 ounces a week.


Avoid alcohol during the pregnancy. Alcohol in mother’s blood can pass directly to the baby through the umbilical cord. Heavy use of the alcohol during the pregnancy has been linked with the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a group of conditions that can include the physical problems, as well as the learning and the behavioral difficulties in babies and children.

Unpasteurized milk and foods

Pasteurization involves the heating a product to a high temperature to kill the harmful bacteria.
Hot dogs, luncheon meats and the cold cuts unless heated to the steaming hot before eating to kill any bacteria.

Raw meat:

A mother can pass the Toxoplasma infection on to her baby, which can cause problems such as the blindness and mental disability later in the life. To prevent toxoplasmosis, the following foods during pregnancy should be avoided:
raw or undercooked meats and poultry.
Raw fish, such as sushi ceviches and carpaccio, clams, mussels, oysters and scallops.
Some foods may increase the pregnant woman’s risk for other types of food poisoning, including the illness caused by salmonella and E. coli bacteria.

The lists these foods to avoid during the pregnancy, and why they pose a threat:
Raw or undercooked eggs, such as the soft-cooked, runny or poached eggs.
Foods containing the undercooked eggs, such as the raw cookie dough or cake batter, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, homemade ice cream.

Pregnancy Diet Misconceptions

Morning sickness:

When a mother is experiencing the morning sickness, the biggest mistake she can make is thinking that if she doesn’t eat.

The exact causes of the morning sickness are not known, but it may be caused by the hormonal changes or the lower blood sugar. This common complaint can bring on waves of the nausea and the vomiting in some women, especially during the first three months of the pregnancy.


Food cravings:

It is common for the women to develop a sudden urge or the strong dislike for the food during pregnancy. Some common cravings are for the sweets, salty foods, red meat or fluids. Often, a craving is a body’s way of saying it needs the specific nutrient, such as more protein or additional liquids to quench the thirst, rather than a particular food.

Eating for two:

When people say that the pregnant woman is eating for two, it doesn’t mean she needs to consume twice as much food or double the calories.

During the first three months,women that their calorie needs are basically  same as they were before pregnancy. During the first trimester, the recommended weight gain is between 1 and 4 pounds over three-month period.

Weight gain during pregnancy

Weight gain during the pregnancy often has an ebb and a flow over the nine months. It’s hard to measure where the pregnancy weight is going, she said, adding that a scale does not reveal whether pounds are going to the woman’s body fat, baby weight or fluid gains.

When it comes to the pregnancy weight gain, it is advised mothers-to-be to look at the big picture: During the regular prenatal checkups, focus on the fact that the baby is growing normally rather than worrying about number on a scale.
The total number of calories that are needed per day during the pregnancy depends on the woman’s height, her weight before becoming pregnant, and how active she is on a daily basis.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines for total weight gain during the full-term pregnancy recommend that:
Underweight women, who have a Body Mass Index that is below 18.5, should gain 28 to 40 lbs. ( that is 12.7 to 18 kilograms).
Normal weight women, who have a Body Mass Index of 18.5 to 24.9, should gain 25 to 35 lbs. ( that is 11.3 to 15.8 kg).
Overweight women, who have a Body Mass Index of 25.0 to 29.9, should gain 15 to 25 lbs. ( that is 6.8 to 11.3 kg).
Obese women, who have a Body Mass Index of 30.0 and above, should gain 11 to 20 lbs. ( that is 5 to 9 kg).

IOM guidelines for the pregnancy weight gain when a woman is having twins are as follows:
Underweight: 50 to 62 lbs. ( that is 22.6 kg to 28.1 kg).
Normal weight: 37 to 54 lbs. ( that is 16.7 to 24.5 kg).
Overweight: 31 to 50 lbs. ( that is 14 to 22.6 kg).
Obese: 25 to 42 lbs. ( that is 11.3 to 19 kg). (source)


A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein than a woman who is not expecting, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
When counseling a pregnant women, it is recommended they fill half their plates with the fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it with the whole grains and the quarter of it with a source of the lean protein, and to also have the dairy product at every meal.

For more related articles related , click below:

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How Thyroid Effects on Pregnancy and Conceiving

Wearing Makeup During Pregnancy ? Is it Safe

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