Eating healthy is one of the most important things you can do while pregnant. Good nutrition will help you deal with the additional demands on your body as your pregnancy grows. The goal is to strike a balance between getting enough nutrients to support your baby’s growth and maintaining a healthy weight.
How Much Should Pregnant Mums Eat?
If you are pregnant with one fetus, you will require an additional 340 calories per day beginning in the second trimester (and a bit more in the third trimester). That’s about the same as a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich in terms of calories.
Women who are carrying twins should consume 600 additional calories per day, whereas women who are carrying triplets should consume 900 extra calories per day.
Nutrients in Pregnancy
Image source: iStock
During pregnancy, your body’s dietary requirements rise because you’re nourishing a whole new individual! Although the traditional cliché “eating for two” isn’t totally accurate, you do need additional vitamins and macronutrients to nourish both you and your baby.
Micronutrients are dietary components like vitamins and minerals that are only needed in trace levels.
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide energy in the form of calories. Carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids are all important. During pregnancy, you’ll need to consume more of each sort of nutrient.
Here are some guidelines for a few key nutrients that will need to be altered based on your specific requirements:
Daily requirements for pregnant women
1200 milligrams (mg)
600–800 micrograms (mcg)
70–100ams (g) per day, increasing each trimester
Most pregnant women can fulfill their increased nutritional needs by eating a range of healthful foods such as:
- complex carbohydrates
- healthy types of fat like omega-3s
- vitamins and minerals
Important Nutrients for Pregnant Women
Vitamins and minerals are essential for all bodily functioning. Eating healthy foods and taking prenatal vitamins on a daily basis should provide you with all of the vitamins and minerals you require during pregnancy. Here are some of the essential nutrients a pregnant woman needs throughout her pregnancy journey, and even after.
Folic acid, often known as folate, is an essential B vitamin for pregnant women. Folic acid may aid in the prevention of serious birth malformations of the fetus’s brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs). According to some research, ingesting folic acid may help prevent heart problems and birth defects in your baby’s mouth (called cleft lip and palate).
When pregnant, you require 600 mcg of folic acid each day. Because it is difficult to receive this much folic acid from food alone, you should start taking a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms at least 1 month before conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Foods rich in Folic Acid, also known as Folates and Vitamin B9. | Image from iStock
Fatty liver, nuts, dried beans and lentils, eggs, nuts and peanut butter, and dark green, leafy vegetables are all good sources of folate.
Protein is essential for the healthy development of a baby’s tissues and organs, including the brain. It also aids in the formation of breast and uterine tissue during pregnancy.
It even helps to increase your blood supply, allowing more blood to be transferred to your kid.
During each trimester of pregnancy, your protein requirements grow. Protein consumption during pregnancy should be increased even more than some current recommendations. It’s time to boost the ante on your shrimp fajitas, hog curries, jerk chicken, and salmon teriyaki.
Selection of protein sources in kitchen. | Image from iStock
Depending on your weight and trimester, you’ll need to consume 70 to 100 g of protein every day. Consult your doctor to determine how much protein you require. Lean beef and pork, chicken, salmon, almonds, peanut butter, cottage cheese, and beans are all high in protein.
Your body uses iron to produce the extra blood that you and your fetus require during pregnancy. Non-pregnant women require 18 mg of iron per day. Pregnant ladies require 27 mg per day extra. Most prenatal supplements contain this increased quantity.
Image from iStock
In addition to taking an iron-fortified prenatal vitamin, you should consume iron-rich foods such beans, lentils, enhanced breakfast cereals, beef, turkey, liver, and shrimp. You should also consume foods that aid in iron absorption, such as oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli, and peppers.
Calcium is a mineral that helps to develop your fetus’s bones and teeth. Women aged 18 and under require 1,300 mg of calcium each day. Women aged 19 and up require 1,000 mg every day.
Foods rich in calcium such as sardines, bean, dried figs, almonds, cottage cheese, hazelnuts, parsley leaves, blue poppy seed, broccoli, italian cabbage, cheese, milk. | Image from iStock
The finest calcium sources are milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt. If you have difficulties digesting milk products, try broccoli, fortified meals (cereals, bread, and juices), almonds and sesame seeds, sardines or anchovies with bones, and dark green leafy vegetables. Calcium supplements are another source of calcium.
Choline aids in the development of your fetus’s brain. It may also aid in the prevention of some common birth abnormalities. Pregnant women should consume 450 mg of choline each day, according to experts.
Chicken, meat, eggs, milk, soy products, and peanuts all contain choline. Although the body creates some choline on its own, it is insufficient to supply all of your needs during pregnant. Choline is essential to your diet because it is not found in most prenatal supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of lipid present in many different types of fish. Omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial to brain development both before and after birth.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a kind of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with growth and development. You need DHA during pregnancy to help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. Not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so ask your provider if you need to take a DHA supplement. A good source of DHA in food is fish like herring, salmon, trout, and DHA-fortified foods like milk and orange juice.
Flaxseed (ground or oil) is likewise high in omega-3s. Broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, cauliflower, and walnuts are other good sources of omega-3s.
Food sources of omega 3 and omega 6 on white background top view. Foods high in fatty acids including vegetables, seafood, nut and seeds. | Image from iStock
Consume at least two servings of fish or shellfish every week prior to becoming pregnant, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. A serving of fish ranges from 8 to 12 ounces (oz).
Some fish, however, have higher mercury levels than others. Mercury is a metal associated with birth abnormalities. Bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish are all off-limits. White (albacore) tuna should be limited to 6 oz per week. Check for advisories regarding fish captured in local seas as well.
Pregnant women need this mineral to help their baby’s nervous system develop. Iodine is also responsible for making thyroid hormones, which help our body use and store energy from food.
Iodine deficiency during pregnancy has been associated with impaired neurodevelopment, including cretinism and lower IQ in children, as well as an increase in the risk of complications such as miscarriage, prematurity, stillbirth, and low birth weight in offspring.
During pregnancy, you need 220 micrograms of iodine every day. Good sources of iodine include fish, milk, cheese and yoghurt. Also ask your doctor if you need an iodine supplement while pregnant.
During pregnancy, B vitamins such as B1, B2, B6, B9, and B12 are essential. These nutrients
- provide you with energy
- provide energy for the development of your fetus
- encourage good vision
- contribute to the formation of the placenta
Your prenatal vitamin should contain the recommended daily amount of B vitamins. Eating foods high in B vitamins, such as liver, pig, poultry, bananas, beans, and whole-grain cereals and breads, is also a good idea.
Vitamin C is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. It also aids in the development of strong bones and muscles. During pregnancy, you should consume at least 85 mg of vitamin C per day if you are above the age of 19, and 80 mg if you are under the age of 19.
Foods containing vitamin C. | Image from iStock
You can get enough vitamin C through your daily prenatal vitamin as well as citrus fruits and drinks, strawberries, broccoli, and tomatoes.
D vitamin aids in the development of the fetus’s bones and teeth. It is also required for healthy skin and vision. Every woman, whether pregnant or not, requires 600 international units of vitamin D every day.
Fortified milk and cereal, fatty fish (salmon and mackerel), fish liver oils, and egg yolks are all good sources of vitamin D.
It is absolutely essential for pregnant women to have a good amount of fibre in their diet. Because of the slowing down of their digestion, most mums-to-be experience constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn. This special type of carbohydrate is responsible for helping normalise the digestive process and lessen the incidence of these unwanted pregnancy symptoms.
Moreover, fibre can help you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy as fibre-rich foods are nutrient-dense and can help you feel full without needing to consume tons of extra calories.
Expecting mums need 25 to 30 grams of fibre per day, but you can easily hit recommended intake of your diet consisting of a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Here’s a table of the other important nutrients and minerals for pregnant women:
||Daily recommended intake
||essential in forming red blood cells
||1.5 or 2.0 mg
||normalises glucose to prevent gestational diabetes
||29 to 30 mcg
||grape juice, broccoli, banana, beans
||helps to maintain normal blood pressure. It also helps your baby build strong teeth and bones.
||seeds, nuts, beans, brown rice
||helping baby’s bone and cartilage formation
||nuts, beans, spinach
||helping break down protein and other substances in food
||legumes, whole grains
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids
||critical for the development of the baby’s neurological and immune systems
||vegetable oil, corn, nuts, meat
||essential for most bodily functions, namely muscle movement, blood clotting and kidney and nerve function, as well as tissue and cell repair
|| salmon, milk, yogurt, lentils, almonds, peanuts, eggs,
||maintain proper fluid balance, regulate blood pressure and maintain proper muscle tone
||wheat bran, avocados, oranges, prunes, carrots, lentils, peanuts, peas, sweet potatoes
||regulates the immune system, protecting the body against disease
||tuna (canned light, ), sardines, whole-grain bread
||balances fluid levels
||1,500 – 2,300 mg
||vegetables, milk, eggs, plain yoghurt, poultry,
||essential to the development of your baby’s cells, bones, skin and eyes
||carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens,
||helps in the formation of red blood cells and muscles, lessens the risk of preeclampsia
||spinach, eggs, fortified cereals, nuts, seeds
||helps prevent blood clots
|| beef liver, eggs, broccoli, avocado, banana
||aids in cell growth and strengthens the immune system
||lean beef, pork, yoghurt, nuts
Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins for pregnant or attempting to conceive women. They have more of some nutrients that you need throughout pregnancy than a standard multivitamin. Prenatal vitamins can be prescribed by your doctor or purchased over the counter without a prescription.
During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin every day. If you intend to become pregnant, begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible.
Image from iStock
To be strong and healthy, your body uses vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in food. During pregnancy, your growing baby receives all of the nutrition it requires from you. As a result, you may require more during pregnancy than you did previously.
You may require more nutrients if you are pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, or more) than if you are pregnant with a single baby. Your prenatal vitamin contains the necessary nutrients for your pregnancy.
Make sure you consume a well-balanced and nutritious diet throughout your pregnancy to keep you and your growing baby as healthy as possible. Include complete, healthy foods and restrict your intake of low-nutritional-value items such as processed and fast foods.
acog.org, healthline.com, marchofdimes.org, What to Expect
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.