If you’re pregnant, congratulations! If you’re entering pregnancy with questions and concerns about what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat and the like, you’re not alone! Just know that you just being here means you’re already doing a great job, Mama!
The goal for pregnancy nutrition is to balance getting enough nutrients for mama and baby while maintaining a healthy weight. Sticking with mostly whole foods that make you feel good will help you do just that as well as pack those much needed essential nutrients!
Let’s review what we consider 3 “Pillars” of Pregnancy Nutrition:
1. Fuel for You & Baby
Food is fuel! And we need more fuel in pregnancy as the baby grows and needs fuel of their own 🙂
Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and can vary based on your current weight and nutritional needs. We always recommend consulting your doctor if you are going into pregnancy underweight or overweight, as recommendations for caloric intake may vary based on that.
First Trimester Calories
Calories can remain the same in the first trimester (again, this is if you’re currently maintaining a healthy weight). The focus should be on getting plenty of whole, nutritious foods to keep your energy up and get in important nutrients.
Nausea typically occurs in the first trimester when we don’t really need to prioritize extra calories yet, so don’t stress if your nutrition doesn’t feel perfect. Try to keep protein high, get in what you can during this phase – think small, frequent and bland meals. Hang in there! 🙂
2nd Trimester Calories
The general recommendation is to aim for approximately 300-340 extra calories/day starting in the second trimester. This will get us the extra nutrients our growing body and baby needs. If you’re super active, you may want to consider bumping them even more. Work with your doctor to understand how your weight is progressing and they can help you decide whether to add calories or not.
Contrary to the popular “eating for 2” saying, 300-340 calories is more like an extra snack or 2, or an extra small meal. It could be something like granola with fruit and berries, some almonds with cheese and a banana, or chicken, rice and broccoli.
3rd Trimester Calories
In the 3rd trimester we’re aiming for 340-450 extra calories / day and this can vary based on how your weight is progressing. Build upon what you’ve added in the second trimester with the addition of more colorful fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.
2. Adequate Nutrients
You’ve probably heard that there are key nutrients to focus on when pregnant, especially as the baby develops. We can get those nutrients by focusing on getting a balance of macro and micronutrients
Macronutrients (macros) are the 3 main nutrients that make up the calories in our food. They are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Having all 3 in our diets helps us get the nutrients we need to feel our best. In our Nutrition e-book, we outline why each is important in pregnancy and some good targets. Check it out!
Micronutrients are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs. They include vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting and other functions and play an important role in growth, bone health, fluid balance and several other processes. They also
Micronutrients also reduce your risk of disease. You can see why getting an adequate amount of micronutrients would be important during pregnancy. Some of the key nutrients to prioritze in pregnancy include folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, iron, and DHA.
Your balanced diet should be the foundation of your nutritional vitamins. Your body is able to absorb more from your diet than from supplements. Whole foods pack more nutrients than processed foods, so we want to get as many minimally processed whole foods in as possible. However, your doctor will likely recommend a prenatal vitamin to help fill in the gaps.
You can find more information on micronutrients and where to get them in our Pregnancy Nutrition E-Book!
3. Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight in pregnancy can reduce the risk of various pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure disorders of pregnancy — including preeclampsia — the need for a C-section and premature birth.
It’s extremely important to remember that every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. The amount of weight you will and/or should expect to gain during pregnancy will depend on several factors, but mainly on your weight going into pregnancy and your nutrition through pregnancy.
On average, women can expect to gain 25-35 pounds. This will vary if you go into pregnancy overweight or underweight. Therefore, you should always chat with your doctor about a healthy range for you.
Remember, this is a time to focus on getting in a balanced amount of whole, minimally processed and nutrient rich foods for you and baby, which along with exercise will be helpful in maintaining your weight.
Don’t panic or beat yourself up if you’re slightly above the estimate above – remember, everyone is different. Chat with your doctor about your recommended weight gain and reach out to us should you need help!
Nutrition during pregnancy can be challenging both physically and emotionally as you approach a chapter in your life where your body is changing and growing. Having a support system can help, and remembering this phase is temporary. Give your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to feel best during this phase, and reach out if you need help!
Want more info? Check out our Pregnancy Nutrition Guide!
This guide was created by Precision Nutrition Certified Coach and MINT Director of Nutrition Education, Jess Carr to help guide you to feeling your absolute best through each trimester of pregnancy.
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