Post-Conception Consumption: Eating Right for All 9 Months of Your Pregnancy
by Caroline Kastner
Who hasn’t heard the expression ‘she’s eating for two’? It’s fairly common, and what it means is pretty black and white too. It doesn’t mean the woman in question has developed double her appetite or anything of the sort. Nope, it means she’s pregnant.
And so the ‘2’ in that expression refers to the baby developing inside her. There’s going to be a natural increase in appetite, and there’s also going to be a need for eating right. A new life is growing within her body and another common (and true) expression - ‘you are what you eat’ – is true as early as the moment you’re conceived and in connection to what ‘Mom’ eats.
The first important part to understand is that you do not double up your food intake. In fact, your caloric intake should not be more than 300 per day. The focus is not on eating significantly more, rather it’s a focus on eating sufficiently more AND eating smarter, according to Tracy Relmaren, a prenatal nutrition expert who regularly contributes via YesWellness.
The principles of eating a healthy, balanced diet and eating whole, fresh foods will still apply and are just as advisable, but what I’ll discuss today are more specific guidelines for women based on how far they are along in their pregnancy.
Each of the 3 trimesters of a pregnancy lasts 3 months. What’s to follow will be a discussion of the specific vitamin and mineral needs women have for each of them, plus a listing of foods in which those vitamins and minerals are found in abundance. You’ll notice that a good number of the foods will cover multiple nutrient / vitamin groups. These ones a great choices.
At this stage of the pregnancy, the baby’s brain and heart are in the processing of developing and the placenta is well established. The placenta is an integral source of blood and oxygen for the baby. Vitamin A, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, and iron are particularly important during your first 3 months. The folate and Vitamin B6 contribute to optimal brain development, while Vitamin A is utilized for developing healthy bones, teeth, and eyes for your baby. Iron promotes healthy blood cell growth.
Be sure to also get plenty of fibre – it provides energy for the baby as well in aiding with effective digestion and waste elimination for the mother.
Vitamin A Food Sources: Spinach / Beef Liver / Eggs / Sweet Potato / Carrots / Kale / Apricots / Broccoli / Butter / Squash
Vitamin B6 Food Sources: Liver / Kidney / Pork / Chicken / Fruits & Vegetables / Potato & Sweet Potato (with skin) / Tuna Fish / Salmon / Bean / Peas / Lentils / Pistachio Nuts / Chestnuts / Sunflower Seeds
Folate Food Sources: Dark Leafy Greens (spinach, romaine lettuce etc.) / Asparagus / Broccoli / Peas / Lentils / Avocado / Okra / Brussel Sprouts / Seeds & Nuts / Cauliflower / Corn / Celery / Carrots / Squash / Citrus Fruits (oranges, grapefruit etc.) / Beans
Iron Food Sources: Red Meat / Pork / Poultry / Dried Fruit / Peas / Iron-Fortified Cereals, Bread, and Pastas / Seafood / Beans / Dark Leafy Greens (see above)
Throughout Trimester 2 your first priority should be upping your calorie intake to 2500 calories per day. The reason for that is simply because you’re in the most intense growth period for your baby, and in particularly he or she is developing their limbs. Folate and Vitamin D continue to be needed here as their bones and nervous system are now taking form. It’s also time to optimize yourself with Vitamin now, as it will be converted to collagen in production of the baby’s connective tissue - cartilage, muscle, and sub-dermal layers of skin.
Vitamin C Food Sources: Guava / Oranges / Broccoli / Strawberries / Grapefruit / Red Peppers / Kale / Brussel Sprouts
During your final trimester your baby will be growing with gusto, and it’s a situation where the nutritional needs continue but there’s also a need for the mother to look out for her own physical well-being now. Staying hydrated becomes a priority, so make sure your drink beyond plenty of water all through the day.
The 2500 calorie diet you’ve been adhering to throughout your 2nd trimester can continue, but you now need to concentrate on getting much more protein. It’s going to provide your baby with the building blocks it needs to finish growing before its time to enter the world, and similarly you’ll need the protein as well as you’re going to be quite run down yourself likely. Ensure you are getting 3 servings of protein per day – it’ll be put to good use completing the baby’s brain development and shaping their face!
Aim to get your protein from eggs and food rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are high in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and DHA assists in the baby’s brain and eye development.
Protein Food Sources: Yogurt / Fish and Seafood / Lean Beef / Eggs / Milk / Soy Foods / Pistachio Nuts / Pork / Chicken / Turkey / Nuts / Beans /
One last consideration - Be certain to take a quality prenatal vitamin throughout the entirety of your pregnancy, as well as see to it you get enough sleep, and try to engage in low-impact aerobic activity once or twice a week and practice meditation or deep relaxation techniques. Last but not least, continue to work on maintaining a healthy and physically / emotionally-connective relationship with your husband or partner.