Top Tips for Pregnancy Nutrition
Which vitamins and nutrients are key to your baby's health?
Weighty Matters During Pregnancy
Gaining the recommended number of pounds limits pregnancy and delivery
complications and ensures a healthy infant. Women who start pregnancy at a
normal weight can expect to put on between 25 and 35 pounds. For twins, expect
to gain between 34 and 45 pounds.
Underweight women may need to gain more, while overweight moms may be
advised to put on fewer pounds.
In addition, "Overweight women tend to have heavier babies that are more
difficult to deliver," says obstetrician Erin Tracy, MD.
Overweight moms should not diet during pregnancy. Work closely with your
health care provider and a registered dietitian to determine a pregnancy eating
plan tailored to your needs.
More Nutrients of Note During Pregnancy
Every nutrient that's important to you as a woman is necessary for your
baby's growth and development. Yet, certain nutrients stand out as particularly
important to your child, especially as pregnancy progresses.
Protein: Protein is the structural material of every cell
in your baby's body.
Insufficient protein during pregnancy restricts fetal growth. And it may
even affect your child's chances for high
blood pressure later in life, according to a study in The New
England Journal of Medicine.
Pregnancy protein needs climb 25 grams a day above what was needed before
you were pregnant, for a total of about 70 grams -- the amount found in three
eight-ounce glasses of milk or about seven ounces of cooked meat, chicken, or
Iron: You require about 50% more iron when you are
pregnant. Iron is important in the formation of hemoglobin, which is the
oxygen-carrying protein on red blood cells. In pregnancy your need for iron and
hemoglobin goes up, especially in the second and third trimesters.
Iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy can cause fatigue in mom, and possible problems for baby.
"Some studies show severe iron deficiency anemia in mom is linked to low
birth weights and iron-deficient infants," says Tracy.
Calcium: The baby needs calcium for development. If you
don't consume enough calcium, your body will take it from your bones. This can
cause a decrease in bone mass and increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): DHA is important for brain and
eye development. Fish harbors this omega-3 fatty acid, but there's a catch.
Women in their childbearing years, and pregnant and nursing women, should
steer clear of shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because of
methylmercury, a heavy metal that's toxic to a developing baby's neurological
system. Safer DHA-rich sources include salmon and fortified eggs. Ask your
doctor whether you may need a DHA supplement.