The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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>>>>>You probably already know that for the next nine months (longer if you breastfeed), your growing baby is dependent on you for all the nutrients she needs. What you may not know is that your current diet can affect your baby for her entire life. Indeed, some health conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, have been linked to poor prenatal nutrition. Inadequate intake of one or more essential nutrients during critical periods in an organ’s growth also can permanently alter the size of that organ. Furthermore, researchers suspect that poor nutrition during fetal development increases a child’s lifelong risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and impaired glucose tolerance. And one recent study found that pregnant women who indulge in the high protein/ low carbohydrates diet give birth to babies who are more prone to elevated blood pressure later in life.
Getting adequate nutrition doesn’t mean you have to go overboard. Though it takes about 56,000 extra calories to make a healthy baby, that equates to only 300 extra calories a day (the equivalent of a glass of low-fat milk, a slice of bread and an apple), and that’s only in the last two trimesters. Calorie needs during the first trimester are about 2,000 to 2,200 a day, the same as for nonpregnant women.
Your vitamin and mineral needs skyrocket during pregnancy, however. You need more vitamin A, folate and iron, as well as increased amounts of most other nutrients. That means you need to eat a lot more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and milk.
Your responsibility is great, but you needn’t be overwhelmed. Focus on a variety of minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods and you can rest assured you’re providing your baby with everything she needs for healthy growth and development. Our mix-and-match meal plan will help you choose the right foods to do just that.
During all three trimesters, choose one item from each category for each meal, plus an additional choice from the vegetables category at dinner. Also choose three items from the snacks section throughout the day. During your second and third trimesters, add an item from the second-and-third-trimesters category at lunch and dinner. (First-trimester menus equal about 2,200 calories per day; second- and third-trimester menus equal about 2,500 calories per day.)
Grains (pick 1) 2/3 cup oatmeal cooked in 2/3 cup low-fat (2%) milk, topped with 2 tablespoons raisins, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 whole-wheat English muffin, toasted and topped with 2 tablespoons peanut or soy-nut butter 1 cup shredded-wheat cereal topped with 1 tablespoon chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons dried cranberries and 1 rounded tablespoon brown sugar 2 whole-grain frozen waffles, toasted and topped with 2 tablespoons berry or maple syrup 1 3-ounce bran muffin with 2 tablespoons peanut butter or cashew-nut butter 2 slices French toast (made with 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons low-fat [2%] milk, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)