Pregnancy and Nutrition
by Dr. Dan Czelatdko
The saying goes “you are what you eat,” and for a growing embryo and fetus, the saying is “you are what your mom eats.” A nutritious, well-balanced diet is a great gift to give your soon to be born child. The nutrition you utilize is the building block for potentially a lifetime of health or disease for your child. Although it is ideal to start this plan long before conception, you can still give your child an excellent start to health.
Realize you will and should gain weight. Not gaining weight may make your baby less healthy. Typically a soon to be mom needs about 350 calories per day extra in the second trimester and about 450 extra the third trimester. Most women need about 2,200 to 2,900 calories a day during pregnancy.
Okay, that’s great, but what should a mom eat? Can you eat ice cream and pop tarts for your calories? Probably not! Here are some guides lines.
Protein sources daily: 3 servings of meat (Approx. 3 ounces/about the size of your palm) Fish or seafood Chicken Lean beef Venison or other game Eggs (3) Dairy (3/4 cup cottage cheese) Beans/Legumes (1/2 cup = 1 serving) Nuts (1/3 cup = 1 serving) Tofu (1/2 cup = 1 serving)
Remember that only meat, eggs, and dairy are complete proteins, and other proteins will need to be combined with other protein foods to get a complete protein for building cells.
Calcium is also a necessity during pregnancy. A daily requirement is around 1,000 mg. Calcium helps manage fluids in the body and is needed for bone development of the fetus.
Calcium sources daily: 3-4 servings of calcium-rich foods Milk (1cup) Yogurt (1 cup) Collard greens (1 cup) Kale (2 cups)
Another nutrient important for the fetus is folic acid. This plays a role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Recommendations are for 600-800 mcgs daily. Sources include dark leafy greens, oatmeal, fruits, and legumes. This may be one to get in supplement form from a good prenatal to ensure the correct dosage. This also holds true for Omega 3-fats especially DHA essential for your baby’s brain and eye development. Eating fish is okay, but daily intake while avoiding high-mercury fish can be tricky. Daily dosage is about 200 mg, and most women only get 50 mg daily. Choline is also a nutrient that many may not have heard of, but it is important for brain function. Two eggs will give you 250 mg of the needed 450 mg daily. Check your prenatal vitamin, as there should be some to offset your diet.
Other than the obvious tobacco and alcohol to avoid, caffeine can also be a problem. One study showed just 200 mg daily, or two cups of coffee, doubled the miscarriage rate. Now this is just one study, but it bears attention to start decreasing your caffeine intake and looking at healthier options. Herbal teas like red raspberry leaf, peppermint, lemon balm, and ginger root offer benefits to help expecting mothers, such as relieving morning sickness, easing labor pains, and reducing insomnia and anxiety. This also is an excellent time to consider going organic. If you think an adult has a hard time getting rid of pesticides, nitrates, hormones, and antibiotics, a fetus has no chance. The jury is still out on the affect of genetically modified foods as well so best to avoid them too.
Pregnancy and motherhood can be a wonderful time. Ensure the health of your baby by eating well. Your pregnancy and the health of your child will be the beneficiaries of those choices for years to come.
Dr. Dan Czelatdko is a board certified clinical nutritionist from The American Clinical Board of Nutrition. He has been practicing nutrition and chiropractic for the last twenty-three years with an emphasis on hormone health at Tenold Chiropractic in Eau Claire.