Nutrition Throughout Your Pregnancy
We all know food is absolutely essential to living, but it can also be wonderful, exotic, extremely tasty and mentally satisfying!
Food is sustenance and creates life, but in today’s world it’s not always created equal. What you think may be good for you, sometimes may not be. For many women it can be confusing to know what to eat when you’re either trying to get pregnant or you already are. You may be wedged between family, friends and media telling you all sorts of different things.
To add to it, now the government has updated the Canada Food Guide, possibly leaving you with more questions than ever before. But don’t fret! We’re going to give you some great tips that should provide you with perspective, confidence and help you navigate nutrition during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Nutrition 101
Pre-Pregnancy NutritionFor those looking to get pregnant there are many factors that can impact your success, nutrition being one. In some cases, doctors may suggest a woman lose some weight. They know you best and hopefully no one takes offence to this. Pregnancy is the ultimate marathon and is going to require a lot from you super-mamas.
Here are our top tips for nutrition in the Pre-pregnancy ramp up:
1. Clean Up Your Eating HabitsWe didn’t say diet because it’s NOT a diet. Healthy eating needs to become your updated way of life so your body can make your best baby possible. This is something that’s in your control.
- Eat plenty of vegetables. They provide incredible amounts of vitamins, minerals and much needed fibre.
- Eat a moderate amount of fruits. Even though fruits are nature’s sweet snack, you are still taking in sugar and too much can throw some of your hormones out of whack.
- Rice, root vegetables, ancient grains and whole grains are really good carbohydrate choices and help to keep your blood sugars stable.
- Quality proteins are essential building blocks in your body and not just required by your biceps. All your organs need it to run efficiently. However, you want to limit dairy as it has been known to cause inflammation.
- Good fats are GOOD. You don’t have to be afraid of them. They transport much needed vitamins like A, D, E & K from other foods and they are nutrient dense, so they keep you fuller for longer.
2. Take MultivitaminsA multivitamin is a good supplement to incorporate into your daily routine as an insurance policy against nutritional gaps. Many doctors suggest taking 0.4-0.8mg of Folic Acid (a B group vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects in babies) and potentially Iron (16-20mg) BEFORE you get pregnant.
A common question that arises is ‘what’s the difference between a regular and a prenatal multivitamin?’. Prenatal vitamins typically contain more folic acid and iron than their regular counterparts. If you’re planning on and trying to get pregnant, be sure to consult your doctor as they will advise you best on what’s right for you and the dosage to have.
3. Think About Your DrinksIt maybe goes without saying but limit alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
Pregnancy NutritionNow you’re pregnant! Hooray, let’s eat! But what? How much? When? Your hormones are running through your body like the Los Angeles road system during rush hour, and all you can think about is ice cream. You reach for a bag of chips, a muffin and a 2nd smoothie of the day but that’s ok because you’re eating for two (or three if you’re having twins) right? Yes, the nutrient needs for pregnant women (and women who are breastfeeding) are generally greater than those of other women but let’s give you some food for thought.
That baby you’re building is tiny. In the beginning it’s likely the size of a lima bean. And when you’re in the final stages of your 3rd trimester, your babies stomach is only about the size of a golf ball. Baby does not need an XL pizza! You only need approx. 300 additional calories/day to properly nourish your unborn baby (this varies by person and we recommend consulting your doctor for individual caloric intake).
Three-hundred additional calories could look like this:
300 Calorie Meal Option 1
300 Calorie Meal Option 2
¾ of a Tim Hortons Muffin…any muffin.
1 cup of blueberries and
1 rice cake topped with 1tbsp of nut-butter
The amount of food you need will vary depending on age, body size and activity but what’s most important is quality.
8 Tips For Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
1. Follow the same clean eating habits and supplementation advice from above.This is especially important if your doctor believes you may be susceptible to developing gestational diabetes. A good quality prenatal vitamin is highly recommended and keeping it in your regime post baby can be wise. Just be sure to ask your doctor about when to switch from your prenatal multivitamin back to a regular multivitamin.
2. When it comes to protein, ensure poultry and meat is thoroughly cooked.Egg yolks should also be fully cooked, so if you love a good eggs benny, be sure to ask for it “hard poached”. Eating fish is great and provides huge benefits including anti-inflammatory properties but avoid raw seafood and fish high in mercury. You can ask your doctor more about what fish is safe to eat in what quantities over what frequency.
3. Listen to your body.You may find some foods you loved pre-baby bump don’t smell good anymore or may not sit well in your system while you’re building baby. Apples, red meat or spicy foods have been known to do this. Don’t force it. Chances are that once baby is in your arms, you’ll be able to have those things you loved before.
4. Eat small meals regularly through the day.Don’t get caught up in the numbers like eating 3 or 5 times a day. Again, listen to your body, it will talk to you. Some women need to eat every 2 hours or else they’ll feel nauseas. Some can go longer. But you don’t want to go too long or you run the risk of losing control over your blood sugars. This can lead to additional hormone fluctuations, over-eating and cravings…of the typically unhealthy kind.
5. Eat a variety of foodThis will ensure you can get a range of essential vitamins and minerals naturally.
6. Being prepared will help you give your baby the best possible foundations for building.It will also help you stick to eating healthy and minimize the chances of snacking on something that’s not so internally valuable. You’ve got lots going on so get your partner to do some food prep, ask family or friends for help in that area too, or buy some pre-prepped foods at the grocery store. This is the time to make things a bit easier on yourself. You are after all, building a human.
7. Avoid bubbly beverages or other foods that give you gasIn your 3rd trimester baby undoubtedly takes up more room inside and pushes on your other organs. Heartburn is pretty common so if you find yourself in this situation, eat smaller portions, avoid bubbly beverages or other foods that give you gas. Keep an antacid in your handbag too because if it sneaks up on you, you’ll be glad you did.
8. Easy on the spices.If you enjoy spicy food and it doesn’t upset your system then go ahead and enjoy. Some people say it can cause Braxton Hicks contractions, so consult a doctor if anything feels "off".
Eating healthy is definitely the way to go, but from time to time indulging in something absolutely heavenly and scrumptious can set off amazing feel-good vibes as well. Enjoy every second of it, just do so in moderation. And above all else, limit stresses, drink plenty of water…8-10 glasses per day (we know you are going to pee often but it’s a good thing) and be kind to yourself. If you do this, you’ll be setting yourself up for the best postpartum head start possible.