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Pregnancy Food Guide

The food you eat during pregnancy now sustains two lives- yourself and your baby's. Thus, it's absolutely important that you watch what you eat and follow a healthy and balanced diet.

  • Published on: 20 May 2021
  • 5 min read
Pregnancy Food Guide

The food you eat during pregnancy now sustains two lives- yourself and your baby's. Thus, it's absolutely important that you watch what you eat and follow a healthy and balanced diet.

It's not that hard to eat right. You just have to understand which ones are good for you and your baby and which ones to avoid. Here's a quick and easy pregnancy diet you can follow to get things started.

What Nutrients Are Important in Pregnancy?

pregnancy food

Your nutritional needs drastically increase during pregnancy, particularly the macronutrients and micronutrients.

Macronutrients primarily fall into fats, protein, and carbohydrates, while micronutrients are minerals and vitamins.

Getting into specifics, you will need more calcium, iron, vitamin D, and folic acid to support a healthy and safe pregnancy.

Calcium. Pre-eclampsia is a condition that's marked by a calcium deficiency. You will need this mineral to build your baby's teeth and bones. Expectant women will usually need 1,000mg of calcium per day.

You can get calcium from:

  • yogurt
  • cheese
  • canned tuna, shrimp, salmon
  • tofu

Iron. This compound is essential for brain development and your baby's growth. You'll have more blood in this stage, so it's important that you supplement with iron. Experts recommend about 27 milligrams of iron and vitamin C to improve absorption of this vital nutrient. 

You can get iron from:

  • Poultry and lean beef
  • dark, green, and leafy vegetables
  • eggs
  • citrus fruits

Folic Acid. A kind of B vitamin that prevents birth defects. About 600 mcg or micrograms should be enough during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. It's difficult to obtain the recommended amount in foods, so supplementing is often the best course of action.

You can get folate from:

  • eggs
  • dark, green, and leafy vegetables
  • liver
  • peanut butter

Protein. Protein needs significantly increase during the pregnancy stage. Fortunately, there are many sources of good protein, including lean meat, seeds, eggs, peas, seafood, and beans, among others.

Protein does a lot of good things and ensures your baby grows as he or she should. For yourself, regular intake of protein offers benefits such as increased blood supply and better uterine and breast tissue growth. Protein intake should increase every trimester in the range of 70 to a hundred grams per day. 

You can get protein from:

  • beans
  • peanut butter
  • chicken
  • lean pork and beef

Vitamin D. This vitamin is used in conjunction with calcium to build healthy teeth and bones. It's said that every woman should supplement with vitamin D regardless of whether they're pregnant or not1.

Which Nutrient Benefits the Mother? Which Ones Benefit the Baby?

healthy pregnancy food

Although sensible, the phrase 'eating for two' should come with a grain of salt. Eating right while breastfeeding and pregnancy allows for better infant development. Both mother and baby greatly benefit from it.

Six nutrients come into play when eating for a healthy pregnancy- Choline, Fiber, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Folate. Here are the benefits of each one.

Choline

Choline helps with spinal cord and brain maturation during pregnancy. It's a compound that's abundant in foods such as beans, eggs, and nuts.

Choline plays such an important role in your baby's development that it's often added to baby formulas. It's recommended that women get at least 450 milligrams of choline daily, so make it a point to include it in your diet.

Fiber 

Fiber isn't necessarily a nutrient but it's important nonetheless. Pregnant women are likely to get constipation at one point in time, and having enough fiber can prevent this from happening.

Around 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day, plus plenty of water should alleviate concerns. You should eat a lot of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.

Vitamin D 

Mothers won't need too much vitamin D, but their babies do. Vitamin D combined with calcium make for stronger bones and teeth. Health experts recommend 600 IUs of vitamin D daily. This can be sourced from sunlight, mushrooms, eggs, fatty fish, and fortified milk, among others.

Calcium 

Calcium has a direct relation to how strong your baby's bones and teeth will grow. It also helps the mother immensely in terms of replenishing what their babies get. It's recommended that you get 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day.

Thankfully, calcium can be found in plenty of foods, including dark leafy vegetables, sardines, broccoli, soy products, and of course, milk and other dairy products.

It's recommended that you take only up to 500 mg per instance for optimal absorption. Supplementing is also a good option.

Iron

Iron helps carry vital oxygen to both the mother and baby's tissues and organs. Blood volume naturally increases during pregnancy, which means more iron is needed.

27 milligrams is the recommended iron amount to take each day. You can get it from fortified grains, oats, leafy green vegetables, lentils, red meat, and beans. Supplementing with vitamin C in natural foods, such as tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and citrus fruits for optimal absorption is also a good idea.

Folate 

Folate has been identified as a vital nutrient for fetal development and growth. Around 600 mcg is recommended, and you can easily get them from sources such as broccoli, leafy greens, eggs, nuts, and legumes.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

caffeine

Alcohol. Alcohol should be avoided throughout the pregnancy stage. Even just a glass of wine can be detrimental to your baby's health.

Fish high in mercury content. King mackerels, swordfish, shark, and tilefish are all high in mercury content and should be avoided.

Foods that can cause foodborne illnesses. Smoked seafood, such as salmon, whitefish, and mackerel, raw sprouts like mung bean, radish, and clover, unpasteurized cheeses such as blue cheese, queso fresco, brie, and unpasteurized feta, refrigerated meat spreads, and deli meats should be avoided at all costs.

High amounts of caffeine. It's recommended that you limit your caffeine intake to just 200mg per day, or equivalent to around 12 ounces.

Getting Dehydrated. Your body will need more water than before in order to stay healthy and support your baby. At least 8 glasses of water each day is the target.

Too Much Vitamins. Only start taking supplements when your doctor or health care team recommends it, as too much may cause birth defects.

Sources:

Vitamins: MedlinePlus

Micronutrients: healthline.com

Macronutrients: healthline.com

 


Avery K.

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Avery K.

When she isn’t looking after the many needs of her 2 kids, Avery enjoys taking walks in the park, enjoying nature, and getting her daily fix of caffeine.

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