Nutrition is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, but ensuring you consume the proper vitamins and nutrients becomes even more important during pregnancy. As your body changes during pregnancy, eating well is essential to promote a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby. There are certain guidelines when it comes to defining what to eat for a healthy pregnancy, including the nutrients to look for, which foods you should eat, and how many calories you should consume. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to Triangle Physicians for Women. Our nutritionist, Maria Kennedy, can make personalized recommendations, healthy diet plans, and more. She also is an integral part of how we help our patients with gestational diabetes and can formulate plans on blood sugar control and provide dietary suggestions. At Triangle Physicians for Women, we provide comprehensive care for every stage of your pregnancy, and this includes guidance on nutrition during and after pregnancy.
What to Eat for a Healthy Pregnancy
You’ve probably heard the phrase “eating for two” when it comes to pregnancy, but the recommended caloric intake for expecting women is just an extra 340 calories per day. So instead of “eating for two,” the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends eating “twice as healthy.” This means being especially mindful of the food you consume and meeting the recommended vitamins and nutrients. Some of the most important vitamins to look for include:
Calcium not only helps to promote strong bones and teeth in our own body, but it’s also essential in developing your baby’s bones as well. The best sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as dark leafy greens.
Iron promotes healthy red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to your growing baby. Types of protein like lean red meats, poultry, and fish are packed with iron. Vegetarian alternative sources of iron are dried beans and peas.
Vitamin A, C, and D
Vitamin A, C, and D contribute to the healthy development of multiple systems within the fetus, including the healthy growth of bones and teeth, skin, and eyesight. The produce section is primarily where you’ll find foods packed with these necessary vitamins. Look for citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and tomatoes. While one of the best ways to get the recommended amount of vitamin D is by taking a long walk in the sunshine, you can also consume it through fatty fish such as salmon and sardines.
To help form red blood cells, turn to foods like whole-grain cereals, bananas, pork, and beef to consume the recommended amount of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B12 helps maintain the healthy function of the nervous system and form red blood cells and is most commonly found in milk, meat, poultry, and fish. For expecting women who are vegetarian, it’s recommended that they consume vitamin B12 in a supplement form.
You have probably heard of folate and folic acid in regards to pregnancy, and for a good reason. Folic acid is essential in preventing birth defects of the brain and spine in addition to the general development of the fetus and placenta. While prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, it is also present in fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, orange juice, and beans.
Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women who have never previously had diabetes find themselves having elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy. This takes place when the body is unable to make and use insulin. Insulin is needed to transform glucose into energy, so when the body is unable to access it, glucose (sugar) begins to build up in the blood. While the causes of gestational diabetes are still unknown, this condition makes healthy food choices even more important to keep blood sugar levels from getting too high. As a general rule of thumb, those with gestational diabetes should eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels consistent. It’s also important to speak with your doctor about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.
Nutrition After Childbirth
Maintaining good eating habits after childbirth is essential, especially while breastfeeding. If you adjusted your eating habits to consume the recommended amount of nutrients, sticking with this meal plan can help you lose excess weight gained during pregnancy as well as promote overall good health. If you’re having trouble getting on track after childbirth, one of the professionals at Triangle Physicians for Women can help.
Talk To An OB/GYN
The team at Triangle Physicians for Women is here for you in all stages of your life. If you have any questions regarding nutrition during pregnancy or gestational diabetes, please reach out. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Triangle Physicians for Women, you may do so by calling (919) 678-6900 or requesting an appointment electronically under the Contact Us tab.