Maternal nutrition is extremely important as nutrients are passed from the mom to the baby, therefore, moms must have an adequate supply for the health of her fetus.
The best and easiest way for mom to ensure she is receiving adequate nutrition is through a varied diet consisting of whole foods including: Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean animal protein and/or dried beans, and plenty of fresh, clean water. My general rule is if it comes from the ground, eat it; if it comes in a box, read the ingredients carefully.
For a healthy, singleton pregnancy, most women only need an additional 300 calories in the first trimester and 500 in the third trimester.
If you have ever counted calories, you know that this is not a lot. The emphasis in pregnancy nutrition should not necessarily be greater quantity of foods, but rather greater quality of healthy, nutrient dense foods.
In this article, I will take you through essential nutrients to focus on and where they can be found naturally.
The table below lists some of the most important vitamins and nutritional necessities, as well as common, accessible sources.
Healthy eating during pregnancy can be easy, delicious, and fun. Focusing on what you can eat rather than what you can’t, will make this transition more smooth but this article wouldn’t be complete without some discussion of the foods to avoid.
The majority of literature coming out of the United States will tell you to avoid raw meat, fish and eggs, smoked fish, deli meat, unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses, and pate due to risk of listeria. My goal here is to provide you with information for you to make your own decision, with the assistance of your primary care professional for concerns you may have.
If you’re eating sushi while pregnant choose seafood with lower mercury content (salmon over tuna). Fish served in most Canadian restaurants has been flash frozen which kills parasites that could be found in raw fish, and have been screened for microbial contamination. Most documented cases of people falling ill after eating raw fish come out of the Caribbean and the South Pacific where food handling laws aren’t as strict.
Health Canada now deems the risk of developing listeria from soft cheese very rare, but still recommends it be avoided if not made with pasteurized milk.
Luckily, most cheeses sold in Canada are made from pasteurized milk so read the labels and enjoy.
Deli meats have been deemed safe by the College of Family Physicians of Canada recently because standards in Canada have become stricter. However, in general they contain a lot of nitrates and while I don’t recommend nitrates for anyone, being pregnant does not put you at a higher risk.
Coffee and caffeine should be limited to no more than 200mg per day (a 7oz cup of coffee has between 80-180mg depending on how it is roasted and brewed). Eggs should be fully cooked and alcohol should not be consumed.
Trying new recipes, new foods, and spices throughout your pregnancy will keep you satisfied and can help your child have a healthy varied diet for life. Happy Eating!
Brittney Kirton is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She strives to provide clients with current, fact-based feeding and nutrition information for every Life Stage. She can be reached at www.lifestagesfeeding.com.