Diet Can Be Critical For Mother, Child During Pregnancy
Posted November 8, 2006 8:58 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — "I'm eating for two now" is the excuse many pregnant women make when they decide to indulge themselves. However, nutrition experts say pregnancy is the time to really focus on not just how much you eat, but what you eat.
Diet is always important for a healthy body, but pregnancy makes it critical.
"It's not only affecting you, but it's going to affect your children in the future," said Natalie Newell, a registered dietician with Rex Health Care.
Newell said most women know they should eat more during pregnancy, but they might be surprised how little more.
"Through the first trimester, it's only 100 extra calories (per day) the first three months, and then the next six months is only 300 calories," Newell said.
Women who are not pregnant, on average, require at least 1,600 calories a day. To achieve just 100 extra calories, you could drink a little more than a cup of skim milk.
Aubrey Miller is still in her first trimester and, as a fitness instructor, she's careful not to gain unnecessary weight. However, she thought she needed more than 100 extra calories per day.
"It's nicer now. Right now, I'm pushing for that 100 extra, instead of 300. I'm a little bit more relieved," Miller said.
After birth, breast-feeding mothers need 500 extra calories per day. Newell makes calorie recommendations based on activity level and the woman's resting metabolic rate. Miller and Becky Langdon, also a pregnant fitness instructor, may need more calories than most women.
Langdon listens to her body, which reacts differently to things like coffee.
"So even if I wanted to consume my normal intake, which might be three cups, I would really feel ill," Langdon said.
Newell said one cup of caffeinated coffee or a caffeinated drink per day is safe for pregnant women. Her big concern is with processed foods like soft cheeses, deli meats and some fish products. Besides being high-fat, there is a greater chance of contamination.
Instead, Newell said to focus on whole grains, protein, healthy fats like olive oil and foods rich in folic acid. Foods rich in folic acid include dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach.
For a backup plan, a daily multivitamin will help assure that mother and unborn baby are getting the nutrients they need. If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about your specific health requirements.