Managing Some Common Problems
The iron in prenatal vitamins and other things can cause constipation during pregnancy. So try to get more fiber than you did before you became pregnant. Try to eat about 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Your best sources are fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain breads, cereals, or muffins.
Some people use fiber tablets or drinks or other high-fiber products, but check with your doctor before trying them.
If constipation is a problem for you, your doctor may prescribe a stool softener. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, when increasing fiber intake, or you can make your constipation worse.
One of the best ways to avoid constipation is to get more exercise. Drink plenty of water between meals each day to help soften your stools and move food through your digestive system. Sometimes hot tea, soups, or broth can help. Also, keep dried fruits handy for snacking.
Some pregnant women find that broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, and fried foods give them heartburn or gas. You can plan a balanced diet to avoid these foods. Carbonated drinks also cause gas or heartburn for some women, although others find they calm the digestive system.
If you’re often nauseated, eat small amounts of bland foods, like toast or crackers, throughout the day. Some women find it helpful to eat foods made with ginger. To help combat nausea, you can also:
How To Eat Well In Pregnancy
Eating well is always important, but during pregnancy it can support your health and the health of your baby. It can be hard to think about eating well if you are feeling sick or tired and do not feel like spending time cooking. Dont put too much pressure on yourself and focus on trying to have a variety of foods from the different food groups every day.
Despite the common myth, you do not need to ‘eat for two’ now youre pregnant. Managing the portions you eat is a key part of eating a balanced diet. When it comes to eating well, try to focus on keeping it simple. Avoid eating packaged ultra-processed foods that have sugar and salt added. Instead, choose foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed, including:
- fruit and vegetables
- milk, cheese and yoghurt
- foods such as potato, rice and pasta.
It is also important to be aware of some foods and drinks you should avoid during pregnancy. This is because they can cause an increased risk of problems for you and your baby.
Some people feel that they are struggling to eat well during pregnancy for different reasons, including feeling sick or reasons related to mental health. If you feel you need some support, speak to your GP or midwife.
Food Cravings And Aversions
Food cravings and dislikes of certain foods are common during pregnancy. There is no evidence that food cravings are linked to nutritional deficiencies. Their cause remains a mystery. It is acceptable to meet your food cravings within reason. Especially when they supply nutrients to the diet.
In rare cases, some pregnant women crave nonfood substances. This is a disorder called pica. The consumption of nonfood items can be dangerous for both mother and baby. In some cases, pica involves eating large amounts of nonfood. This can prevent you from getting enough calories or nutrients to stay healthy. Examples of these nonfood items include clay, starch, ice, coffee grounds, or baking soda. If you experience nonfood cravings, talk to your health care provider right away. These symptoms may be a sign of nutrient deficiency , and may need to be treated with an additional supplement.
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Get Your Base Calorie Needs
Experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers consume 400-500 extra calories during the breastfeeding period.
Some sources say as little as 300 extra, but if a woman is also trying to lose weight, 300 might not be enough to produce highly nutritious milk.
Heres an example using the macro calculator.
Lets say a 29-year-old woman is 150 pounds and 54 tall and does light activity. Set the calculator to a goal of lose weight. TDEE and macros are as follows:
Total Daily Energy Expenditure for weight loss: 1531 calories
- Carbs: 144 grams
Are Any Pregnancy Cravings Dangerous
Sometimes pregnant people end up craving non-food items such as dirt, laundry detergent, ice, corn starch, clay, ashes, or paint chips. If you crave these items, you might be experiencing a medical condition called pica. Not only are these items unsafe for you to consume, but they may indicate a nutritional deficiencyusually iron deficiency .
Speak to your healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing cravings for non-food items.
If you are suddenly craving foods that you wouldnt normally eat, like if you are a vegetarian suddenly craving meat, its up to you whether or not to give into those cravings. In the case of meat, you might be craving it because you are experiencing a shortage of iron. You might consider asking your healthcare provider if you have anemia, and you might consider eating more non-meat sources of iron such as nuts and dark leafy greens.
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Foods Tolimit Or Avoid:
Undercooked, Raw, or High-Mercury Fish: While thereis always a risk to eating undercooked or raw fish, the risk doubles duringpregnancy. Undercooked fish can carry bacterial or viral infections such asSalmonella or Listeria. Listeria is especially dangerous to pregnant women andtheir babies, as it can pass through the placenta without making the mothersick. In addition, fish that are high in mercurysuch as shark, swordfish andsome varieties of tunashould be limited or completely avoided. However,low-mercury fish can be healthy and high in omega-3, which is recommendedduring pregnancy.
Undercooked, Raw, and Processed Meat: Just likeundercooked or raw fish, undercooked or raw meat is risky to eat duringpregnancy. Undercooked meat could include infections such as E. coli,Salmonella, and Listeria, which could lead to complications in your babysbrain function. Also, processed meatsuch as deli meat or hot dogscan also becontaminated and should be fully cooked or reheated until they are steaming. Tobe safe, stick with fully-cooked meat during pregnancy.
Unpasteurized Dairy:Unpasteurized milk andcheese are also prone to dangerous bacteria that could harm your baby. Theprocess of pasteurization kills the harmful bacteria and reduces the risk oflife-threatening fetal infections.
When in doubt, ask. Proper nutrition during pregnancy can be difficult to figure out on your own.
What If I Have Other Concerns About My Diet
Some women may be lactose intolerant, they cant fully digest lactose in dairy products. Others are unable to eat things like gluten due to Celiac Disease. Your provider can help you plan your diet or advise you take certain supplements. Other helpful tips for healthy eating are:
- For lactose intolerant women, calcium can be found in other foods like seeds, nuts and soy. There are also lactose-free milks, cheeses and other dairy products.
- For women with Celiac Disease, many gluten-free options can be found in grocery stores and include a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats potatoes, poultry and beans.
Last reviewed April, 2020
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Why Is Nutrition So Important During Pregnancy
Food and nutrition provide the building blocks of life, and therefore, are especially important during pregnancy! The maternal diet directly impacts the growth and development of the infant. We know that diets lacking key nutrients can result in serious birth complications and even preterm birth or miscarriage. Proper nutrition during pregnancy is vital to setting up both mother and baby for success after birth. Habits created during pregnancy can also help mothers improve their health and well-being long after delivery.
Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy
As you probably know, your body goes through lots of physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. To fuel yourself and your growing baby, youll need to make great food choices from a variety of sources.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you feel good and provide everything you and your baby need. The food you eat is your babys main source of nourishment, so its critical to get all of the nutrients you need.
The good thing? All of these nutrition guidelines arent that hard to follow and provide some delicious options. Even with cravings you can craft up a healthy menu in no time.
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How Much Should I Eat During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, people around you may encourage you to have extra food or have larger portions because youre eating for two. This is a common pregnancy myth and eating lots of extra food will not help your babys development during pregnancy.
In the first 6 months, most women do not need to eat any extra food to give their baby everything they need. The recommended daily calorie intake for a woman is around 2,000 calories a day. Once you get to the third trimester, you may need extra 200 calories, depending on how active you are.
Although calories can help us to understand how much energy we get from our food, its important to focus on having a healthy, balanced diet.
Our film can give you can idea of what a 200 calories snack might look like.
We have some ideas for healthy snacks that you can try to get your extra energy during the third trimester.
Pregnancy is not the time to be restrictive with food or to diet, as this can stop you and your baby getting the nutrients you need. If you have a high BMI or feel you need support with having a healthy diet, speak with your midwife about dietary and lifestyle advice to manage this safely in pregnancy.
Why Do I Need More Iron During Pregnancy
Iron is a mineral that makes up an important part of hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron also carries oxygen in muscles, helping them function properly. Iron helps increase your resistance to stress and disease.
The body absorbs iron more efficiently during pregnancy therefore, it is important to consume more iron while you are pregnant to ensure that you and your baby are getting enough oxygen. Iron will also help you avoid symptoms of tiredness, weakness, irritability, and depression.
Following a balanced diet and including foods high in iron can help ensure that you are consuming enough iron throughout your pregnancy. In addition, the following guidelines will help:
- The U.S. RDA for iron is 27 mg per day for pregnant women and 9-10 mg for breastfeeding women. Don’t exceed 45 mg a day.
- Eating at least three servings of iron-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting 27 mg of iron in your daily diet. One of the best ways to get iron from your diet is to consume a highly fortified breakfast cereal. Note that iron intake is not equal to iron absorption. Absorption of iron into the body is greatest with meat sources of iron such as liver.
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Should Pregnant People Avoid Caffeine
Consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, fetal development issues, and a low birth weight. A caffeine intake as low as 100200 milligrams per day could have a negative effect on fetal development. The underlying reasons for this remain unclear.
Many foods and drinks other than coffee contain caffiene. Examples include some sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, and teas. Some cold and flu remedies also contain caffeine. A doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can provide more guidance about which medicines are safe.
Nutritious Fruits You Should Eat During Pregnancy
If youre pregnant, you might be craving something sugary. But try not to make a habit of reaching for a piece of cake or a candy bar to satisfy that sweet tooth. Fruit is the perfect solution.
It offers the sweetness you crave and the nutrition you need. Enjoy these fruits as part of a healthy pregnancy diet in salads, in smoothies, over yogurt, or as a snack anytime.
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Undercooked Or Raw Fish
This one will be tough for you sushi fans, but its an important one. Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause several infections. These can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections, such as norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria.
Some of these infections may only affect you, causing dehydration and weakness. Other infections may be passed on to your baby with serious, or even fatal, consequences.
Pregnant women are especially susceptible to listeria infections. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , pregnant women are up to 10 times more likely to get infected by Listeria than the general population. Pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more at risk.
This bacteria can be found in soil and contaminated water or plants. Raw fish can become infected during processing, including smoking or drying.
Listeria bacteria can be passed to your baby through the placenta, even if youre not showing any signs of illness. This can lead to premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and other serious health problems, according to the CDC .
Its definitely advised to avoid raw fish and shellfish, including many sushi dishes. But dont worry, youll enjoy it that much more after baby is born and its safer to eat again.
How To Eat When You Have Morning Sickness
Growing another human being means you need to consume enough calories to support their adequate growth, and undereating to the point where youre at a chronic caloric deficit could lead to complications like anemia for you and low birth weight for baby. But what if you just dont want to eat? Or worse, your nausea and vomiting are so bad that you cant keep anything down?
The expert advice: think small. Hall suggests eating small meals very frequently, along the lines of every two to three hours, as smaller amounts of food are more tolerable and easier to consume when you are not feeling very hungry and your stomach is unsettled.
And if you can, try to choose energy-dense foods so you can pack as many calories in the smallest portion possible. The benefit of including energy-dense foods, which are essentially calorie-dense foods, is that they can allow someone to consume more calories in a smaller volume, Hall says. Calorie-dense foods that are great for pregnancy nutrition are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Higher fat milk and/or yogurt
Hall suggests making smoothies as well, as theyre a great way to combine a lot of those foods into one compact, easy-to-consume package, and cold foods will likely be easier for your stomach to tolerate.
If your pregnancy-related nausea lasts longer than the first trimester and youre still not able to keep food down after that point, its time to talk with your doctor, Hall says, as a prescription anti-emetic may be necessary.
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Other Facts About Iron
- Vitamin C helps your body use iron. It is important to include sources of vitamin C along with foods containing iron and iron supplements.
- Caffeine can inhibit the absorption of iron. Try to consume iron supplements and foods high in iron at least one to three hours before or after drinking or eating foods containing caffeine.
- Iron is lost in cooking some foods. To retain iron, cook foods in a minimal amount of water and for the shortest possible time. Also, cooking in cast iron pots can add iron to foods.
- Constipation is a common side effect of taking iron supplements. To help relieve constipation, slowly increase the fiber in your diet by including whole grain breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Drinking at least eight cups of fluids daily and increasing moderate exercise can also help you avoid constipation.
What To Eat When Pregnant And Don’t Feel Well
- Morning sickness: Eat crackers, cereal, or pretzels before getting out of bed eat small, frequent meals throughout the day avoid fatty, fried, spicy, and greasy foods.
- Constipation: Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Also, drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Taking fiber supplements may also help. Check with your doctor first.
- Diarrhea: Eat more foods that contain pectin and gums to help absorb excess water. Examples of these foods are applesauce, bananas, white rice, oatmeal, and refined wheat bread.
- Heartburn: Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day try drinking milk before eating and limit caffeinated foods and beverages, citric beverages, and spicy foods.
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What To Eat When Youre Nauseous
If you are feeling nauseous or have a bit of an upset stomach, try eating a combination of foods that help treat nausea. First, eat a small, light meal or snack, such as a piece of toast or crackers. This can help settle your stomach. Next, try drinking a caffeinated beverage, such as coffee or tea. This can be a nice pick-me-up and will help you feel more energized. Dont just drink coffee or tea, though. Try drinking foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate, a peppermint tea bag, or a soda with caffeine. If all else fails, try over-the-counter medications like Tums or a childrens medication like Dramamine.