Once pregnant, you must start eating both for yourself and your yet-to-be-born baby. In other words, increase your calorie intake. Let’s learn more about food intake during pregnancy.

What food to eat?

Generally, your calorie requirement will increase by at least 200 calories per day – the exact number may vary and must be confirmed by a physician. Pay close attention to the food you eat. Low-fat dairy, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are generally recommended. Drastically reduce your intake of sweets. Go in for a variety.

Essential Nutrients

i) Calcium

Calcium is necessary to build strong teeth and bones. It also helps with normal blood clotting, nerve function, and heartbeat. For pregnant ladies, 1000 mg calcium per day is recommended. Pregnant teens require 1,300 mg a day. Drink or eat four portions of calcium-rich dairy foods or products. Other calcium sources include leafy greens, breads, fortified cereal, orange juices, fish, sesame seeds and almond.

ii) Folic Acid

Folic acid makes additional blood needed during pregnancy. 400 mcg per day is recommended for pregnant ladies. The amount is usually part of your prenatal vitamins. Proper intake of folic acid can mitigate defects relating to neural tubes by close to 70 percent. Folic acid-rich foods are kidney beans, lentils, green leafy veggies, nuts, citrus fruits and beans. The acid also supplements specific foods such as cereal, fortified breads, rice, pasta and flours.

iii) Iron

Iron is a critical red blood cells portion, transporting oxygen throughout the body. Iron helps build resistance to disease and stress, and also helps avert tiredness, irritability, weakness, and depression. 27 mg iron per day is recommended, between your prenatal vitamins and food. Good iron sources comprise lean pork and beef, whole grain food, beans and dried fruits, green veggies and sardines.

iv) Protein

Protein is another essential nutrient for baby development and growth. Protein provides energy and builds and repairs various body parts, especially the brain, blood and muscle. Pregnant ladies require extra protein for ideal growth of their babies. Every individual requires varying levels of protein, based on their physical size. For instance, a 150-pound woman would need 75 gm. protein per day. For estimation purpose, divide your pre-pregnancy weight by two. Choose from a range of protein-rich food items: lean meat, seafood, poultry, beans, eggs, peas, soy products, unsalted seeds and nuts. Read the labels to find out the amount of protein the food offers.

Foods Not to Eat During Pregnancy

Hormonal shifts during pregnancy could hurt your immune system, increasing your chances of developing a foodborne disease. For instance, Listeria, a foodborne illness, could cause miscarriage, premature delivery, and also fetal death. The chances of contracting Listeria increase multifold in pregnant women.

• Avoid eating hot dogs, cold cuts, luncheon meats, dry or fermented sausages, unless they are appropriately heated or served steaming hot.

• Avoid the fluid from lunch meat packages and hot dogs mixing with other foods, or onto utensils. Also, wash hands post handling luncheon meats, hot dogs, and deli meats.

• Don’t eat soft cheese, like queso blanco, feta, brie, queso fresco, or panel, unless it’s properly packaged with a “Made from Pasteurized Milk” label.

• Other foods to avoid include sushi, undercooked or rare meats, raw eggs, beef, mayonnaise, and Caesar dressing.