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Nurtrition During Pregnancy

One of the most important things you can do for your baby before he or she is born is just to eat a healthy diet. From the moment you conceive, you should start taking care of your baby, but it’s never too late to start. Your baby will depend more on you now than any other time in life.

During your first three months of pregnancy, you will usually gain two to four pounds. When your baby begins to grow fast, you gain about one pound per week (more if you are underweight, less if you are overweight). Small differences in this rate are not important.

Mild swelling during the last three months of pregnancy is normal. If your legs, ankles, or feet become puffy, put your feet on a stool or chair for a while. A large, sudden weight gain accompanied by swelling of your hands and face is not normal, however, and needs medical attention quickly. (If you gain less than two pounds per month after the first three months, you should tell your doctor.)

To meet your extra food needs for a healthy weight gain, you need to add an average of 300 extra calories per day to your diet after the first three months of pregnancy. (If your exercise habits change during pregnancy, you may need to make adjustments.)

Add these extra calories with extra servings of milk, low fat cheese, lean meats, poultry, fish, leafy and dark green vegetables, dried beans and peas, fruits, whole grain, and enriched breads and cereals.

Don’t eat lots of biscuits, cakes, crisps and fats such as butter, margarine, gravy, fried foods, salad dressings, and mayonnaise. These high-calorie foods provide very little nourishment for you and your baby.

Your needs for almost all nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are greater when you are pregnant. Nutrients are important in your own body’s growth, your baby’s, and later for breast-feeding.

The amount of iron and folate in your diet is important, so eat foods containing these nutrients often. Iron is a mineral that carries oxygen to your baby. You need more iron than you normally do for the baby, and it is hard to get enough from foods alone. Your doctor will probably recommend an iron supplement while you are pregnant. Taking an iron supplement between meals or at bedtime on an empty stomach helps to increase its absorption. It is also important to eat iron-rich foods daily.

Folate (Folacin, or Folic Acid) is a B vitamin that helps your body make red blood cells and genes. The amount of folate you need more than doubles when you are pregnant.

With the increased blood volume for amniotic fluid, you need to drink extra liquids. Drink at least six to eight glasses of liquid each day. Holding back on liquids won’t help the swelling you may experience during pregnancy. In fact, too little fluid can put a heavy burden on your kidneys and cause them to retain fluid to ensure there is enough for your body.

Choose foods that you enjoy and like. Do not try to force yourself to eat foods you dislike. Be realistic and plan meals that will fit into your lifestyle. If you are always rushing in the morning, try to plan some simple but nourishing meals you can eat in a hurry.

It is also a good idea to plan ahead so you don’t just grab what’s there when you are hungry. Pregnancy is not the time to snack on a bag of chips and a soft drink. Try some cheese, fruit, and crackers for a quick snack away from home.

To meet all your needs, eat at least three meals a day and possibly two or three snacks. Let your appetite be your guide. Remember, any nutritious food is appropriate for a snack.

By Sharon Okin BA (Hons), PGCE, founder of Tailor Made Diet Company. As a qualified food technology teacher, Sharon has spent 9 years teaching students all over the country, and is certified to teach the Basic Food Hygiene Certificate. She has written papers on Nutrition, Dietary intake of drug addicts, Diabetes and Therapeutic Nutrition.

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  • Email – sharonokin@tailormadediet.co.uk
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