Pregnancy Diet And Nutrition- A Healthy Meal Plan For All Moms-To-Be

Written by Peony C Echavez
Nutrition and Pregnancy

It is already an established fact that healthy diet and proper nutrition during pregnancy is beneficial both to the mother and the baby. While mothers already know this never-ending counsel from their obstetricians or dieticians, some of them still don’t know unerringly what makes up a healthy eating plan. This article is a rough guide to pregnant mothers on the right meal planning during pregnancy.

Every Bite Counts During Pregnancy

A mother who is conceiving a child should add up 300 calories in her daily diet; although, this can be very challenging during the first few months because of the notorious symptoms of pregnancy. Nevertheless, the general rule is that mothers need to eat (and try) variety of foods to get all the essential nutrients they need.

The following makes up the daily meal plan of pregnant mothers:

  • 6 to 11 servings of grains and breads (a small slice, ½ bun)
  • No less than 4 servings of vegetables (1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked)
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits (1/2 cup raw, ¼ dried)
  • 3 servings of protein sources (3 ounces, 1 egg)
  • 4 servings of milk products (1 cup milk, ½ cup ice cream)

Note: Sweets and fats should be used unsubstantially.

Dieting or losing weight is strongly not advised since optimal nutrition during pregnancy is essential. Mothers who are up for vegetarian diet and low carbohydrate diet (HCG diet) should start weaning from these unhealthy eating plans. This is because every bite counts during pregnancy. Taking too much sweets and snack foods may result in excessive weight gain which put mothers at risk to complications such as hypertension and diabetes. Avoid sodas, chips and French fries which are worst weight promoters.

Implications of Poor Maternal Nutrition to Fetal Development

The benefits of proper nutrition during pregnancy have been studied particularly the implications of inadequate maternal nutrition to fetal development. Below are some health concerns if mothers eat poor diet during pregnancy:

  • Excessive consumption of fats and sweets increase the risk of fetal liver damage and diabetic babies.
  • Uncontrolled eating of foods rich in fats is linked to early onset of puberty and infertility problems in the later life.
  • Poor nutrition can lead to poor milk production and quality.
  • Dieting during pregnancy can affect the baby’s nervous development particularly cell to cell connections.
  • Malnutrition in pregnancy is linked to lower IQ in babies.

Specific Nutritional Needs of Pregnant Women

The following are the nutritional requirements of women before and during pregnancy along with their daily servings and rich sources.

Nutritional Requirements Benefits Minimum Servings
(Daily)
Sources
1. Vitamins Vitamin A plays a role in teeth and bone development. 
 
Vitamin C is essential for bone growth and development and protects cell from damage. 
 
Vitamin D helps body to use calcium.  
 
Vitamin E helps in red blood cell formation 
 
700 mcg  
 
 
 
70 mg  
 
 
 
 
5 mcg  
 
 
15 mg 
 
Carrots, eggs, green and yellow vegetables, potatoes, pumpkin 
 
Oranges, tomatoes, strawberries, grapefruits, papaya 
 
 
Milk fish 
 
 
Vegetable oils, fortified cereals, nuts 
 
2. Minerals Minerals can be major or minor (or trace minerals). 
 
Common minerals for pregnant mothers are calcium, iodine, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and sodium.
Variable Milk, fruits and vegetables
3. Folic Acid/Folate Folic acid prevent neural tube defects such as example spina bifida 0.4 mg Green and leafy vegetables, legumes, veal
4. DHA (Docosahexaenoci Acid) DHA plays a major role in brain development. 300 mg Seafoods and eggs
5. Protein Protein is important in cellular function and development especially during second and third trimester. 71 grams Lean meats, eggs, salmon, nuts, bean, legumes,
6. Calcium Fetus needs calcium for bone formation. Lack of calcium leads to deficient bone mass putting baby at risk to osteoporosis. 1000-1300 mg Yogurt, milk, cheese, beans, green peas, seafoods, green vegetables
7. Iron Iron targets the hemoglobin part of the red blood cell which primarily functions in carrying oxygen. Iron keeps body to function normally and also, helps in boosting the immune system. 27 mg Poultry, meat, fish, green leafy vegetables.
8. Iodine Iodine is responsible for thyroid gland metabolism and regulation and development of the baby’s nervous system 220 mcg Dairy products, eggs, seafoods, vegetables
9. Omega-3 fatty Acids Omega-3 fatty acid is essential to baby’s brain development and vision. Omega 3 fatty acids also lower risk of allergies in babies in the later life. 250 mg Tuna, fish, shellfish
10. Water Water maintains hydration and increases amount of amniotic fluid. Low amniotic fluid restricts baby’s growth. 8 glasses, 64 ounce Milk, juices, coffee, water

Other Nutritional Concerns

Certain diet selections can cause harm to the baby. The following are additional nutritional tips for mothers during pregnancy.

  • Avoid Alcohol: Severe alcohol drinking is associated with premature delivery, low birth weight, mental problem and birth defects.
  • Limit caffeine to 300 mg or less. Caffeinated beverages include chocolates, soda and coffee. Contrary to what its name implies, decaffeinated drinks still contain caffeine.
  • Do not Use Saccharin: Saccharin is found in artificial sweeteners. The compounds can cross the placenta and affect the fetus. It should be mentioned that some sweeteners are FDA-approved which includes aspartame.
  • Raw Foods: Pregnant mothers who love to eat Japanese foods should start taking a break. Sashimi and sushi are some raw food recipes that moms-to-be should avoid. These foods may contain live bacteria, parasites and viruses which can harm the baby.
  • Limit Consumption of Processed Foods: One of the uncommon, yet fatal health conditions that may affect pregnant mothers are Listeria. Listeriosis can cause stillbirth or miscarriage.

Conclusion

A well-balanced and healthy meal plan is important during pregnancy both to the mother and the baby. Mothers should be meticulous on what they eat and shun from unhealthy, processed foods preparations. This should not only be practiced during pregnancy but even before mothers find out they are actually pregnant. A diet with little fats and sweets is considered the healthiest for pregnant mothers.

Author

Contributor : Peony C Echavez ()

This Article Has Been Published on June 7, 2014 and Last Modified on September 29, 2018

Peony is a registered nurse and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a large health education website, and currently creates content for a number of health practisioners. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

View All

Take Action: Support Consumer Health Digest by linking to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (Click to copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite ConsumerHealthDigest.com with clickable link.