EP 5: Prenatal Nutrition Needs + Supplementation


Overall, daily calorie needs in pregnant women (mainly during the second and third trimester) as well as breastfeeding women are increased. Remember you're still NOT eating for two. Your baby is very small so you do not need to double down on your food intake.


Recommendations from ACOG (American college of Obstetrician and Gynecology) and MAYO clinic state caloric intake should increase by approximately 300 kcal/day during pregnancy.

For women who are breastfeeding or lactating, calorie demands increase by at least 500 kcal/day.



Specific nutritional needs:


1. Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin.You need 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent major birth defects of the fetal brain and spine called neural tube defects. Current dietary guidelines recommend that pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms per day. It is very hard to get the recommended amount of folic acid from food alone. Take a daily vitamin supplement to be sure, most prenatal vitamins will well cover this need.


2. Iron is used by your body to make a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy you need double the amount, this helps your body make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.

The dose in most prenatal is 27 mg. This normally is enough unless your provider finds you become anemic during pregnancy.

Focus on eating iron-rich foods including lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, and prune juice. Eat these foods with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes to increase absorption. It can be hard to eat iron rich foods (or any foods) during the first trimester, so just do your best! Meat was a huge aversion for me, so I focused more on beans and supplemented.



3. Calcium is used to build your baby's bones and teeth. All women should get 1,000 mg of calcium daily, pregnant or not.

Milk and other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, are the best sources of calcium.

If you have trouble digesting dairy try broccoli, dark leafy greens, sardines, or a calcium supplement.


4. Vitamin D works with calcium to help the baby's bones and teeth develop. It also is essential for healthy skin and eyesight.

All women need 600 international units of vitamin D a day. Good sources are milk fortified with vitamin D and fatty fish such as salmon. Exposure to sunlight also converts a chemical in the skin to vitamin D.


5. The amount of weight gain that is recommended depends on your health and BMI before you were pregnant. Your body will gain weight during your pregnancy! It can be hard, but remember you are growing a human, weight gain is proof that your body is nurturing your growing baby. By the time you are ready to give birth, your total blood volume will have increased by as much as 60%.

If you are a normal weight before pregnancy it is recommended to gain 25-35 pounds.

If you were underweight before pregnancy it is recommended to gain 28-40 pounds.

If you were overweight or obese before pregnancy it is recommended to gain less than 25 pounds.



6. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat found naturally in many kinds of fish. This is important for the baby's brain development both before and after birth.

Eat at least two servings of fish or shellfish (about 8–12 ounces) per week throughout the pre and postnatal period.

Some types of fish have higher levels of a metal called mercury than others. Mercury has been linked to birth defects. Choose fish and shellfish such as shrimp, salmon, catfish, and pollock. Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marin, orange roughy, or tilefish. Limit white (albacore) tuna as it is also high in mercury.



7. Coffee. Although there have been many studies on whether caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage, the results are unclear. In general most providers agree that consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine (one 12-ounce cup of coffee) a day during pregnancy is safe.


A few things to always avoid: raw fish, raw eggs, unpasteurized dairy, deli meat, cured meats, alcohol, drugs, raw sprouts (e.coli), and soft cheese.


I also wanted to touch on Pica. Pica is a disorder that causes cravings for items that contain no nutritional value. Pregnant women with pica may want to eat clay, cigarette ashes, or starch, among other strange substances. When a woman has pica during pregnancy, it may indicate a lack of a specific vitamin or mineral. Please if you ever experience this talk with your doctor right away.


In the beginning of pregnancy eating in general can be a huge challenge, my best advice is to take a quality prenatal and omega (ill link below my favorites). Eat when you can and what you can, the first trimester is about surviving! Hopefully once any nausea you have passes you can ramp up on the healthier eating and really try to get all of your nutrients in!


Prenatal Omega

Prenatal Vitamin