What you eat during your 9 months of pregnancy matters. The food you consume affects you and your baby, so always mind that you’re eating for two! Pregnancy means that you’re building life, so make sure that you supply all the necessary building blocks.
How much should you eat?
Since you’re eating for two, you’ll need extra calories and nutrients as your body builds your baby’s bones, tissues and organs. And just because your waist disappears, it doesn’t give you the all clear to load up on ice cream and sweet treats! If you’re eating 3 regular meals a day then add 2 healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts or veggies to meet your higher caloric needs.
- If you exercise regularly: add 500 calories.
- If you don’t: add 300 calories.
How much weight should you gain?
You need to gain the appropriate amount of weight so that your baby can too. If you come up short, then so will your baby. You’re in this together.
- If you’re underweight: your goal should be to gain 15-20 kg.
- Normal weight: aim to gain 10-15 kg.
- Overweight: aim to gain 6-12 kg.
- If your height is 157 cm or shorter: aim to gain 6-12 kg.
What should you eat?
- Eat 2.2 g of protein per kg of your body weight (ex. if you weigh 70 kg aim to consume 154 g of protein).
- You can get this from walnuts, chia seeds, linseed (flaxseed), hemp seed, seaweed, algae or fish oil supplement or avocado.
- Get 20-30 minutes of sun exposure 2-3 days a week.
- This can be from legumes (such as beans and lentils) or dark and leafy veggies.
- Many things can provide calcium such as dark and leafy veggies, legumes, bokchoy, tofu, nuts and seeds.
- You can get this from a high quality Vitamin B-12 supplement or fortified foods such as tofu, soy milk etc.
- Get this from seeds, whole grains, nuts, dried fruits or dark and leafy veggies.
What should you minimize?
- Aim for less than 300 mg per day.
Cured lunch meats
- This can include ham, hot-dogs and the like.
- These should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy.
High sugar intake
- Do NOT use cravings to justify poor choices.
What should you avoid completely?
The Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand has a list of types of fish that should be avoided by women who are pregnant due to higher mercury levels.
- Dogfish (excluding rig)
- Lake Rotomahana trout
- Lake trout from geothermal regions
- School shark (greyboy, tope)
- Marlin (striped)
- Southern bluefin tuna
- It increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) so it’s best to .steer clear.
- This includes mold-ripened, blue veined, and unpasteurized cheeses.
Raw or undercooked animal foods
- This includes meat, seafood (ex. SUSHI), and eggs.
What supplements should I take?
Your GP may prescribe prenatal vitamins and if not, it’s a good idea for you to seek some out yourself. Make sure the following is included:
- Vitamin B-12 (3 ug/day)
- Folic acid (400 ug/day)
- Vitamin D (1000 IU/day) especially if you lack sun exposure
By following these guidelines, eating right and monitoring your weight, you’ll know that you’ve done everything in your control to lead up to a successful pregnancy.