Some future moms get weird cravings, bouts of nausea, and other problems. Sudden unpleasant changes to your relationship with food can be hard to navigate. That’s why we put together this little guide to help you stay healthy and keep enjoying your meals.
This guide is just a suggestion. Please consult with a nutritionist or doctor if you have further questions or concerns about your nutritional intake.
What to eat and how much
You might have heard jokes about “eating for two.” Those aren’t true, though you might feel hungrier than usual. Your needs for nutrients and energy will increase by about 300 calories per day. You don’t need to eat twice as much as before. You do, however, need to eat a varied and quality diet.
Include all of the food groups. Have dairy, nuts, and beans (if they agree with your stomach). For bread and pasta, try to use whole grain varieties. The same goes for cereals.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and try to get them fresh. A seasonal food guide would be helpful in that. Opt for low-fat meats. If you’re keen on fish, do a little research on the chemical safety of local fish products, especially on their mercury content.
In addition, take care of your hydration levels. You will likely find yourself needing more liquids during pregnancy. If your typical daily intake is eight glasses of water, increase that to ten or twelve. Clear liquids are the best option. Aside from water, suitable drinks include juice, tea, clear soup, and milk.
Introduce some nutritional supplements
In addition to proteins and carbohydrates for energy, look out for your vitamins and mineral intake. If you maintain a quality, well-balanced diet, that should provide you with most of them.
Two notable exceptions are iron and folic acid. Some groceries contain these, but it can be difficult to get the amounts you require from food alone. Consider a supplement to make sure you get all you need.
Look for one specifically tailored to pregnant people, such as PreNatal Pro. Ask your health care provider for their suggestions, too. It’s a good idea to talk both to your maternity doctor and a licensed nutritionist. Have them analyze to see if there is any particular vitamin or mineral you lack and tailor your supplements around that.
Food-related discomforts in pregnancy
Specific cravings differ between individuals, so instead, let’s look at the more common food-related issues a pregnant person might face.
Heartburn is likely to occur during the final few months of pregnancy. It happens because the baby has grown larger. It puts more pressure on the surrounding tissues and organs, resulting in heartburn. Here are a few tips for coping:
- Eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
- Sit for a while after a meal. Get comfortable, but don’t lie down.
- Eat more slowly and make a point of thoroughly chewing your food.
- Avoid foods that are spicy or very fatty.
Constipation can also become a problem in the last few months. Common causes are lack of exercise, insufficient fluid intake, or not eating enough fibre. Obviously, exercise is tricky business in this period, but there are still things you can do:
- Stay physically active, as much as your body will let you. Go for a little walk every day.
- Drink a lot of liquids (eight to twelve cups per day). You may want to try having prune juice to ease constipation.
- Increase the overall amount of fibre in your diet.
If you decide to up your fibre intake, do so carefully. Add a little more each day and monitor your body’s reactions. Groceries with high fibre content include:
- Bran cereals
- Whole wheat bread
- Cooked dry beans
Finally, morning sickness is the epitome of pregnancy unpleasantness. It occurs during the first trimester and can hit at any time of day, contrary to its name. Here are some tips to decrease overall nausea levels and maybe avoid getting sick.
- Avoid having an empty stomach. Eat small snacks throughout the day and drink water (or whatever beverage doesn’t bother you) between meals.
- Avoid spicy dishes and foods that have a strong flavour.
- If the smell of cooking bothers you, ask someone else to take over chef duty.
- Move slowly when getting out of bed.
- Have a bit of dry cereal or some crackers before starting your day.
Maternal eating habits get confusing. You may want to take up meal planning or start a food diary to help you monitor your new trends and keep yourself and your baby healthy and happy.