Nutrition Tips for Pregnant Women
You may be eating for two, but that doesn’t mean you can eat twice as much as you normally do. Pregnant women need the same nutrients as non-pregnant women – including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats. But the average pregnant woman only requires an extra 300 calories a day. This is equivalent to just half a sandwich and a glass of skim milk.
“Pregnancy slows down the gastrointestinal tract, so eating frequent, small meals with healthy snacks is usually better tolerated than consuming three large meals a day,” said Ethan Goldstein, M.D., an Obstetrician and Gynecologist with DMC Women’s Health Services.
Generally, how much weight you gain during pregnancy depends on your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy. Women with a BMI in the normal range (18.5 to 24.9) before pregnancy should expect to gain between 25 pounds and 35 pounds during pregnancy. Overweight women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 and obese women with a BMI over 30 are at an increased risk of problems during pregnancy. If your BMI is over 30, your doctor may caution you against gaining too much weight during pregnancy or may even encourage you to lose weight if your BMI is over 40.
Dr. Goldstein encourages his patients to increase their intake of water during pregnancy and limit caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day, or about two 8-ounce cups of coffee.
“And, of course, it’s important to take a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, DHA and iron during pregnancy,” Dr. Goldstein said.
To help women maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends limiting intake of fish to one or two servings per week. Shrimp, canned tuna, salmon and catfish are generally safe to eat while pregnant, but large fish such as shark, swordfish and mackerel should be avoided due to high levels of mercury.
Other nutrition tips for pregnant women include:
- Washing all fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them. This helps remove bacteria and pesticides that may be harmful to your baby.
- Avoid eating unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses, which can carry bacteria that may lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Avoid eating prepared meats like hot dogs and deli meats unless they are heated until steaming hot. Eating prepared and uncooked meats, poultry and shellfish can expose your baby to harmful bacteria.
- If you are a vegetarian, plan your meals carefully to make sure you are getting enough protein. Talk to your physician about your dietary needs. He or she may recommend taking supplements like iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
- Talk to your doctor if you have strong urges to eat non-food items like clay, ice or cornstarch. Some women experience these urges, but consuming these non-food items can be harmful to your baby.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Goldstein, or another Obstetrics expert at DMC Women’s Health Services, call 1-888-DMC-2500.
Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2011). Nutrition During Pregnancy. www.acog.org.
Ethan Goldstein, M.D.
Dr. Ethan Goldstein was born in Southfield, MI but grew up in Southern California. He attended Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts and then moved back to Detroit for graduate and medical school at Wayne State University. Dr. Goldstein completed his residency training at William Beaumont Hospital and worked for Beaumont during his first two years as an attending. Currently, he is an OB/GYN physician at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital and Co-Director of their Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery Program.
Dr. Goldstein enjoys all aspects of obstetrics and gynecology but has a particular interest in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. Additionally, he is trained to use the da Vinci Surgical System for complex GYN surgery, including hysterectomies and myomectomies.
Related DMC Services
DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital Harris Birthing Center
DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital Birthing Center
DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital Pregnancy Services