Nutrition During Pregnancy’re having a baby! With your hormones raging and belly growing, are you wondering what to eat to help you and your baby be the healthiest possible? As you enter this new stage of your life, Truestar Health is here to help answer all your questions from appropriate weight gain to how to eat for two. Give your baby a great start to life by eating right and being healthy!

Weight Gain

Gaining 25-35 pounds on average during your pregnancy is normal yet the baby only weighs a small fraction of that—so where does all that weight go?

Here’s where: 7.5 pounds on average for baby’s weight, 2 pounds for breast enlargement, 7 pounds for extra body stores of protein, fat and other nutrients, 1.5 pounds for the placenta, 2 pounds for the enlargement of your uterus, 2 pounds for amniotic fluid surrounding your baby, 4 pounds of your extra blood and 4 pounds of your other extra body fluids.

Click here for a chart of the recommended weight gain during pregnancy based on your BMI:

Nutritional requirements during pregnancy

Nutritional intake is extremely important during all phases of life and pregnancy is no exception. In fact, a diet rich in the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals before and during pregnancy will help you and your baby be as healthy as possible. Here are some nutritional requirements specific to pregnancy:

• Energy (calories): During pregnancy, extra calories are needed due to a woman’s increased basal metabolic rate and higher energy demands. In Canada, an extra 100 kcal is recommended in the first trimester and an extra 300 kcal is the second and third trimesters.

• Protein: Protein requirements are increased during pregnancy due to cell growth, blood production and maternal storage reserves for labor, delivery and lactation. Canadian recommendations state that an extra 5g/day during the first trimester, an extra 20g/day in the second trimester and an extra 24g/day in the third trimester are needed. Dietary sources of protein include: lean meats, poultry, turkey, fish, low fat milk products, legumes, soy, eggs, seeds and nuts.

• Folic Acid: This vitamin is needed before you become pregnant as well as during pregnancy. Folic acid helps to reduce the baby’s risk for neural tube defects that affect the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects likely occur in the first month of pregnancy, making it important to get the proper amount of folic acid before you get pregnant. Folic acid also plays a role in DNA synthesis and cell formation. It is important to eat folate-rich foods; however, since it is difficult to get enough folic acid from food, it is important to take a vitamin and mineral supplement containing at least 0.4 milligrams (or 400 micrograms) before you come pregnant, as well as during pregnancy. Dietary sources of folic acid include: liver, cooked legumes (kidney beans, chick peas, lentils), sunflower seeds, nuts, dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cooked spinach, oranges, cantaloupe and whole grains.

• Calcium: Calcium is another important nutrient during pregnancy. It is needed for proper fetal skeleton and tooth bud formation, as well as for maternal calcium metabolism. According to the DRIs (Dietary Reference Intakes), pregnant women should have a minimum of 1000mg/day of calcium. Dietary sources of calcium include: milk & milk products, fortified soymilk, canned sardines or salmon with bones, sesame seeds, almonds, soy beans, tofu, leafy greens and broccoli. Be sure to get an adequate intake of Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D is found in milk and milk products, eggs and sunlight. Calcium supplements are also available.

• Iron: There is a high iron demand during pregnancy, as extra iron is needed to make red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body and to your baby. If you do not have enough iron in your diet, your body will draw on its own iron stores to supply it to your baby. The result is feelings of tiredness and low iron stores called iron deficiency anemia. According to the DRIs (Dietary Reference Intakes), pregnant women should have 27mg of iron. Dietary sources of iron include: whole grain and iron enriched cereals, lean meats, dried peas and beans, dark green vegetables, dried fruits and nuts. To increase iron absorption from plant based sources, eat them with foods rich in vitamin C such as strawberries, orange juice, peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower and kale. Also, coffee or tea consumed right before, during or after a meal can reduce the amount of iron your body absorbs from plant based foods and should be avoided at these times.

• Essential Fatty Acids: Pregnant women should consume adequate amounts of essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid and linolenic acid in their daily eating habits for proper fetal neural and visual development. Dietary sources of essential fats include: fish oils, flax seed, flaxseed oil, canola, soybeans and soy-based products (tofu, soy burgers), vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and seeds. For more information on healthy fats, see "Fats: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

It is also important to avoid excess vitamin A during pregnancy because it may cause damage to the embryo. Foods containing large amounts of vitamin A include liver and should be eaten only on occasion.

How Truestar can help!

The Truestar nutrition plan for pregnancy includes all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for you and your baby. As well, a multivitamin and mineral supplement during pregnancy is also recommended. This is not meant to replace foods but rather to supplement your existing diet. Check out the Truestar Supplement Plan for pregnancy to ensure you choose an appropriate supplement that contains suitable amounts of the right vitamins and minerals. It is important not to exceed the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin and minerals because high doses of vitamins and/or minerals can be toxic at certain levels. Be sure to check with your health care practitioner. Lastly, stay fit during pregnancy using Truestar’s At-Home Pregnancy Exercise Program.

Wishing you and your baby a healthy and nutritious pregnancy! Stay tuned for “Nutrition During Pregnancy Part 2: Foods and Substances to Avoid During Pregnancy”.