When you’re pregnant, your baby’s sole source of nourishment is you. What you eat dramatically impacts his growth, weight, brain and organ development. While you need about 300 extra calories a day to help sustain your pregnancy (more if you’re expecting multiples), don’t use them up on junk food. Make the most of every morsel so you and your baby can thrive.
Protein: To foster your baby’s cell growth and blood supply, eat lean cuts of red meat or poultry, eggs, peanut butter and beans.
Carbohydrates: Found primarily in starchy foods like breads, pastas, cereals and potatoes as well as fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates give both you and your baby energy. Many are also fortified with folic acid, a vitamin that helps prevent certain devastating birth defects, like spina bifida. Your obstetrician may recommend a folic acid supplement.
Calcium: You know calcium is important to keep your teeth and bones healthy. The same is true for your developing baby. Calcium also helps your baby’s nerves and muscles form. Yogurt, milk, cheese, spinach, salmon and sardines (munch on the bones, too); all are all good sources of the mineral. Look for calcium-fortified foods, including juices, breads and waffles.
Iron: This vital nutrient helps your baby develop his red blood cells. Iron-rich foods include red meats, spinach, fortified cereals and breads.
Vitamins A Through D: Vitamin A, found in carrots and other orange-colored fruits and vegetables, is important for healthy skin and eye development. Vitamin C—found in citrus fruits, tomatoes and fortified juices—helps build teeth and gums. The B vitamins, such as B6 and B12, are important for the formation of red blood cells and are found in meats, fish and some grains. Vitamin D—available in fortified milk, dairy products and grains—helps your baby absorb calcium.
Fat: Go ahead, bite into a big juicy steak washed down with a glass of whole milk. Fat gives you and your baby energy. Just don’t overdo; keep fat intake to about 30 percent of your daily calories.
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has
written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer
magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others.
Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines.
She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her
husband and two children.