Whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important that you stock up on all the energy you need. That means getting your daily fill of necessary calories, as well as making sure all of your dietary requirements are met.
In these nutritionally-demanding times, you need to keep a few things in mind. In this article, we’ll show you how to meet most, if not all, of your pregnancy and nutritional needs. Let’s jump in!
How to Meet All of Your Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Nutritional Needs
To help you and your baby flourish, you need to make sure your caloric intake increases by 300 – 500 kcal per day. Of course, the number of necessary calories for pregnant and breastfeeding women fluctuates depending on age, activity level, and body mass index.
Without further ado, here’s what you need to know about nutrition.
There are some nutrients you should never neglect, and these are just some of them.
Eat Healthy Fats
Fats are important, and especially the healthy ones. Unsaturated fats are undoubtedly critical for the development of your baby’s nervous system. You can find these fats in olive oil, avocados, and salmon. Salmon in particular can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
However, while healthy fats are a must in any balanced diet, you must remember this: for pregnant and breastfeeding people, fat intake should be strictly restricted to 30% or less of the daily calorie intake.
It’s especially important to remember not to splurge on fish. A lot of fish contains considerable amounts of mercury that can pass onto the infant through breast milk. This can result in negative effects on the baby’s nervous system.
Get a Dose of Folic Acid
Folic acid is an essential nutrient for any pregnant or breastfeeding woman. In fact, consuming the recommended amount of folic acid can decrease the risk of spinal cord birth defects for your baby.
During pregnancy, it’s important that you consume 600 micrograms of folic acid per day. Comparatively, breastfeeding mothers should consume 500 micrograms per day.
To get your recommended dose of folic acid, look for the following foods: broccoli, leafy green vegetables, and rice. Citrus fruits, like oranges, possess a particularly high content of folic acid, making them ideal for consumption for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Protein Is Important
Muscles, bones, and tissues: these are all things that protein helps build up, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The recommended intake of protein comes in around 71 grams a day, and that’s during the second half of pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
Healthy protein sources include eggs, poultry, and beans. Eggs double as an excellent source of choline, an unknown but important nutrient for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Choline can contribute to the development of the fetal brain and assists in preventing birth defects, which makes eggs all the more beneficial to eat.
Eat plenty of fiber and good carbs
Consuming carbohydrates doesn’t only help in sustaining a baby’s development during pregnancy, but it’s also vital for their growth during breastfeeding. Reliable sources of carbohydrates include whole grain oats, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are also good sources of other nutrients for breastfeeding women, such as vitamin C and vitamin A.
Whole grain oats have been anecdotally proven to boost milk supply for breastfeeding mothers.
Take Your Vitamins
Mothers who are breastfeeding need to take some kind of daily multivitamin which contains 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Here is a good guide on prenatal vitamin. However, you should keep in mind that some vitamins and prenatal vitamins are incredibly high in iron content, which results in much more iron than necessary for breastfeeding.
Nevertheless, consuming a steady stream of prenatal vitamin when breastfeeding is important. It ensures that you maintain a necessary base supply of nutrients.
Even if you’re not breastfeeding, prenatal vitamins can help in satisfying certain nutritional gaps, and you can even continue to consume them six weeks after giving birth
Water! Water! Water!
Dehydration is easy to get, especially when you’re losing more fluid than you’re taking in. To avoid this, you need to make sure you’re getting your daily fill of water (8-12 glasses.)
Some of your infant’s most important support systems are heavily dependent on water. A good example of this is the amniotic fluid, which is made up of mostly water. Amniotic fluid nourishes and cushions your baby, and does so all the while supporting their growth.
On top of that, fluids can help in reducing constipation and tiredness, especially when joined by a fiber-rich diet.
When you’re responsible for supplying your baby with nutrients, there are some things you simply need to avoid. Here are some of them.
Stay Away From Processed Foods
Generally, consuming processed foods is never good, even if you’re neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. However, new mothers are especially encouraged to avoid foods high in sugar and processed fats, such as soda drinks and junk food.
Not only will such foods promote weight gain, but they’ll also increase the risk of gestational diabetes and other complications. And as the intake of processed foods has rocketed, so has iodine deficiency, which is a result of the fact that salt in processed foods isn’t iodized. This can be critical for pregnant and breastfeeding women, for whom iodine is an important nutrient.
Consume Caffeine, But Wisely
For new mothers, sleep is a luxury. Caffeine could certainly appear more than attractive in those all-too-familiar sleep-deprived days. Yet, infants of mothers who consume daily high intakes of caffeine (10 cups or more) have displayed the following: irritability, poor sleeping habits, fussiness, and jitteriness.
It doesn’t matter whether your source of caffeine is coffee or soda. What you should know is that you can pass caffeine in small doses into the infant through breast milk. However, when consumed moderately, your child probably won’t suffer any negative effects.
A low-to-moderate intake of coffee is about 300 milligrams or less per day, which amounts to 2 to 3 cups of coffee. So: a little coffee is fine, but you have to make sure to keep it to a minimum.
Forget about Alcohol
It’s common knowledge. Drinking alcohol when pregnant is forbidden. If you’re expecting, the alcohol you consume may be passed to your baby through the umbilical cord. This can have devastating effects for your unborn child, ranging from fetal alcohol syndrome to stillbirth and miscarriage.
It’s imperative that you avoid alcohol at all times when pregnant. This goes for every time of alcohol drink in every size: unlike caffeine, there’s no “safe” moderate amount for you to consume. This is also not only applicable for when you’re pregnant, but also when you’re trying to get pregnant.
As for breastfeeding mothers, it’s not that different. There’s still the chance of exposing your infant to alcohol through breast milk, especially if you’re drinking excessively. However, moderate drinking hasn’t been proven to be harmful for breastfeeding mothers and their infants. We’d say it’s best to forgo alcohol when breastfeeding completely.
Smoking is never good for you, and especially so when you’re pregnant. Tobacco is deeply harmful to unborn babies, as it increases their risk of birth defects such as cleft lip and tissue damage. There’s also the risk of miscarriage, which comes as a result of the carbon monoxide present in tobacco.
It’s no different for breastfeeding women. Not only smoking decreases your chances of conceiving again, but it’s also dangerous for your baby. You could pass nicotine through breast milk to your infant, possibly resulting in disruptive sleep patterns, diarrhea, vomiting, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.)
All in all, getting the necessary nutrients as a pregnant or breastfeeding woman isn’t hard. All you have to do is to keep an eye on your food and, of course, your baby. And remember: whatever you eat, it’ll be passed onto your baby through either the umbilical cord or your breast milk.