Women’s nutritional needs change all the time. Here’s the DL on nutritional needs during pregnancy and beyond.
A growing bump isn’t the only change you’ll experience during pregnancy. On top of various physical and hormonal changes, you’ll likely also need dietary changes to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients for you and your growing baby. What we eat plays a huge role in our health as well as Baby’s development, so it’s crucial to eat the right things. Luckily, this isn’t super difficult to do once you understand your nutritional needs. Here’s a look at how nutritional needs change during and after pregnancy.
Nutrition Needs During Pregnancy
You may be “eating for two,” but that doesn’t mean you should be eating double the amount of food you normally eat in a day. Instead, focus on increasing your caloric intake by about 300 calories per day during pregnancy. This number comes from needing an estimated 80,000 kcal to support a full-term pregnancy.[i]
It’s also important to get extra nutrients to support the health of you and your little one. You’ll need to eat a mix of macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates for energy and micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals and are only needed in small amounts. Getting enough folate, protein, calcium, and iron is especially important.
How to Meet Your Nutrition Needs
The key to getting proper nutrients during pregnancy is to eat a balanced diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. In addition to helping keep you and baby healthy, a well-balanced diet may help ease certain pregnancy symptoms like constipation and nausea. Now that’s a win-win![ii] Try to choose healthy, nutrient-rich, filling foods like fresh fruit and vegetables and grass-fed, pasture raised protein over unhealthy foods full of empty calories, such as potato chips, cookies, and soda. Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, and limit your consumption of caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
Vitamins and minerals
To help build strong bones and teeth, aim for 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. This can be found in items like fish, eggs, fortified milk, and orange juice.[iii] Vitamin A helps form healthy skin and eyesight and is found in food like sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy green vegetables. It’s recommended that people age 19 to 50 get 770 micrograms of vitamin A per day.[iv] Foods like mango, cantaloupe, bananas, and oranges are great sources of potassium. For amino acids, try eating beans, nuts and seeds, poultry, and salmon.[v] Prenatal supplements can also help make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Folate / Folic acid
Folate is a B vitamin, and folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, often found in fortified foods and supplements.[vi] It can help reduce the risk of birth defects in the brain and spinal cord, also called neural tube defects. Women of childbearing age should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid each day, according to the U.S. Public Health Service.[vii] Fortified breakfast cereals, dried beans, citrus, berries, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and peanut butter are all great sources of folate or folic acid.
Protein supports baby’s growth and helps tissues and organs develop properly. During pregnancy, it’s recommended to consume 70-100 grams of protein per day, depending on your weight and increasing with each trimester. To add some protein to your diet, consider foods like grass-fed and pastured raised poultry and beef, lean pork, salmon, nuts, whole-fat cottage cheese, beans, and eggs.[viii]
Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth for you and baby. It also supports healthy muscular, circulatory, and nervous systems. You need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Dairy products like milk and cheese are great sources of calcium, as are non-dairy foods like broccoli and kale. You can also look for fortified fruit juices and breakfast cereals to help get your day’s worth of calcium.[ix]
In order to supply oxygen to your growing baby, your body needs to make more blood. To make more blood, your body needs iron. That’s because your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your tissues. How much iron do you need during pregnancy? 27 milligrams per day - about twice the amount that non-pregnant women need. Getting enough iron in your diet is crucial to helping prevent anemia and fatigue. To add iron to your diet, turn to fish, poultry, and lean red meat. You can also try iron-fortified breakfast cereals, vegetables, and beans.[x]
Postpartum Nutrition Needs
Just like your nutritional needs change during pregnancy, they change again after birth. If you’re nursing, you need about 500 more calories per day, plus fluids, calcium, and protein to help keep you healthy and support your production of breast milk. Eating lean meats, low-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods high in fiber can also help keep you healthy.[xi]
You’ll also want to avoid cutting out carbohydrates, as these are important for energy, milk production, hormone regulation, and more. Instead of cutting out specific food groups, try to eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, high-fiber carbs, protein, and healthy fats.[xii]
Boost Your Nutrition With Coffee Bombs
At Ladybird Provisions, we know how important it is to pay attention to what you put in your body. That’s why we aim to help people feel good through convenient nutrition. Think clean, natural ingredients crafted with purpose. Whether you’re drinking coffee, tea, or sticking to water during pregnancy, give your beverage a nutritional boost with a Coffee Bomb. It’s a pre-made version of butter coffee made with organic coconut oil, grass-fed butter, grass-fed bovine collagen peptides, and medicinal spices.
The organic coconut oil contains MCTs that support brain function and focus, plus fatty acids that may help support your immune system. Coffee Bombs’ combination of fats and protein may help stabilize blood sugars and keep you energized and can work wonders for a nursing mother’s milk production. Depending on the flavor you choose, you can also benefit from organic Ceylon cinnamon (which may help combat inflammation), organic cayenne pepper (which may help boost metabolism), and more. View our shop to learn more about our products and try some for yourself.
[xi] https://www.upmc.com/services/south-central-pa/women/services/pregnancy-childbirth/new-moms/after-birth/nutrition-sleep-postpartum[xii] https://www.healthline.com/health/postpartum-diet#guidelines