Women who are underweight or have poor nutritional status would benefit from meeting with a dietitian to review their diets. More severe medical conditions such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia will require further modifications of the diet listed here. All pregnant women should work closely with their care providers to ensure they are getting proper nourishment.
What if you're overweight? Trying to lose weight while pregnant is very risky, since there is no way to guarantee the baby won't be deprived of essential nutrients. While it may be hard to watch the scales rise, put weight loss plans on the back burner during pregnancy. On the other hand, if your weight gain is much greater than the typical rate of increase for two months in a row, have a registered dietitian monitor your intake for a few days to see if too many empty calories—such as extra fat and sugar—are responsible.
Getting Adequate Vitamins and Minerals
Multinutrient vitamin supplements are recommended for pregnant women to cover the increased need for folic acid, vitamins B-6, C ,and D, and calcium, copper, iron, and zinc. Folic acid (one of the B-vitamins that is also referred to as folate) is the "super star" vitamin for proper brain and nervous system development for the growing fetus. In addition, folate is of great importance for erythropoiesis (red blood cell formation). The recommended intake is 600 to 800 micrograms of folic acid a day. Although folic acid will be in your prenatal vitamin, it's wise to include folate-rich foods in your diet. You can find folate in dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, liver, dried beans and peas, peanut butter, and asparagus.
Both you and your fetus also need additional iron during pregnancy. Iron is important for building your blood supply, and your baby needs it to stockpile for future use. Since human milk and cow's milk are both low in iron, your baby will be able to draw upon a banked supply for the first three to six months of his life. For this reason, 30 to 60 milligrams of supplemental iron are recommended during pregnancy. Excellent dietary sources of iron are dried fruits, spinach, liver, dark green leafy vegetables, and sardines.