Nutrition during pregnancy is serious business. What you eat plays a vital role in determining the health of that little one you are so anxiously awaiting. There are several critical nutrients that play particularly important roles in fetal development. Although a healthy diet provides many of a woman’s nutritional needs, it may not be enough during pregnancy for optimal health of both mom and baby. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends the following nutrients be added by diet and supplementation.
Protein: Protein provides the building blocks for the growing tissues, including the placenta, the mother’s blood and the baby. The National Academy of Science suggests a daily intake between 74 and 100 grams of protein during pregnancy. Great food sources of protein include dairy products, eggs, meat and fish (avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish, which may contain potentially risky levels of mercury). Always ensure that your meats are fully cooked to prevent food poisoning.
Calcium: This mineral is needed for proper bone formation in the baby and to help preserve the mother’s bone strength. The need for calcium is most crucial during the last three months, when fetal bone formation takes place. If the mom’s diet doesn’t supply enough calcium, the fetus will draw the calcium it needs first, leaving the mother in a depleted state. Sources of calcium include dairy products, dried figs, fortified cereals and juices, green vegetables, and many types of beans.
Iron: Iron is responsible for producing the red blood cells that make up our blood. Iron also builds the baby’s supply of red blood cells used in the first few months of life during the last three months in utero. During pregnancy, women’s blood volume increases by 50 percent to support the new life growing inside of them. Foods high in iron include beef, certain fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, liver, prunes, almonds and cashews. An iron supplement or multi-vitamin with iron is usually recommended during pregnancy since it is so difficult to get enough in your diet.
Folic Acid (a.k.a. vitamin B9 or folate): This is one of the few nutrients known to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida, which affects about one in 1,000 pregnancies each year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that women who take the recommended daily dose of folic acid before they conceive and throughout the first trimester reduce their baby’s risk of birth defects such as spina bifida by up to 70 percent. Some studies have shown that women who don’t get enough folic acid may increase their risk of miscarriage, as well as cleft lip and palate, limb defects, and certain types of heart defects in their babies (Baby Center Medical Advisory Board, 2004). Taking a multi-vitamin that has folate (folic acid) should give you 100 percent of your daily needs. Check the label.
Fluids: You need extra fluid to feed your increased blood volume and for amniotic fluid. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Holding back on the amount you drink won’t alleviate the swelling you may have during pregnancy. In fact, too little fluid can tax your kidneys. Several studies also report that maintaining hydration during pregnancy increases the elastic effects of the skin, reducing stretch marks (Expecting Fitness, Gallo, 2000).
Max Muscle Sports Nutrition (MMSN) Supplements for during and after pregnancy:
Prenatal Complete: This is the necessary staple for all women who are trying to conceive and who are pregnant or breast-feeding. MMSN’s Max Nutraceutical Prenatal Complete provides all the required nutrients for pregnancy. The best feature of this multi-vitamin is that it is food based and digests easily in the nauseated stomachs of newly pregnant moms. It is highly recommended that all women who are trying to conceive should take a prenatal multi-vitamin.
Essential Omega: EPA and DHA, although not essential, are believed to constitute the “building blocks” of the brain, forming about 8 percent of the brain by weight. The foods with the most amount of Omega 3s are fish. Essential Omega from MMSN provides the perfect solution with a purified, mercury-free recommended daily allowance of EPA and DHA .
MaxPro: When it comes to pregnancy and breast-feeding, Max Pro protein powder is beneficial because of “what’s not in it!” Max Pro is MMSN’s cleanest form and most bio-available form of whey protein. It makes a great addition to a glass of milk when trying to reach your recommended minimum of 74 grams of protein per day during pregnancy. Max Pro is also important post-pregnancy to rebuild muscle and get back your pre-baby body, with easy access and no harmful side effects to your baby.
During your pregnancy, make sure you focus on 4-6 small meals thoughout the day. This will maintain your energy levels and help keep morning sickness at bay. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about any concerns regarding nutrition, supplements or anything else. You are about to experience one of the most amazing events of your life! So, be prepared!
14 Mini-Meals for Growing Moms
When eating seems particularly difficult, try small amounts several times a day. This will discourage nausea and heartburn. Being creative when you don’t feel good or don’t have the energy just doesn’t happen, so here are some nutritious suggestions for mini-meals:
- Half a whole-wheat bagel with almond butter or tahini
- Yogurt shake made with vanilla yogurt, banana and orange juice
- Hard-boiled egg sliced onto a small salad
- Cup of chicken noodle soup and a square of whole-grain cornbread
- Tofu salad on a whole-wheat roll
- Small bran muffin (homemade or one you trust to be wholesome) and a tangerine
- Almond butter on cinnamon-raisin toast
- Half a turkey sandwich in pita bread with sliced tomato and sprouts
- Cup of ginger tea and the other half of that whole-wheat bagel
- Cold leftover chicken from last night with a few dried apricots
- Bowl of whole-grain cereal with soy milk or regular milk
- Small bowl of low-fat granola topped with half a banana and a dollop of yogurt
- Open-faced broiled whole-wheat and low-fat cheese
- Instant oatmeal with raisins
Busy Moms and Supplements (By Kristin Wood)
The word “busy” doesn’t even cover what you do in a day. That’s why it’s so important you take care of yourself. Not because you’re selfish, but because if you aren’t taken care of, you can’t be 100 percent for everyone else. Think about those airline safety messages: those traveling with small children should put their oxygen masks on first before helping others. There’s wisdom in that recommendation.
Most of us moms, however, can’t add another thing to our list of things to do. But, what if you could have more energy, level your blood sugar, and improve your nutrition all while simplifying your life?
If you can carve out two minutes, you can get it done:
30-Second Breakfast & Energy Chaser: Make a protein shake. Add two scoops of MaxPro or Gourmet Pro protein powder in a shaker cup with 12 oz. of water. Drink immediately or in the car. (If you have more time, add berries, yogurt, ice and make it a decadent smoothie.) For focused energy and appetite control, mix up your favorite flavor of Emerge and drink immediately.
15-Second Late Morning Snack: 1 sugar-free yogurt with protein.
1 minute lunch: Throw a pre-made lettuce mix into a leftover container and add 4 oz. of leftover chicken, sandwich meat or tuna. Spritz on some dressing. (If you have time for fancy, add some grape tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, feta cheese or avocado.)
15-second afternoon snack: Pack an extra shaker cup with protein powder. Add 12 oz. water and get on with your day.
Dinner with your family as usual. Patricia T., a working mom and Vice President at BOWA Builders, says, “This works! I have much more energy for my crazy day and I don’t even have to think about my blood sugar any more!”
You will be amazed once you discover how much more you can get done while maintaining higher levels of energy.