If you’ve watched the news recently, you know that there is a baby boom happening. Celebrities, royalty and yours truly! My husband and I are expecting early September, so I am very familiar with the many things that pregnant women worry about, including choosing the perfect name, decorating the nursery and picking a pediatrician. Yet, as a Registered Dietitian, I believe making the best nutrition choices should top the list of concerns because what you eat and drink influences your child’s health, possibly forever.
One of the first myths that I encountered after becoming pregnant was that often times, pregnant women take this time in their life to “un-diet” and eat for two. Many women are surprised to learn that the average pregnant woman needs only about 300 healthy calories more a day than she did before she was pregnant. This will help her gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy, which is about 25-35 pounds.
For those extra 300 calories, try a delicious smoothie or sliced red peppers with white bean hummus dip, which is my favorite. White beans have folic acid, which is an important nutrient for pregnancy.
In addition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that the other two most important nutrients to consume during pregnancy are iron and calcium. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume.
In the womb, a fetus requires calcium for the formation of bones and teeth. If a mother doesn’t consume enough during pregnancy, the baby will rob calcium from her bones- increasing the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Try a yogurt parfait made with low-fat yogurt, berries and a fortified grain cereal or a steak and spinach salad topped with strawberries and low-fat cheddar cheese for a delicious way to consume all three of these important nutrients.
Adopting a healthy eating plan before motherhood is ideal, but no matter how many weeks are left before the baby arrives, it’s never too late for mommy and me nutrition. Just remember, rattles and onesies are adorable, but the best gift that you can give your baby is a healthy start in life.
Lanier Dabruzzi, MS, RD, LD